Johnson 8, Oates 34, Shelton 64, Holohan 78


INJURY-HIT Weymouth suffered a 4-0 reverse at Hartlepool United as their Vanarama National League season ended in a sobering defeat.

There is much to be positive about on the Terras’ return to this division after 11 years, although this performance had a distinct end-of-season feel to it.

Ryan Johnson headed Pools in front early on to set the tone, before Rhys Oates finished a one-on-one chance for 2-0 at the break.

Mark Shelton tucked home a third and Calvin Brooks responded by hitting the bar as Weymouth’s fighting spirit shone through.

Hartlepool were just too good though, sealing fourth spot when Gavan Holohan’s 18-yard effort crept home.

A poor day for the Terras was confirmed when top scorer Andy Dallas hesitated in front of an open goal, allowing goalkeeper Brad James to smother his effort.

READ MORE: Hartlepool 4-0 Weymouth - how it happened

Weymouth boss Brian Stock had simply hoped to get 11 players out for the clash and made three changes to the side that began the 3-0 loss to Notts County last time out.

Goalkeeper Ethan Ross dropped to the bench, with Gerard Benfield earning a rare start.

Brennan Camp (thigh) missed out, meaning Josh Leslie-Smith came in.

Pierre Fonkeu was the third alteration and replaced Jake McCarthy, who did not make the squad.

On the bench, the Terras were patched up with young goalkeeper Harrison Bruton joined by Sean Shields (ankle) who was not considered to be match fit prior to the game.

Midfielder Jordan Ngalo made the squad, while first-team coach Sammy Lander was named as a substitute for the second time this season.

With Weymouth assured of 18th place and safety regardless of the outcome, Hartlepool needed a win to reach the top three and avoid an extra play-off game.

Pools duly began like a train and it was no surprise when the hosts took an eighth-minute lead.

Lewis Cass chipped a ball through the centre for Oates and his layoff found David Ferguson who was denied by a fine save from Benfield, using an outstretched leg.

However, the corner picked out Johnson in oceans of space at the back post to nod past Benfield for 1-0.

Dorset Echo: Ryan Johnson, right, heads Hartlepool ahead Picture: MARK PROBINRyan Johnson, right, heads Hartlepool ahead Picture: MARK PROBIN

Hartlepool were relentless thereafter, creating wave after wave of attacks before Weymouth’s Ben Worman’s clever through ball narrowly missed connecting with Dallas.

Weymouth settled into their attractive passing game midway through the half, although failed to trouble Pools with a meaningful attack.

Hartlepool were far more penetrative as striker Danny Elliott turned and hoisted over before Benfield punched a dangerous cross clear.

Ironically, Weymouth’s best move of the half resulted in Hartlepool’s second goal in the 34th minute.

Fonkeu’s neat flick allowed Cameron Murray to zigzag across the defence but Ollie Harfield’s cross was too deep.

Hartlepool then gathered possession and a long ball over the left channel found Oates who nipped in front of his man and, with Benfield hesitant, curled a bobbling effort into the bottom-right corner.

Elliott flicked a header wide and Brooks was booked for tugging back Ferguson following a stray Murray pass as Weymouth’s frustrations grew.

Brooks nearly made amends with a winding run into the box but there was a further blow for the visitors when Josh McQuoid pulled up with an injury and was replaced by Ngalo.

Dorset Echo: Cameron Murray, centre, worked tirelessly for Weymouth Picture: MARK PROBINCameron Murray, centre, worked tirelessly for Weymouth Picture: MARK PROBIN

Hartlepool themselves made a change during the break, Ryan Donaldson on for Jamie Sterry.

There was no let up for Weymouth as Jacob Mensah was forced into two crucial clearances before Fonkeu saw a penalty shout waved away after tumbling in the area.

Holohan had a goal ruled out for offside following a strong save from Benfield before Weymouth’s best move of the game.

Patient build-up play released Brooks near the byline and the right-back found Worman to crack an effort at James for the Terras’ first shot on target 62 minutes in.

But just two minutes later Hartlepool had a third as sub Donaldson strode forward and picked out Shelton to apply a tidy back-post finish.

Weymouth did not give in and were desperately unlucky not to score a consolation when Brooks’ dipping 30-yard shot cannoned off the bar and behind with James beaten.

Dorset Echo: Calvin Brooks was unlucky not to score as his effort smashed the bar Picture: MARK PROBINCalvin Brooks was unlucky not to score as his effort smashed the bar Picture: MARK PROBIN

Dallas was denied by James on the break before a fine individual effort from Holohan gave Hartlepool their fourth in the 78th minute, despite fingertips from Benfield.

Weymouth really should have made it 4-1 when Ngalo’s perfect through ball set Dallas free.

The striker took the ball round James only to dither and allow the keeper to get back, criminally ignoring an open goal.

Hartlepool had another goal disallowed for a foul before Brooks scuffed a shot at the back post from Harfield’s excellent deep cross.

Weymouth did deserve a goal for their efforts but Hartlepool underlined their worthiness of fourth place as Stockport took third thanks to a 1-0 win at Yeovil.

Hartlepool: James, Sterry (Donaldson 46), Cass, Liddle (Francis-Angol 84), Johnson, Ferguson, Featherstone, Holohan, Shelton, Oates (Molyneux 66), Elliott. Subs not used: Ravas, Crawford.

Terras: Benfield, McQuoid (Ngalo 45+1), Leslie-Smith, Robinson, Brooks, Dallas, Mensah, Murray, Harfield, Worman, Fonkeu. Subs not used: Ross, Bruton, Shields, Lander.

Referee: Adam Herczeg