Chard Town 1 Wincanton Town 3
Toolstation Western League Division One – att; 125
A SUPERB hat-trick from Wincanton striker Marcus Cook last night (Wednesday) left Chard Town still searching for their first point of the season.
All looked good for the Robins in the early stages as, boosted by the slope, they took the game to the visitors.
An early James Boyland cross just eluded Liam Cleal at the far post and a minute later Boyland showed good pace to latch onto a ball over the top but his shot was parried.
However, the opening goal was just seconds away. Once again it was slippery Boyland who was causing the Wasps’ defence problems; he had three fierce shot blocks by some fine defending before the ball broke to Cleal, returning after a spell with Axminster Town, who lashed the ball home for his first goal in a Chard shirt for four years.
The hosts, with a sprinkling of former Wincanton players in their line-up, went close again on the half hour when a long throw from Andrew Holmes, which looked a potent weapon all evening aimed at the aerial threat of skipper Taofik ben Salem, Steve Friend and Kieran Bailey, eventually reached new signing Nick Jacobs whose volley was acrobatically headed a against the crossbar by the diving Bailey but the linesman’s flag was up for offside anyhow.
Chard deserved more than the solitary goal for their first half efforts but they were also grateful to keeper Jon Hill for a stunning close range double save to deny Tom Morris in stoppage time.
The Robins could have gone 2-0 soon after the turnaround but a low cross from the right just needed a tap in, and they were made to pay.
Wincanton, previously managed for five years by Chard boss Paul Down, equalised five minutes later when striker Marcus Cook held his nerve and sidestepped a challenge before cooly firing across Hill and into the far corner.
Chard were grateful to their keeper two minutes later when he went full length to tip a low Morris shot around the post.
From here the game became scrappy with neither team really taking control; Friend volleyed a Holmes cross just wide while former Bridport midfielder Dan Wise curled a 25-yarder over the bar at the other end.
But just as thoughts were turning to a stalemate the game exploded back into life. Wincanton took the lead in the 86th minute when a long ball in the penalty area was well controlled by Cook who then deftly lofted the ball over Hill for the goal of the game.
Chard responded and three minutes later Ben Salem found Friend who sent Boyland scampering into the penalty area only to be bundled over by one of two chasing defenders for what appeared to be a clear-cut penalty. But referee Darren Gay and his linesman disagreed, claiming the striker was already on his way down when the challenge came.
This left Chard players and supporters seething and their mood worsened a minute later when a cross-come-shot from that man Cook looped into the net off the inside of a post.
Manager Down told View Sport: “The penalty decision was the turning point near the end. I felt, the same as Saturday (2-0 loss against Warminster) that we were worth a point. We were on top in the first half while they won the second.
“We lost Luke Jackson at half time after he felt sick having suffered a poke in the eye, and this disrupted us in midfield.”
The Robins must put the disappointment behind them as they head off to face Portishead Town on Saturday before the visit of Roman Glass next Wednesday (August 16th, 7.30pm).
Chard Town: Jon Hill, Pat Golden, Ben Haines (Max Westlake 89), Andrew Holmes, Nick Jacobs, Luke Jackson (Brad Miles 46), Kieran Bailey, Liam Cleal, Tauofik Ben Salem (capt), Steve Friend, James Boyland.