An entertaining clash between Weston and Hemel Hempstead Town ended 1-1 in front of a bumper crowd for our ‘Community Pay What You Want Day’.
Sam Avery headed a Jordan Bastin corner over the bar in the opening exchanges following a Josh Hill clearance off of the line, before Finlay Corrigan had an 18-yard attempt clip the crossbar following a one-two with Reece Grant. Down the other end, Jordan Bastin volleyed over on his right foot after exchanging passes with skipper Dayle Grubb. Guiseppe Re then had a 25-yard attempt beaten away by keeper Luke Purnell, the Weston legend starting for the first time this season.
Re wasn’t to be denied again though for Hemel as following a delivery from the right, the headed clearance was brought down on his chest before returning an excellent shot on the volley into the top corner past Purnell to break the deadlock 17 minutes in.
Craig King was called into action for the first time when gathering a low Reuben Reid shot from 20 yards out, before Kyle Ajayi volleyed over from 18 yards after Myles Judd rose and knocked a long ball into his path. Down the other end, Keiran Thomas saw a cross bounce back off of the crossbar before Joe Williams shot wide for Hemel just inside the box after cutting inside from the left.
In the second period, Weston went close when a Avery header from Bastin’s corner was cleared off the line before Thomas’ follow-up attempt was blocked by a flurry of Hemel bodies. Avery then had another chance from a corner, this time his attempt hitting the crossbar from Grubb’s delivery and in the next phase of play, James Dodd had a low attempt stopped by the feet of King inside the area following Jason Pope’s cut-back.
Weston were to get the equaliser they felt they deserved when Jackson held the ball up on the edge of the area and managed to set Dodd with a pass inside. The midfielder took one touch to set himself before firing a low effort across King and into the bottom corner for his first goal of the season.
Bastin fired narrowly over the bar from outside the area after driving deep into the opposition half, before Hemel substitute Joe Iaciofano headed a Williams cross wide of the target from 12 yards. Weston substitute James Morton had a moving strike held by King when he set his sights from outside the area.
The Seagulls continued to attack with intent, Lloyd Humphries heading a Rex Mannings corner over the bar before the latter then curled an attempt over from 18 yards. Mannings was again involved in another Weston chance, this time his corner being headed over by Thomas as he dove to meet the delivery.
Into added-on time, there was still time for some controversy when Grubb went in for a 50-50 challenge with Kevin Gonzalez-Quintaro. Grubb appeared to come away with the ball after a forceful challenge, but referee Lewis Sandow thought otherwise and showed the Weston skipper a straight red card in the 94th minute.
FT: Weston 1-1 Hemel Hempstead (Dodd 68 – Re 17)
Weston XI: Purnell, Thomas, Pope (Edwards 82), Jagger Cane, Humphries, Avery, Dodd, Jackson, Grubb (C), Bastin (Morton 87), Reid (Mannings 79). Unused substitutes: Soule, Lee.
MOTM: James Dodd.