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MATCH PREVIEW: Braintree Town vs Chippenham Town | National League South | Saturday 26th August 2023

Published: at 10:00am

Simon Lawrence previews our NLS away game against Braintree Town.

The Bluebirds continue their Vanarama National League South campaign this weekend with a busy schedule over bank holiday weekend that firstly takes them to Cressing Road, home of the Iron, Braintree Town FC.

Chippenham come into this game hoping to build on performances so far this season that have seen the Bluebirds pick up wins against Aveley and Havant but suffer narrow defeats to Torquay and Tonbridge. Sitting on 6 points and halfway up the league table, Bank Holiday weekend provides an opportunity to double the tally in the blink of an eye.

Last Time Out

Some would argue that to do so, we will have to be a little better than we were last time out when Tonbridge were the visitors to the TS Stadium. A slow start by the Bluebirds saw veteran striker, Stefan Payne given the opportunity to head the Angels in front early doors. To their credit, Chippenham picked it up and in the second half rightly got themselves back into the game with a goal from the captain Matt McClure following a delivery from the right-hand side. Referee Neil Pratt then took centre stage, and the two big talking points in the game were both with him at the thick of it.

Firstly, an inswinging corner saw the referee point to the spot amongst confusion from absolutely everyone, not a single appeal from player or supporter was heard by Mr Pratt spotted a tug on the shirt from Owen Windsor and pointed to the spot. Lewis Gard dispatched the penalty to give the Angels all three points but not before Mr Pratt angered the away team by sending off Tommie Fagg following his tussle with Freddie Grant.

The Bluebirds gave it a good go but in the end. A team ravaged by injury and suspension just came up short in their quest for a point and Tonbridge departed Wiltshire with 3 points to take back to Kent.

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Match Highlights

One of the biggest positives however, was the emergence of yet more academy talent! Mal Nicholls coming off the bench for his debut was one thing but Dan Ellison, former captain of the CTFC Under 19’s stepped in to make his full debut in the National League South deputising for the injured Aaron Amadi-Holloway and the suspended Nat Williams! Coupled with George Abbott the pair, at a combined age of just 36 years old, defended brilliantly and did everything asked of them when called upon with Ellison even claiming the Man of the Match award! A real feather in the cap of this club is the brilliant academy we have and the trust that management has in them to be a part of the process when required and a big congratulations from everyone at the club to Mal and Dan for making their debuts! Will they be needed again this weekend? Who knows!

Our Opponents

One thing we do know is our opponent! Braintree Town FC, the Iron play out of the Dunmow Group Stadium at Cressing Road and reached the play-offs last season under their dynamic new manager, Angelo Harrop. A narrow 2-1 defeat to Worthing saw Braintree condemned to the National League South for another season and some high profile departures have left the Iron needing to rebuild for the upcoming season.

Angelo Harrop guided Braintree to the play-offs in his first season in charge.

The opening results have been a mixed bag for Braintree with an opening day defeat to Taunton Town followed by a 3-2 home win over newly promoted Truro. A home defeat to Maidstone was then backed up with a good point on the road against Dover leaving the Iron on 4 points and sitting just off the pace at the moment in 18th place but such is the nature of the early stages of the league, a good weekend for the Iron could see them back among the play-off spots they frequented for much of last season. In order to do so, they will need a repeat of the results they picked up against Chippenham last time around taking 4 points from 6 against the Bluebirds with a 1-1 draw at Cressing Road and a 2-1 victory over the Bluebirds at the TS Stadium registered last term.

Chippenham will be hoping to buck the trend of results against Braintree with them being somewhat of a bogey side for the Bluebirds over the last few years with Chippenham only winning 1 of the last 8 meetings with the Iron, a 1-0 home win in 2020 with Braintree winning 4 and the other 3 ending in a 1-1 draw making it the most common scoreline between the two sides over Chippenham’s time in the National League South. One thing is almost certain to be guaranteed in this game, a goal! In every single meeting between the two clubs, there has never been a scoreless game.

One 2 Watch

The obvious One 2 Watch this week is Braintree’s summer addition, Nnamdi Nwachuku from AFC Sudbury. In a season that saw Sudbury promoted to the Southern League Central and in any level of football, a striker that knows their way to goal is important. One that can find his way to goal 49 TIMES! Is as rare as rocking horse poo! That is what Nwachuku is bringing to the table for the Iron this season. Also the long throw of defender Kyran Clements will be a dangerous asset for Braintree and our defence will have to be on top of their game for 90 minutes to avoid the danger!

Familiar Faces

Familiar Faces was very easy this weekend (not least because I had my last preview to draw upon) but only former Chippenham stopper Will Puddy has shared the two jerseys with Will spending a little time on loan to Braintree before accelerating his career with Chippenham Town, Salisbury and Bristol Rovers.

Famous Faces

Famous Faces again was a nice easy one with a handful of players currently playing in the Championship such as Sammie Szmodics, Bradley Dack and Harlee Dean all plying their trade in the second tier of English Football and former Premier League players Greg Halford and George Elokobi also having stints at the club. Former Portsmouth manager Danny Cowley also managed the club for a year in 2015 before getting his big break and making his name at Lincoln City with their magical FA Cup run!

Bluebirds News

For the Bluebirds, they will still be without Tom Owen-Evans for the trip to Cressing Road as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury. Aaron Amadi-Holloway will be subjected to a midweek fitness test as will his centre back partner last season, Luke Haines. Haines will get some minutes for the 23’s through the week as he looks to make his competitive debut as a full time Chippenham player following his suspension and injury at the start of the season. Also returning from suspension will be Nat Williams, bolstering Horgan’s depth at the back following last weekend. Luke Spokes takes his turn this week to miss out through suspension following his red card away at Torquay United but with a good squad behind him, Horgan is confident in his group to deliver the kind of performances that have seen the Bluebirds start the season well.

We hope to see as many of you at Braintree as possible to cheer on the boys in a difficult place to get a result and we will see you all back on Bank Holiday Monday for the home game against Slough Town FC!

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