Weston twice fought back from a three-goal deficit in a respectable pre-season contest where new signings and trialists blended with the existing core to put on a spectacle.
A brace from Theo Archibald backed up with a Christian Doidge hattrick accompanied the inevitable Dayle Grubb goal on his return from Forest Green Rovers.
For Seagulls, it was early signs of encouragement as new signings took centre stage.
Jamie Lucas grabbed a double with Ben Swallow also netting, as Jacob Cane and two trialist triumphs did the job and made it a successful evening for Marc McGregor’s side.
The game started with a spark and never really fizzled out when, after five minutes, neat play on the edge of the Weston box was capitalised on as Archibald picked out the bottom left corner of Luke Purnell’s net.
The bright green luminous shirts of Mark Cooper’s men seemed to dazzle the home side, and just four minutes later they scored again via a penalty. Jason Pope’s attempted back-pass was short and Purnell was left with little choice but to take down Doidge, who confidently converted.
But McGregor soon rallied his men and two goals in as many minutes got Weston firmly back in the frame.
With 14 minutes gone, Swallow gobbled up a Rovers pass and showed bags of pace to burst through the defensive line. A simple but effective square pass across goal followed for Lucas to profit on and make it 1 – 2 and game on.
A minute later and it was the trialist’s turn to show some quality. A cheeky chip into the box from one trialist was headed on by another to the feet of Cane, who finished smartly from 10 yards to equalise.
Ten tightly fought minutes went by before the next goal when a familiar face for Seagulls fans put Forest Green back in the lead. Grubb’s low but powerful strike from outside the area found its way under Purnell to make it 2 – 3 in the 26th minute.
Five minutes later and there was more to cheer about for the impressive away following of the Green army. Doidge showed a goal scorers composure as he planted a strike in the bottom-left corner from the middle of the area.
The fightback from Weston was quickly being undone as Forest Green Rovers went three ahead with another penalty two minutes later. Liam Shepherd played a nice ball into the box towards George Williams who was taken down by a trialist, and Doidge grabbed his first-half hat-trick with a penalty mirroring his first for 2 – 5.
The first-half flurry of action wasn’t over though, with a potential partnership coming alive. Swallow’s stepovers hypnotised Scott Laird as he rounded him with ease down the right channel and then had the class to pick out Lucas in the area. His bullet header ended the half on a positive note having now scored three goals in two halves in a Weston shirt.
The second-half started just as the first finished – with a goal.
Substitute Reuben Reid tapped the ball across the field to Archibald, with the young midfielder able to cut inside and finish into the top left regaining the three – goal cushion in the 53rd minute. A cushion that wasn’t to last though, as the Seagulls comeback got underway.
In the 62nd minute, man-of-the-match Swallow got his deserved goal after linking up with a trialist and converting with ease from a few yards out igniting the Weston flame.
Three minutes later and this flame was burning brighter than ever. Substitute Gethyn Hill flicked a clever ball over the top for another trialist to convert from six yards out on the half volley after holding off his marker, and it was 5 – 6.
Amazingly 25 minutes went by with no goals, but with both teams eager to grab another one, this baron spell was destined to be broken.
Weston left it till late though and it took until the last minute of the game for another equaliser. This time a further trialist skilfully weaved past Rovers defenders on the edge of the area before finishing bottom right and capping off an impressive display for the Seagulls.
FT: Weston-super-Mare 6-6 Forest Green Rovers (Lucas 14, 45 , Cane 15, Swallow 62, Trialist 65, Trialist 90 – Archibald 5, 53 , Doidge 7, 31, 33 , Grubb 26)
Weston XI: Purnell, Trialist, Trialist, Cane (C), Pope, Trialist, Trialist, Trialist, Lucas, Trialist, Swallow. Subs: Trialist, Kingston, Trialist, Trialist, Trialist, Hill, Trialist, Morris-Edwards, Trialist.
MOTM: Ben Swallow – A threat throughout and grabbed two assists and a goal, showing very positive signs for the season ahead.
Written By: Jack Pooley
Edited By: Liam Drury
Photographs: Will. T. Photography