Seagulls held in last friendly

WESTON completed a successful pre-season programme of games with another drawn game against Welsh Premier League opposition.

WESTON completed a successful pre-season programme of games with another drawn game against Welsh Premier League opposition.

In a hectic 24 days, they had wins over Brislington (3-1) and Poole Town (1-0), drew with Exeter City (2-2), Hinckley United (3-3), Port Talbot (2-2) and only lost once to Cheltenham Town (2-1). In that time, two games against Bristol Rovers and Mangotsfield United were unfortunately cancelled due to the unseasonable heavy rain.

Unfortunately, the game against Port Talbot ended four minutes early in disarray with a mass brawl in the centre of the ground and Weston manager Andy Gurney took his players off to defuse the situation, leaving referee Paul Brown from Taunton little choice but to blow up.

This was the culmination of several second-half clashes between the players as some dangerous challenges were put in by both sides.

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Liam McCreesh opened the scoring for the visitors on 14 minutes when he was put behind the Weston defence, but three minutes later Jack Compton equalised with a free kick from a yard outside the Port Talbot penalty area which left former Wrexham keeper Kristian Rogers glued to the spot.

Seconds into the second half, Rogers did well to turn defender Matt Rees' attempted clearance over his crossbar from Mike Green's curling effort, but the visitors regained the lead on 51 minutes when home keeper Kevin Sawyer could only parry second-half substitute Nicky Holland's cross to the back of the net as both sides used all their squads.

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Weston equalised on 64 minutes when Darren Mullings, also on as a substitute, got a touch to Clayton Fortune's effort which went in off a post.

Speaking after the game, Mr Gurney commented: "I was disappointed with our display today, we gave them too much respect and we will be working on this aspect next week. To be fair, we did not expect Port Talbot to be so aggressive, after all it was supposed to be a friendly game."

Weston squad: Kevin Sawyer, Mike Green, Tom Parrinello, Adi Harris (captain), Craig Rand, Clayton Fortune, Scott Bartlett, Ben Wells, Josh Llewellyn, Marc McGregor, Jack Compton.

Second half substitutes: Marvin Brown, Leon Jeanne, Darren Mullings, Josh Klein-Davis, Eric Laborieux. Goalkeeper Luke Purnell was not used.

Speaking at an open forum of the club held on Sunday, Mr Gurney confirmed that all the players listed above had been signed, with the exception of former Bristol Rovers youngster Josh Klein-Davis, but a decision on him will be made next week after training. Also signed are Ashan Holgate and Mark McKeever, who both missed Saturday's game through injury.

Mr Gurney feels that with this squad there is healthy competition for all places. Regarding the situation with keeper Ryan Northmore, he will be fully employed as manager-coach for the College Academy and will not be a registered player with the club. However, Mr Gurney feels that Luke Purnell will be a competent replacement for Kevin Sawyer should the necessity arise.

Since the meeting on Sunday, the Mercury has learned that Northmore has signed with Blue Square South rivals Dorchester Town on Monday evening after training, having played with them in a pre-season friendly on Saturday. This will not affect his involvement with the Weston Youth set-up.

When asked about the future plans of the club, chairman Mr Paul Bliss said: "We must develop the commercial aspect of the club to bring in more money to help us push for promotion to the Nationwide Conference as I cannot see gates improving to such an extent. So we must generate income to see that the club reaches the next level."

The season starts in earnest on Saturday with the opening Blue Square South fixture against Ryman League champions Staines Town, which will be a first-ever meeting between the clubs, with a 3pm kick-off. The visitors are expected to bring a big following with them.

The first away game will be at Basingstoke on Tuesday, with a 7.45pm kick-off.

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