CHARD Town host local rivals Wincanton Town in the Toolstation Western League First Division tomorrow (Saturday).

The Robins were hit by a late sucker punch at Sherborne Town on Wednesday night, losing by an 86th-minute goal to nil.

That followed a superb performance on the opening day which saw Longwell Green dispatched 3-0 at Zembard Lane.

New Chard boss Jamie Manley pulled off his major summer signing last week, adding 22-year-old Sam Smith to his ranks. 

Smith, a cultured midfielder who lives in Yeovil, has spent the last three years at Shaftesbury, winning successive promotions and featuring 40 times in their Sydenham Wessex League Premier Division side last season.

Manley was impressed with how Chard started the first half last Saturday, believing they could have been six goals ahead at the break, before the visitors came more into the game after the interval.

ILMINSTER Town face a tough trip to Clevedon United to kick off their Uhlsport Somerset County League campaign on Saturday (ko 3pm).

The Blues just about retained their Premier Division status last season, finishing 13th, while Clevedon ended up in eighth.

Darren Manley’s side won two and lost two in pre-season – the last of those friendlies being a 3-2 defeat to Staplegrove, with Carl Lazenbury scoring both of the Blues’ goals.

With league restructuring reducing the top division to 16 teams, and Westfield and Worle two strong promoted sides, it could be a difficult year.

Captain Jonny May has had successful knee surgery but looks likely to miss most, if not all, of this season as a result.

But Ilminster spokesman Andy Fish said that the feeling around the club is positive, and that they have had good numbers at training.

He added: “We’ve spent the summer improving our pitch and facilities.

“Seven players from our A side [who won Division 3 of the Perry Street League last season] are in our 24-man squad, as we look to build from within.

“Unlike a lot of other teams in the league, we don’t pay our players.”

COMBE St Nicholas, meanwhile, begin their County League Division 3 challenge at home to Stockwood Green Reserves this coming Saturday (ko 3pm).