Western Counties Floodlit Youth League: Chard Town U18s 5, Wellington U18s 1

Our U18s suffered another defeat on the road as they travelled over the Blackdown Hills to play neighbours Chard.

The pitch was frosty, but playable, and both sides deserve credit for providing an entertaining game.

Wellington won the coin toss and chose to play up the considerable slope in the first half. The game started with both sides trying to get on top and chances were limited.

Wellington’s defensive line up of goalie Sam Harcombe, Josh Cashmore, Matt Harper, Robbie Walker and Dylan Sellick were working well as a unit and looked comfortable against a strong Chard frontline.

Just when it appeared they would resist the Chard attacks, the opening goal of the game came out of nowhere. An under-hit clearance reached the Chard winger who jinked his way into the area and provided a pinpoint cross which was headed in by their centre forward.

The rest of the first half was a tough battle for Wellington, playing up the slope, with the midfield trio of Dylan Groves, Ned Olgilvie and Josh Sibands putting in some crunching tackles and looking, where they could, to release their forwards.

Matt Brereton led the line well, up against two strong centre backs and Sean Conway and Sam Snook tried their best to stretch the Chard defence, while also tracking back to help with defensive duties.

There were a couple of scares for Wellington as half-time approached, with Harcombe making a fine save, tipping a rasping drive over the bar, but they held firm until the referee blew for the break. Despite trailing, Wellington had put in a huge effort and deserved to be in the game.

The second half started with Wellington on top and an excellent move involving two or three players, saw an excellent pass from Brereton find a fine run from Groves – unfortunately his well-hit shot was saved by the Chard keeper.

So it was against the run of play when a Chard break resulted in their half-time substitute being left unmarked at the far post, and he netted with ease. Chard took inspiration from this and scored an excellent third shortly afterwards.

Wellington could have let their heads drop, but they continued to press Chard back and were rewarded when the ever-willing Conway crossed for Brereton to net with a low drive.

This gave the lads confidence, and they were unlucky not to reduce the deficit further when Sellick burst into the box from left back. After his initial drive was blocked, he just couldn’t keep the follow-up down and it went narrowly over the bar.

Just as Wellington looked to use the bench, to replace tiring legs, Chard scored another and effectively put the game to bed.

James Clarke and Reuben Nicholls-Searle replaced Cashmore and Snook, and manager Joe Conway made some positional changes to try to regain the initiative.

Shortly afterwards Reggie Dursten and Josh Moore came on for Robbie Walker and Josh Sibands.

All the subs put in some good tackles and added some extra energy, but their efforts couldn’t prevent Chard from adding a fifth, which gave the scoreline a rather flattering look.

The lads will go again next Thursday evening (February 16) when they are at home to fellow strugglers Axminster Town with a 7.30 kick-off. They hope a good crowd will, again, turn up to see if they can get their first win of the season.

Man-of-the-match: Dylan Groves.

Travel sponsor: Court Fields School.