WEYMOUTH 3 HUNGERFORD TOWN 1
PRE-SEASON optimism turned into league points proper on Saturday, as the Terras turned on the style in a strong second-half display to overcome a well-drilled Hungerford Town side.
Manager Jason Matthews admitted during the build-up to the clash that he still had some selection issues to ponder, but in the end, all 11 choices he made were justified in what was a deserved win.
With more than a third of his starting XI making their league debuts for the club, the Terras imposed their home advantage and controlled proceedings for the majority in the second period against the Crusaders, who had a spell towards the back end of last season as one of the form sides in England.
And their threat was brought to the hosts’ attention with just two minutes on the clock.
Hungerford winger Alan O’Brien, a former Newcastle United and Republic of Ireland winger who has graced the field against the likes of Robin Van Persie and World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger at international level, showed his pedigree early on by whipping a ball in for striker Josh Grace-Parsons.
But the frontman could not connect and perhaps should have given his side an early lead as the ball whistled through the Wey-mouth six-yard box in front of him.
As things started to settle down after both teams showed early-season enthusiasm to shut each other down quickly, half-chances for Weymouth pair Stewart Yetton and Adam Kelly, as well as a polite enquiry for handball in the visitors’ area soon followed, as a period of fairly few clear-cut openings looked to be playing out.
But the Crusaders will look back at a five-minute spell just short of the interval as a missed opportunity to gain an advantage that could have seen them go on to victory, both crucial moments falling the way of Grace-Parsons.
After O’Brien cut the ball back to him from the left flank, 12-yards out, Grace-Parsons was unable to get a shot away thanks to a superb last-ditch challenge from full-back Ashley Wells, who was impressive throughout the whole 90 minutes on the right.
The Hungerford hitman then linked up again minutes later with his winger, and sliding in from around three yards out at the back post, he could not get enough contact on his effort to place it on target, leaving the majority of the Bob Lucas Stadium to breathe a huge sigh of relief at the break.
Following the interval, Matt-hews’ charges almost instantly came out of their shell as they took the lead three minutes after the restart through Adam Kelly.
He latched on to a neat cross-field ball and drilled his effort past Zaki Oualah in the Hunger-ford goal to send the home fans delirious.
And although the hosts were pegged back 10 minutes later when O’Brien delivered a pinpoint cross for the head of clinical marksman Mark Draycott, what was to come was something Weymouth fans have got extremely used to.
Cue skipper Stewart Yetton to lead from the front and take the game by the scruff of the neck. Chants of “feed the Yeti and he will score” rung out during the contest from behind Oualah’s net, and eventually, this was to prove the case in deciding the outcome.
Yetton had a tame strike and an effort that was deemed a foul on the goalkeeper in the first half, but in the final 20 minutes, he came to life.
He capped off what was a superbly worked corner, organised in midweek by the Terras in training, when the ball fell to him 12 yards out for him to hammer it into the top corner.
And to seal the win, like all good strikers do, Yetton anticipated where Oualah’s save would fall after George Rigg’s strike proved too hot to handle, and was first to react to poke the ball home and ensure the Terras are still yet to taste defeat this term.
Terras: Matthews 6, Wells 8, Wannell 6, Krac 6, Laird 6, Palmer 6, McPhee 6, Kelly 7 (Copp 77), Yetton 7, Rigg 7, Shephard 7 Subs not used: West, Prodomo, Ford, Colwell
Hungerford: Oualah, Stow, John, Boardman, Day, Herring (Pook 77), Clark, Pilling, Grace-Parsons (Goodger 60), Draycott, O'Brien (Stanley 78) Subs not used: Rees, Smith
Bookings: Terras – Kelly (foul, 63)
Hungerford – Pilling (foul, 53)
Referee: William Bull