WEYMOUTH 2 CHESHAM UNITED 2
LADY Luck finally smiled on the Terras as they claimed a precious point against promotion-chasing Chesham United last night.
With five minutes remaining, it appeared Weymouth were heading for a fifth straight league defeat until an own goal by Mark Lambert finally gave them the share of the spoils their endeavour deserved.
Following last Saturday’s dismal 2-0 defeat against Arlesey Town, it was no surprise to see Terras’ boss Brendon King shuffle his pack.
Yeovil Town loanee Rhys Baggridge and winger Jamie Beasley dropped to the bench and in came Scott Dixon and Ollie Tribe. Youngster Charlie Holland was also named among the substitutes in the absence of Richard Mar-shallsay.
There was also a change of shape with Tribe joining Byron Napper and Stephen Reed in the centre of the midfield with Mark Ford and Craig Duff stationed on the flanks in a 4-5-1 formation.
Chesham came into the game in fourth place and on the back of three successive victories but within two minutes they found themselves behind.
Tribe began the move with an incisive pass to Warren Byerley and then went on to finish it with a stooping header at the far post following Duff’s pinpoint cross from the right.
Following four straight defeats, that early goal was priceless for Weymouth in terms of confidence and even at such an early stage it was already apparent there was a lot more urgency in their play.
They also looked a lot more organised as a unit with playmaker Reed benefitting from the tenacity of Tribe and Napper alongside him.
However, 16 successive league games without a clean sheet before this match speaks volumes and on 12 minutes all the good early work was undone when the Generals equalised from their first meaningful attack.
Alex Jeannin looked to have the situation under control when Chesham knocked the ball into the right channel but striker Inih Effiong brushed him aside with ease before lashing a shot across Alex Hards and into the far corner of the net.
The experienced French defender should have done a lot better but unlike recent games the Terras did not let the disappointment of conceding throw them completely off track.
However, the goal did give the visitors more belief and on 21 minutes they went close again when Steve Wales let fly from 20 yards, only to be denied by a flying save by Hards.
Driving rain began to shower the players midway through the half but the game remained even with Weymouth more than holding their own.
They were also beginning to put some neat passages of play together with the best of them coming on 39 minutes when Ashley Wells combined with Tribe and Duff before sending over a wonderful cross, which United keeper Shane Gore and defender Ryan Moran just managed to clear.
It appeared Weymouth were beginning to get on top but as so often recently a momentary lapse at the back saw Chesham bag a second just three minutes before the break.
Once again there appeared to be no danger when Hards raced out of his box to clear but the ball ricocheted off an opponent and straight to Simon Thomas for the easiest of tap-ins.
It was a huge setback and to make matters worse the Terras then lost top-scorer Byerley to injury just after the break – the first time he has had to be substituted this season.
Matt Groves came on in his place and although the switch did not disrupt the home side too much, Chesham were still being gifted openings with Effiong beating Hards to another long ball on the edge of the box on 57 minutes, only to see the goal chalked off for a high boot.
Despite that scare, Reed was orchestrating the game for the Terras and looked the most likely man to fashion an equaliser.
Both him and Duff fired efforts wide of the target before hearts were in mouths again when Ben Gerring’s back-pass saw Hards totally miskick his attempted clearance, resulting in the ball rolling agonisingly across the face of the goal and just wide of the far post.
It was a narrow escape and from the resulting corner Effiong went close with a header as United looked to put the game to bed.
King threw on Beasley with 10 minutes remaining and reverted to 4-4-2 but the visiting defence looked like they would see it out until five minutes to go when the Terras got the rub of the green that has so often eluded them in recent weeks.
And it was the substitute winger that triggered the change in fortune when he burst down the right and sent over a wonderful cross to the near post where Lambert turned the ball past a hapless Gore.
In many ways it was exactly what the Terras deserved with a point apiece being a fair reflection of the evening’s entertainment.
And it very nearly got even better for the hosts deep into added-time when Gerring got on the end of Reed’s free-kick, only to see his header rebound off a post.
Terras: Hards, Wells, Dixon (Beasley 80), Napper, Gerring, Jeannin, Duff, Tribe, Ford, Byerley (Groves 51), Reed. Subs not used: Povall, Baggridge, Holland.
Chesham: Gore, Kyriacou, Watson (Wilson 73), Lambert, Moran, Talbot, Potton (Bartley 84), Wales, Effiong, Si Thomas, Sc Thomas. Subs not used: Fotheringham, Rolfe, Parker.