Seagulls snatch late draw in goal-fest at Hemel Hempstead

Goalscorer Dayle Grubb.

Goalscorer Dayle Grubb. - Credit: Archant

Where to start? Weston-super-Mare’s powers of recovery were given a thorough examination in a 10-goal thriller at Hemel Hempstead.

A goal glut in Hertfordshire saw the Seagulls fight back from 3-0 and 4-2 down for an exhilirating 5-5 draw.

The hosts surged into a three-goal lead inside 20 minutes thanks to striker James Potton, who hit a quickfire double. Dayle Grubb’s brace either side of half-time, a Ben Herd own goal and a last gasp leveller from substitute Tristan Plummer helped secure an unlikely draw, while it was a mixed afternoon for Scott Wilson, who scored but later saw red.

It looked like Ryan Northmore’s men would endure a long, painful afternoon when they went behind to Potton’s first of the afternoon, as the striker rifled past goalkeeper Luke Purnell inside five minutes.

The Tudors struck again on nine minutes when Luke Thomas cut in from the right and beat Purnell from 20 yards.

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It got worse before it got better for Weston, when Potton’s long-range effort was deflected in to make it 3-0.

Game over? Perhaps earlier in the season Weston might have folded – but Northmore’s side are now made of sterner stuff, and unbeaten in the league since November 14.Impressive winger Joe McClennan conjured up an opening for captain Grubb to reduce their arrears.

And it was 3-2 on 42 minutes when McClennan repeated the trick, this time forcing Hemel defender Ben Herd to slice into his own net.

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Weston’s resurgence was rocked on the brink of half-time when Tudors’ midfielder Graeme Montgomery curled home from the edge of the area.

But Weston were not perturbed and continued to take the fight to their hosts after the restart.

In-form striker Wilson made it 4-3 on 46 minutes before the Seagulls finally achieved parity on the hour mark, through Grubb’s stunning free-kick. The Weston academy product smashed home from the edge of the box and Northmore and his charges were dreaming of victory.

But they were then set back by Montgomery’s second goal a minute later. And when Wilson lashed out after a Hemel foul and saw red, Weston had to play the final 20 minutes with 10 men.

Northmore threw caution to the wind, sending on Plummer. And the former Bristol City forward had the final say, to ensure Weston did not leave empty-handed.

He pounced on another superb cross from McClennan in stoppage time to seal a memorable point.

The draw lifts Weston up to 18th in the Vanarama South, to the delight of manager Northmore, who praised his side’s mental fortitude.

Northmore said: “To come back from 3-0 down shows great focus during a difficult moment.

“We claim a great point away from home against an impressive team with eyes on the playoffs.

“It was a tremendous game of football. It was blood and thunder throughout. There were moments of madness and sheer brilliance,” he added, before lauding star man McClennan and the decisive strike from Plummer.

“There were some excellent goals but the run from Joe and the finish from Tristan were outstanding.”

Weston next host second-bottom Basingstoke at the Woodspring stadium on Saturday at 3pm.

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