WATCHET earned local bragging rights when they came from behind to beat Minehead 2-1 in the post-Christmas West Somerset derby at the Mem-orial Ground on Saturday.

In keeping with recent fixtures between the rivals, the match was never particularly easy on the eye although the two young sides competed keenly, as well as battling against a troublesome biting wind throughout and a torrential hailstorm in the latter stages. The visitors seemed more up for the occasion than in some encounters and were the better side in the opening half hour.

George Sinott posed early problems down the left and Guy Burns fired over the top following one such raid.

Jamie Milton’s backpass almost embarrassed keeper Callum Knight as Watchet struggled to get a foothold on the game and it was no real surprise when they fell behind after conceding a soft free kick.

The deep cross from the left looked to be going out when Tom Reed leapt on the bye-line to loop a header over Knight and back into the goalmouth for Mike Graddon to have the simple task of nodding into the empty net.

Aaron Deeks shot into the side-netting and then high over from a free kick, but Blues’ keeper Kyran Wilkins was largely untroubled and Harry Scatchard went close to increasing the lead.

There were signs that Watchet were getting to grips as the interval approached and Milton headed wide from a corner and sent another free kick from just outside the box tamely off-target before Deeks cut into the box only to shoot straight at Wilkins.

Early in the second half Chris Sully volleyed too high from a reasonable position, but Watchet were beginning to gain the initiative by getting the ball down and using their flanks while also denying Minehead the time and space they had previously been afforded in too many areas. With Milton and Eben Harding bottling up the middle as Minehead took the longer option it was Knight’s turn to be mainly a spectator as the Red & Blacks enjoyed the greater possession.

The equalizer came after Wilkins lost a high cross from Ben Robinson with the visitors claiming their burly keeper had been impeded by the presence of Tom Sparks.

In the chase for the loose ball Sully went tumbling under Matt Cracknell’s challenge and the referee – who brandished seven yellow cards to Watchet players and a couple to the Blues in a game which was never dirty – pointed immediately to the penalty spot with some spectators also noticing a handling offence.

After the furore had died down Milton calmly stroked the kick into the opposite corner to Wilkins’ dive.

The Red & Blacks looked the more likely winners now as a wintry storm descended with large hailstones pinging down from a black sky and the officials resisting the temptation to make a temporary halt to proceedings as many of the large crowd fled for cover.

With less than ten minutes remaining Sully burst past two defenders to the byeline to guide the ball into the near post area where Deeks and Karl Boswell slid in for the kill, and the referee and his well-positioned assistant were in agreement that the ball had crossed the goal-line with Deeks claiming the vital touch.

Following more protests, the visitors went in search of a late point with Pat Reed forcing a smart save from Knight after a wayward back header while a cross-cum-shot from Sinott floated against the outside of the far post.

Watchet: C Knight, D Richards, J Milton, E Harding, B Robinson, B Walsh, C Sully, S Broadey, Z Ryder, A Deeks, T Sparks. Used subs: K Boswell & L Rogers.

Minehead: K Wilkins, R Wilkins, S Laverton, T Reed, M Cracknell, N Phillips, S Dennehy, M Graddon, H Scatchard, G Burns, G Sinott. Used subs : P Reed & S Tarr.