Ford 77, 90
BANBURY UNITED 1
MARK Ford enjoyed a competitive home debut he will never forget as Weymouth picked up a welcome win at the Bob Lucas Stadium.
The 21-year-old, who recently joined the club from Magna Dorset Premier League outfit Blandford United, came off the bench in the second half to score twice in a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Banbury United.
Ford broke the deadlock just seven minutes after coming on but when Liam Dolman levelled with three minutes remaining it appeared the Terras were going to have to settle for a draw.
However, Weymouth’s latest recruit then went on to grab his second in the last minute of normal time before home keeper Nick Jordan pulled off a dramatic last-gasp save to protect the three points in the dying seconds.
Following last Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat at Chippenham Town, boss Brendon King made two changes to Weymouth’s starting XI.
Lewis Clarke and Matt Groves were both drafted in while Scott Dixon and James Coutts both dropped to the bench with the latter still carrying an ankle knock.
The Terras were bidding for a fourth successive home victory in the league but due to a flurry of away fixtures of late they actually entered the contest having lost three of their last four.
In fact, their last home appearance in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier was back on January 2 when they beat high-flying AFC Totton 3-1.
Due to postponements, Banbury, who suffered a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of King’s men back in October, were also playing their first league game since January 28.
The Puritans thumped Stour-bridge 4-1 that day, ending a run of three straight defeats.
The hosts lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with Alex Jeannin stationed at left-back and Ben Joyce and Clarke on the left and right flanks respectively.
Unfortunately, the blustery conditions contributed to a scrappy opening 45 minutes in which both teams struggled to string any quality moves together.
However, there were still chances with set pieces proving the main weapon in both sides’ artillery.
Jordan pulled off a sublime save to stop Josh Cole’s free header from point-blank range following Ben Polk’s free-kick before visiting keeper Andy Kemp came up with two more excellent stops at the other end.
First, the 23-year-old made a fine block to deny Craig Duff’s volley before pulling off an even better save to keep out Byerley’s prodded effort at the foot of his near post after the Terras enjoyed a barrage of corners.
Kemp then went into the book for bringing down Byerley on the edge of his 18-yard box but the resulting free-kick was wasted by Duff, who scuffed his attempt wide of the target.
The rest of the half was pretty turgid but immediately after the break the encounter finally came alive as the wind died down and both sides came out of their respective shells.
Both teams had early chances in the second half to take the lead with Joyce putting the ball into the side- netting after Byerley saw a header saved by Kemp and Polk being denied by another top-class block from Jordan.
Joyce, who was also on his competitive home debut, then set up Byerley again with another opportunity that went begging, before Groves let fly with a speculative volley that went just wide of the target with Kemp completely rooted to the spot. Dan Chilton then experienced a topsy-turvy couple of minutes. First, the Banbury defender sent a header just over Jordan’s bar before then nearly netting an own goal from Joyce’s cross which saw Kemp save his blushes.
Unfortunately for the hosts, Joyce then had to be replaced by Scott Dixon due to injury and that was quickly followed by Ford’s introduction for Groves as Weymouth continued to search for a breakthrough.
Ollie Tribe sent two efforts wide before a corner on 77 minutes finally led to the goal the home side deserved.
Stephen Reed’s cross caused panic in the Banbury box and when Sam Poole teed up the ball for Ford, the young striker showed remarkable composure to drive the ball past Kemp and into the bottom right corner of the net.
The ex-Royal immediately reeled away and produced an acrobatic celebration but there was still a lot more to come.
Wes Emery curled a free-kick just over the bar at the other end before excellent movement saw Ford denied a second by the impressive Kemp.
The United keeper was having a fine afternoon and on 87 minutes he provided the assist that led to the equaliser as his long punt up field allowed Dolman to break through a static home defence and beat Jordan at his near post.
The Terras could have easily dropped their heads after that but just three minutes later they were ahead again.
Reed’s initial free-kick was blocked but when he drove a second attempt into the box there was Ford to turn the ball home from close to the penalty spot.
The home bench went wild but hearts were soon in mouths again deep into added-time when another long free-kick from Kemp found Tommy Kinch.
His effort on the stretch was stopped at point-blank range by Jordan, who then somehow regained his balance to scamper back and gather the ball right on the goal-line.
It was an incredible finale and it certainly lifted the home fans who gave their side a much-deserved standing ovation at the final whistle.
Terras: Jordan, Tribe, Jeannin, Clarke, Gerring, Poole, Duff, Joyce (Dixon 65), Groves (Ford 70), Byerley, Reed. Subs not used: Povall, Coutts, Winsper.
Banbury: Kemp, Coleman, Kinch, Dolman, Chilton, Fraser (Angus 75), Emery, Cole, Johnson, Edmond, Polk. Subs not used: Thackeray, Lamb, Fuller.