"Oldfield has managed to restore some sort of feel-good factor" - Weymouth v FC Halifax Town: Opposition Focus
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An overall view of Weymouth's season?
Weymouth’s season has been about as topsy-turvy as you could imagine. The Terras were as high as ninth after a handful of games this season, having beaten Maidenhead 3-1 and Solihull 4-3 away before drawing 1-1 with Notts County. Fortunes have rapidly decreased since then with long losing streaks punctuated by the odd victory. That trend ultimately cost previous boss Brian Stock his job as Weymouth lost their next seven league games after defeating Aldershot and King’s Lynn in consecutive matches. New manager David Oldfield has won just once in nine games since his arrival but he has made Weymouth tougher to beat, the Terras having collected four draws in his tenure including an impressive point at Boreham Wood and against Chesterfield.
Are they overachieving, underachieving or where you expected them to be?
It’s fair to say that Weymouth are probably where they expected to be this season – in a relegation battle. There are some huge clubs in the Vanarama National League whose budgets dwarf part-time Weymouth’s. While the Terras have boosted their training sessions to effectively become a ‘hybrid-time’ club, the gap in finances remains huge and it is arguable that Oldfield’s men are punching above their weight. There is serious talent in the team but results have not come consistently enough this season.
Oldfield has improved Weymouth’s resilience in defence and has begun to get the best out of previously quiet attacking players, notably Ahkeem Rose and Brandon Goodship. But the nine-point gap to Aldershot looks extremely tough to overcome at this stage and, with a nightmare April coming up including fixtures against Wrexham, Notts County, Grimsby, rivals Yeovil and Solihull they will need to get results against the so-called bigger teams. Performances still remain of a high standard and crucially Weymouth are creating chances – they even had Stockport worried in their 1-0 loss on Saturday. Ultimately, results need to be earned sooner rather than later, but there is still the belief within the camp that the players can haul the club out of trouble.
What's the mood in the camp heading into this game would you say?
Overall, quite positive. Oldfield has managed to restore some sort of feel-good factor at the Bob Lucas Stadium, despite only taking seven points in nine games since his arrival. Weymouth were unbeaten in three games before the defeat at leaders Stockport and will be confident of causing problems for a Halifax side who are also going well at the top of the table.
Who have been their best players this season and why?
Three or four deserve a mention here. Omar Mussa has been the find of the season with his energy and dynamism in midfield, quickly making him a fans’ favourite. He has a tendency to give possession away too frequently though, and has not always been in Oldfield’s starting XI. Cameron Murray has also enjoyed his best season in a Weymouth shirt, seemingly popping up everywhere with his clever little runs and ability to link up Weymouth’s attacks. Goalkeeper Ross Fitzsimons has been in magnificent form of late, delivering a top-class performance in the 2-2 draw with Bromley last week. Skipper Josh McQuoid also gets praise for his efforts in front of goal. He has seven goals in all competitions and recently chalked up 100 appearances for the club.
Who will be their dangerman on Saturday and why?
Brandon Goodship has been one of the players to enjoy a renaissance under Oldfield, scoring the match-winner against Eastleigh. He prefers to play with support up top and at home Oldfield has usually opted to go with two strikers, meaning Dan Smith could prove an ideal partner in attack. Goodship’s finishing ability is unmatched within the Weymouth squad and given a chance will gleefully stick it away. He has sometimes been guilty of having a ‘quiet’ day but if his motivation is there he will make a nuisance of himself.
What's their style of play, what can Halifax expect to come up against?
Weymouth employ a possession-based game and have often troubled some of the bigger teams with their quality on the ball, constructing some flowing moves but without creating the chances to match. If they can find more precision in their final delivery and more composure in the opposition third they will be a handful for Halifax.
No suspensions but a number of players out injured. Andy Robinson (foot), Josh Leslie-Smith (concussion), Martell Taylor-Crossdale (knee) and Ben Thomson (groin) are among those struggling.
Likely line up and formation?
In the last home game Weymouth mixed it up with what on paper looked a 4-5-1 which can transform into a 5-3-2.
Oldfield notoriously plays his cards close to his chest with selection but I would guess the following line-up: Fitzsimons; Drewe, Mnoga, Cordner, Harfield, McQuoid, Shields, Bunker, Murray, Goodship, Smith in a 4-5-1 shape with Goodship starting out wide in midfield and given the green light to support Smith whenever he can.