DAN Welch held his nerve to win the game for the Chickens with a last-ditch penalty at the Stalls.

A point would have been good enough to send the hosts back to the top of the Dorset Senior League, but Welch’s late show ensured Chickerell now hold a three-point cushion over second-placed Westland Sports.

And for Welch, it was the second time in the match he had been involved in spot-kick drama after giving away the penalty from which the visitors equalised with around 10 minutes to go.

Chickens’ boss Steve Coward had to call on some of the club’s reserve-team players for the encounter with the likes of Che Curran, Warren White, Matt Guilbert and Joel Protheroe all missing out for various reasons.

In came the likes of Jack Brown, Jamie Rawlings and Andrew Stalker, and Coward was pleased with how they performed in a game the hosts could have had wrapped up before the break.

Nick Etherington scrambled the ball in on the stroke of half-time to give Chickerell the lead after they had spurned a number of good chances throughout the first period.

Their wastefulness in front of goal looked to have proved costly when Welch was penalised for the use of an arm and Piddletren-thide levelled.

But Welch secured the victory with virtually the last kick of the match after Elliot Stone was brought down in the visitors’ box.

“We made hard work of it like we usually do,” said Coward. “We should have been four or five up at half-time.

“Whatever we did their keeper was making saves, they were clearing shots off the line, and we hit the bar and the post.

“When we have spells like that we have got to punish teams, but we didn’t.

“If we had got a goal early on it would have been comfortable but it was one of those days when you think it’s never going to happen.

“I had every confidence in Dan at the end but the way their keeper had been playing you thought he could have saved it.”

He added: “They battled hard and defended well but, given the amount of possession we had in their third, we deserved it.

“The biggest disappointment for us is that we didn’t score enough goals. We’ve got to finish teams off and not leave it until the last minute of the game.”

Several first-team regulars are set to return when the Chickens go to Okeford United on Saturday.

Chickens: Boore, D Welch, Ferguson, Coles, Campbell-Bell (Stalker 75), Etherington, Rawlings, Brown, S Welch, Stone, Why. Subs not used: Heath, Bill