Weston eye play-off place

PUBLISHED: 14:04 13 December 2012

Weston v AFC Hornchurch.

Weston v AFC Hornchurch.

Archant

WESTON moved to within a point of the play-offs after beating struggling AFC Hornchurch at the Woodspring Stadium on Saturday.

The Seagulls moved up to seventh in the Conference South table but were almost punished by the visitors in the closing stages for missing a series of good first-half chances.

Manager Craig Laird called on his side to be more clinical in front of goal to keep the promotion push alive.

He said: “We perhaps should have been two or three goals up at half-time but we did well to ground out a goalless second half.

“We said to the players at half-time, that we are making an easier game much harder, taking nothing away from Hornchurch.

“And they showed good physical and mental strength in the second half to get the three points.”

On the back of last week’s 1-0 win at high-flying Boreham Wood, Weston started the brighter with winger Ross Stearn creating three good first-half chances from the right flank.

He almost opened the scoring inside five minutes as his drive from the edge of the box stung the hands of Joe Woolley, but it was his wing-play that Hornchurch could not cope with.

Jamie Price nearly broke the deadlock when he firmly met Stearn’s corner and was unfortunate to see his deflected effort hacked off the line with Woolley beaten.

Half-chances for Dayle Grubb and forward Chas Hemmings went begging as Weston struggled to make the breakthrough their attacking play deserved.

And they nearly fell behind when Hornchurch’s Lewis Smith fired inches wide on 38 minutes in the visitors’ only serious attack of the opening period.

Weston’s winner came barely a minute later however as Brett Trowbridge slid in at the back-post to convert Grubb’s low cross from the left.

The Seagulls were dealt a blow just before half-time when the impressive Stearn was replaced by Kane Ingram after the winger was forced off with a knee injury.

Laird admitted Weston missed Stearn’s pace and width in the second-half although they continued to look threatening.

But they were almost made to pay for their profligacy as Hornchurch almost nicked an undeserved point with their only shot on target, 17 minutes from time.

Goalkeeper Lloyd Irish was quick off his line to thwart Smith and Leon McKenzie, as referee John Busby waved away claims for a penalty.

Ingram twice fired wide in the closing stages as Weston failed to kill the game off but one goal was enough to see the Seagulls move up two places in the table.

Laird praised the defence and goalkeeper for securing a seventh clean sheet of the season and was optimistic that the good form will continue.

He said: “If we are still there or thereabouts with a few games of the season then that will be fantastic.

“Last year we fell away a bit but we will continue to try to win the league and if we can’t, we’ll aim for the playoffs. “

Weston will travel to mid-table outfit Staines Town at 3pm on Saturday and will hope to repeat September’s home 1-0 victory.

Fitness doubts remain over Price (calf) and Stearn (knee) but Laird hopes to take a full squad.

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