Weston maintain play-off hopes
EASTBOURNE BOROUGH 1
WESTON maintained their ambition of reaching a Blue Square South play-off spot as they recorded their fourth away win of the season and extended their unbeaten run to five games.
They are still in ninth spot in the table, but have games in hand over several higher-placed rivals.
The Weston party had an overnight stop at Bognor Regis and it evidently benefited the players as they dominated for long spells of the game and only determined defending by Eastbourne kept the score down.
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Weston came close to taking the lead on 12 minutes through a curling free kick half-way in the home half by Ben Cleverley which giant goalkeeper Conor Gough on his debut on loan from Charlton Athletic just managed to tip over his crossbar at full stretch.
The Weston goal had a scare minutes later when on-loan defender from Bath City Mark Reece unfortunately misdirected a headed pass to Lloyd Irish, but the keeper seemed to change direction in mid-air to fist the ball to safety.
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Eastbourne suffered a loss on 21 minutes when star midfielder Gary Elphick who has scored five goals this season had to limp off, suffering from a leg injury, Steve Brinkhurst, who has also scored five goals, taking over.
In the space of a couple of minutes both Dayle Grubb and Nat Pepperell went close for Weston, but they did better on 27 minutes when an attack down the right involving Nibi Diallo, Pepperell, Chris Young and Grubb ended with Grubb’s shot being parried, but Young was on hand to tap into the empty net.
This was just reward for Young who again had a storming game, holding the ball up well and giving trouble to the home defence until he came off on 71 minutes after picking up a slight knock, but his replacement Marc McGregor kept up the good work, tormenting the Eastbourne defence.
As Eastbourne, relegated from the Conference Premier at the end of last season, tried to get into the game, leading scorer Carl Rook fired narrowly across goal and Simon Johnson also went close.
Just before the half-time whistle, Grubb, who dominated the midfield exchanges, was only feet off target with a free kick.
Weston struck again on 62 minutes when Grubb, almost on the by-line, got in a low cross which evaded Gough and his defenders, but found the net off the far upright.
On 90 minutes Diallo was shown a red card for being adjudged the last defender by referee Dan Cook and from the resultant free kick right on the 18-yard line, Johnson beat Irish with a fierce free kick, Eastbourne’s only second effort on target of the game.
Reduced to 10 men for four minutes of stoppage time, Weston held out comfortably, despite the noise the majority of the 519-strong crowd made to encourage the home team
Goals: Eastbourne, Johnson (90), Weston, Young (27), Grubb (62).
Shots on target: Eastbourne 2, Weston 5.
Shots off target: Eastbourne 7, Weston 5.
Corners: Eastbourne 1, Weston 5.
Offsides: Eastbourne 5, Weston 4.
Free kicks conceded: Eastbourne 15, Weston 13.
Referee: Dan Cook (Gosport). Generally good game, perhaps a bit fussy.
Bookings: Eastbourne Rook, Watson, Austin. Weston, Young, Grubb, Villis, Diallo (red).
Weston squad: Irish, Diallo, Slocombe, Cleverley, Villis, Preece, Grubb, Kirk, Young (McGregor 71), Trowbridge (Kabba 82), Pepperell. Sub (not used): Martin.
ON Boxing Day (Monday), Weston entertain newly-promoted Truro City (3pm) for a first meeting between the clubs. As both are pushing for play-off spots, this should be a cracker of a game. Weston will have Jamie Price and Kane Ingram back from suspension.
On New Year’s Day (Sunday), Weston travel to Cornwall for the return fixture, the coach leaving Woodspring Stadium at 9am.
In the next round of the Somerset Premier Cup, Weston have been drawn away at Frome Town and the game will be played at Badgers Hill on Wednesday, February 29.