Skipper Jacob Cane was on hand to end Weston’s league season on a high when he arrived in the box to slot home the winner over visitors Hemel Hempstead, whose place in the Playoff places was already confirmed by the start of play.
The game started off with a feel that Weston had nothing to play for, and centre-back Jason Pope got off lightly when caught in possession by Davis Moyo. With the goal gaping, Moyo went for Luke Purnell’s near-post however hit the side netting when going across goal seemed the more logical option.
The Seagulls thought they were ahead on the half-hour mark when an Aaron Parsons cross was deflected through to Tristan Plummer. The winger took on the volley, with it rebounding back off the post and Jake Lee tapping in to an empty net, however Weston’s No.9 was adjudged to have been offside by the linesman.
It was the visitors who got ahead though in the 35th minute when a corner was lofted over into the box. Left-back Danny Greenslade timed his jump wrong, accidentally glancing the ball beyond Luke Purnell with his head, to put Hemel 0 – 1 up.
Hemel could have doubled their advantage were it not for Purnell and Pope, when Karl Oliyide slipped through Sanchez Watt. Watt only had Purnell to beat, and as he went to slot into the bottom corner, Luke’s left foot came out and blocked the effort, with Popey sweeping away as three Hemel players closed in on the loose ball.
Weston drew level just before half-time. A Danny Greenslade corner and a resultant cross was headed out to Welch. Bringing the ball under control 25 yards out, Welch advanced forward a few steps, holding off the advances of Watt and rifled a shot into the top corner from outside the box to draw the game level, in typical Welch fashion.
The second half started in the same fashion as the first half started, with a deflected Plummer cross glanced into the hands of Hemel keeper Laurie Walker’s hands. It wouldn’t take long for Weston to take the lead though.
Two minutes after that chance, Pope advanced over the halfway line and played a one-two with Greenslade. Despite his first touch upon recieving being a bit too heavy, the centre-back bullied Lloyd Doyley off the ball and advanced into the box. Cutting the ball back to the edge of the area, skipper Cane was in the right place at the right time to slot into the corner past Walker, via a deflection for his third goal of the season.
With Hemel now looking at a playoff quarter-final, they seemed determined to save themselves energy and get into the semi-finals instead, which they would have got if they had won the game. A Welch cross couldn’t be directed towards goal by Lee, and Walker easily claimed. With Hemel piling men forward, Purnell denied substitute Alex Osborn and when Weston cleared, Popey countered with speed. Advancing from the edge of his own area to the edge of the Hemel area, he fed Lee but the versatile striker could only roll the shot into Walker’s arms.
Plummer’s pass into Greenslade allowed the left-back to cut inside and depsite being seemingly fouled in the area, the referee waved advantage but sub Ash Kington’s effort was tame and Walker could collect.
Again on the counter, Pope released Lee, who was stood on halfway. With a flick of the heel, Weston’s No.9 was away and with grass to run into. Reaching the edge of the Hemel area, Lee went for goal but his stinging drive was palmed away by Walker as the action came to a close.
Yesterday’s result means that Weston finished 12th in the league this season, four points off the top half, with 55 points. Weston finished with the 10th best home record in the division, however their away record wasn’t so pretty, finishing in 18th with only 20 points from 21 away league games.
FT: Weston 2-1 Hemel Hempstead (Welch 40, Cane 56-Greenslade OG 35)
Weston XI: Purnell, Parsons, Greenslade, Cane (C), Pope, Morris-Edwards (Goodall 77), Hunter (Kington 66), Diallo, Lee, Plummer, Welch. Unused subs: Scott, Llewellyn.
MOTM: Jarrad Welch – Welchy is deservedly MOTM after yet again putting in a solid performance in the centre of midfield. Scored a stunning goal and helped link the midfield to attack easily.