HIGHLIGHTS: Weymouth 0-0 Dartford
Wonderful Weymouth seal promotion to National League
Weymouth win 3-0 on penalties
WEYMOUTH clinched promotion to the National League in dramatic style with a 3-0 penalty shootout win over Dartford in the Vanarama National League South promotion final.
Weymouth’s second successive promotion came as Tom Whelan, Jake McCarthy and Jaidon Anthony all proved red-hot from the spot.
Dartford’s Jack Jebb, Darren McQueen and Noor Husin all wildly blitzed their spot-kicks over in stark contrast to the deadly finishing of Weymouth’s penalty takers.
In winning, the Terras ended an 11-year wait to return to the top flight of non-league football.
Weymouth arrived into the game with an unchanged side from that which defeated Dorking 3-2 in such dramatic fashion last Saturday.
Dartford rocked up to the Bob Lucas Stadium after an impressive 2-1 win at promotion favourites Havant.
However, the Darts had already tasted a 3-1 defeat at Weymouth this season thanks to Brett Williams’ double and Abdulai Baggie’s opener.
In a game of such magnitude, a cagey start was forgivable as each side probed their opposition.
Weymouth’s Ollie Harfield showed awareness to flick a header behind from a dangerous cross early on, and the left-back was soon involved at the other end when his free-kick drifted harmlessly at former Dorchester keeper Alhaji Sesay.
In the twelfth minute, Weymouth unhinged the Dartford defence as Jaidon Anthony raced down the left before seeing his effort cut out.
Following up was Jordan Ngalo, the midfielder bulleting a fierce strike towards goal which was bravely blocked by Craig Braham-Barrett.
Dartford then produced their first shot as a prone McQueen, the Darts’ dangerman, still managed to poke an effort at goal, forcing Terras’ keeper Calum Ward into a sharp low stop.
After the first drinks break, Weymouth began to look more assured. Calvin Brooks led loud appeals for a penalty after his enterprising run was ended by clear contact, but the officials were unmoved.
Dartford would have capitalised on their fortune but for two crucial interventions from Ward.
Weymouth’s keeper first blocked a fabulous chance from Tyrique Hyde after an electric left-wing run from Braham-Barrett, before speeding off his line to smother Charlie Sheringham’s header.
Moments before half-time, Brooks stormed down the right again but his poked cross landed safely in the grasp of Sesay, via a small deflection.
Dartford’s front unit looked more cohesive after the break as the visitors began to find some joy.
Husin powered a shot just wide of Ward’s right-hand post and Weymouth reacted by bringing on Ben Thomson and Cameron Murray for skipper Josh McQuoid and Ngalo.
A flurry of action at either end first saw Darts’ centre-back Josh Hill tamely nod at Ward from a corner before Hyde nervily cleared a Weymouth corner at the second attempt.
But Thomson went closest of anyone when his bold run on the right allowed him to check inside, fake a shot and fire at goal.
His effort looked to be creeping inside the near post, only to be met with a stiff paw from Sesay who did superbly well to keep his side level.
Weymouth replaced Andy Robinson with Whelan at the second drinks break as manager Mark Molesley searched for more industry in midfield.
Whelan provided the energy Weymouth needed in the middle of the park and his tackle helped set up Brooks who ran inside and curled just over in the 79th minute.
Darts’ sub Ky Marsh-Brown saw a powerful drive bravely blocked by McCarthy while there was a late scare for the hosts as Anthony was robbed of possession and watched on as Jebb dragged wide.
Sub Yemi Odubade won a corner in the 93rd minute but Whelan’s delivery was too long and penalties were called for.
Whelan stepped up and slotted home comfortably to put Weymouth one-up but Jebb curled well over the left-hand angle.
McCarthy made it 2-0 with a calm central finish before McQueen slashed his penalty over to put the Terras in control.
When Anthony expertly crashed a finish home, Husin had to score but the Afghan international boomed an effort high and wide to spark wild celebrations from the Weymouth ranks.
Terras: Ward, Camp, Harfield, Ngalo (Murray 55), McCarthy, McQuoid (Thomson 56), Anthony, Wakefield (Odubade 85), Robinson (Whelan 70), Brooks, Hobson.
Subs not used: Childs, Zubar.
Dartford: Sesay, Wynter, Braham-Barrett, Hyde (Noble 87), Hill, Bonner, Jebb, Husin, Romain, McQueen, Sheringham (Marsh-Brown 71).
Subs not used: Edwards, Ming, Briggs, Wanadio
Referee: Robert Whitton