6:28pm Saturday 13th April 2013
LEAMINGTON 1 (Batchelor 40) WEYMOUTH 1 (Joyce 77)
BEN Joyce struck late on at the New Windmill Ground this afternoon to put Leamington’s title celebrations on the backburner for a little while longer.
The talented striker equalised with just 13 minutes remaining to end Weymouth’s barren run in front of goal, and disappoint a bumper home contingent that had clearly turned out hoping for a party.
A Leamington victory and a defeat or a draw for Stourbridge would have seen the Warwickshire outfit lift the crown but their visitors clearly did not read the script.
Following the second-half capitulation against Bedford Town last time out, the Terras reverted to a 4-2-3-1 system and made three changes to their starting XI.
Simon Evans missed out through illness, handing rookie keeper Chris Povall his first league start of the season, while Craig Duff and Dan Smith came in for Ashley Wells and Stephen Reed, who both dropped to the bench where they joined Mark Ford.
Youngster Charlie Holland was also included amongst the substitutes in the absence of the suspended Scott Walker and the injured Jamie Skinner.
The big name on the Leamington team-sheet was of course that of Stefan Moore. The ex-Aston Villa striker came into the contest having scored five goals in his last six games.
Glancing at the form table ahead of kick-off this looked like mission impossible for Weymouth.
The Brakes were bidding for a seventh straight victory while the Terras were out to end a run of five straight defeats.
A deluge of rain made life difficult for both sides in the opening half, but a breakthrough did eventually arrive on 40 minutes when Richard Batchelor put Leamington ahead with a stooping header after the visitors had failed to clear the danger.
Moore also struck the woodwork earlier on but for the most part King’s men had looked fairly solid against a very experienced side.
In terms of chances for the Terras, Duff and Smith had both gone close while Matt Groves was just inches away from getting on the end of an excellent cross.
After the break the pattern continued but as the minutes ticked on, Leamington began to get edgy and the Terras eventually took advantage.
Povall was rarely troubled and nor was his opposite number Laurie Walker, except for when an attempted back-pass left him in no man’s land, only to roll just past a post.
Weymouth continued to probe though, and on 77 minutes they finally got the breakthrough their efforts deserved.
Walker raced off his line to try and close down Duff but to no avail, and when the ball eventually came across there was Joyce to fire home his side’s first goal in 530 minutes of competitive action.
A point apiece was a fair reflection in the end and for the Terras it was much-needed lift ahead of their final two games of the season.
Weymouth: Povall, McConnell, Richards, Symes, Poole, Palmer, Duff, Clay, Joyce, Groves, Smith. Subs not used: Wells, Ford, Reed, Holland.
Leamington: Walker, Mace, Morley, Owen, Hood, Daly, Dodd, Chilton, S Moore, Johnson, Batchelor. Subs not used: L Moore, Naylor, Husband, Adkins, Cooper.
Bookings: Leamington – Hood (unsporting behaviour 75).
Weymouth – Symes (foul 28), Richards (foul 63), Groves (unsporting behaviour 75), Palmer (foul 87).
Referee: Mark Knowles.
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