Toolstation Western League
First Division
Ashton & Backwell United 1, Chard Town 1

A LATE goal from Kieran Bailey saw Chard Town come away with a draw from a hard-fought game at Ashton & Backwell on Saturday, with the match only going ahead thanks to sterling work by the home groundsman to get the pitch in playable condition.

Attacking down the slope in the first half, the Robins had the best of the early play, with James Boyland shooting wide on seven mins and Liam Cleal just over the bar on 15 minutes, while from a free-kick Bailey headed straight at home goalkeeper Lewis Coombes.

The hosts also set up some attacking moves, but their efforts either went wide or were dealt with by Chard keeper Jon Hill.

With visiting penalty appeals for an alleged handball offence and a foul just inside the area turned down by the referee, the first period ended goalless.

The second half saw more close passing football from both sides, with shots by Alex Stafie and Cleal well covered by Coombes.

Backwell then upped the pace and broke the deadlock on 56 minutes, when Harry Walker found the top with a well-judged strike from 25 yards that gave Hill no chance.

With the Robins' three subs on, they pushed forward but could not find a finish, while two excellent saves by Hill kept them in the game.

With time running out the away side produced a late rally, which saw Boyland’s effort go into the side netting before a corner led to a goalmouth scramble, and after several close attempts in the muddy conditions the goal came from Bailey on the stroke of full time.

That gave Chard a well-deserved share of the points, maintaining their recent unbeaten run and eighth place in the league table.

Chard Town: Jon Hill, Ben Haines (Octavio Lima 80), Oliver Pearson, Andrew Holmes, Kieran Bailey, Jack Dicker, Max Westlake (Elliot Bevis 68), Matthew Howell (Patrick Golden 80), James Boyland, Alex Stafie, Liam Cleal.

Chard manager Paul Down said: "A last-minute goal earned us a deserved point.

"It didn't look like it was our day after creating several good chances.

"In the end Kieran Bailey scrambled one over the line from a corner, after Andy Holmes twice and Bailey had efforts blocked at the same corner.

"We then played a further four minutes, where Ashton & Backwell's Aaron Allen got a straight red card for a kick at Holmes.

"The pitch was borderline playable and was difficult to pass on.

"In the end it was a point gained, given the lateness of our goal."