United Undone by Super Seagulls

An intelligent display from Ryan Northmore’s Weston-super-Mare AFC saw the Seagulls bank another three points in the Vanarama Conference South.

The Seagulls overcame a sluggish opening, and a 1-0 deficit, to edge out an in-form Sutton United side by one goal to two at Gander Green Lane, notching their sixth win on the road this term.

A stunning free-kick from Dayle Grubb and Joe McClennan’s close-range finish was enough for the Seagulls to see out a spirited second half effort from the U’s, ensuring that Northmore’s team kept pace with the teams above them in the standings, as they surge towards safety.

Saturday’s victory was nothing but the embodiment of the renaissance that has occurred under the new management, with the Seagulls demonstrating sheer resilience in defence, attacking with verve and vigour, but also exhibiting maturity and intelligence in their management of an awkward encounter.

The game was played in uncomfortable conditions, a soggy, heavy pitch that sapped energy from the legs, yet the Seagulls were relentless in their pressing and work off the ball, restricting the hosts to largely unthreatening efforts on goal.

Weston were nearly behind inside the opening five minutes, as wide-man Damian Scannell smartly exchanged passes with Jamie White on the left-edge of the area. Scannell drove towards the Weston goal, unleashing a powerful left-footed effort that Luke Purnell managed to block back in the direction of Scannell. The winger’s rebound was deflected up in the air, before Clayton Fortune headed upwards off the line, with Sutton forcing the dropping ball into the net, but referee Quelch deemed that Purnell was fouled in the process, keeping the score level.

Parity was not maintained for much longer however, with Wellard’s hopeful ball setting newly anointed Vanarama Conference South Player of the Month Dan Fitchett through on goal. The ex-Aldershot man cut in on his left foot, sliding a deflected effort past Purnell into the bottom corner to give the home side the advantage after eleven minutes.

The Seagulls were lacking rhythm for the opening quarter of an hour, but were afforded a route back into the game as Ollie Watkins’ surge at the home defence was unduly cut short by Wellard on the edge of the area with fifteen minutes elapsed.

Grubb stepped up to take the free-kick, classily dispatching into the far corner, whipping the ball around the wall, inside the post to level the score.

This moment of magic awakened the Seagulls, after a dreary opening, as they began to dictate affairs, though Purnell was called on to make a stop at the near post as Wellard shot powerfully after cutting back from the byline.

Northmore’s side took the lead in the twenty-fifth minute, with a move started and finished by the outstanding Joe McClennan. Picking up the ball on the halfway line, McClennan fed midfield virtuoso Grubb, who played a piercing ball to set Bradley Ash in behind the U’s rear-guard. Ash’s low cross bred chaos in the Sutton area, unable to clear their lines, allowing McClennan to smash home from four yards before peeling off in ecstatic celebration, taking him to three league goals on the season.

Sutton went close before the interval, with skipper Jamie Collins’ thumping header crashing back off the crossbar after he climbed highest from Wellard’s flag kick, ensuring the Seagulls’ lead was preserved at the interval.

The hosts started with greater impetus after the interval, but passed up a good opportunity to draw level, as Scannell’s effort from eighteen yards was perhaps a little tame, allowing Purnell to hold on, low to his right.

For all their endeavour, and control in possession, Sutton rarely threatened to draw level in the second stanza, unable to prise open a resolute defence, with the cool heads of Fortune and Jordan commanding the defensive effort.

In fact, the Seagulls likely had the finest chance of the second period, as McClennan’s cross just evaded the reach of substitute Jamie Lucas, with the ball agonisingly trickling out for a throw.

Weston were penned inside their own half in the closing stages, but stood firm to guarantee the points were returning to Somerset, as they strategically claimed victory in this battle in the mud.

Final Score: Sutton United 1-2 Weston-super-Mare AFC (Fitchett, 11; Grubb, 15, McClennan 25)

Weston Starting XI: Purnell, Mitchell, Llewellyn, Brown, Jordan, Fortune, McClennan, Cane, Ash (Lucas, 56), Grubb (Edge, 85), Watkins (Mawford, 70).

Substitutes (Not Used): Barnes.

Man of the Match: The travelling support deemed it unfair to single out a single player, in what was a complete team performance, awarding the accolade to the whole team.

Many thanks to Weston’s Sam Frost for providing this official report for use on the site. It was originally published on the club’s website. You can follow the club on twitter.

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About James Bartaby

Hey, I'm James and I'm relatively new to non-league football, having only taken in my first match in September 2011. Despite it being a 0-4 defeat for Hampton & Richmond Borough, I became a huge fan of the club and NL in general. So much so that they are now the first club that I mention when talking about which team I support! I just got massively disillusioned with top flight football in this country and the attitudes of the lawmakers and top clubs in general, and I wanted to start taking my son to see decent football. I am now the club's Deputy Press Officer, and loving every minute!

Posted on February 16, 2015, in Vanarama NL South and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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