Weston-super-Mare battle back to secure 3-3 draw at Oxford City
PUBLISHED: 13:37 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:37 13 September 2017
Weston manager Marc McGregor says his side ‘deserved more’ from their past two games as they secured two draws away from home – with new striker Irnti Rapai scoring both equalisers.
The Albanian joined Weston just last week and has been a substitute in both games, scoring a crucial goal in each.
The Seagulls faced a tough trip on Saturday to high-flying Chelmsford City but came away from the Melbourne Stadium with a credible 1-1 draw.
Chelmsford were top of the National League South at the time and Weston’s heads could have dropped when they found themselves trailing after just eight minutes.
Chelmsford broke away from a promising Weston attack and goalkeeper Luke Purnell had a moment to forget.
Striker Lee Barnard’s shot was initially saved by the 27-year-old but he then fumbled the ball and could only watch as it rolled over the line.
It wasn’t until the 82nd minute that Weston managed to find that elusive equaliser and Rapai not only scored his first goal in Seagulls colours, but his first goal in England.
Rapai, who is Albanian, spent last season at Olympicos Lavriou and celebrated in style as he tapped in his first goal.
And on Tuesday, Marc McGregor’s side faced the relatively long trip to Oxford City.
The Seagulls made a lightning start and in-form midfielder Dayle Grubb found some space when he latched on to a loose ball and hammered home into the bottom corner after just two minutes.
However, Weston then had Aden Baldwin sent off just before the half hour mark.
The decision was based on a tackle, which the referee deemed reckless, but McGregor said he felt it ‘ruined the game’.
But Weston still dominated and took the lead just before the break.
Grubb’s excellent free kick was always destined for the back of the net.
But City were on the front foot after the break and were rewarded within 10 minutes of the re-start.
Reece Fleet smashed a bouncing ball past Purnell to level things up.
And in this lively match, Oxford were then also reduced to 10 men.
Freddie Grant received a second yellow card with 15 minutes left to play.
However, the home side took the lead for the first time in the match just a minute later thanks to Zac McEachran.
But with 10 minutes left to play, Weston were deservedly level and it was Rapai again who bundled home from close range to secure a hard-earned point away from home.
Weston are now 17th in the National League South and after the game Marc McGregor said he is pleased with Rapai’s impact but also said it is important how he fits in, as he does not speak very much English.
He said: “I think a really poor refereeing decision has cost us.
“There was a tangle but it spoilt the game for me.
“Irnti is still learning and he hardly speaks any English, so it is difficult.
“I was more impressed with our attitude and our application to spending 50, 60 minutes down to 10 men. When they went down to 10 men, there was only one team going to win it and we looked absolutely awesome going forward.”
Weston are in FA Cup qualifying action on Saturday, when they travel to Bognor Regis Town in the second round qualifying.
McGregor said he hopes he can keep 11 on the pitch and use the momentum they have, having now gone three matches unbeaten.
He added: “We have momentum and we are playing well, we look a decent outfit.
“We are still in transition. We are in a real positive position.”