Deflated Weston will rebuild

A ‘DEFLATED’ Weston will pick up the pieces and improve after their FA Cup dream was ended on Saturday, manager Craig Laird has vowed.

The Seagulls started their final qualifying tie against Oxford City as clear favourites, but were shocked by their lower league opposition, who ran out 3-2 winners at the Woodspring Stadium.

Despite the result, Craig says his young team has a bright future, and will look to push on in the Blue Square South this season.

A bumper crowd of 701 spectators were expectant at kick-off but Oxford, who ply their trade in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division, quickly delivered a shock opener.

After only minutes Declan Benjamin raced clear down the right wing and crossed across goal for the unmarked Darren Pond to beat Lloyd Irish.

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Weston struggled to deal with Oxford’s positive approach, and they fell further behind after 33 minutes when the impressive Felipe Barcelos crossed for former Southampton player Steve Basham to plant a header past Irish.

Brett Trowbridge replaced the injured Chris Young for the second half, and Weston came out playing as though they were a different team.

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Their improved performance was rewarded with a foul in the box on Sahr Kabba after 55 minutes, with Nat Pepperell scoring the penalty.

They piled the pressure on Oxford, hitting the post through Kane Ingram, seeing a Dayle Grubb free-kick cleared off the line and away keeper Jason Mooney making several excellent saves.

But they were hit with a sucker punch after 74 minutes, when Barcelos slalomed through the Weston defence to score after a quick break-out. Although Ingram did pull a goal back in the 90th minute, it was too little, too late.

The result saw Weston miss out on �12,000 of prize money and a place in the first round of the cup, with Oxford drawn against Ryman league outfit Redbridge, the lowest-ranked team left in the draw.

Craig said: “We were all completely deflated by the result, I think most of all the players felt they had let the supporters down who came out in great numbers and gave us some brilliant support.

“We had watched Oxford before and told the players to watch them on the break and not take a cavalier approach, but unfortunately they didn’t pay attention throughout the match.”

Nevertheless, Craig was encouraged to see such a large crowd watching the match, and has encouraged them to return to league matches as his young team continues to grow.

He continued: “This group of players has only been together for a year and are still learning in some ways. This team has a bright future and I firmly believe that we can be a Blue Square Premier team in the future.”

Weston are back in league action on Saturday, when they face Dover Athletic away, and have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the match.

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