Toolstation Western League
First Division
Chard Town 1, Bristol Telephones 2

AFTER a Herculean effort from Chard Town against Weston-super-Mare in the Somerset Premier Cup in midweek, the Robins were brought back down to earth with a fourth straight league defeat on Saturday.

Bristol Telephones had been handed a 9-1 drubbing in November's reverse fixture, but they came away from Zembard Lane with all three points on this occasion.

Chard manager Jamie Manley sent out a reasonably strong team, with Steve Friend partnering relative newcomer Joe Smith up front.

In an even first half, both sides huffed and puffed with plenty of errors creeping in.

Few chances were created, although Phones’ Karim Rendall, once with Bridgwater, and Martin Blacker went close, while Ben Haines, Smith and Friend had their moments for the Robins.

After the break there was optimism that things might brighten up when Liam Cleal hammered the ball just over the bar, and then at the other end visiting captain Blacker then hit the bar with a ferocious strike.

Friend drew a great save from the visiting goalkeeper, after a fine ball from Nathan Warren, but it was the away side who made the breakthrough in the 77th minute.

A corner from Jack Mathews on the left was all-too-easily nodded into the corner of the net by Rendell, a very soft goal for the Robins to concede.

Worse was to follow, as just four minutes later, a good run by Guillermo Lopez led to Ethan McMahon swivelling onto his left foot and letting fly from distance, his brilliant shot giving home keeper Scott Wells-Burr no chance.

With seven minutes to go Chard pulled a goal back, and it was an equally fine strike.

As a last resort Kieran Bailey had sent himself up front for the final few minutes, and after a long ball from Elliot Dyer had deceived the visitors’ defence, he struck a wonderful volley from just outside the box that flew into the net.

That set up a tense end to the game, and there was a possible shout for a penalty when Max Westlake was felled on the edge of the box.

But despite a few frenetic attempts by the home side, Phones held firm.

Chard Town: Scott Wells-Burr, Ben Haines, Ollie Pearson, Elliot Dyer, Kieran Bailey, Sam Smith (Matt Howell 79), Max Westlake, Nathan Warren, Steve Friend (Ryan Parris 76), Joe Smith, Liam Cleal (Tom Salter 77).