Weymouth on top form to see off the Centurions
A HIGHLY impressive Weymouth display ensured Terras sealed three points at the Corinium Stadium against injury-hit Cirencester Town.
Goals from Ben Thomson and Chris Shephard came either side of a simply sublime strike from Jake Wannell, meaning Weymouth leapfrogged their opposition in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division table.
The Terras were boosted by the return of playmaker Shephard for the battle against the Centurions, who had only lost once at home in the league this season prior to the encounter.
Shephard was initially left on the Weymouth bench as player-manager Jason Matthews named an unchanged starting XI from the side that beat Hungerford on Saturday.
Cirencester went into the contest with a host of absentees.
Josh Parsons and Gethin Jones were ruled out of the encounter with hamstring problems. Ben Wells, Ian Herring and Ellis Dunton also missed out.
Ironically, the hosts went into battle off the back of an FA Cup exit at the hands of Petersfield Town on Saturday, the conquerors of Weymouth in the previous round.
As proceedings got underway, the sides got themselves in the thick of it from the off.
Cirencester full-back Mark Pritchett briefly required treatment for a minor head injury, while shortly after, Weymouth striker Ben Thomson picked up the game’s first booking for a foul on halfway.
Ollie Knight then produced the first effort on goal for the hosts, but his strike fell safely into the grasp of player-manager Matthews.
Weymouth’s first real chance came through George Rigg on 14 minutes. The former Stoke and Bristol City midfielder managed to break clear and create an opening, but his effort was denied by Centurions’ keeper Glyn Garner.
And, after a free-kick from 25 yards out went begging for Matthews’ men, they started to move the ball around nicely and came within inches of breaking the deadlock.
Skipper Stewart Yetton pounced on some lacklustre defending and struck a post, Adam Kelly then hit a fizzing effort from range which forced a top-drawer save from Garner.
With the away side asserting themselves on the game, Weymouth player-coach Chris McPhee then went close with a header, and Knight once again forced Matthews into a comfortable save.
Having suffered with a number of first-team regulars out already, Cirencester lost Ben Brown with 34 minutes on the clock through injury. He was replaced by striker Danny Gudger.
Four minutes later, the Terras deservedly got the opener through striker Thomson.
He latched onto a cross from Wannell and hit a deflected shot over Garner, which fell into the net to put Weymouth ahead at the interval.
And, after Charlie Griffin had blazed over for the home side, who started the second period positively, a moment of magic from Wannell meant the Terras doubled their lead.
As the ball fell out of the sky, he hit an absolute screamer on the volley from all of 25 yards out leaving Garner with no chance as it flew into the corner and put the Terras well and truly in the box seat.
A neat one-two by the home side then meant Matthews was called into action once again, and minutes later, Weymouth felt they could have had a penalty after Thomson proved a handful in the area.
Replacement Gudger then tamely struck a shot in what was a half chance for the hosts, who were being kept quiet by the Terras’ backline.
With another strong performance under his belt, striker Thomson was then replaced by Shephard, and the latter made an instant impact.
A brilliant run from Calvin Brooks allowed him to tee up Shephard, who, with his second touch since coming on, put a half-volley into the corner and wrapped the game up.
And, on a night where the Terras were dominant throughout, captain Yetton could have ensured that the Centurions were hit for four.
His attempt from close range cannoned off the bar late on but it was not to take the gloss off what was a resounding win for Matthews’ troops.