MATCH PREVIEW: Aveley vs Chippenham Town | National League South | Saturday 20th January 2024

Published: at 9:12am

Simon Lawrence previews our upcoming away trip to Aveley

After a week of thrilling cup action for the Bluebirds, it’s a return to the Vanarama National League South this weekend as Gary Horgan prepares to take his men to Aveley where they will be looking to complete the double on (arguably) the league’s ‘surprise package’.

Last Time Out

Following the excitement of the penalty shootout win against Westbury in the Wiltshire Premier Shield, it was off to Bromley for the Bluebirds in a game that saw them pit their wits against the 2nd place team in the National League and winners of the FA Trophy the year before last! With a confident travelling support behind them, Chippenham went off well in the first ten minutes or so, getting into good positions on the pitch and working crosses into the box from wingers Tyreke Johnson and Craig Fasanmade. As you would expect Bromlely got a foothold in the game and a marauding run from Toppoloj eventually saw him play the ball to Michael Cheek who’s deft flick between two Chippenham defenders saw Ben Krauhaus smash the ball past Will Henry to give the National League side a 1-0 lead. Chippenham came back at Bromley well and when Fasanmade got in behind the Ravens back line and tee’d up Will King on the edge, screams of shoot came from the stands and unfortunately for the Bluebirds, King’s effort sailed high and wide of Sharman Lowe in the Bromley net. 1-0 at the break, Chippenham knew a big second half effort would be required if they were to stay in the FA Trophy and we definitely got that from the Bluebirds! Fasanmade was the first to go close when Spokes dispossessed but Fas’ shot was narrowly wide.

Chippenham then got their moment when Spokes played the ball to Grant. The cross was blocked and out for a throw in which Chippenham took quickly with Grant to Spokes, the midfielder then played in Tyreke Johnson who played the ball back to Spokes, the Bristol Pirlo then played it to Freddie Grant who hooked a cross into the middle splitting the Bromley defence in half and Craig Fasanmade was on hand to poke the ball past Teddy Sharman-Lowe and put the two sides level on 64 minutes. Chippenham then really cranked up the pressure on their opponents and were unfortunate not to get in front when the Bluebirds thought they had a penalty but the referee deemed the handball as “accidental”.

Bromley then as you would expect turned the screw a little and Chippenham rode out a good spell of pressure from the home side to see it through to penalty kicks for the second time in a week. McClure, Cheek, Spokes and Olumola all scored their spot kicks before Tom Owen-Evans had his effort saved by Teddy Sharman-Lowe. Arthurs then gave Bromley a 3-2 advantage before Caine Bradbury blazed his effort over the top of the crossbar to give Toppoloj a chance to send Bromley through which he dispatched past Henry to give the Ravens a 4-2 shootout win and send the Bluebirds home.

Difficult at full time not to feel disappointed with Chippenham arguably the better side in the second half but a sense of pride was the overriding feeling in the stands as the Bluebirds took 2nd place National League Bromley all the way to penalties however, that was that for another year in the Trophy. With half an eye on Monday’s draw to see who we would have faced in Round 5, Bromley drew a home tie against ironically the Bluebirds opponent this weekend in the National League South as Gary Horgan and his troops prepare to kick off their climb up the table, beginning against a side that really has taken a lot of the teams in the National South by surprise this season, Aveley FC.

The Opposition

Aveley FC, the Millers, formed in 1927 currently play their football out of the beautiful facility at Parkside where 3,500 spectators can take in the game from the state of the art, 4G facility in Essex. Managed by Danny Scopes, the Millers are playing at this level for the first time in club history following their playoff victory last season against Hornchurch to ascend to the National League South.

Many people predicted at the start of the season that Aveley as the new boys in the league would find it tough and most would have had the Millers in their 4 relegation spots if we are truly honest. However, the Aveley FC lot must have known something the rest of the league didn’t as they currently sit inside the playoff spots in 7th in a very tight National League South table.

Aveley have shocked many a side this season but one team who won’t be surprised by the Millers is a side that have already played them once this season and Chippenham Town are that team. Opening the league campaign at home to Aveley, a tight 1-0 win for the Bluebirds on that day courtesy of a cross (that he has since insisted was a cultured finish) from Tyreke Johnson.

Countdown to kick-off






As we have mentioned the 1-0 win on the opening day was the only meetings between these two sides giving Chippenham a 100% win record against the Millers (and that’s a damn fine record to keep) Chippenham will be going full of confidence as well after a midweek win in the Premier Shield and taking Bromley to a draw on Saturday on 4G, the Bluebirds will feel right at home in a big game on the surface.

Conversely, Aveley will be trying to stop a rather slippery patch of form at the moment with 3 defeats on the spin in the league for the Millers only masked by good cup form in both the FA Trophy and the Essex Senior Cup. Since the opening day defeat, many players have put themselves in the shop window as well with Aveley star players Jon Benton and Matt Rush both leaving the club for full time football and this may have contributed to the slight decline in the fall from as high as top of the league at times this season.

Familiar Faces

With Chippenham in the heart of Wiltshire and Aveley a small town near Thurrock in Essex, you wouldn’t have thought there would be many if any players that have shared the shirt but you would be wrong!

Many moons ago, under Mike Cook, Chippenham took on Ebbsfleet United in the pouring rain in a thrilling game at Hardenhuish Park. Amongst the Chippenham team that evening was a young man returning to the English game from Greece by the name of Garrett Kelly. Although he was on the end of a standard Ebbsfleet spanking that evening and also featured in the disappointing 1-0 loss in the FA Cup 3rd Round Qualifying tie against Hastings, Kelly was snapped up by Aveley and was a star man in their successful campaign which led to their arrival in the National League South but also played against the Bluebirds earlier in the season returning to the TS Stadium with his new Aveley teammates.

One to Watch

With the likes of Rush and Benton moving on to pastures new, the Millers were always going to need new faces for this category. We always need to look at an experienced keeper and at this level, there aren’t many more experienced than Jonathan North. The Welsh stopper has enjoyed many seasons in the National League South and will no doubt need to be on his game to stop the Bluebirds.

Former Hungerford, Dulwich and Concord winger, Nana Kyei has just signed to the Millers after starting the season brightly at Bracknell and we are all aware of his qualities. Midfielders Siju Odelusi and new recruit Razzaq Coleman de Graft will no doubt bring the energy as well but we have decided our One to Watch is Aveley striker Charlee Hughes. With 6 goals in 21 games this season, Hughes will no doubt be one to keep an eye on with his height and movement undoubtedly likely to cause an issue for the back line to deal with. But with all these lot looking to make an impact, one thing is for sure, the Bluebirds will once again need to be at their best to achieve their goal of a league double over the Millers.

Famous Face

Coming through from the lower reaches of the pyramid, Aveley FC are a fantastic little story of a team quite like ourselves, probably hitting above our average and that’s a story we absolutely love. It does however, leave a little to be desired in terms of Famous Faces for the club but we have managed to find a couple of interesting ones.

Former England Schoolboy and Derby County player Lionel Ainsworth is registered to the club as we speak and after his glittering career that has taken him to the likes of Hereford, Plymouth, Watford and Huddersfield to name a few, has decided to hang his boots at Parkside with the Millers. Taryn Allarakiah is a name that many won’t be too familiar with. However, if you have been watching the African Cup of Nations this year, you might have noticed the Wealdstone winger turning out for Tanzania where he made his full debut against Egypt and just the small matter of dealing with a little known right winger called Mo Salah!

Also Micah Hyde, a former Merlin Premier League Football Sticker that this young writer once claimed was the most common sticker of the year 2000 whilst playing for Watford also turned out for Aveley at the end of a great career that saw him spend 4 years in the top flight and several more in the Championship with Burnley!

Bluebirds News

Following their heroic cup exploits over the weekend in a tough game both physically and mentally for the Bluebirds, it would be a shock if there wasn’t a little fatigue and tiredness in the camp especially at the time of year where we are all dodging colds and flu. However, only Alex Bray is confirmed as unavailable this weekend by the gaffer Gary Horgan. With the squad looking strong at the moment, we can likely expect a couple of changes to give tired legs a rest as we look to propel up the league table. Sitting 17th could look really daunting until you look at the fact that if we win Saturday and our game in hand we are likely to be in the playoff spots or certainly around it!

For you Bluebirds fans this should act as an inspiration to come along with as many of your friends and family as possible to cheer the lads on and get behind Gary and the team as we push for the summit of the table. With the excellent adventure in the Trophy now put to bed, the scenes at the end of some 100 away fans embracing their team and clapping them off was a wonderful sight to behold. These lads really do deserve our best support from the top down and I really that this can now be the catalyst to come and really be the 12th man at games moving forward now until the end of the season! We are better for having you there, you are the beating heart of our football club.


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