BRIDPORT Reserves lost a nine-goal epic at St Mary’s Field as Dorset Premier League leaders Blandford United recorded a 6-3 win.

Blandford remain unbeaten after the contest but were certainly given a scare by the Bees in the first half.

Bridport’s Ali Kamara saw a big chance saved by Sam Pike, before Dan Baggs had a header blocked on the Blandford line.

It took a misjudgement from home skipper Jake Mansley to gift the Royals their first goal as prolific ex-Weymouth striker Mark Ford pounced on the long ball to score.

READ MORE: Wincanton Reserves 1-1 Bridport Reserves (Bees win 4-2 on pens) - report

Bridport did equalise through Riley Weedon’s clever lob but Ford went on to complete a 21-minute hat-trick as the striker capitalised on a mistake for 2-1 before timing his run perfectly to finish a one-on-one.

Spirited Bridport never gave in though and the press on Blandford’s defence worked for 3-2 as Kieran Coombs swooped on an error.

And the Bees were level at 3-3 when Josh Baker’s free-kick took a deflection past Pike.

The Royals made a crucial tactical change in the second half, going longer towards their forwards to nullify the Bridport press.

And it duly worked, despite a sin-bin for Ford, as Logan Laird punished another defensive mistake.

George Coleman and Elliott Manson then added the cherry on top for the Royals, who have a two-point lead plus a game in hand over second-placed Wimborne Reserves.

Speaking to the Bridport News, Bridport Reserves’ boss Adam Herring said:

“We played amazing in the first half, literally dominated, but four or five of those goals were individual errors. We were unlucky not to get anything from the game.”

He added: “I think we were good value for a point on the game but I’m just glad we competed against them and had a good game.”

The two sides meet at St Mary’s Field again on Saturday, this time in the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance Senior Trophy quarter-finals (1.30pm).

Herring will be without the cup-tied Dan Baggs, while Riley Weedon and Jake Childs will go up to the first team.

George Wyrill (hand) is out for two months, while Brandon Thorpe is unavailable but Tony Carlile returns.

Bees: Cuff, Baker, Baggs, Childs, Coombs, Elliott, Kamara, Mansley, Owen, Thorpe, Weedon. Subs used: Day, Etherington, Jones, Steele, Taylor.