Toolstation Western League, Division One
Chard Town 6, Portishead Town 1

FOLLOWING their 4-0 win against Oldland Abbotonians the previous week, which saw them claim top spot in the division, Chard were in a buoyant mood as they took on a struggling Portishead Town side at Denings Field on Saturday, writes Ian Hallett.

Despite having periods of heavy rain during the previous 24 hours, the pitch was in excellent condition and allowed the Robins plenty of chances to show off their skills in front of goal.

The game was entering its second minute when the home side got started on their goal spree. 

A shot was blocked on the line and the quick-thinking Liam Cleal was first to react to the loose ball and blasted it high into the net with Portishead keeper George Gillingham rooted to the spot.

The lead was doubled six minutes later when Max Westlake’s free kick from the right hand side of the area was palmed away by Gillingham, and in the ensuing melee Andy Holmes put the ball into the net from close range.

Chard maintained the early pressure and Elliot Dyer almost added a third goal in the 18th minute with a ferocious long-range effort which was touched over the bar by Gillingham’s outstretched hand.

The momentum was disrupted midway through the half when the industrious Nathan Warren limped off with a leg injury, to be replaced by Matt Howell who soon got into the thick of things with some well-timed challenges.

On the half hour, the visitors were reduced to ten men when Warren Shepherd was shown a straight red card for palming the ball away from goal following a Cleal free kick after a foul on Ryan Parris.

Shepherd took his time to leave the pitch and this could have been a ploy that would unsettle many penalty takers, but it failed to have any effect on Oliver Pearson whose spot kick sent the keeper the wrong way to record goal number three.

It wasn’t until the 34th minute that the visitors had their first attempt on goal, when Robbie Cox’s effort from 18 yards brought Scott Wells-Burr into action to get his first touch of the ball by pushing it over the bar.

Chard continued to dominate proceedings after the interval and increased their lead after 52 minutes, when a perfectly flighted cross from the right flank by Parris soared over the defence to find Cleal, who stooped low to head the ball past the Portishead gloveman into the far corner of the net.

The visitors did manage to reduce the arrears after 57 minutes when a mistimed challenge on Alex Fox inside the area allowed Cox to find the net from the penalty spot.

Within minutes the Robins made another attack on goal when Cleal made a fine run along the left touchline before pulling the ball back to Ben Haines, whose first shot was well saved, but then with an open goal beckoning he hit the rebound over the bar. 

However, Chard only had to wait a further three minutes before making it 5-1. James Boyland won the ball on the halfway line and ran to the edge of the area before crossing to Parris, who calmly took his time before placing his shot wide of the keepers left hand.

With eight minutes left on the clock, excellent interplay between Parris and Boyland led to Westlake completing the scoring with a strike from 12 yards.

The victory sees Chard remain one point ahead of second placed Devizes Town who have a game in hand.

Team: Scott Wells-Burr, Elliot Dyer, Oliver Pearson, Andy Holmes, Kieran Bailey, Sam Smith (Ben Haines 57min), Max Westlake, Nathan Warren (Matthew Howell 23min), Ryan Parris, Jacob Manley (James Boyland 66min), Liam Cleal. Sub not used: Tom Salter.