CHARD A lost 3-2 to North Devon A in the Davis Wood league in a game featuring a number of controversial decisions.
Chard played 20 second half minutes with ten players - five minutes with only nine - and were denied what would have been a thoroughly deserved point after a stirring comeback.
Chard were two goals down at half time in this South East 2 clash and could have had few complaints at that scoreline.
North Devon had started the more positive and Chard were hesitant. At times they unsure in their marking and gave the ball away too often with ‘hit and hope’ tactics through the middle.
Both goals came from penalty corners, the second just before the break and the home side must have thought the game was in the bag.
However, Chard’s half time examination of their tactics and how they needed to change saw an immediate improvement with greater attacking threat from both wings and more cohesive and accurate passing in the centre of the pitch.
North Devon were on the back foot and only a double save from their long-serving keeper – including an amazing reaction stop of Dan Stone’s flick from close range – preserved the two goal cushion.
But Stone and Chard were not to be denied a few minutes later when James Spurdle’s searing run into the D caused panic in the home defence. The ball deflected off keeper and defender and fell kindly for Stone to poach the goal.
Chard had the impetus now, only for the first of the game-turning sin-binnings. Steve Mahoney was shown yellow for allegedly knocking the ball away in midfield after a free hit had been awarded.
The decision was the more upsetting for Chard given that a similar incident in the same area of the pitch in the first half involving a North Devon player had not even earned him a word of caution.
With the man advantage, the home side pressed with a series of penalty corners and, despite the heroics of Berge Balian in goal, they added their third to restore the two goal lead.
With Chard back to a full 11, they took up the challenge again and captain Gareth Eggle showed calm and patience in the D before slipping the ball past keeper and defenders for Stone to flick into the net from just a yard out to make it 3-2.
Cue the next controversy. The ever-energetic Jason Goddard conceded a free hit inside the North Devon half which was quickly taken.
Goddard nipped in with a tackle and the ball ricocheted off the ankles of the home player for what looked like a free hit to Chard.
The decision to allow North Devon to retake their free hit mystified Chard and Goddard made his feeling known, earning him a yellow card for dissent, followed by one for Eggle as further punishment for comments made by Goddard as he left the pitch.
Eggle was off for five minutes, during which North Devon were unable to take advantage of their superior numbers, Goddard remaining off the pitch for the rest of the game.
Chard’s second half improvement and serious challenge for a point were aided greatly by some excellent work on both wings from their younger contingent, notably Danny Grabham, Harry Felgate and Kyle Anderson, while Fraser Lewis was industrious throughout in midfield.
It was also good to see veteran Trevor Goss return to the side after a spell out with an Achilles injury.
Chard: Berge Balian, Danny Grabham, Dave Lury, Paul Tratt, Steve Mahoney, Jason Goddard, James Spurdle, Harry Felgate, Gareth Eggle (c), Dan Stone (vice), Kyle Anderson, Fraser Lewis, Trevor Goss.