Agony for Weymouth as play-off push ends with defeat at Chesham
THERE was a sense of déjà vu for the Terras as, for the second season in a row, their last-gasp ambitions of making the play-offs were snuffed out on their final day of the campaign.
Jason Matthews’ side were also left to settle for seventh spot in the division for the second season in a row, as they bowed out with a 1-0 reverse at Chesham United.
Substitute Kelvin Bossman netted the winner for the home side at the death to end Weymouth’s five-game unbeaten run in the league.
Ahead of kick-off, for the Terras to reach the top five first and foremost, they needed a win at Chesham. Then, their destiny would have been in the hands of those elsewhere.
Leamington had to lose at home to Hungerford in their final regular league game of the campaign to make it possible for Weymouth.
Ironically, the Terras were also relying on Dorchester Town to thwart Kettering Town’s attempt of taking three points away from the Avenue.
If the Poppies did beat the Magpies, Weymouth would have needed to better their result by three goals to overhaul Kettering on goal difference and extend their season.
As it turned out, Leamington got the point they needed in a 0-0 draw at home with Hungerford, meaning, regardless of Weymouth’s weekend defeat, the Brakes claimed the final play-off spot.
Boss Matthews named an unchanged side for Weymouth’s clash with the Generals at the Meadow, against a Chesham side that gave the Terras a 4-1 trouncing at the Bob Lucas Stadium back in February.
Home manager Andy Leese was keen to spoil the Terras’ party once again. Speaking to their Generals’ website ahead of the tie, he said: “It promises to be a lively encounter. Weymouth have real quality with their resources, and we will need to be at our best.
“We have had a demanding week with two games in 72 hours on unforgiving pitches, and we will have to summon up every bit of energy as we look to end our home season on a high.”
Former Fulham striker Barry Hayles, who came off the bench to score in the reverse fixture between the two sides, lined up as the spearhead of the Generals’ attack.
Matthews was tasked with making the game’s first save as he grasped a scuffed effort from Chesham’s Ryan Blake, as news from elsewhere filtered through that Dorchester were trailing against the Poppies.
Eager to make things happen, Weymouth’s Chris Shephard then struck the visitors’ first attempt at goal, which fell wide, and Ben Thomson looked to add to his goal tally for the campaign with an effort which was straight at Chesham stopper Shane Gore.
Shephard and Thomson then combined to force the Terras’ first clear-cut chance of the contest. The former whipped in a free-kick for the powerful striker, whose header was well stopped by Gore.
The last thing the Terras’ needed was to fall behind and, at the other end, Chesham’s Toby Little forced keeper Matthews to punch clear with a dangerous ball in and the hosts then cleared the crossbar on the follow-up.
Another headed effort from the Generals was then off target after another Little cross from a set-piece, but the sides went in goalless at the break.
After the interval, Blake caused problems to the away side’s defence as he beat his man in a wide position and drilled a ball across goal, which failed to take a finishing touch.
Hayles and Blake then combined and the Terras were forced to clear the ball away on the line – shouts of hand ball from the Generals inside the Terras’ box were waved away.
On the hour mark, Shephard found Copp on the counter, but Gore was not troubled by the latter’s attempt on goal.
Terras’ striker Stewart Yetton was then introduced in place of George Rigg, as Weymouth looked to bolster their attacking options.
The visitors then looked to turn the screw and find a late flurry, Shephard’s cross was headed by Dean Evans but the chance went begging with just under 15 minutes remaining.
As Weymouth needed to find a winner to have any hope, it was Chesham’s Bossman who was causing problems after coming off the home bench.
With Kettering netting a fourth goal at Dorchester, the Terras knew their play-off push was up and the contest ended disappointingly for the away side.
Bossman slotted home late on to put the hammer blow in Weymouth’s promotion chances, as Matthews’ troops were left to ponder another campaign in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division next season.