Making not only his Weston debut, but also his debut appearance in England, forward Irnti Rapai netted the equaliser away to league leaders Chelmsford in a strong performance.
Just minutes in Jake Reid’s header from a clipped Jacob Cane cross was tipped over by Sam Beasant, then at the other end of the pitch Chris Dickson muscled his way past Pope but seeing his shot palmed wide by Luke Purnell minutes later.
Chelmsford took an 8th minute lead on the counter from a Weston effort when Dayle Grubb released Reid, whose shot was easily caught by Beasant. Barnard then pressed forward, his shot initially saved by Purnell but then the Weston keeper fumbled the ball, seeing it roll in over the line.
Chris Dickson smashed a shot against the crossbar from close-range, before Grubb had his curling shot palmed wide by Beasant. From the resulting corner, Dan Greenslade’s shot was blocked and Grubb had his shot glanced over by a Chelmsford head.
Grubb was again making things happen when he cut inside, past two defenders, but shot just wide of the post.
After the interval, Dickson volleyed wide from Michael West’s cross at the back post, before Weston got themselves back in the game in the final 10 minutes.
A long ball picked out Jake Lee, who lept well, nodding the ball onto an unmarked Grubb. The in-form winger pushed inside and drove towards the back post, where Iddy (Rapai) was on hand, in the right place at the right time, to tap the ball in. His celebration just showed how much his first goal in English football meant to him!
Rapai had a chance to win the game, when fellow substitute Archie Collins drove the ball across. Beasant palmed the cross-shot out, with Rapai scuffing his shot past the home keeper However, youngster Nathan Fox scrambled the ball away from goal. Chasing the game Seagulls seized upon one last chance, with Jake Lee heading inches wide from a Collins cross.
FT: Weston 1-1 Chelmsford (Rapai 82-Barnard 8)
Weston XI: Purnell, Harper, Greenslade (Kington 90+1), Cane, Baldwin, Pope, Plummer (Collins 65), Diallo, Reid (Rapai 65), Grubb ©, Lee. Unused substitutes: Seymour, Welch.
MOTM: Jake Lee