CHICKERELL United got their 2019 endeavours off to a perfect start with a 5-1 thumping of AFC Blandford in their Dorset Senior League clash at the Stalls.

Shaun Murphy’s men had lost 4-2 to leaders Mere Town in their previous game but made no mistake in this encounter, despite a shaky start.

After Chickerell conceded a free-kick on the edge of the box within the first five minutes, Blandford’s Bradley Pike stepped up and slammed home via a deflection off the Chickens’ wall, sending keeper Ian Bickerstaff the wrong way.

Forced to respond following Pike’s goal, Chickerell were found wanting as Blandford struck the crossbar in threatening to extend their lead.

When United settled the equaliser was almost immediate. Blandford did well to deny the Chickens a half-chance but the hosts recycled the ball and supplied Matt Harvey who slotted home from inches inside the area.

Chickerell completed a rapid turnaround when the in-form Nick Voss finished off a move down the right-hand side, Dylan Ellis supplying a perfect cross to the striker at the back post on 20 minutes.

Quick counter-attacking was proving productive for the Chickens and a symmetrical move, this time down the left, culminated in Matt Stickland burying a Voss delivery for a 3-1 half-time lead.

Blandford continued to craft chances but were punished for not capitalising when Jake McCarthy’s shot from the left wing crept past Blandford’s gloveman.

Voss then notched his brace as seventh-placed Chickerell rounded off an impressive win to move within two points of their opponents, who occupy fourth.

Speaking to Echosport, Murphy praised Voss for his contribution to the victory.

He said: “He’s scoring a lot of goals, I think he might have scored in nearly every game. He’s playing really well.

“Mere are an established side, they came down from the DPL and got in our heads but we’ve beaten Blandford twice this season and I’m really happy with the performance.”

He added: “We’ve had a few blips just after and before Christmas and it was good to respond to what happened the week before.

“Blandford were a decent side, they played some good football. They were a bit unlucky at times and obviously we took our chances.”

Chickens: Bickerstaff, Sandeman, Miller, Cracknell, McCarthy, Voss, D Welch, Harvey, Ellis (James 70), Stickland, Evans. Sub not used: Terry