Ash Hat-Trick Earns First Home Win
Teenage sensation Bradley Ash continued his red-hot form on Saturday afternoon, notching three second-half strikes on the way to a 4-1 win over St. Albans City at The Woodspring Stadium.
The Seagulls had endured a frustrating first period, but 19 year-old striker Ash ignited a dominant second half performance within 60 seconds of the restart, coolly slotting past Saints keeper Joe Welch. Ash then doubled his tally seven minutes later before completing his hat-trick on 68 minutes to give Weston a three-goal cushion.
St. Albans grafted hard to get back in the game, and Louis Theophanous narrowed the deficit with 19 minutes to play, but Weston were able to manage the Saints efforts effectively and late substitute Scott Wilson rounded off the scoring in the final moments to ensure that Weston had broken their duck on home soil this term.
The Seagulls went into the game unchanged from the team that was beaten by Gosport Borough last weekend, though they were able to welcome Jason Pope back to the bench after missing over a month with an ankle injury.
Prior to the game, the visitors sat in 20th position, one spot and two points ahead of Weston, having beaten Wealdstone by a goal to nil in their last outing.
And it was the Saints who had the first opening of the game on two minutes when Billy Gibson’s deep cross from the right evaded Weston’s defence and found Louis Theophanous beyond the far post, who controlled well before stabbing his effort just wide of the mark.
Weston responded immediately and had strong claims for a penalty turned away by referee Anthony Coggins when Tristan Plummer appeared to be bundled over inside the area by James Comley after Bradley Ash released the forward in behind the Saints backline.
Ash himself went close on 14 minutes, with Dayle Grubb finding Ben Withey in space behind his full back who squared for Ash at the front post, but his inventive flick was instinctively turned behind by Welch.
Weston’s best opening of the first half came five minutes prior to the interval, with Ollie Barnes failing to follow up from six yards after Pat Keary saw his bullet header from Alex Byrne’s delicious dead-ball delivery palmed away by Welch.
Weston were presented with a number of opportunities to attack the Saints’ back-four in the first period, but their playmaker-in-chief Dayle Grubb seemed a touch out of sync with his forwards, causing messrs Plummer and Ash to run offside on a handful of occasions, but Grubb immediately rectified this at the start of the second half, nodding a bouncing ball through to Ash who made no mistake when one-on-one with Welch, calmly rolling the opener into the bottom corner.
The Seagulls pushed to double their advantage, and they duly obliged on 53 minutes after Withey led a breakaway down the left flank. The versatile defender drove into Saints territory, and profited from some good fortune when Ben Nunn looked to dispossess the Weston man, but he only succeeded in setting Ash clean through on goal, and he finished with predictable aplomb, intelligently creating an angle before classily stroking home to make it 2-0. The referee’s assistant did originally flag for offside, but after a brief discussion the correct decision was made to send the Seagulls’ support into raptures.
Tristan Plummer’s outstanding efforts up front were almost rewarded, but his goal-bound strike on 58 minutes was deflected just inches over the crossbar with the keeper beaten.
But the Seagulls didn’t have to wait too long for a third to arrive, however, when on 68 minutes, a mammoth Luke Purnell goal-kick found Ash goal-side of the last man, who controlled superbly over his shoulder before sending a wicked, left-footed half-volley through the legs of Welch to seal a spectacular hat-trick.
St. Albans threatened a comeback, but all they could muster was a single consolation – largely thanks to some excellent goalkeeping from Luke Purnell – from Theophanous on 71 minutes who superbly back-heeled into the net after the Seagulls couldn’t deal with Comley’s underhit corner.
Weston managed the closing stages with relative ease, and even had time to add another through substitute Scott Wilson, who notched his third league goal of the season in added time with Welch unable to prevent the striker’s effort from rippling the back of the net despite getting good contact on it, and though it was refreshing to see Wilson return to goalscoring form, this day undisputedly belonged to Bradley Ash.
The result sees the Seagulls vault St. Albans in the league standings, rising to 20th place.
Final Score: Weston-super-Mare 4-1 St. Albans City (Ash 46, 53, 68, Wilson 90+4; Theophanous 71)
Weston starting XI: Purnell, Edge, Withey, Cane, Keary, Barnes, McClennan, Ash (Burton), Plummer (Wring), Grubb (c) (Wilson), Byrne.
Substitutes: Pope, Mawford.
Man of the match: Bradley Ash – Sensational showing from the 19-year old. A constant threat in behind the defence and clinical in front of goal.
Match report written by Sam Frost
Image courtesy of Wayne Whitworth Photography