Weston returned to winning ways in the Southern League Premier South after a 3-1 victory over Winchester City at the Optima Stadium.
The Seagulls were unchanged from last Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Chesham United, meaning that Olly Mehew and Reuben Reid again partnered each other in attack. The front two were heavily involved from the start as Weston began the game with a high tempo.
Mehew and Watts combined in the second minute to tee up Jordan Bastin with an early chance, but his shot was just wide. The Seagulls went close again just under a minute later as the busy Reid slipped the ball to Bastin, but the former Tiverton man fired just over.
It proved to be a fast and determined start from the home side, and in the fifth minute Reid forced City goalkeeper Ryan Pryce into a hurried clearance that went straight to Mehew, he laid it off to Watts but, again, the ball was narrowly off target.
The Seagulls were finally rewarded in the twelfth minute with a well-worked goal, with Reid and Bastin the architects once more. Reid found himself in space to the right of the goal, he intelligently looked up and played the ball across to the unmarked Bastin and he calmly slotted home with his left foot to give Weston a richly deserved lead.
Weston came extremely close to doubling their lead on the quarter-hour mark when Reid’s shot ricocheted off a Winchester defender and Mehew’s follow-up shot smacked against the crossbar. Moments later, Weston earned a free-kick and Lloyd Humphries stepped up from 30 yards but his dipping effort was parried by Pryce and eventually cleared from danger.
Weston’s dominance and sharp attacking play was rewarded again when The Seagulls extended their lead midway through the half. Jason Pope found himself in a central position in the attacking third. His shot from the edge of the area looked like it would have been safely gathered by Pryce, but Jacob Jagger-Cane got a slight touch on the ball to divert it away from the despairing goalkeeper to give Weston a two-goal lead.
After that, the game slowed down slightly after its fast start and Weston comfortably headed into the break two goals to the good, although the lively Reid produced a fierce angled shot on goal from the right of the area close to half-time, but the ball whistled narrowly wide.
Weston emerged from the dressing room for the second-half in determined fashion once more and started the half with a high intensity, as Scott Laird fizzed a shot just wide from the corner of the area. Just before the hour mark, Watts and Mehew combined again and the latter’s cross into the corridor of uncertainty was met by Reid, but his attempt went just over the crossbar.
Eventual man-of-the-match Watts then found space and unleashed a fierce left-foot shot that was turned around the post by Pryce. From the corner, Watts’ inswinging set-piece was met by the towering Laird to extend Weston’s lead with twenty minutes to go. It was a trademark header from the former Preston man as he ran to the near post and flicked the ball in for Weston’s 100th goal of the season.
With ten minutes remaining, Winchester reduced the arrears with a goal from substitute Oliver Griggs, as his shot found its way past the outstretched hands of Luke Purnell.
The game then became a little bad-tempered and both sides were reduced to ten men, as Laird and visiting goalkeeper Pryce were sent-off following an altercation in the Winchester penalty area.
Shortly after, the referee blew for full-time to end an enjoyable performance from The Seagulls, who now head to Hartley Wintney on Saturday looking for more of the same.
FT: Weston-super-Mare AFC 3-1 Winchester City (Bastin 12’, Jagger-Cane 22’, Laird 70’ – Griggs 80’)
Weston: Purnell, Pope (Thomas 56’), Laird, Humphries, Avery, Jagger-Cane, Dodd, Bastin, Watts, Mehew (Jackson 70’), Reid (Coppin 70’). Unused subs: Williams, Murray.
MOTM: Elis Watts, a dazzling display from the young Welshman.