A STUNNING second-half strike from Isaac Vassell gave Weymouth a 73rd minute leveller and earned the Terras a home point in a closely-contested encounter against Hitchin Town.

The result means that Jason Matthews’ men have picked up 13 points from a possible 15 and are unbeaten in their last five league games.

Boss Matthews named the same starting XI for the fourth game in a row, and was able to welcome back Scott Walker and striker Mark Ford to the bench following their recent injury problems.

The unchanged Terras were caught napping early on and Hitchin started brightly through captain Callum Donnelly, who fired wide of Matthews’ goal with four minutes gone.

Donnelly, who looked lively throughout the contest, then crafted a precise through ball to striker Michael King, whose fierce strike whistled inches wide of the Terras’ goal.

As the game then progressed, Weymouth started to settle and managed to fashion their first chance of the contest on the quarter of an hour mark. Striker Stewart Yetton latched on to a ball from deep but miss-hit a tame effort safely into the path of a visiting defender.

In an opening 20 minutes where both sides struggled to put their stamp on proceedings, Hitchin were given a golden opportunity to take the lead when Simon Martin was given acres of space inside the Weymouth area from a corner, but looped his header on to the roof of Matthews’ net.

Terras’ loanees Jacob Jagger-Cane and Vassell then combined well moments later, but Vassell rolled the ball inches wide of the post.

The Plymouth youngster was then involved once more as he rose above his man on the end of a cross from Yetton, but directed his header narrowly off target from the edge of the six-yard box.

At the other end, player-manager Matthews was then forced into action, pulling off a superb stop diving to his left to deny Donnelly’s goal-bound effort from 25-yards out.

The chance of the half came for the visiting Canaries in virtually the last moments of the opening period.

After Steve Colwell found his way into the book and gave away a free-kick on the right flank, the resulting set-piece saw Hitchin defender Alasan Ann have the goal at his mercy from four-yards out, but he somehow could not muster an effort on target as the sides went in deadlocked at the interval.

Controversy then struck as the visitors had a goal disallowed nine minutes into the second half.

After a long throw which the Terras failed to deal with, Donnelly’s strike from inside the area looked to be heading into the bottom corner, but striker Simon Martin was adjudged to have handled the ball on its way in and was booked by referee Gary Parsons.

But after surviving their first scare, the Terras were then made to pay on 64 minutes when substitute Matt Lench broke clear and ran on to Donnelly’s through ball.

Having only been on the pitch five minutes, Lench showed great composure to calmly lift the ball over the onrushing Matthews and put his side in the lead.

But as the Terras have shown in their recent contests against Burnham, they aren’t deterred by going a goal down.

And it was that man Vassell again that got Weymouth level, with a moment of brilliance to score his fourth goal in as many games.

After a ball forward was half-cleared by the visitors’ defence, the winger displayed superb technique to rifle the ball home from 25-yards out and level things up.

With both sides pushing forward in search of a late winner, the home fans breathed a sigh of relief one minute from time as Hitchin substitute Gary Wharton was put through and slid the ball past Matthews, only for his effort to trickle narrowly wide of the post.

Terras: Matthews 7, Wells 6 (McConnell, 89), Green 6, Colwell 7 (S Walker 7, 63), Hutchings 7, Richards 7, Kelly 6, Jagger-Cane 7, Yetton 6, Rigg 6, Vassell 8. Subs unused: M Walker, Ford, Holland

Hitchin: Bell, Rolfe, Bickerstaff, Ann, Webb, Pearson, Smith, Donnelly, Martin (Lench, 59), King, Jones (Wharton, 72). Sub unused: Parker

Weymouth bookings: Colwell (foul), Wells (foul)

Hitchin bookings: Ann (foul), Martin (deliberate handball)

Referee: Gary Parsons

Attendance: 527