THIS was one of the greatest displays ever by a Weymouth team.
Even the Peterborough fans, hushed by the Terras’ magnificent play, admitted that their team were lucky not to have been beaten in Saturday’s F.A. Cup first round clash.
Weymouth honoured the pledge of their player-manager, Graham Williams, who had said: “We will play until we drop.” And at times they outfought and outplayed the highly placed Third Division club.
Encouraged by the continuous chanting of “Weymouth! Weymouth!” from over 300 fans who had made the long trip to give superb support, Williams and his team of part-timers impressed all the way, and deserved the glory of a Cup giant-killing triumph.
As it was, against a team who have gone 31 home Third Division games in a row without defeat, Weymouth achieved the outstanding result of the first round holding Peterborough to a goalless draw.
They drew unstinted praise from Noel Cantwell, Peterborough’s manager, who admitted to me after the game: “Weymouth were the better side on the day.”
A very proud Williams told me: “We went to Peterborough to win and we almost did it. In the end, it took a great save from their goalkeeper to keep us out.”
Goalkeeper Eric Steele proved to be Peterborough’s hero who saved them ten minutes from the end when he pulled off a brilliant reaction save from Weymouth skipper Tony Hobson.
Bobby Brown, always on the alert for a chance, beat two home defenders on the right flank with a great run and accurately placed the ball through to the far post.
Hobson, who had stolen his way past the Peterborough defence, flicked in a shot which had Steele changing direction to reach out with one hand to claw the ball down.
It was a breathtaking save. “You have to give the goal-keeper every credit for making it,” Hobson told me.
“I also felt sick about it,” he said. “I thought it was there.
“After Alan Beer had challenged for a cross, the ball came through to me. I had a stab at it and managed to connect with the inside of my leg. I didn’t think the goalkeeper stood a chance.”
Weymouth had several golden opportunities, particularly in the second-half, when Peterborough found themselves struggling as the non-Leaguers took the fight to them.
Beer had Steele stretching full-length to keeper out a low shot, but also threw away a great chance well inside the penalty box with only Steele to beat.
The ball had skipped through to him from a goal kick taken by Barry Smith, the Terras’ goalkeeper. Beer, completely on his own, contrived to hook the ball high over the ball.
Later, Beer told me: “The ball bobbled in front of me and I had to take a shot with my left foot. I lost control and made a mess of it.”
There was also a dreadful second-half miss by John Brown, the Weymouth centre-forward, who was even better placed than Beer with only Steele to beat. Brown, inexplicably, drove the ball so far wide from nine yards that he almost hit the corner flag.
His explanation: “I hit it with the inside of my foot and was amazed to see where it went. I had thought about taking it on, but decided to shoot first time.”
Weymouth created other chances in the first-half, when they were just as forthright in boldly going forward to put Peterborough under pressure.
Every member of the Weymouth side deserves praise for Saturday’s effort.
In defence Brian Lawrence and Williams were terrier-like tacklers, while Hobson and Ralph Miller set great examples with their covering.
Jim Hall, the home attack leader, was allowed few chances. And when he was on target with a fierce drive on the turn early in the second half, Smith contributed to Weymouth’s all-round team performance with a first-rate diving save.
I rated this as Smith’s best performance for the Terras. He was equal to all demands, several times coming off his line positively to punch clear.
Rod Adams, Bobby Brown and Chris Foote battled keenly from midfield and were all prepared to go forward and have a go. Foote went close in breaking through to reach a cross from a Williams free kick in the second half and send the ball just over the bar.
Up front Beer, Derek Courtney and John Brown all preserved to give Peterborough’s defence problems.
The Third Division side were surprised by Weymouth’s footballing ability. If the Terras can pick up in the replay where they left off at Peterborough they can go through to the second round.
Weymouth: Smith, Lawrence, Williams, Hobson, Miller, Foote, Courtney, B. Brown, J. Brown, Adams, Beer.