Ollie’s strike sinks the fleet

Tom Jordan.

Tom Jordan. - Credit: Archant

WESTON secured a famous victory on the road in their final pre-Christmas fixture, downing promotion hopefuls Ebbsfleet United at Stonebridge Road, with Ollie Watkins’ winner 19 minutes from time, earning the Seagulls a 1-0 victory and all three points.

The Seagulls were resolute in defence, intelligent in their play and lethal on the counter attack, with Ryan Northmore hailing a “perfect away performance”.

Seagulls boss Northmore made one change to the side that shared the points with Whitehawk in midweek, with Matt Jay replacing Jake Mawford, who missed the trip to Kent with a hamstring strain.

The game’s first opportunity fell to Ebbsfleet striker Billy Bricknell, after keeper Brandon Hall’s long punt was nodded on by Matt Godden to set Bricknell through. Bricknell flicked the ball over Weston skipper Tom Jordan, but the centre-half did well to recover and block the striker’s firm volley.

In similar fashion, the Seagulls threatened from a long goal-kick. Luke Purnell’s kick dipped in behind the Ebbsfleet back four, with Exeter City loanee Ollie Watkins beating the onrushing Hall to the ball, but the keeper got the slightest of touches on his header, allowing right-back Chris Sessegnon to clear the danger.

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Both sides had further chances to take the lead, with Weston’s Joe McClennan’s shot lacking power and Godden missing a golden opportunity.

After the break, as the winter gloom grew, as did the home side’s presence in the game, but Purnell did well to deny Bricknell.

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The frustrations of the home fans continued to intensify, as Weston’s athletic midfield continued to press and stifle the Fleet’s play, while the Seagulls defence were exceptional in snuffing out any potential moments of danger.

The game’s decisive moment came 19 minutes from time, after Weston earned a throw-in deep in Fleet territory. Matt Jay picked the ball up on the right touchline, fizzing the ball into fellow Grecian starlet Ollie Watkins on the edge of the area.

Good play by Watkins, Dayle Grubb and Jay saw the ball fall to Watkins on the edge of the area, where he struck the winner as his clean strike eluded the grasp of Hall, nestling in the bottom corner.

In the final 10 minutes, Ebbsfleet huffed and puffed, but failed to test Purnell with any meaningful effort.

Victory means that the Seagulls are unbeaten in their last three league outings, taking seven points from a possible nine, and have significantly closed the gap on the teams above them.

After the game, Weston manager Ryan Northmore hailed his side’s performance. He said: “The way that the players have absorbed the game plan and gone out on the pitch and executed it was outstanding.”

When asked about his side’s team spirit, Northmore said: “The players take the credit for that, we’ve got some experienced players that take the lead and the younger players are accepting what their responsibility is and they are starting to learn how to win games of football, which is very important.”

The travelling support awarded the man of the match accolade to Pierce Mitchell, for his role in a terrific defensive outing.

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