Weymouth 2 v 1 Exeter City - 31st July 2004

by Matt Pitman

Monday 02 August 2004

Paul Buckle headed Weymouth on their way to an impressive win over the club that pays his full time wages.

The midfielder, who works in Exeter City's youth development office, nodded the Terras in front in his first start back after undergoing a hernia operation.

Striker Lee Philips fired home a second after the interval as Steve Claridge's excellent side condemned the Grecians to their first defeat of the warm-up campaign.

For all their new faces, Weymouth's gelled outfit looked like they have played together for months.

Defensive trio Matt Bound, Nathan Bunce and Paul Gibbs hardly put a foot wrong.

Only Danny Clay's late consolation blotted their copy book stifling afternoon at the Wessex Stadium.

Of the old guard, midfielder Martin Barlow looked the pick of the bunch while Buckle reminded Claridge what he has to offer during a determined 45 minute outing.

Buckle, who used to play for Exeter, admitted he could not have picked a better opposition to return to action against.

He said: "Deep down Exeter are still my club, and they are also my employers, so to score against them is just perfect. I've just started working there as a coach in the youth setup so I'm sure I'll get plenty of stick when I go back to work on Monday.

"But aside from scoring, I'm just glad to be back playing especially considering it has only been three weeks since I had a triple hernia operation.

"That's meant I've only trained with the lads twice over pre-season which has put me a bit behind on my fitness.

"But I felt fine after that 45 minutes today and I've been working hard with the club's medical team to ensure I'm fully fit for the start of the season."

Weymouth - for whom winger Adam Wilde is a week away from recovering from a groin strain - were without influential midfielder Lee Philpot through work commitments.

But they by no means missed the former Leicester City man as they took the game right to one of the Conference National favourites.

Buckle started as he meant to go on, testing visiting keeper Martin Rice early after latching on to Barlow's neat chip.

The visitors carved little up front with dangerman Sean Devine getting little change from the strong Terras rearguard.

When Exeter did find a way through midway through the half home keeper Jason Matthews was equal to Scott Hiley's swerving drive.

So it was no surprise when Buckle escaped marker Alex Jeannin to nod Lee Charles' free kick past rice on 26 minutes.

Ian Hutchinson and Philips both had efforts saved before the break, while Sean Devine scuffed his shot wide clean through in stoppage time.

Despite the sapping heat, there was no let up in the pace from Weymouth after the interval and they made it two just 120 seconds after the restart.

Tully found Philips down the right channel with a cracking 40 yard pass, for the striker to surge his way into the box and fire into substitute keeper James Bittner's far corner.

The former Plymouth Argyle goal-getter was immediately given a well earned rest and his replacement Chukki Eribenne soon set up Claridge to fire at Bittner.

The chances continued to arrive as Barlow shot tamely after wriggling into the area, Eribenne sent an absolute rocket into the side-netting and Charles sent a half-volley into Bittners midriff.

Exeter showed more spark in the closing stages as new signing Wayne O'Sullivan had a neat scissor kick saved by Matthews.

And the Devon club grabbed an 88th minute consolation when former Yeovil Town striker Jake Edwards saw his low drive pushed into the path of Danny Clay who netted from close range.

Matthews, Tully, Gibbs (Browne, 74), Bunce, Bound, Buckle (Wilkinson, 46), Hutchinson, Claridge, Charles, Phillips (Eribenne, 49)

Exeter: Rice (Bittner, 46 (Rice, 90)), Hiley, Todd (Sawyer, 46), Santos, Jeannin (Moxey, 46), McConnell (O'Sullivan, 46), Taylor, Ampadu (Clay, 57), Sheldon (Nohamme, 62), Canham (Afful, 46 (Moor, 52)), Devine (Edwards, 46).

Referee: Andy Seargent (Devizes)

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