MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Lincoln City | Emirates FA Cup First Round | Saturday 5th November 2022

Published: at 12:00pm

Simon Lawrence previews our upcoming Emirates FA Cup First Round tie against League One side Lincoln City

The very first time was against Leyton in 1951. In 2005 the Bluebirds came up just a little short over a two-legged tie against Worcester City. In 2019 Northampton stopped us dead in our tracks. And now, in 2022 it is Lincoln City that stands between Chippenham Town Football Club and the Second Round of the Emirates FA Cup.

Our Route to the First Round

The Emirates FA Cup journey for Chippenham these days starts in the Second Qualifying Round. Our first opponents in the competition this season were Sholing FC. Gary Horgan spoke before the game of the dangers of Sholing and some long serving players they had there. However, in the end, Horgs needn’t have worried at all as a comfortable 3-0 victory for his side with goals from Jordan Young, Luke Russe and Harvey Greenslade saw his side book their place in the Third Qualifying Round.

Highlights of FA Cup Met Police 1-2 Chippenham Town
Highlights of Met Police 1-2 Chippenham Town

It was there that Chippenham drew the Metropolitan Police. A team that had performed very well last term in the Southern Premier League and were sure to give the Bluebirds a run for their money. The Met took a 1-0 lead following a slow start from the boys, but Spencer Hamilton rose high to head home a Jordan Young corner and bring them level. Academy graduate Caine Bradbury then sealed Chippenham Town’s place in the Fourth Qualifying Round with a skillful volley into the bottom corner.

Chippenham fans gathered around their radios and computers for the Fourth Qualifying Round draw. With the big boys of the National League coming into the mix and plenty of difficult sides at this level still knocking around the competition, the balls were kind to Chippenham as they got what they wanted, a team from the league below, Hendon FC. A routine afternoon in London was well underway when Craig Fasanmade and Jordan Young gave Chippenham a 2-0 lead after only 11 minutes of play. A Liam Brookes penalty followed by a volley into the top right-hand corner saw Hendon draw level. By the time Will Richards was dismissed for denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity and the referee was pointing the spot, Chippenham supporters were already bemoaning not taking the many chances the Bluebirds had during the game. However, the story had another chapter, Will Henry (as he has many times) stepped up to send the game to a replay on the Tuesday night at the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium.

The First-Round Proper draw was done by the time the two sides met on Tuesday night. The pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow was a home tie against League One, Lincoln City.

Hendon turned up with many people thinking they would be shattered from the previous game, that they had their chance to get it done in the first game, and that they would go into the night with little more than a whimper. It wasn’t the case. The Dons started strong and created a few chances before Joe Parker fired in a goal that literally brought the house down as a wall collapsed under the weight of the home support celebrating with their hero. Thankfully nobody was hurt and after the smoke cleared (and the debris) the game continued with Hendon again knocking on the door.

In the end, Chippenham held out to create their own little bit of history and make the Emirates FA Cup First Round Proper for only the fourth time in their illustrious, nearly 135-year history. The scenes at the end of the game were marred by an on-pitch incident that saw four Hendon players red carded at the full-time whistle and Bluebirds defender Will Tizzard also being dismissed, meaning the unlucky defender will miss the first round fixture.

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So, here we are. The big one! Tickets are being sold out of the Bluebirds Bar, the pitch is being carefully prepared by the ground staff, the press are buzzing around the place again to speak to Chippenham Town officials, staff and players as the town swells with excitement and Emirates FA Cup fever with the arrival of Lincoln City from League One.

Our Visitors Past Heroics

Lincoln City, the Imps, are a club that needs no introduction to fans of the FA Cup and non-League football as it was only a few short years ago that Lincoln City made history. A National League side at the time, Lincoln City (then managed by Danny Cowley) began their FA Cup story in the Fourth Qualifying Round. It was Guiseley that were disposed of first, two games against their fellow National League counterparts saw Lincoln through to another all-National League affair with Altrincham at home in the First Round where they won 2-1.

A Second Round home tie against then League One Oldham Athletic in front of the BT cameras saw the National League side dispose of the Latics by a score of 3-2 and saw the Imps into the Third Round, but dreams of a big Premier League side were put on hold when they drew Ipswich at home. Lincoln shocked the footballing world by grabbing a draw against Ipswich and if a draw at Sincil Bank was a shock, rocked it even further by beating Ipswich 1-0 at Portman Road to advance to the Fourth Round.

Shocks would be a recurring theme for the Imps as they drew Championship Brighton and Hove Albion. A 3-1 win for Lincoln with goals from Theo Robinson, Alan Power and an OG from current England centre back, Fikayo Tomori (then on loan from Chelsea) sending Lincoln into a history making tie with Premier League, Burnley.

Not since Luton in 2013 had a National League side won against a Premier League team and then it was Luton, on fire and heading to the Championship with the team assembled, beating a Norwich side that couldn’t buy a win in the Premier League. This was a different beast. Burnley had only lost 3 games at home in the last 29 and under Sean Dyche, this Burnley side were very hard to beat. With names such as England internationals Tom Heaton, Michael Keane and James Tarkowski alongside the likes of Joey Barton, Ashley Westwood, Sam Vokes and Andre Gray making up a full-strength Burnley side. Lincoln, heading towards an already history making result and taking Burnley down to Sincil Bank couldn’t have contemplated what was coming next. On 89 minutes, Sean Raggett (now at Portsmouth with Cowley) rose to head Lincoln’s first shot on target and with the use of goal line technology, the Imps scored to become the first side in 103 years to make the FA Cup Quarter Final!

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Lincoln City shock Premier League side Burnley.
Credit: Sky Sports

Their incredible run came to an end at the Emirates Stadium against Arsenal. The Gunners showed the maximum respect to their non-League counterparts and fielded a starting XI of Cech, Bellerin, Gibbs, Koscielny, Mustafi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Ramsey, Walcott, Giroud and Sanchez. This was a stretch too far for the Imps and an OG from Luke Waterfall and strikes from Ramsey, Walcott, Giroud and Sanchez gave Arsenal a 5-0 win and ended the most incredible non-League story in the FA Cup for generations. Lincoln would use this as a catalyst to climb the league’s, winning promotion from the National League the same year and in 2018/19 would win promotion to League One as Champions of League Two where they remain to this day!

Lincoln City 2022/23

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Lincoln City head coach Mark Kennedy.
Credit: https://www.weareimps.com

Lincoln are now managed by Mark Kennedy whose illustrious playing career saw him at clubs such as Liverpool, Wolves, Crystal Palace, Wimbledon and Manchester City as well as being capped 34 times by the Republic of Ireland between 1995 and 2002!

The Imps play at the impressive Sincil Bank, a place they have called home since their move from John O’Gaunts in 1895 and as mentioned play in the English Football League One. Lincoln City will come into the game around mid-table in League One and will be looking to replicate their form from the 2020/21 season, which saw them miss out on promotion to the Championship in the Play-Off Final against Blackpool despite going 1-0 up at Wembley Stadium in the first minute before a Kenny Dougall brace broke Lincoln City hearts.

This season has already seen the Imps record impressive wins against the likes of Oxford United, Bristol Rovers and Derby County to name a few and will be relying on some top players to see them over the line against the Bluebirds. Former Manchester United defender Regan Poole is now found at Sincil Bank in the heart of the Lincoln defence as well as former Ipswich hotshot, Teddy Bishop.

The forwards however are where Chippenham could really be hurt as Lincoln boast former Eastleigh striker Ben House, Sunderland loanee, Jack Diamond, former Liverpool Under-23 captain Matty Virtue and Republic of Ireland attacking midfielder, Danny Mandroiu to name but a few!

Familiar faces were always going to be a hard one this week with the gulf in class and gap in the league between the two sides however, Chippenham fans may be interested to know that even in Lincolnshire, they pay attention to the National League South with former Eastbourne striker Charley Kendall on their books. Charley signed for the Imps following a successful 29 goals in 51 appearances, and is now currently continuing his development at League Two Sutton United.

Last Time Out

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Match Highlights: Concord Rangers 3-1 Chippenham Town

Speaking to Gary after the Concord game, he assured supporters that the disappointment of recent results has not been due to a fault in the team performance and that sometimes in football, we don’t always get what we deserve. A slow start in Essex was corrected when Alex Bray struck back to level after Concord opened the scoring and from that point on it only looked like one side was going to take the three points. Good chances for Harvey Greenslade and Harry Parsons were quashed by Concord keeper Melvin Minter and then Will Richards clearance was blocked by the hand of Nana Kyei. The ball rolled into the middle and Akanbi has the easiest of tasks. Sadly, a mistake from the officials in missing this allowed the goal to stand with the referee slightly less culpable than the linesman that the incident took place right in front of and in the end, Concord grabbed a late third as Chippenham threw everything forward to try and grab a point in a game where they looked good for all three!

Bluebirds News

The positive news is that Jordan Young, Aaron Simpson and Craig Fasanmade all sat with the Commentary team for the game and all three of them feel there is a good chance they could be fit to play this Saturday. Coupled with the return from illness for Spencer Hamilton, Joe Hanks, Eddie Jones and Joey Parker. Gary could be facing a headache for what to do as players will be pushing and grafting for a start in the biggest game in Chippenham Town history!

Chippenham Town 0-3 Northampton Town, the last time The Bluebirds played in the FA Cup First Round

But, what a headache to have for a manager that seems to have the golden touch of late in big games. Gary of course was the assistant manager back in 2019 when Chippenham played Northampton Town in the Emirates FA Cup First Round and will be looking no doubt to mastermind going one further when Chippenham play Lincoln City and seal his place in Chippenham folklore by being the only manager to have led the Bluebirds to the Second Round of the FA Cup! With high pressure, must-win games to draw upon for experience in his relatively short tenure as Head Coach, Horgan will be expecting a performance from his side as the town rallies behind them with over 2000 expected to be in attendance at the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium!

So, this is it folks. This is what it’s about for non-League clubs. This is what we dreamt of way back against Sholing in the Second Qualifying Round. A League One side, at home, in front of our supporters and with the cameras ready to capture it all for the Extended highlights show on the BBC later in the evening!

So, get your tickets, get them for your friends, your family, your children! Grab your merchandise, pack the park, make it a sea of blue for Saturday, we welcome the Imps, Lincoln City to our small part of Wiltshire and with your support, with your encouragement and with your voices, we can show the whole footballing audience that the town of Chippenham has a club to be proud of. These boys have done a terrific job in getting us to this point, your support could just be the spark behind the ‘cupset’ the ‘giant killing’ that sees the Bluebirds progress to the Second Round for the FIRST TIME in their history!

Will you be a part of that history? See you all Saturday! And now, more than ever…


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