Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Saints fall by Wey-side

The big match of the non-league football weekend was arguably the clash of the Conference South titans on Easter Monday, as league leaders (and full-time cash-splashing) Weymouth took on second-placed free-scoring St. Albans City, at the Dorset side's Wessex Stadium. With both teams away and clear from the rest, with just a few games remaining, whoever came out on top in this long-awaited encounter would be in pole position for promotion to Conference National.

By all accounts it was a tight affair for much of the game, with St. Albans playing some pretty football but Weymouth's more direct approach reaping rewards. The tackles were flying in (pictured: Saints' Matt Hann, formerly with Weymouth's fierce local rivals Dorchester, takes out Lee Elam), with seven booked, and the opening goal came on 28 minutes through Weymouth's on-loan Carlisle striker Raphael Nade. Lee Clarke levelled matters within 90 seconds however, only for the Saints to concede a free-kick on the edge of the box just before the break which Terras captain Matt Bound fired into the net.

Weymouth began the second half with their tails up and further extended their lead when former Shrewsbury midfielder Ben Smith tumbled in the box under some pressure and the ref awarded a penalty - set-piece specialist Bound stepped up to convert to make it 3-1. But Saints reduced the arrears through Gary Elphick and were further boosted when Terras midfielder Shaun Wilkinson was sent-off for a late challenge. They also came close to snatching a draw when Paul Hakim lobbed Weymouth 'keeper Arran Lee-Barrett - only for the all-action Bound to make a dramatic clearance off the line. Weymouth held out and with their financial backing and full-time status are well set for Conference National football.

Unsurprisingly, a new Conference South attendance record was set - in fact, the astonishing figure of 5,022 surpassed all Conference National and most League Two attendances and there were even more people at the Wessex than attended Colchester or Port Vale's home games in League One! It was also the second highest non-league attendance this season (Exeter v Grays Athletic in the Conference National attracted 6,682).

Borough re-Bourne

While all that was going on at the Wessex, I made the journey to Welling's Park View Road ground for BBC Southern Counties Radio, to see Eastbourne Borough grind out an impressive 2-1 victory over the play-off chasers. It hadn't looked good for Borough when Matt Bodkin opened the scoring on 11 minutes, but Matt Smart finished off a fine flowing passing move to level on half hour. Borough and Welling both had several good chances in a pulsating end-to-end second half, including an Eastbourne goal disallowed, before Scott Ramsay struck the winner on 83 minutes.

The result leaves Borough on 41 points and takes them very close to ensuring their safety in Conference South. Roll on next season!


Blogger James said...

Hi. Wanted to let you know that I've set up some tutorial times for tomorrow (Wednesday 26th). However, I haven't set a time for you in the afternoon. Because you're in in the morning with Amanda, I thought we could find fifteen minutes then to talk about your site/feature etc. Hope this is ok.

4/25/2006 11:01 am  

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