Buckle 38, Claridge 55, 83, Partridge 79, Nightingale 75
MERTHYR TYDFIL 2
Regan 49, Thorne 54
IF IT’S entertainment you’re looking for on a Saturday afternoon then why not try the Wessex Stadium?
It’s tension, drama and goals galore these days down at Radipole Lane . . . and all for less than a tenner.
And Terras fans again got value for money as their side saw off plucky Merthyr Tydﬁl to secure a place in the second round of the FA Trophy.
It may have been a different competition, but old habits die hard for the Dorset side.
After the impressive Paul Buckle gave them an interval lead, Weymouth once again pushed the
defensive self-destruct button to allow the visitors back in it.
The Martyrs struck twice early in the second half before the home side finally made the most of their neat possession.
Claridge equalised before Luke Nightingale, Scott Partridge and the player-boss again notched in what was a thrilling second period.
If Weymouth were missing key players in injured pair Lee Phillips and Lee Philpott and ineligible Tim Clancy, it certainly didn’t show early on.
The contest proved to be little more than a case of attack versus defence with the hosts doing virtually all the pressing. But for all their decent football, they didn’t create too many clear-cut openings although defender Mark Kenway did have a shot blocked and Claridge had a tame stab easily held by keeper Neil Thomas.
Visiting striker Michael Regan went close on a couple of occasions, including a delicate chip which sailed just wide, before Merthyr lost former Weymouth defender Gethin Jones to injury midway through the opening half. Weymouth’s pressure eventually paid off though on 38 minutes.
A patient build up ended with Kenway striding forward and blasting goalwards, only for his shot to ﬁnd Nightingale whose drive was turned in by Buckle from close range. Nightingale, who looked lively in a right wing position, could have extended the lead before the break while it took a fantastic point blank save by Thomas to deny Partridge.
It was after the break though when things really sparked into life.
Weymouth’s defensive problems again came to the fore when the Martyrs hauled themselves level four minutes in.
Kenway made a hash of Paul Keddle’s cross which left Regan with the simple job of steering past keeper Jason Matthews from six yards out.
The Welsh side then took a shock lead five minutes later when Adrian Needs’ free-kick from deep was headed home by the unmarked Gary Thorne.
But the Terras responded in the best possible way by hitting back within 60 seconds.
Straight from the restart, the excellent Partridge paced away down the left ﬂank and found Claridge with a pinpoint cross to head the hosts level.
After that there was only ever going to be one winner and John Lamb crashed a shot against the bar and Buckle stabbed a shot at Thomas.
Claridge’s side eventually regained the lead with 15 minutes left when a quickly taken throw by Partridge sent Lamb away down the left.
His cross to the far post was met by Nightingale who placed an inch perfect header past Thomas and into the far corner.
By now, Weymouth were rampant and looked threatening in every attack. Claridge curled over from just inside the box after being released by Lamb before they made the game on 79 minutes. Claridge did well to work some space before ﬁring across goal for Partridge to tuck home from close range.
And the Terras rounded off the entertainment after 83 minutes when Claridge beat the visitors offside trap to slot home number ﬁve.
Weymouth: Matthews, Tully, Lamb, Barlow, Russell, Kenway, Buckle, Hutchinson, Claridge, Partridge, Nightingale.
Subs not used: Robinson, Dennis, Gill, S Browne, Gadsby