WEYMOUTH 0 KETTERING TOWN 0
SATURDAY’S big kick-off failed to produce fireworks at the Bob Lucas Stadium but the Terras left happy with the outcome.
Full-time Kettering proved a tough nut to crack but Weymouth stuck to their task and deserved their share of the spoils.
Brendon King’s squad included eight changes to the one that brought the curtain down on last season at Redditch United with Simon Evans, Kyle Critchell, Barry McConnell, Danny Clay, Scott Walker and Dan Smith all lining up for their competitive debuts in the starting XI.
Scott Dixon was preferred to Alex Jeannin at left-back while Ben Joyce and Lewis Clarke, two other potential debutants, began on the bench.
There were also three intriguing additions in the Kettering line-up in the form of ex-Terras Ben Gerring, Ed Palmer and Warren Byerley, who all received a frosty reception from the home fans.
Following a minute’s silence in honour of ex-Weymouth chairman Martyn Harrison, the game got underway in frantic fashion as one would expect on the opening day.
Misplaced passes littered the early exchanges and a spot of dozing at the back by the hosts soon saw Sam Poole in the book for a cynical trip on David Mayo.
The Town forward would have been through on goal had he not been impeded but thankfully for Poole and Weymouth there were plenty of claret and blue shirts in the vicinity to stop referee Adam Ricketts from taking more serious action.
The first meaningful attempt of the game came on 14 minutes when Palmer sent a glancing header from a free-kick just past the post as the hosts continued to look edgy at the back.
Evans was then called into action twice in the space of 10 minutes. First he tipped over another header from Gerring, this time from a corner, and then he was in the right place at the right time to make a comfortable save from Omar Beckles, who should have done better following Mayo’s flick-on from a throw-in.
The Poppies’ continuing threat from set-pieces was a constant cause for concern for the home fans and it was not long before another Gerring flick-on had Evans scrambling.
The Weymouth keeper was caught completely out of position but somehow he managed to turn around just in the nick of time to grab the ball on the edge of his six-yard box.
The visitors were starving Wey-mouth of space but on 39 minutes King’s men finally managed to break with Stephen Reed playing in Smith. Unfortunately, the ex-Truro City man’s shot from an acute angle was easily stopped by Ben Gathercole at his near post.
The Terras desperately needed to up their game in the second half but instead their frustration began to get the better of them with Clay picking up a booking following a tangle with Gerring. Kettering boss John Beck’s plan was being executed to perfection.
Not only were his men well-drilled and physical but their full-time fitness was also very apparent. In a bid to change things, King replaced the anonymous Mark Ford with ex-Kettering man Joyce on 59 minutes and the switch seemed to give his men a burst of life as Smith and Reed both fired attempts off target following promising breaks.
Walker then saw a header comfortably saved before Beckles threatened at the other end, only to be thwarted by an excellent intervention from the impressive Critchell.
An unsavoury moment followed with Palmer picking up a yellow card for leaving a foot in on Craig Duff before Smith brought a save out of Gathercole with a low drive from just outside the box.
With legs tiring, more gaps started to appear and with 10 minutes to go Reed let fly from 30 yards, only to see his effort whistle just past the post. Beckles then broke down the right and forced Poole into a superb block but in the end it finished honours even, which was a fair result on the balance of play.
Terras: Evans, Critchell, Poole, McConnell, Dixon, Clay, Reed, Duff, Walker, Smith, Ford (Joyce 59). Subs not used: Povall, Jeannin, Clarke, Groves.
Kettering: Gathercole, Burns, Radford, Palmer, Gerring, Hervel (King 85), Bonnett-Johnson, Beckles, Byerley, Mayo, Griffiths. Subs not used: Peake, Blazio, Langstone, Walker.