5 things we learned from Weston's first week in the Southern League

PUBLISHED: 16:26 15 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:26 15 August 2019

Weston FC vs Hendon at Optima Stadium.    Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Weston FC vs Hendon at Optima Stadium. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

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Two games have already gone in the Southern League season and while Weston are unbeaten, Scott Bartlett's side are still yet to register their first win.

Weston FC vs Hendon at Optima Stadium.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONWeston FC vs Hendon at Optima Stadium. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

A pair of last-gasp equalisers - against Hendon and Merthyr Town respectively - has saved the Seagulls from defeat in the opening week.

Three poor goals have been given away, but there have also been plenty of bright sparks to excite Weston fans who endured the most miserable of campaigns in 2018/19 as their side finished rock bottom of the National League South

Here are some of the takeaways from the opening week.

Weston FC vs Hendon at Optima Stadium.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONWeston FC vs Hendon at Optima Stadium. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

1) These Seagulls have got character

In both games so far, Weston have had to dig deep to avoid defeat. Far too often in recent years have Weston sides crumbled when going behind.

This lot - with experienced campaigners Greg Tindle, Scott Laird and Nick McCootie leading from the front - are cut from a different cloth.

That the Seagulls have been able to scrap for points without playing too well, coming from behind to level with stoppage-time equalisers, is a hugely encouraging sign.

Weston FC vs Hendon at Optima Stadium.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONWeston FC vs Hendon at Optima Stadium. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

2) The defence needs to tighten up

For large parts of the opening games Weston have enjoyed periods of superiority, but errors in their own their own third have been costly.

Hendon's goals were the product of Nick McCootie losing his man at a set piece and Luke Purnell's poor clearance being cut out on the edge of his area.

Weston FC vs Hendon at Optima Stadium.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONWeston FC vs Hendon at Optima Stadium. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

At Merthyr, Greg Tindle's failure to clear a long ball allowed Ian Traylor to run through on goal and score.

Seagulls boss Bartlett has admitted mistakes are expected as his freshly-assembled squad continues to gel, but Weston must tighten up if they are to achieve their goals this season.

3) Isaac Pearce is an exciting talent

While some of Weston's attacking play has been a little disjointed, Pearce has been a constant threat on the left flank.

He craves the ball in one-on-one situations, where he invariably gets the better of his man, and Bartlett appears to have found a real gem in the former Fulham scholar.

His delivery needs to be better, but Pearce will be key to Weston's chances this season with his frightening pace and eye-catching trickery.

4) Weston must be calmer and more clinical in the final third

Poor touches, hurried decision making and wasteful finishing have let Weston down so far. Six points could be on the board if they made better use of the promising positions they found themselves in against Hendon and Merthyr.

The Seagulls' ability to come back from a deficit has been admirable, but cooler heads are needed in the box rather than some of the desperation seen to date.

5) The Southern League is no walk in the park

Make no mistake, this league presents an immensely tough challenge for Weston. Bartlett said after the Merthyr game the Southern League is the most 'honest' you will find, with players turning out for enjoyment rather than riches.

Some teams, like Merthyr, play tidy football which will test Weston technically, while more industrious sides, as Hendon showed, will sit deep and defend manfully.

Weston fans should expect a good season from their side, and probably a push for the playoffs, but it will take plenty of hard work for Bartlett's side to achieve their goals.

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