STEVE Coward branded Dan Welch an inspiration after the Chickens pulled off one of the most remarkable comebacks in the club’s history at Upwey & Broadwey.

Having lost Liam Miles to a straight a red card after just 10 minutes, Chickerell looked doomed at 2-0 down at half-time but somehow they managed to turn the tables to win 3-2, leaving their title rivals completely flabbergasted at the final whistle.

Dan Welch began the fight-back at Redlands by scoring from the spot after Phil Anderson had picked up a second booking for an infringement in the box, but it was the ex-Weymouth star’s incredible leadership, which really impressed Coward.

Reflecting on this frantic local derby, the Chickerell boss told Echosport: “I have never been involved in a game of football like that before.

“There were so many ups and downs, and to come back and win it 3-2 was just incredible.

“It’s a massive result for us and I thought Dan was an inspiration.

“When you are 2-0 down against Upwey & Broadwey with only 10 men, it is difficult to see it going any other way, but he gave the rest of the lads the belief that we could still win it.

“You can shout as much as you want from the sidelines but you also need leaders on the pitch to get people going and Dan was exactly that.

“During the half-time team-talk he got all the lads involved and the way we went out there and turned it around just shows what we are capable of.”

Coward admitted that Upwey were by far the better side in the first half but he was left with some reservations about the game’s early flashpoint. He added: “Liam got involved in a bit of a fracas.

“He appeared to get punched first and then retaliated but the referee only saw what Liam did and sent him off.

“After that they put us under a lot of pressure but we dug in and defended really well with Steve Boore making a couple of saves.

“Phil Anderson then picked up a second booking after the break for taking Steve Welch down in the box and was sent off, and when Dan Welch stuck away the resulting penalty, we were right back in it.

“Steve went on to have a hand in our other two goals as well, which were scored by Jack Ferguson and Nick Etherington, and afterwards I was just really chuffed with the character we showed.

“Jack, at just 17, never put a foot wrong at full-back and I also thought Jamie Rawlings did a fantastic job coming off the bench after stepping up from the reserves.

“We have a great spirit throughout the changing room at present and that clearly showed.”

The result keeps Chickerell three points clear at the top of the Dorset Senior League but stretches their advantage over Upwey to six.

Upwey boss Steve Reynolds said: “We ran them ragged and could have been four up at half-time and I think it was because of that we suddenly became too lethargic.

“Phil then got sent off for a second booking and fair play to them for coming back and beating us.

“Looking at the game as a whole, a draw would have probably been fair but it wasn’t to be.

Ethan Devaney got both of Upwey’s goals and probably should have won a penalty too.

Reynolds added: “At 1-0 up, their keeper grabbed both of Ethan’s ankles and brought him down in the box, yet the referee waved played on.

“It was the clearest foul you will ever see but afterwards the referee said he didn’t see it.

“Phil’s first booking was for appealing for that penalty and the second was for giving one away in the second half.

“From where I was that looked a foul too but Phil is adamant their lad tripped himself up.

“Had we beaten them it would have opened the league right up but I still feel we are in with a good shout.

“There is still a long way to go and Chickerell won’t run away with it that is for sure.”

Upwey: Gregg, Aston, Anderson, Stewart, Pearce, S Zima (R Zima 75), Frost, Kenderdine, Dixon, Devaney, Bochonko (Bridle 65).

Chickerell: Boore, Miles, Guilbert, Ferguson, Coles (Curran 75), D Welch, Etherington, White, Stone (Rawlings 60), S Welch, Why. Sub not used: Willett.