REPORT: Bishop’s Stortford 3-4 Weston
- Credit: Archant
JAMIE Lucas’ stunning 10-minute hat-trick sealed a third win from four games for Weston in a ding-dong battle at Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday.
The 19-year-old loanee, making his second start after rejoining from Bristol Rovers last month, struck three times either side of half-time to give Weston a commanding lead in Hertfordshire after they had fallen behind to Adam Bailey-Dennis’ 28th-minute header.
The Seagulls looked to be cruising when Ollie Watkins added a fourth, but Ashley Miller’s smart finish handed the hosts a late lifeline.
Spanish-born Mikel Suarez set up a tense finish as he pulled The Blues within a goal with seven minutes remaining, but Ryan Northmore’s men held out to move 10 points clear of the Vanarama South drop zone.
The visitors, naming Watkins and Kane Ingram in the starting line-up in place of Bradley Ash and Jacob Cane, nearly fell behind early on, but Luke Purnell was alert inside two minutes to deny Bobby-Joe Taylor’s ghosting run behind the Seagulls’ defence.
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They soon fashioned a chance of their own, Lucas finding space on the edge of the area and forcing Jake Larkins into a smart save, before the home stopper reacted well to divert Dayle Grubb’s follow-up behind.
An injury to captain Tom Jordan dealt the Seagulls a blow after 15 minutes, forcing Jamie Edge into defence and giving Cane an early chance to impress from the bench.
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But Bishop’s Stortford soon took advantage of the veteran’s absence, Bailey-Dennis beating Clayton Fortune from a corner to head in the opener.
What would follow was as unforeseen as it was sublime. Having been second best for much of the first half, Weston found themselves level after Watkins’ pass fell kindly for an unmarked Lucas, and he finished well beyond Larkins.
Two minutes later, the game was turned on its head as the pair again combined. Watkins was left totally unmarked just outside the area and had time to pick out Lucas, who made no mistake in grabbing his second past the stranded keeper.
The Blues were shell-shocked - and almost fell further behind to Cane’s strike seconds before the break - saved only by Ashley Miller’s goal-line clearance.
Weston would not have to wait long to add to their tally, however. Two minutes into the second half a scuffed clearance was chested down by Lucas, and he volleyed past an unmoved Larkins to secure the match ball in a scintillating performance.
Watkins turned from provider to scorer soon after, his placed finish moving the visitors seemingly out of sight with 36 minutes to go.
But Weston never do things the easy way. Miller’s 75th-minute strike after a free kick should have been a mere consolation, but after Suarez’s deflected third following a spell of poor defending, the Seagulls were left hanging on to their seventh away league win.
? ON Saturday, Weston host fifth-placed Havant and Waterlooville at the Woodspring Stadium, with kick-off at 3pm.