Roberts 5, 49


Ash 40, O’Connell 90+1

KEELAN O’Connell scored a priceless late leveller as Weymouth rescued a point with a 2-2 draw at play-off chasing Havant & Waterlooville.

James Roberts had twice put Havant ahead with early goals in each half, either side of Brad Ash’s wonderful equaliser before the break.

But O’Connell’s goal gave Weymouth a lifeline in their bid to avoid the Vanarama National League South drop, despite Havant enjoying the better of play.

O’Connell was Weymouth boss Bobby Wilkinson’s only change to the side that began the 1-0 loss to Eastbourne last time out as Xander McBurnie dropped to the bench.

READ MORE: Havant & Waterlooville 2-2 Weymouth - how it happened

Joining McBurnie were Archie Procter, Matt Buse, Scott Rees and Harvey Slade.

With Havant drastically out of form, claiming only three points in ten games, the Hawks did not show it as they controlled the first half.

Ben Shroll headed wide from a Jack Jebb free-kick in the first minute and from there the tone was set.

Weymouth did have the ball in the back of the net in the third minute through Ash but the flag had long gone up for offside after he latched on to Ahkeem Rose’s flick-on.

Dorset Echo: Ahkeem Rose grabbed a vital assist for WeymouthAhkeem Rose grabbed a vital assist for Weymouth (Image: MARK PROBIN)

However, there was more than a touch of controversy when Havant opened the scoring two minutes later.

Tom Blair’s long throw-in was cleared and Havant broke to produce a two-on-one situation.

The Terras felt Callum Kealy had clearly handled but play continued and Healy squared for the unmarked Roberts to slide home an easy finish.

Weymouth responded with a succession of deliveries into the home area, albeit without creating a chance.

When they did look menacing, Havant’s Mo Faal took a booking for cynically halting a counter and Tom Bearwish overhit his pass to Blair in the next attack.

Havant will wonder how they did not go 2-0 up midway through the half as Terras keeper Gerard Benfield’s mis-kick was tidied up by Teddy Howe.

The error sparked a nervy 60 seconds for Weymouth, as Roberts guided a header against the post and Benfield got down to deny Faal before Kealy was smothered on the follow-up.

But Weymouth held steady and grew in confidence late in the half as Ash headed into the side-netting from an acute angle after Blair’s searching cross.

Fewer than 60 seconds later, Ash restored parity for the Terras with his 20th goal of the season.

O’Connell surged forward in midfield and picked out the striker, whose curling left-footed strike from 20 yards sailed past Hawks’ keeper Teddy Sharman-Lowe in the 40th minute.

Dorset Echo: Brad Ash, centre, celebrates his 20th goal of the seasonBrad Ash, centre, celebrates his 20th goal of the season (Image: MARK PROBIN)

Havant reacted by bringing on ex-Torquay striker Danny Wright for Ethan Burnett at the break.

And the change certainly provoked Havant into the crisp passing they are capable of as a wonderful team move led to their second goal.

The Hawks knocked it around with aplomb to create space for Faal, who escaped from the clutches of David Sesay to shape in a wonderful cross from which Roberts powerfully headed past Benfield in the 49th minute.

Havant continued to attack as Roberts headed over from Faal’s cross and the latter then hit rising drive over.

Weymouth were living dangerously as Sesay was penalised on the edge of the box and Hawks’ skipper Joe Oastler’s header was tipped way by a fabulous reaction save from Benfield.

The Terras were meanwhile restricted to very little as Blair’s dipping free-kick did not dip quite enough to trouble Sharman-Lowe.

Dorset Echo: Tom Blair proved a threat from set-plays for WeymouthTom Blair proved a threat from set-plays for Weymouth (Image: MARK PROBIN)

Brendan Willson made an important tackle to deny Faal and Shroll made an equally vital challenge to stop Weymouth in their tracks at the other end as the game remained in the balance.

Benfield then saved Weymouth from a one-on-one as Kealy rounded the keeper, only to be forced wide.

With Weymouth under increasing pressure, Kealy was blocked close to the line as Havant pushed Weymouth in the final ten minutes.

Wilkinson’s men were able to break the spell of possession and tested the Havant defence with a searching cross, although Sharman-Lowe was equal to it.

And with five minutes of added time to play with, Weymouth earned what could be a crucial equaliser in their bid to avoid the drop.

Cool play in the box saw Ash backheel to Rose and his lay-off found O’Connell who tucked away a composed finish in the 91st-minute to give Weymouth a huge boost in their survival bid.

Havant: Sharman-Lowe, Passley, Newton (Miller-Rodney 80), Oastler, McCarthy, Kealy, Jebb, Roberts, Faal (Ruff 75), Burnett (D Wright 46), Shroll. Subs not used: Magri, Gobern.

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

Referee: Shelby Elson.