Sam 51

WEYMOUTH pushed non-League giants Notts County all the way but ultimately fell 1-0 in a sodden Vanarama National League encounter at the Bob Lucas Stadium.

Weymouth defended gamely in a first half in which County dominated before Elisha Sam put the visitors into a 51st-minute lead.

Jake McCarthy missed two huge chances for the Terras in a defiant second half but the Magpies were good value for their three points to break Weymouth’s two-game winning run.

Despite defeat it was a bright display from the hosts, who will feel they possibly should have taken a point from the game.

New signing Pierre Fonkeu was the only addition to the matchday squad that began the 2-0 win over Aldershot on Tuesday night, with the starting XI unchanged for the second game in a row.

Notts County came into this game as hot favourites and underlined why some onlookers tip them for promotion with a busy start to the game.

Neal Ardley’s men asserted their attacking authority from the off and looked a polished machine up front with top scorer Kyle Wootton and speedy winger Enzio Boldewijn always a threat.

Weymouth did however create a small opening in the second minute as Jacob Mensah’s deflected header picked out Calvin Brooks who fired a shot at away custodian Sam Slocombe.

The Terras were nearly in again in the fifth minute as slick play from Jordan Ngalo and Joan Luque teed up Sean Shields only for offside to be given.

By now, County were beginning to dominate and livewire Boldewijn put Ollie Harfield in a tangle before skidding a left-footed shot wide of the far post.

The Magpies’ aggressive press was cramping Weymouth in possession but the closing down encroached too far as Luque won a free-kick on the right.

Harfield swung in the delivery and narrowly evaded Brooks at the back post, with Slocombe hesitant to claim.

County’s interplay up front was delightful and Boldewijn pinged a venomous effort at home keeper Ethan Ross after Wootton’s neat lay-off.

Ardley’s men tested Weymouth on the wings and with numerous crosses raining in, Mensah displayed excellent positioning to cut out four deliveries in the half.

When Weymouth did utilise the counter attack it produced a shot as Josh McQuoid skipped past Jake Reeves in midfield before setting up Ngalo to fire over from 18 yards.

The immovable Mensah intercepted from Dion Kelly-Evans before the right-back’s dinked cross found Wootton to head at Ross from six yards.

Weymouth had struggled to work Slocombe until an opportunist strike from Andy Dallas, who curled first time from 25 yards to force the keeper into pushing over for a corner.

Brooks got his head to the delivery but County were able to clear before Mensah made an important block to deny Boldewijn.

Weymouth made a promising start to the second half as a corner created a chance for McCarthy, only for his volley to sail over from 20 yards.

But in the 51st minute, the visitors took the lead in fortunate circumstances as Sam beat Revan before chipping a cross to the back post which deceived Ross and flew into the top corner.

Conceding brought a good response from Weymouth as Luque curled at Slocombe from 25 yards before Sam fired wide of the near post at the other end.

With an hour gone, Weymouth should have equalised through McCarthy whose 12-yard shot was somehow trapped by Slocombe following an excellent move.

Boldewijn sent a scorcher just over after Fonkeu earned his debut coming on for Luque, making an instant impact to tee up McCarthy for another golden chance as Slocombe once more saved the Magpies.

Missing two clear opportunities did not deter Weymouth as Harfield’s teasing delivery was flicked goalwards by Dallas only to find Slocombe in the way once more.

Ardley introduced Inih Effiong and Jim O’Brien for Ruben Rodrigues and Sam with 15 minutes to go but it was Weymouth who threatened next.

McQuoid read play intuitively to set up a counter, playing in Shields to win a corner which did not clear the first man.

Fonkeu showed a glimpse of what Weymouth fans could expect with a solo run and shot which had Slocombe scrambling, but the Magpies held on to take a deserved victory despite a spirited late Terras rally.

Terras: Ross, Ngalo, McCarthy, McQuoid (Murray 87), Brooks, Dallas, Mensah, Revan, Harfield, Luque (Fonkeu 62), Shields. Subs not used: Benfield, Camp, Robinson.

Notts County: Slocombe, Reeves, Doyle, Wootton, Boldewijn, Rawlinson, Kelly-Evans, Sam (O’Brien 75), Rodrigues (Effiong 74), Lacey, Miller. Subs not used: Knowles, Wolfe, Turner.

Referee: Steven Copeland