MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Basingstoke Town | FA Trophy | Saturday 18th November 2023
Simon Lawrence previews our FA Trophy game against Basingstoke Town
The Bluebirds begin their bid for Wembley this weekend as they enter the Isuzu FA Trophy as we take on Basingstoke at the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium looking to book our place in the 3rd Round for only our SECOND EVER TIME!
Last Time Out
The Bluebirds will come into this game suitably rested after their midweek clash with Weston-Super-Mare fell victim to the elements as the Optima was deemed unfit for playing giving Gary Horgan and his team some much-needed rest with such a busy schedule ahead of them over the festive period. Of course, Chippenham do take into the FA Trophy the enviable form of 4 games unbeaten following away draws against Welling and Chelmsford and home wins against Eastbourne and Farnborough, with the league now put to bed until next Tuesday where we entertain the seemingly invincible Yeovil Town, we can take an in depth look into Chippenham Town and the FA Trophy!
The FA Trophy
The FA Trophy was a concept that was designed in 1969 to offer non-League teams that were deemed as semi-professional a chance to compete in a cup competition as they weren’t eligible to enter the FA Amateur Cup on account of the fact they paid their players. Chippenham took part in the inaugural FA Trophy competition coming in at the First Qualifying Round but they would lose to Gloucester City 4-0. In fact Chippenham would have to wait until 1974 for their first win in the competition with a 2-1 win over Salisbury City in the 1st Qualifying Round before being eliminated by Cheltenham in the following round.
In 1976 the FA introduced the FA Vase competition to differentiate between the standard of the growing quality of the non-league game with sides from step 1-4 playing the trophy and sides step 5 and below taking place in the Vase. Chippenham of course would go on to have a famous relationship with this competition reaching the Wembley showpiece final in 1999-2000 and the Quarter Final the following year.
In 2001, Chippenham returned to the FA Trophy following their propulsion up the pyramid however, it was a losing return with a 2-1 defeat to Walton & Hersham welcoming them back to the competition. Over the coming years, the FA would introduce Qualifying Rounds once again to the Trophy and Chippenham would struggle to reach the main competition between 2005 and 2020 when it was deemed National North and South teams would enter at Round 2 automatically. In fact, the Bluebirds only made the ‘Proper’ rounds twice in that 15-year period. The first came in 2009 where wins over Frome, Tooting & Mitcham, Kingstonian and Arlesey Town saw the Bluebirds make one of their longest ever trips up to Gateshead for the Second Round but a narrow 1-0 loss saw the Town exit. In 2011, wins over Poole, Mangotsfield and a dramatic penalty shootout victory against Eastleigh would see the Blues make the First Round Proper but again, it was defeat against Weymouth that saw the Town tumble. Chippenham in recent years again have returned to poor form in the FA Trophy but Gary Horgan, after guiding Chippenham to their highest ever league finish and FA Cup Second Round for the first time in club history, broke another record for the Town last season reaching the 3rd Round for the first time in the club’s 150-year history where after dispatching Hastings United, his side led 2-0 at Plainmoor before eventually losing 3-2 to Torquay United, then of the National League.
Looking over the archives, Chippenham have actually played this weekend’s opponents in the FA Trophy before, in 2003, Chippenham played Basingstoke at home and ended the game with a 1-1 draw before losing in the replay 1-0 in Basingstoke.
So, Basingstoke. ‘The Stoke’ were formed in 1896 and currently play their games at the Winklebury Sports Complex in the town of Basingstoke. Managed by Dan Brownlie, the Stoke play in the Southern Premier League South following their promotion as champions in 2022/2023 from the South Central Division a campaign they also backed up with a Hampshire Senior Cup win at Fratton Park against AFC Bournemouth. In their first season back in the Southern Premier League South, they are going quite well currently sitting in 10th position, only 2 points outside the playoff spots. However, this position might change as Basingstoke have played 18 games, as much as 4 more than some of their nearest rivals and the majority of the league. Basingstoke have had a very mixed bag in the league so far this season with SEVEN wins and EIGHT losses as well as THREE draws.
In the cups, a shock exit in the FA Cup to Stoneham cost them a trip to Huish Park and Yeovil Town however, in the Trophy they have already put Kidlington and Swindon Supermarine to the sword and will be hoping that they can repeat the outcome of the last time Basingstoke took on the Bluebirds at the TS Stadium although even the most optimistic of Stokie will accept, this is a very different scenario that awaits them this time around.
Countdown to kick-off
One 2 Watch
Basingstoke possesses a huge amount of lads that can hurt you in many different ways throughout a game of football but one sure fire way to hurt you is goals. And this time we have selected a lad that scores them for fun. Bradley Wilson. Wilson finished last season with 30 goals for Basingstoke in a season which would have seen any other year waltz off with golden boot if not for Eddie Simon at Walton & Hersham smashing all scoring records scoring 40! He has gone off again well this season too with 9 goals in all competitions. He will definitely have to be one Chippenham keep quiet to avoid the potential ‘cupset’ when Basingstoke land in Wiltshire on Saturday.
We had a good scroll through the Basingstoke archives for someone that jumped out at us to go in depth and despite finding a good amount of EFL players that had good careers, there really was only one that stood out and it was former Premier League and International shot stopper, Maik Taylor. Growing up in the area, Southampton fan Taylor, played for Petersfield, Farnborough and Barnet before being picked up by Southampton in 1997. During his non-league career, Taylor also kept the sheets clean for Basingstoke when his family moved to Bordon due to relocation through his military fathers job. Kevin Keegan of all people called Taylor the “best taker of a cross he has ever seen” and signed Maik to Fulham in late 1997 for £800,000. He would make 189 games for the Cottagers winning the Second Division in 1999 and the Championship in 2001 to ascend to the Premier League! He left Fulham for Birmingham City after then boss Jean Tigana shocked the world by unveiling the signing of Juventus and Holland goalkeeper, Edwin Van Der Sar (not a bad keeper to lose your spot to!) Taylor would go on to shine for Birmingham making 187 appearances and being named as Goalkeeper in the 2003/2004 Premier League Team of the Season. In keeping with the tradition of being replaced by legendary goalkeepers, Ben Foster of Manchester United and YouTube fame would replace Taylor as Birmingham City first choice in 2010. He spent time with Leeds and Millwall in the coming years but now finds himself back at Birmingham City alongside Wayne Rooney and the new regime at St Andrews! Taylor also made 88 appearances for Northern Ireland and in September of 2005 shocked the world alongside his colleagues beating England 1-0.
Upon a quick glance, we couldn’t find anyone in either the Chippenham or Basingstoke squad that are coming up against their former employers this weekend apart from Callum Winchcombe who spent a little time on loan at Chippenham from Swindon in 2021/2022 however, didn’t make an appearance for the Bluebirds so it was a case of we never really knew you but he will at least know his way to the ground and should be able to direct his current Basingstoke team mates into the right car park.
We did find a couple of nice little links between the two clubs. Former Chippenham loanee Jordan Edwards spent time at Basingstoke before nowadays playing his football at Chesham, Edwards came in on loan from Swindon in 2018 and upon his release from the County Ground, he joined Basingstoke playing 11 games before moving on.
Former Chippenham striker Ashan Holgate who played 44 games for the Bluebirds scoring 12 goals, spent a bit of time with Basingstoke on loan when he was just a young pup making his way in the game at Swindon Town.
Former Chippenham player and manager, Steve Winter also spent time with both sides.
However, perhaps my favourite link between the two sides comes back in 2010. Chippenham fan favourite, Ross Adams, surprised the Bluebirds faithful when he made the jump up from the Southern Premier League to the Conference South to join our weekend opponents, Basingstoke. Ross was a hugely popular figure in his time with both clubs and is seen around the TS Stadium these days as he is the brother-in-law of current Chippenham Town defender, Luke Haines.
Head to Head
In recent history, these two sides have found themselves spending time apart only finding themselves in the league together in 2016/2017 where Chippenham have a 100% win record against their opponents with a 2-1 win away and a 2-0 win at home that season seeing the Bluebirds take 6 points from 6 against Stoke.
As mentioned earlier in the FA Trophy, the two sides have met once in 2003 where a 1-1 draw at home was followed by a narrow 1-0 defeat at the Camrose (Then the Stadium of Basingstoke). The most recent meeting between the two sides was a pre-season fixture at the beginning of this campaign where Basingstoke took a 1-0 win with an equaliser as controversial as it was late when Danny Rowe appeared to have controlled the ball with his forearm before slotting past Henry in a game where a much bigger reaction would have ensued if the game wasn’t a training exercise for both teams.
With the postponement of the Weston-Super-Mare game on Tuesday, Horgan and his men will have had a chance to rest up and train specifically for the challenge that Basingstoke will prepare for almost a whole week by the time they take the field. This would have also given a few lads a chance to come on a little further in their recovery. Aaron Amadi-Holloway and Jake Evans are still missing through muscle injuries however, Chippenham fans will be encouraged to see that Will Richards, Will King and Tom Owen-Evans all took part in the Under 23’s game on Monday and came through excellently.
Tom Owen-Evans and King are expected to be in contention for the squad this weekend with the former no doubt spotting the romance in the fact that his last appearance for the Bluebirds was in pre-season when his tackle had disastrous consequence and hasn’t played a game since, that game of course was against this weekends opponent, Basingstoke.
King hasn’t featured much this season either with a troublesome knee and it would be great to see both of these young men feature should the chance arise. Tyreke Johnson stepped out for the final ten minutes against Chelmsford whilst Caine Bradbury was replaced late on in the warm-up due to a tight hamstring. Hopefully these two will be available as well as Nat Williams who was an unused substitute following his injury sustained against Farnborough.
So once again we send out the rally for supporters to come and get behind the lads and once again it’s pretty much the same message. With 4 games unbeaten now behind us, we are only as good as our next performance and won’t be resting on our laurels as we aim to give the fans something to cheer about in the cup competitions this year. Basingstoke are no mugs and will be a potential banana skin for any side at this level including Chippenham and it’s not a given that because they are a league below us, they will roll over and let us through.
We are going to need to be on top of our game and our supporters will need to be at their best once again as we unite behind our team and drive them on to reach their goal. Much has been said over recent weeks in terms of opinion about personnel, play style and all things football but remember, we have a responsibility as fans to support the people making the decisions and with 4 games in a row without tasting defeat and the right people seemingly heading back and into the club, whilst fighting an injury crisis that would have derailed a smaller squad or one that didn’t have the foresight to understand the importance of an academy pipeline, they have earned the right to be backed and spurred on. So be LOUD be POSITIVE and as always,
COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS!