Bartley 36

WEYMOUTH suffered a dismal 25th Vanarama National League South defeat of the season as Eastbourne Borough claimed a 1-0 win at the Bob Lucas Stadium.

Ryan Bartley’s close-range finish was all that separated the sides as Weymouth, at times, sleepwalked to a loss that keeps them 23rd and five points adrift of safety.

Brad Ash did hit the post in an improved final 20 minutes but it was too little too late from a Weymouth side cracking under the burden of their survival bid.

Weymouth boss Bobby Wilkinson made 11 changes to the side that began the 4-0 loss to Poole Town on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Weymouth 0-1 Eastbourne Borough - how it happened

Archie Procter, Harvey Slade, Matt Buse, Scott Rees and Keelan O'Connell all dropped to the bench.

Zaki Oualah, Hari McCoy and Ben Thomson made no appearance in the matchday squad.

Under-23 stars Callum Corbridge, Dylan Ross and Liam O'Shaughnessy also missed out completely.

Max Hemmings earned his debut, with Gerard Benfield, Teddy Howe, Nathan Carlyle, Brendan Willson, David Sesay, Xander McBurnie, Tom Bearwish, Tom Blair, Ahkeem Rose and Ash coming back.

With Weymouth badly in need of a good result, the Terras began brightly as Rose drove forward and dragged just wide from 20 yards after tenacious work from skipper Bearwish.

Hemmings appeared hungry for a debut goal as he first guided a weak effort at Boro keeper Lee Worgan before fizzing a sweetly-struck half-volley on target in the sixth minute.

Dorset Echo: Max Hemmings went close to a debut goal early onMax Hemmings went close to a debut goal early on (Image: MARK PROBIN)

Eastbourne began to disrupt Weymouth’s momentum with a series of niggling fouls but Blair responded with a spark when he nodded Howe’s cross at Worgan from a tight angle.

Boro were by now gradually creeping into the game Gravata showed his obvious quality with a vicious 25-yard shot that Benfield did well to tip round the post.

Carlyle was next to save Weymouth with a tackle on a knife-edge between conceding a corner or penalty, luckily for him the former which Benfield claimed.

Weymouth retained a threat of their own as Willson, watched by ex-Terras boss and current Eastleigh assistant Brian Stock, headed at Worgan.

Dorset Echo: Brendan Willson was easily Weymouth's best player against EastbourneBrendan Willson was easily Weymouth's best player against Eastbourne (Image: MARK PROBIN)

Carlyle then found himself on the attack following a transition, nutmegging his man and curling a gorgeous effort just wide of the far post with the outside of his foot.

However, Eastbourne made good on their growing promise as Gravata escaped into the left side of the box before supplying Bartley for a tap-in at the far post as Weymouth’s defence switched off.

Weymouth were visibly affected by the goal as their tempo dropped off a cliff, affording Boro criminal amounts of time and space to build attacks through midfield.

The Terras escaped further punishment before the break when Benfield parried a Gravata shot, but a concerned home faithful watched on as their team lacked potency across the pitch.

Eastbourne’s menace carried into the second half as James Vaughan’s defence-splitting pass teed up Luke Pearce, only to be denied by an excellent save from Benfield before Willson cleared the loose ball.

Mitchell Dickenson was next to endanger the home goal with a towering header before Wilkinson removed McBurnie for O’Connell on 58 minutes.

Weymouth were in need of inspiration but it did not come easily as Sesay dragged a horrid shot wide from 25 yards before Rose poked a difficult chance over after head tennis in the box.

Ash and Kai Innocent were both booked for diving at either end of the pitch in trying to win their side a penalty as quality evaded the teams.

Weymouth pushed for a leveller as a bright move saw O’Connell slip in Bearwish, only for no teammate to gamble on his dangerous low cross.

Eastbourne were defending doggedly but Rose’s flicked header found Ash and the striker hit the outside of the post ten minutes from time.

Dorset Echo: Brad Ash, right, hit the post for Weymouth in the 80th minuteBrad Ash, right, hit the post for Weymouth in the 80th minute (Image: MARK PROBIN)

Ash was then blocked and Willson had a header saved by Worgan as Weymouth finally awoke from their slumber to mount serious pressure.

Six minutes of added time were called for and in the first of them Bearwish was superbly denied by an agile low Worgan save, Rose then heading the resultant corner wide.

Rose won a corner in the 94th minute and Wilkinson sent Benfield up, only for Willson and O’Connell to tangle when trying to meet Blair’s deep delivery in a dire moment synonymous with Weymouth’s performance.

The outstanding Willson sent a volley at Worgan in the 97th minute but Eastbourne held on as Weymouth slid to a dreadful defeat.

Terras: Benfield, Howe, Carlyle, Willson, Sesay, Hemmings, McBurnie (O’Connell 58), Bearwish, Blair, Rose, Ash. Subs not used: Procter, Slade, Buse, Rees.

Eastbourne: Worgan, Innocent, Barry, Dickenson, Bartley, Hammond, Walker, Vaughan (Perez 85), Remy, Pearce (Yila 80), Gravata (Luer 66). Subs not used: Burchell, Wabo.

Referee: Ross Martin.

Attendance: 816