MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Chelmsford City | National League South | Saturday 20th April 2024

Published: at 12:46pm

Simon Lawrence previews our final game of the season against high-flying Chelmsford City.

So here we go then Ladies and Gentlemen, for the final time this season, Gary Horgan and his Bluebirds will seek the perfect send-off before the summer when they entertain Chelmsford City in the Vanarama National League South bringing the curtain down on the 2023/24 season in front of the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium crowd.

Round Up

In a season full of crazy moments, perhaps the craziest of all is the schedule that the Bluebirds have had to endure over the last week or so leading into this game. 4 games in 7 days were kicked off with a 1-0 win away at St Albans where faint playoff hopes were ignited further following Aaron Amadi-Holloways winning goal at Clarence Park. However, that playoff dream was to be a short-lived one when Chippenham came unstuck twice in midweek firstly in Somerset where Weston-super-Mare completed a come-from-behind victory to take a 2-1 win after Tom Owen-Evans had given the Bluebirds the lead.

The playoff dream now dead for one more season, Chippenham headed to Farnborough on a Thursday for a game that would see the Boro ascend to the playoff spots should they win and win they did after a first half blitz from the Bluebirds was repelled by home keeper Jack Turner, Farnborough pulled away for a 3-1 against some very sore legs in the Chippenham camp. By the time the Bluebirds touched down for one of the longest away trips they face in the NLS against Eastbourne, you could almost see the exhaustion in our lads and Eastbourne (themselves fighting for security in the National League South) ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.

Of course during this time, the National League South started to take shape and results were starting to determine the fate of not only our club, but others we have come to know over the season. Yeovil were crowned Champions with an away win against Truro sealing their top spot and hoisting the trophy aloft. Congrats to Yeovil and our former Bluebirds Jordan Young and Jay Foulston. Chelmsford, Worthing, Braintree and Maidstone all confirmed their spots in the NLS Play-Offs and will be joined on the last day by 2 of either Bath City, Hampton & Richmond, Aveley or Farnborough although it would take a miraculous swing of goals and results for it to be anyone other than Bath and Hampton & Richmond. Dover as we know were relegated some weeks ago and were joined by two more sides this week with both teams being more likely to be in the Top 4 than the bottom 4 in pre-season! Havant & Waterlooville finally paid the price for a dreadful start to the season and ran out of track in their quest to stay in the National League South and joined their former National League Premier colleagues Dover in being demoted to the step below. Dartford completed a season of shocks by going from standard Play-Off certainties to relegated from the National League South after a dismal season. With 3 big clubs leaving Step 2 next season, one more spot is up for grabs and it could be the most shocking of all. Taunton currently occupy the last relegation spot but with 3 games left as opposed to everyone else’s 2, coupled with the fact one of those games is against Torquay, it could be the saving grace for Rob Dray’s Peacocks as it’s in their hands.

However, for Torquay, it could be the most miserable end to the miserable season with poor on field performances, bad off field financial issues and a big deduction of points currently standing at -11 all leading to a relegation dogfight for the Gulls. It’s a simple equation for them, beat Taunton and stay up, a draw might be enough but if Taunton find a way to dispose of Torquay for a second time, Torquay will require a last day win at home to Havant & Waterlooville and will still be looking around the league with results needed elsewhere to confirm their safety. Eastbourne despite winning at the weekend aren’t entirely safe however, you would feel a win in either of their two remaining games against Weston-super-Mare or Braintree would see them safe for another season. Hemel Hempstead will be keeping an eye on the games this week themselves being the outside shout for the drop but again, it’s in their hands as a win on the last day against Taunton would see them safe no matter what. It really does come down to Taunton and Torquay on Tuesday night, it could be the biggest game of the season either way in the quest for safety.

So, now we’ve caught up with a crazy week in the National League South, it’s time for the last time this season to take a look at our opponents this weekend.

The Opposition

The high flying Chelmsford City, the Clarets were formed in 1938 and play out of the Melbourne Stadium in the City of Chelmsford, Essex. Managed by Robbie Simpson, the Clarets are really surprising no one this season with their elevated league standings after being there or thereabout for the majority of the National League South campaign. Sitting in 2nd place, the Clarets did a good job of keeping Yeovil honest but in reality, with Yeovil’s dominance, it really was a race for 2nd for the Essex side for much of the season and they are within touching distance of exactly that. With it all to play for on the last day, a win would guarantee 2nd place, a draw could well be enough if Worthing fail to win by 3 or more goals or Braintree fail to win by 10 or more! Securing 2nd place of course will give them the advantage of avoiding the Eliminator and playing both the Semi Final and Final at Melbourne Road which could be a huge advantage to the Clarets. Standing in their way of course are Gary Horgan’s Chippenham Town who whilst cannot gain or lose anything from winning this game in terms of league standing, will want to sign off with a smile in front of their home fans this weekend and will by no means be lying down in front of the Clarets!

Head to head

Head to Head. I have been doing these all season as part of the preview and I promise, you will not find a more even split between two sides than that of the Bluebirds and the Clarets. Playing a total of 12 fixtures, Chippenham have won 4, Chelmsford have won 4 and the sides have played out (you guessed it) 4 draws across their meetings giving both sides a win ratio of 33.3%. Maybe the goals scored/conceded will gives us a slight advantage either way? Nope! Both sides have scored a total of 15 goals over the 12 meetings giving both sides 1.25 GPG. Perhaps the last meeting will give us a “favourite”? A 2-2 draw between the two sides at the Melbourne Stadium earlier in the season has given almost zero favour either way with goals from Dan Ellison and Owen Windsor giving Chippenham an almost certain victory before a very VERY late Ody Alfa goal gave the home side a point against the Bluebirds. Last game at the TS Stadium between these two, a 0-0 draw! With both sides even beginning with a ‘CH’ the two sides couldn’t be more even heading into this one!

Familiar Faces

Tyreke Johnson has been running down the wing this season for Chippenham with his lightning pace, excellent crossing ability and eye for goal making him a real fan favourite in his first season with the Bluebirds but before he was “Running down the wing for me” Tyreke spent a bit of time with the Clarets whilst on loan from Woking. Tyreke will have fond memories of his time with Chelmsford but will no doubt be looking to craft their downfall this weekend and stick one over on his old teammates. Also sharing the shirt over the years was former Chippenham loanee, Mo Dabre. Mo spent a bit of time with the Clarets before touching down and finding a home in Tonbridge with the Angels and at a glance, he is the only other player other than Johnson to be both a Claret and a Bluebird.

Famous Faces

Like a Highlander, there can only be one this weekend. And what a ‘One’ it is. Jimmy Greaves! That’s right, Jimmy Greaves following his incredible career that saw him win the FA Cup twice, the UEFA Cup Winners Cup, 6 Golden Boots, a World Cup WINNERS medal with England in 1966 and 357 EFL Goals, Greaves ended up at Chelmsford in 1976. Only 10 years after dancing around Wembley Stadium with the Jules Rimet Trophy, Greaves was scoring 20 goals in 38 appearances for the Clarets! With an insane career of accolades behind him including a 3rd place in the Balon D’or, Jimmy can posthumously add “Featured in Chippenham Town’s Preview of Chelmsford” to his MBE and record breaking football career.

One to Watch

Could be anyone of this squad really. A very talented group with the likes of Winfield and Jenkins outstanding at the back, former Hashtaggers, Ben Brookes and Jermaine Francis stepping up big for the Clarets this season. Midfielders Samir Carruthers and Finley Barbrook have been important as well as wingers like Ody Alfa who can be worth the admission price alone. But for me, there can only be one winner of this coveted spot. Charlie Ruff has been on a different planet since his return to the Clarets after a stint in Havant & Waterlooville that didn’t quite work out for Ruff. 19 goals from midfield this season make him without a doubt the best goalscoring midfielder in the league this year and he will no doubt be looking to fire his side into 2nd place with another vital goal and cap off a big season on his return to the Melbourne Stadium. Picking up spots behind the front line, it could be a real battle on the pitch between Ruff and any Chippenham midfielder that matches up with him!

Bluebirds News

With fatigue from a long week and a game on Tuesday against Swindon Supermarine in the WPS. You could be forgiven a few tired limbs in the camp ahead of this one. Aaron Amadi-Holloway missed the trip to Eastbourne with an injury and Alex Bray left the field in discomfort against the Sports and both will be doubts for this one but with one eye on next season and the squad shaping up there could be a few changes as Gary seeks to give everyone the chance to force themselves into his plans for another year at the National League South level.

So, it’s our last game of the season, please get down and show some support to your Bluebirds and see them off into the Summer with a huge cheer and a spring in our steps! Don’t forget it’s also our End of Season Presentation Awards evening as well and is FREE to all supporters and takes place in the Bluebirds Bar from 6.30 onwards. See you all Saturday and COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS!

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