Seagulls start pre-season against Swindon and Bristol Rovers
WESTON’S pre-season programme kicked off with two mixed results against football league clubs.
Although the Seagulls suffered a drubbing at the hands of last season’s League Two champions Swindon Town, they improved to draw 2-2 with Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
With four more pre-season games to go, Weston manager Craig Laird says his team is taking shape and will be well-prepared for a concerted promotion push this season.
The home tie against Swindon on July 18 was the Seagulls’ first pre-season fixture and the home side were given no quarter by the visitors.
Despite the awful weather, Weston groundsman Bob Flaskett produced a superb playing surface and was congratulated by the visiting Swindon directors.
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Weston almost scored in the first minute through an attack down the right – Marcus Duharty hitting a post before goalkeeper Wes Foderington saved with his legs and the ball was scrambled away.
But that proved to be an isolated highlight for the home team, and Paolo Di Canio’s team took the lead five minutes later when Matt Ritchie beat Lloyd Irish from 15 yards.
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Five minutes later they struck again, Gary Richards making a speedy run and crossing to find Andy Williams to score.
James Collins then got the away side’s third on 34 minutes and Ritchie scored his second from a rebound minutes later.
Both teams made a raft of changes at the break, and shortly after half-time Dayle Grubb finally got Weston on the scoresheet with a deflected effort.
But that proved only a brief respite, and Swindon wrapped up a comprehensive win with late goals from Raffaele De Vita and Paul Benson.
Speaking after the game, Laird said: “I really did not want such a high-profile game so early in pre-season.
“Ideally we would have liked an easier encounter, but when Swindon rang me asking for the game I was delighted to accommodate them.
“I think 3-1 would have been a fair reflection really, but I’m sure if we’d have played them later on in pre-season we would have done better.”
The Seagulls fared better against a strong Bristol Rovers team on Saturday.
New signings Chas Hemmings and Ashley Kington featured from the start, and Weston took the lead after only three minutes.
Dayle Grubb’s free-kick, taken wide on the right, found Jamie Price, who beat Rovers goalkeeper Matt Macey on his near post.
But it took only six more minutes of the match for the League Two side to equalise.
Chris Zebroski’s shot was blocked by Irish, but Adam Virgo nipped in to score.
Weston’s triallist goalkeeper Connor Sydley-Adams denied Zebroski in the second half before Weston’s Chris Young put the home team in front again with a shot that went in off an upright.
But again Rovers drew level, David Clarkson bundled over in the box and picking himself up to score from the penalty spot.
Weston’s pre-season programme will continue with a match against League Two side Plymouth Argyle at the Woodspring Stadium tomorrow (Fri) at 7.45pm.
They then entertain Gloucester City on Wednesday.
Laird said he was satisfied his side was making strides ahead of their Blue Square South opener against Hayes and Yeading on August 18.
He said: “We’re happy with our squad at the moment – we’re using pre-season to see if we need to strengthen in any position but at the moment we’ve got a big squad with some new faces in so there’s no transfer movement at the moment.”