MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Braintree Town | National League South | Saturday 10th February 2024
The Bluebirds make their return to #TheTSStadium for their first home game of February 2024, as we welcome Braintree Town in Vanarama National League South action on Sat 10th Feb 2024 – kick off: 3pm
Chippenham were looking ahead to a back-to-back period of football on Saturday’s and Tuesday’s with a trip down to Somerset on the road to Weston-super-Mare AFC, at The Optima Stadium however despite the squad and majority of club officials/fans arriving at the ground in time for kick-off, the game was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch for a third time this season due to a heavy downpour of unforecasted Rain which swept across the South West from 4pm onwards, causing the game to be postponed once again, and a new date to be arranged in due course.
Last Time Out – Tonbridge Angels 2-0 Chippenham Town
Instead, we will take a look back to our last trip to Tonbridge Angels. With a few changes to the side, Matt McClure, Tom Mehew and Ed Williams all returning to the starting XI, the Bluebirds were out of the traps double quick and when a clever bit of interchange from Mehew and McClure saw the former strike left footed towards goal, only a great block by an Angels defender stopped Chippenham taking the lead inside the early minutes of the game. Tonbridge then had a huge chance when Chippenham stopper Will Henry’s loose clearance fell to Paris Lock. After beating everyone in a burgundy shirt, Lock then struck towards goal and Henry was able to atone for the earlier error with a great save to tip over the bar.
Tonbridge then relentlessly put crosses into the box causing problems for the Bluebirds defence and the first warning sign came when a deep free kick saw Liam Vincent strike off the post before a block from Scott Wagstaff’s shot deflected past the post for a corner. The goal came when a shot from the edge of the box from Sean Shields was saved spectacularly by Henry but rather unfortunately for the keeper who had just pulled off a stunning save, the ball tipped onto the post fell to Kodi Lyons-Foster who has the easiest of jobs to tap home amidst the sea of hands claiming for offside. On second viewing it would seem that the Tonbridge defender was just onside when the shot came in and the goal rightly stood and the Angels were a goal to the good. Chippenham responded well immediately winning a corner through Tyreke Johnson and when Eddie Jones headed the ball back across goal from the resulting corner, it only needed a touch!
Sadly the touch came from a Tonbridge defender. Tariq Hinds then found himself in the book for a cynical challenge on the half way line on the advancing Freddie Grant, something that he would later come to regret. More clever football from the Bluebirds saw another corner forced and only Scott Wagstaff’s block on the line prevented an equaliser when Freddie Grant rose highest to head goalwards. At the half, the Bluebirds were likely told to stay patient, keep tight and the opening will come.
The Bluebirds were soon to be 2-0 down when a ball from Kodi Lyons-Foster into Sean Shields saw scorer become provider and Shields weaved past everyone in the penalty area and dispatched into the top right hand corner on 56 minutes. Changes were rung and Craig Fasanmade was introduced to the fold and it almost proved instant joy for the striker as he latched onto Caine Bradbury’s dinked ball but sadly for Fas, the defender recovered just as the trigger was about to be pulled. Tyreke Johnson then blazed over the top of the stand with a shot from the edge of the area.
Another corner saw Dan Ellison off the bench head goalwards but against Wagstaff was in the way. Chippenham huffed and puffed right until the death and almost found a way back in when this fine, young, handsome writer started a move that almost culminated in a goal. As the ball deflected over the perimeter fencing, this quick thinking son of gun grabbed the ball and threw it delicately to the hands of Freddie Grant to start a quick corner routine which ended in Mehew slotting in McClure who just couldn’t force his shot past Jonathan Henly’s foot in the Tonbridge goal. With time running out, Tonbridge were relieved to see the linesman’s flag go up when Jake Evans cross was headed home by Dan Ellison and it was to be the last action of a game where quite honestly, the only difference was they took their chances, we didn’t take ours and in a game where Chippenham had much of the ball and played good, attractive football. Sadly the scoreline would read 2-0 to the Angels and the Bluebirds would head home, empty handed.
Club name: Braintree Town Football Club
Ground: Cressing Road
Manager: Angelo Harrop
Last season’s table finish: 7th
This season so far: 10th
Braintree Town otherwise known as the “Iron” have been long-serving tenants of the National League, being relegated from the Premier Division at the 2018/19 season, but they tasted plenty of success before then after they won promotion to the National League Premier beating Hampton & Richmond Borough 4-3 in the Play-off final the season before and have also came close to reaching the EFL during the 2015/16 when they finished 3rd, qualifying for the Play-offs, they made to the Semi-Finals where they faced Grimsby Town, beating them 1-0 in the first leg, but losing out on home turf to the now League 2 side Grimsby before they beat Forest Green Rovers to win promotion to the EFL.
The club are currently managed by Angelo Harrop, the former AFC Sudbury manager took charge of the Iron in August 2022, and in 76 games managed, he’s taken Braintree to play-off contention last season in 7th place, and at the time of writing – in his 76 games, his side won 32 games, drew and lost 22 games, saw 111 goals for and 90 goals against for his side, and accumulated a total points tally of 118 and an average points per match of 1.18.
Countdown to kick-off
Both sides have met on plenty of occasions in the past during the last few seasons, with our recent meeting at Crescent Road ending in a 0-0 draw at the earlier point of the season, but our past away meeting back in December 2022 ended in a 1-1 draw after former Chippenham and current Yeovil star man Jordan Young scored in the first half, before Kryan Clements got the Iron back in the second.
One to Watch
One to watch for Saturday’s game is Aaron Blair, the 23-year old attacker joined the Iron on a permament transfer from Dagenham & Redbridge, after spending two consecutive loan periods on loan at Braintree, other clubs that he spent on loan include Cheshunt and Barking. Aaron has topped the goalscoring charts at Braintree with 8 goals in 23 games this season, scoring in their last game which ended 3-0 to Braintree against a struggling Dover Athletic side last week.
Final thoughts With there being no game on Tuesday for Chippenham, there’s a good break to give players the chance to rest ahead of Saturday, but Gary’s side may still be without the likes of Aaron Amadi-Holloway, Alex Bray and Luke Haines who all have been out with injury, but with the likes of Will King, Jake Evans, Tom Owen-Evans on the bench against Tonbridge, those three would’ve been getting decent rest minutes at the weekend and will all be vying to be involved for Saturday.
It’s our first meeting at #TheTSStadium for the month of February 2024, and a good opportunity to get much needed three points at home with plenty of games coming up in the coming weeks, especially with 3 continuous away trips on the horizon, starting with Dartford next Tuesday.
We of course look forward to seeing you all join us at #TheTSStadium for a big game ahead, a reminder that match tickets can be purchased on the gate, on the day of the game, priced at:
Senior Citizens*: £11
Junior (16-18): £5
Child (5-15): £3
*Students with a student card and serving Armed Forces personnel with an ID card.
U16’s FREE when accompanied by a paying adult.
Safe travels tomorrow and we hope to see you all getting behind the lads!
COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS!