ST Neots Away

Dorchester Town well beaten by title-contenders Chippenham Town

BY: Phil Spencer – Dorset Echo Sport

Chippenham Town 4 Dorchester Town 0

Dorchester Town were comprehensively beaten 4-0 away at promotion-challengers Chippenham Town, with striker David Pratt scoring all four goals for the hosts. The Magpies went into game without a win in six games, and with the risk of being pulled into a relegation scrap becoming more real by the week, manager Craig Laird will have been more anxious than ever to get his first points as boss.

In stark contrast, Chippenham Town were on a ten-match unbeaten run in all competitions. It’s a run which had seen them move to second in the league and just one point behind leaders Leamington going into the weekend.

This run has been spear-headed by the form of Andy Sandell and Pratt, who before today had scored a remarkable 29 and 22 goals respectively. It always looked like it was going to be a tough test for the Magpies against strikers in this kind of form.

Both sides have had their schedule’s adversely affected by the weather with Chippenham’s game against King’s Langley being postponed, while Dorchester Town hadn’t played in 14 days after their trip to Hitchin Town, and last week’s home game with Hayes & Yeading both being called off due to the weather.

However, Magpies boss Craig Laird had certainly seen the silver linings in the disruption.

He told Echosport last week about how certain members of his squad had been nursing injuries since the early part of the season, and the unforeseen break in club’s schedule will certainly have been used to the maximum to allow these players to rest up.

The break has also allowed Laird to press on in the transfer market with the additions of three new players this week.

Laird confirmed the signings of Lewis Powell and Ollie Griggs earlier this week, with both players being high potential youngsters who the manager feels can help propel the club out of their current battle.

Powell has signed on a two-month loan deal from Laird’s former side Weston Super Mare. He described the young target-man as “good player who will become a really good player” and one who can turn the club into “a force to be reckoned with”.

Ollie Griggs followed two days later with the young midfielder signing on loan from Eastleigh on a deal until the end of the season. Griggs was described by Laird as an “intelligent player” with a good range of short and long range passing, who is very much one for the future.

They were joined yesterday by the permanent signing of Jon Vance from Gillingham Town. Vance is seen as a box to box midfielder with great experience at this level and someone who can act as a role model to the club’s current crop of rising stars.

Craig Laird also spoke through the week about the challenge of staying within the set out budget to secure the long-term future of the football club, and in order to do this he was quoted as saying one or two players may have to leave in order to balance the books.

But with nothing decided and no departures imminent, the only thing for sure was that the entire squad would be playing for their futures against promotion-chasing Chippenham.

The Magpies boss welcomed Franklyn Clarke back against Chippenham after illness and chose to give Jon Vance and Lewis Powell their full debuts, while Ollie Griggs was given a place on the bench alongside fellow starlets Billy Mitchell and Owen Nicolson.

The hosts couldn’t have wished for a better start as they took the lead after just four minutes, when a cross from the right flank found striker David Pratt in the penalty area who guided his header beyond Shane Murphy to take the lead.

The Magpies battled and scrapped during the first half, coming close through a Neil Martin volley which was scooped up by the keeper.

But on the stroke of half time Chippenham doubled their lead again through Pratt to make it 2-0 at the break.

Any hope of a second half comeback was put to bed early in the second half as Pratt struck twice in 12 minutes to put the game beyond all doubt for the promotion contenders, taking his tally to 26 for the season so far.

Dorchester rallied to get back into the game with Jerrard’s curling effort going close but it wasn’t to be.

With results going their way, the result was enough for Chippenham to go top of the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division, while for the Magpies, another defeat made it seven games without a win leaving manager Craig Laird with a lot to contemplate.