We have a stronger squad than last year - Laird

PUBLISHED: 13:37 23 August 2013 | UPDATED: 13:37 23 August 2013

Weston AFC v Eastbourne

Weston AFC v Eastbourne

Archant

MANAGER Craig Laird said Weston played some of the best football he has seen in years this week, and is backing them to top last season’s seventh-place finish despite a mixed opening week to the season.

The Seagulls were unlucky to lose at home to Eastbourne Borough 1-0 on Saturday but bounced back to win 3-0 at Dorchester Town on Tuesday night.

Three new signings started against Eastbourne on Saturday with fullback Jordan Walker, signed from Clevedon Town, Ollie Knowles and Tristan Plummer all handed full debuts.

The visitors started brightly with Eastbourne skipper Ian Simpemba narrowly heading wide from a corner and Lloyd Irish having to be alert when Darren Lok closed in half-way through the first period.

As the game approached the interval Weston began to improve, with Naby Diallo’s long-range shot brilliantly saved by man-of-the-match Craig Ross in the Eastbourne goal.

The match was settled by a penalty in the 67th minute as a push in the box - considered ‘dubious’ by Laird - allowed Frankie Raymond to send Irish the wrong way from the spot.

Weston twice went close to securing a deserved point as Kane Ingram fired narrowly over and Dayle Grubb was denied by the underside of the crossbar in the closing stages.

The midweek trip to Dorchester proved far more fruitful for the Seagulls.

Having lost there on the final day of the 2012/13 season, Weston made amends with a win that puts them ninth in the Skrill South table.

Incoming goalkeeper Luke Purnell was the only change from the weekend, but he was largely untroubled as Weston dominated. The Seagulls went in front on 20 minutes when Plummer opened his Weston account from the penalty spot, after Naby Diallo was sent sprawling by home keeper Tim Sandercombe.

Purnell maintained the advantage with a fine save with his legs from Ben Watson but Weston got the decisive second after half-time.

Ashley Kington set up Grubb in the 63rd minute, and he gave Sandercombe no chance from just inside the box.

The scoring was completed four minutes from time when Kayne McLaggon, who had come on for Plummer, scored Weston’s second penalty, having been brought down.

Laird said: “The first half was very good and we should have been a couple of goals up and made the game much easier.

“It was some of the best football we played for a long time but we only had one goal to show for it.

“It was important to get the three points on Tuesday night. We have the first away win, the first clean sheet and three goals.

“We should really be sat on four points though as I think a draw with Eastbourne would have been a fair result.”

The Seagulls are still looking to sign an extra centre-back but Laird is confident for the forthcoming season.

He said: “I think the squad is a little bit stronger than last year and we have more options to change a game off the bench too.”

Weston face a trip to Havant and Waterlooville on Saturday before entertaining Basingstoke Town, who have won two out of two so far, at the Woodspring Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday. Kick-off is at 3pm.

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