CHIPPENHAM Town striker David Pratt has signed for National League South rivals Wealdstone, the Hardenhuish Park club revealed this morning.

Pratt, 30, an integral part of the Bluebirds' Southern League Premier Division title-winning campaign last season, has joined the Middlesex side for an undisclosed fee despite Town initially rebuffing an approach for his services.

Pratt has scored nine goals for Chippenham so far this season after notching 22 in Town's glorious league campaign last term, in which he formed a 50-goal partnership up front with Andy Sandell.

A statement from Chippenham Town chairman Neil Blackmore said: "It is with some sadness I must inform you that David has decided to leave the club and join Wealdstone FC.

"Whilst David was on contract and I made it clear to the Wealdstone Chairman that he was not for sale, they were able to get an offer to David via a third party, I am led to believe that offer was for more than double what he is paid by Chippenham.

"Once he was aware of the offer he no longer wanted to stay at Chippenham.

"I am sure you can understand there is never any point in forcing a player to stay against his will even if he is on contract, as you never get the best from the player and it can cause unrest in the dressing room.

"At that stage my task was to get the best deal for the club and I believe I have done that. Mark (Collier, manager) is now looking for a suitable replacement, we will keep you updated with any developments.''

Speaking to the Gazette & Herald, Collier added: "Wealdstone came in and made an offer in the last week or so.

"Obviously with him (Pratt) being under contract, the club turned it down and they (Wealdstone) then came back to the chairman with a renewed offer.

"While that was happening, in some way they made a personal offer to David Pratt.

"Basically, he's gone there for unbelievable money in comparison to what he could get at Chippenham Town and as soon as that was made available to him, his head was turned and there was only one thing he was ever going to do.

"As much as we wanted to keep him, we certainly couldn't cope with those wages and matching anything that he's certainly getting paid there.

"In that respect, the chairman had to try and get the best offer and we've managed to do that for a fee that will obviously remain undisclosed and the ball is now in my court to try and replace him.''

Collier added: "Pratt has done great for us, certainly last season and he's got an offer that would turn anyone's head.''

The Bluebirds were beaten 4-0 at Havant & Waterlooville in National League South yesterday.

Town were up against it early on as Ryan Woodford put the home side in front on six minutes before Wes Fogden notched the second four minutes later.

Fogden's second just after the hour mark sealed the Bluebirds' fate and Theo Widdrington's 82nd-minute strike completed the result.

Collier, who is still waiting for international clearance to come through for the signings of Curtis McDonald and Robbie Patten from Merthyr Town, added: "I don't really think it tells the story.

"Jared Thompson missed out in goal with a thigh injury and Jason Matthews came in and obviously we're still missing (captain) Greg Tindle.

"I decided to leave David Pratt out because of what's been going on.

"I said to the players that we're at a little crossroads really at this point of the season because we're waiting for a couple (of players) to come in that we think will make a difference to us.

"It's just left us a little bit short at this moment in time.

"We didn't start the game well. When you're 2-0 down after 11 minutes against a good side you know you are going to be up against it.

"But we carried on playing our football and created several good chances. They scored the third goal at a bad time for us and then 3-0 against a top side is game over.''