MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Dartford | National League South | Saturday 7th October 2023
Simon Lawrence previews our National League South game against Dartford.
The Bluebirds return to the nest this weekend hoping to continue their fine run of form in the Vanarama National League South when Dartford FC are the visitors to the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium.
Last Time Out
Gary Horgan and his men will be coming into the game off the back of arguably one of the best performances of the season against Truro City FC. A long trip to Devon for the Bluebirds saw the team arrive at Bolitho Park alongside a good amount of travelling supporters and those travelling fans wouldn’t have to wait long for something to cheer about. A stunning passage of play saw Chippenham open the scoring as Luke Spokes played a ball out to the right hand side. Eddie Jones then picked a pass to Jake Evans who’s first time ball into Alex Bray was touched first time to Caine Bradbury. His pass then found Spokes who picked out Will King. King expertly turned the ball into Matt McClure who turned his man before rifling past the goalkeeper off his weaker right foot to open the scoring. Truro then went about sticking it on the visitors but Chippenham were very strong defensively and limited them to half chances at best. Another chance came for the Bluebirds again with Bray down the right hand side this time crossing for McClure who got the run on his defender to flick towards goal and it needed a hand from the Truro stopper to deny Craig Fasanmade the easiest of tap ins. After another period of Truro pressure without ever really testing Will Henry in the Chippenham net, the Bluebirds put together another incredible move that saw them go up and down the pitch, side to side, and all over again before patient build up finally saw Luke Spokes play the ball to McClure on the edge of the 18-yard box. In his career, by his own admission a McClure goal from outside the box is as rare as rocking horse poo but the skipper lined his shot up and following a little deflection off the defender, the ball skipped up over the hand of the Truro keeper and doubled the scoreline.
In truth, Truro then started to throw the kitchen sink at the Bluebirds but rarely looked like they were going to be a danger to either the win or the clean sheet due to a resolute defensive performance from the boys in blue. The whistle blew for full time and it was a moment of celebration for the lads who in recent games have maybe felt hard done by not to be walking out with 3 points but this time, there was no doubt where the points would be going following one of the best performances of the season and a resounding 2-0 win.
After the match, praise was heaped on the Bluebirds from both managers with Truro boss Paul Wotton calling Chippenham “The best team we have played this season” and Gary Horgan evidently delighted with the way his team had acquitted themselves whilst thanking Truro for their cooperation in getting the fixture played on a Saturday and avoid the trip down to Devon on a Tuesday night. Gary suggested that the performance was as good as it’s been so far this season and with room to grow and improve, we should be happy with where we currently are yet refused to get carried away with talk of being in and around the playoff spots at this early stage in the season. Of course, the last time the word ‘playoffs’ were on the lips of Chippenham supporters it was this weekend’s opponents Dartford FC that played their part in one of the biggest and best nights in Chippenham Town’s recent history.
Dartford FC, the Darts were founded 135 years ago in 1888 and play out of Princes Park, a place they have called home since 2006. Managed now by Alan Dowson, Dartford have a strong pedigree in the National League South and will be a little concerned by the start they have made, currently sitting in 15th position and beaten in the FA Cup by local rivals, Welling United. If Dartford are to continue their fine tradition of being at the end of season party they are going to need to find some consistency in their results and will certainly be looking at this game against Chippenham to kickstart their push up the league. However, Dartford have not always had their own way against the Bluebirds and will no doubt be aware of that.
One 2 Watch
One to Watch is always going to be a difficult one with a team like Dartford with as you would expect much quality at their disposal. Bringing 3 in from Havant & Waterlooville in Joash Nembhard, Paul Rooney and Tyrell Miller Rodney also former Concord Rangers players Mitchell Beeney and Lewis Manor, the Darts have added a lot over the summer but its a player that has been with the club a couple of seasons we have decided to look at. Luke Coulson. Coulson has been with the Darts since 2022 and the midfield maestro has certainly had a great career with loads of experience that he is looking at imparting on this Dartford side as they strive to make the next step. Coulson started his career in the famed Manchester City academy and spent 10 years with the current Premier League and European Champions before moving to the States with the Michigan Wolverines, He left after a month to join Cardiff City in the Championship before making his way to non-League football in 2015. Making 40 appearances for Oxford City, he would then move to Eastleigh turning down an England C cap to play in the FA Cup game against Swindon which Eastleigh would famously win in a replay. He moved to Barnet for a record fee received and made 11 starts in the Football League for the Bees. He then ended up at Ebbsfleet making 60 odd games for the Kent side before moving again to the National League with Bromley. He spent 3 years at Bromley and made 123 appearances for Bromley where he ended up winning the FA Trophy with a famous win over Wrexham before heading to Dartford in 2022. His experience and expertise will certainly be something to keep an eye out for when the Darts land in Wiltshire this weekend.
For Dartford, they have had a host of players over the years that have had great careers in the game but it’s a man in the dugout that is probably the most famous face that Dartford have ever had associated with the club. Martin Tyler, the voice of football for many years on Sky Sports TV is a coach with the Darts and is no doubt most remembered his famous commentary of Manchester City’s famous 3-2 final day Premier League win against QPR when Sergio Aguero kicked off the start of the Manchester City Dynasty with a late winner to secure the title from fierce local rivals, Manchester United. Whether or not Tyler will be present at the game on Saturday is yet to be seen however, if he is, expect the autograph hunters and selfie fans to be out in full force as one of football’s most famous voices comes to the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium.
Head to Head
Chippenham vs Dartford in the National League South has seen the two clubs play 11 times, Chippenham coming out victors 4 times, Dartford an identical 4 times and 3 draws between the two clubs giving almost as even a split in terms of the Head to Head as you can find, even splitting the results from last season with Dartford winning at Princes Park by a score of 2-0 and Chippenham winning the home fixture 2-1. And the venue might be key this weekend with Chippenham winning their last two games here against Dartford and the Darts again not finding the road easy with only 1 win in 4 away fixtures!
For Chippenham, they come into this game with no fresh injury concerns after the game against Truro City last weekend but will definitely still be without Tom Owen-Evans who after a recent scan, showed that he still has a way to go in his rehabilitation to full fitness and we wish him all the very best in his recovery. With almost a full complement to choose from, Horgan will be over the moon as he looks like add more points to the tally and build upon a good start to the season for the Bluebirds in the National League South. Sitting in 8th position and with a win able to take them as high as 4th in the league with the right results elsewhere, Gary will no doubt be very aware of the importance of points in the hand and the importance of his home supporters creating a positive atmosphere to thrive in the way it has on the road. A great conversation in the bar afterwards between the travelling club really stressed the importance of positivity and players feeding off that energy to drive them on to performances like that. It is imperative that as a home crowd we get behind the lads, sing loud, sing proud, inspire and encourage and hope that in turn, we see the kind of performances that we can be proud of and fulfil our ambitions as a club.
So, see you all at the TS Stadium against Dartford for another massive game in the National League South where all will be hoping that in front of the home crowd, we can add another chapter to our wonderful story against the Darts.
Supporters can purchase their tickets on the gate, tickets are priced at:
Senior Citizens: £11,
Junior (16-18): £5,
Child (5-15): £3
£11 for Students/Armed Forces personnel with an ID card.
U16’s FREE when accompanied by a paying adult.