Sherborne Town 2 - 5 Chard Town
Wednesday 30th August 2017A stunning solo show from Chard skipper Taoufik Ben-Salem sent his side eight places up the Western League Division One table on Wednesday night after they went home with a 5-2 victory under their belts, Ben-Salem netting the first four writes Kerry Miller.
It was a remarkable showing and one which Chard had threatened for a while despite lingering at the foot of the table until yesterday and it came after both sides had posted their first wins of the new campaign on Saturday. The Robins included Paul Nicholls in the side, who had been playing rugby for Chard for some time and had Steve Friend on the bench after his unavailability on Saturday.
The Zebras were without former Queen Camel striker Harry Vandervell, who had started well with three goals in two games but was suspended and Sherborne were out of the stalls first when Alexandru Stafie’s 35 yard free-kick was tipped wide by the flying John Hill in the Chard goal. He was not be denied, however as from George Mapletoft’s corner Stafie nodded home the opener on ten minutes.
Chard responded immediately when Brad Miles’ curling cross only just missed the onrushing Ben-Salem but he also was not to be denied as Liam Cleal’s trickery was too much for the home defence and the burly striker notched the equaliser five minutes later. The same two combined in the next attack but Ben-Salem just failed to convert before Sherborne retaliated and Stafie drove wide again.
Chard were showing signs of taking hold of the game and their counter attacks were causing the home deence no end of problems with Max Westlake and Ben-Salem setting up Cleal whose drive was pushed round for a corner by Simon Bleazard. Chard continued to push forward and following an effort from Miles which was wide Ben-Salem struck again six minutes before the break. Andy Holmes floated a long Crossfield ball into Ben-Salem’s path and his waist high volley flew past Bleazard to bring admiration from all round the ground.
Sherborne were shell-shocked and three minutes later the front man completed a superb first half hat-trick when he was too strong again and having wriggled free despite being pulled bac k he made it 3-1 with the minimum of fuss.
After the break the home side tried to get back into the game with Stafie again testing Hill, who made a meal of shovelling it away for a corner but that is as good as it got for Sherborne for five minutes later Ben-Salem was at it again, latching onto a long ball before crashing a fight footer past Bleazard, remarkably for his and Chard’s fourth.
The home side were proving more dangerous from corners as Hill was having a testing time with inswingers but they looked a beaten side with half an hour to go as Chard went for more, Cleal and Holmes both trying their luck from distance. Manager Gerry Pearson made a double change with 20 minutes left, throwing on Dave Smith and Pete Ireland and the two almost combined to reduce the deficit before the lofty Smith appeared to be knocked out following a goalmouth melee. Sportingly, Hill immediately dropped the ball and attended the stricken player, who happily was able to resume after a lengthy stoppage. He then volleyed over from Jordan Fletcher’s pass with minutes left and their persistence was rewarded when Smith knocked in a second late on from yet another corner. Chard had momentarily gone to sleep and Smith brought a fine save out Hill which provoked Chard boss Paul Down into a short sharp wake up call which worked, as Miles fed Westlake who drilled the fifth into the corner with virtually the last kick of the game.
It may take two or three years but we have to steady the ship and not only get it right on the pitch but off it as well.
Sherborne Town are in a transitional time at the moment, having suffered relegation last term to Division One, a fact which did not surprise chairman John Bowers, who saw his side slowly disintegrate following several players calling it a day, who had been around under Jamie Manley for some years. "Our old established team broke up slowly and maybe we did not look to the future until it was too late" said John, whose company M and J Bowers Recycling are one of the main club sponsors. "The rebuilding will not be overnight" added John , "It may take two or three years but we have to steady the ship and not only get it right on the pitch but off it as well."
Certainly there has been plenty of work going on in and around the clubhouse at Raleigh Grove with former player and commercial manager Glenn Nathan instrumental in much of it, so much so that secretary Colin Goodland describes him as 'the club's best signing.'
John is at pains to point out that the club are not high payers but intend to be competitive and self-sufficient saying: "We are striving to make the club a welcoming place and have installed BT Sport, jointly sponsored by myself and DPB Utilities with EB Marsh and Son providing the TV". There is ample proof of Nathan’s work with Freeman Baker charter accountants winning the shirt front rights and a vibrant and tidy ground giving a very welcoming feel.
Former Yeovil Town midfielder Gerry Pearson has taken over as top man having been around the block at the likes of Chard Town, Witney Town, Street and Tintinhull and he has taken a punt signing striker Harry Vandervell from Queen Camel, he having being unstoppable in local football last season. It looks to be a good move as he has scored three times in two starts but was then sent off meaning a suspension early on. Nathan is hoping the new side will attract more through the doors, with the standard 75 or so becoming three figures – the young reserves also bringing in parents and friends for their Dorset Premier League games. Regular Wednesday night football is also a good way to get more bodies in and all in the Western League will be hoping the Zebras begin to climb back up again very soon.