|Weymouth crumble to 10-man Bluebirds
By Dorset ECHO
WEYMOUTH’S unbeaten league run of eight games went up in smoke as, despite having a man extra for around 30 minutes, they succumbed to a 2-0 loss at Chippenham.
Matt Smith and David Pratt were on target for the Bluebirds, who ensured they recorded a league double over Weymouth and put the pressure firmly back on manager Jason Matthews.
The Terras went into the contest extremely stretched with their defensive options.
Ashley Wells was out through illness and Calvin Brooks was also unable to feature due to a back injury. Mark Cooper was also sidelined with a hamstring problem.
That meant that midfielder Charlie Davis filled in at right-back and Jordan Copp was moved back to the left of the visitors’ back four.
With no Chris Allen against his former club, player assistant-manager Mark Molesley started in midfield. Stuart Fleetwood was also recalled to the starting XI and Conor Jevon kept his place up front with the absence of Ben Thomson.
Only four made the bench for the Terras with Sam Jordan and Sean Stewart being called back into the travelling party.
Chippenham, who were fifth in the league table ahead of kick-off, named clinical striker Andy Sandell in their line-up.
Former Newport County frontman Sandell, the join top-scorer in the division, notched twice when the Bluebirds beat Weymouth at the Bob Lucas Stadium back in August.
Also bagging a double that night was midfielder Smith – a target of Matthews’ in the summer – he again took his place in the Bluebirds’ line-up.
Former Terra Rhys Baggridge took his place in the Bluebirds’ team and ex-Dorchester Town winger Mario Mateus, who moved from the Avenue to Chippenham in November, was named on the bench.
And it was hosts Chippenham who recorded the first shot on goal. After giving away a free-kick in the opening exchanges, Terras’ keeper Tom McHale was tasked with a comfortable save.
Weymouth’s first attempt came through winger Aaron Rodriguez, he made room for himself to unleash a strike from distance, but the effort flew well wide.
That came before Truro loanee McHale was tasked with another sharp stop at the other end to keep the score goalless.
The Terras continued to threaten in stages however and they almost took the lead after 20 minutes. Fleetwood’s strike nearly fell for Jevon but the Bluebirds managed to scramble the ball away to safety.
Stephane Zubar was then called on to keep marksman Sandell quiet before a teasing ball from Davis, who had advanced from right-back for the Terras, was scrambled away by the hosts.
Weymouth continued to go in search of the opener and they almost got it on the stroke of half-time through Chris Shephard. He fizzed the ball at goal on the angle but Darren Chitty in the Bluebirds’ goal was able to gather.
Following the break, Weymouth had claims for the penalty waved away by referee James Robinson. He said no to appeals after Molesley went over in the box.
Moments later, a slick passing move involving Copp and Fleetwood allowed Matthews’ men to deliver for Dean Evans, who headed just wide.
The home side were then reduced to 10 men with around an hour gone as Baggridge was given his marching orders for a late challenge on Molesley.
With the man advantage, Matthews looked to bring on some fresh legs from the bench.
On came Jordan in place of Jevon and, shortly after, Stewart Yetton replaced Rodriguez.
But with a man light, it was the Bluebirds that broke the deadlock and it was that man Smith that haunted Matthews once again with the goal.
Jordan then looked to get his team back on level terms with an acrobatic effort, but the attempt was straight at Chitty.
Disaster then struck again however, as Chippenham wrapped the game up as former Bath City man Pratt struck again late on to make it 2-0 and send Weymouth home pointless.