Fage 35, Rasulo 52


Bearwish 75

WEYMOUTH’S search for an opening day win goes into a fifth year after a 2-1 loss to St Albans City in their Vanarama National League South curtain-raiser.

Goals in either half for Dylan Fage and Gio Rasulo put St Albans into a commanding position but Weymouth mounted a big fightback in the second half.

Tom Bearwish’s flicked header halved the deficit but the Weymouth captain saw a penalty saved by Michael Johnson and, despite several late chances, the Terras could not salvage a point.

Coming up against last season’s beaten play-off finalists, Jordon Thompson and Nelson Iseguan (both hamstring), Harvey Slade and Tyrique Clarke were all missing through injury.

READ MORE: St Albans 2-1 Weymouth - how it happened

It meant the Terras handed full debuts to Cheshire, Leo Hamblin, Joel Rollinson and Dan Roberts with Brandon Goodship making his third bow and Charlie Rowan his second.

The Saints announced a new signing prior to kick-off, with 17-year-old George Hoddle, second cousin of former England boss Glenn Hoddle, coming in on a season-long loan from Cambridge United.

After a minute’s silence, it was the Saints who began the brightest with Zane Banton a particular nuisance for Weymouth.

Banton won a fourth-minute free-kick which came to nothing before he produced the first shot of the game, albeit Gerard Benfield in the Weymouth goal being able to watch it sail by.

St Albans received a blow on 15 minutes as the lively Banton picked up an injury and, after trying to continue, gave in and was replaced by Andronicus Georgiou.

Weymouth were later incensed a corner was not given when former Terras defender Nathan Carlyle appeared to put the ball behind.

The incident fired up Weymouth but despite three quick corners later the visitors were still waiting for their first shot at goal.

Their frustration was illustrated in the 33rd minute when Wilkinson received a yellow card for his protests at what he felt was a lack of decisions falling Weymouth’s way.

Weymouth had further cause for annoyance when they conceded the opening goal two minutes later.

Dorset Echo: St Albans wheel away after scoring against WeymouthSt Albans wheel away after scoring against Weymouth (Image: MARK PROBIN)

Carlyle’s chipped free-kick tempted Benfield out to claim but the goalkeeper did not make it all the way, allowing Fage to leap high and head home.

Weymouth responded with their first shot of any note when Keelan O’Connell’s sweeping shot missed the far post.

There was a further blow for Weymouth in the first half when Max Hemmings hobbled off with an apparent knee injury, replaced by Josh McQuoid for his second debut.

Dorset Echo: Max Hemmings went off with a knee injuryMax Hemmings went off with a knee injury (Image: MARK PROBIN)

Benfield atoned for the first goal with a wonderful fingertip save to deny Rasulo’s chip and the Saints continued to push, albeit illegally, when Georgiou was booked for simulation before the break.

Weymouth weathered two early corners in the second half but a set-piece of their own from Rollinson failed to trouble the hosts, who promptly doubled their lead.

Cheshire’s outstretched arm made contact with Rasulo’s cross and Benfield sprung superbly to get both hands to Blackman’s penalty, only for the rebound to fall perfectly for Rasulo who made no mistake for 2-0.

Weymouth made their final changes on the hour as Frankie Monk and Norman Wabo came on for O’Connell and Rollinson respectively.

The alterations, switching Weymouth into a 4-4-2, sparked them into life as Goodship crossed for Monk, the youngster’s header zipping over the bar.

Dorset Echo: Frankie Monk made a big impact after coming on for WeymouthFrankie Monk made a big impact after coming on for Weymouth (Image: MARK PROBIN)

Revitalised Weymouth saw Bearwish tee up Goodship, whose half-volley was well saved by Johnson before a huge moment in the game.

Bearwish’s impudent flick struck the hand of Jack James but Johnson guessed correctly from the spot, sprawling to his left to make a solid one-handed save on 80 minutes.

Bearwish tried to make amends with a surging run and shot that deflected away for a corner, only for Johnson to claim with ease.

Weymouth threw men forward in search of an equaliser, and pinball in the box failed to conjure a chance one minute from time.

Into six added minutes, Weymouth had the next chance with a 20-yard free-kick but McQuoid’s delivery found Monk and the forward’s shot was dragged well wide.

There would be one final opportunity as Goodship saw a shot cleared off the line and Weymouth’s corner, taken short with Benfield going up, was worked back to Goodship who blasted inches over.

That was the last action as Weymouth came so close to rescuing a point, only to go home empty-handed.

St Albans: St Albans: Johnson, James, Brown, Smith, Bowry, Blackman, Rasulo, Banton (Georgiou 15), Weiss (Jeffers 87), Fage (Hoddle 77), Carlyle. Subs not used: Clark, Dunn.

Terras: Benfield, Howe, Cheshire, Rowan, Hamblin, Hemmings (McQuoid 42), O’Connell (Monk 61), Bearwish, Goodship, Rollinson (Wabo 61), Roberts. Subs not used: Rees, C Brooks.

Referee: Eugene Robinson

Attendance: 1,188