MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Ebbsfleet United | National League South | Tuesday 14th February 2023
Simon Lawrence previews our home game against top of the table side, Ebbsfleet United.
With love in the air on this most romantic of days, Chippenham Town will be hoping to avoid a St Valentine’s Day Massacre of their own when they host the pre-season favourites, table topping and a virtually unstoppable juggernaut that is Ebbsfleet United in the Vanarama National League South.
Last Time Out
Chippenham hopes were high ahead of the last game away against Dartford with memories of last season’s play-off heroics still fresh in the mind of the travelling supporters and of course most of the squad however, it wasn’t to be an afternoon of celebration again at Princes Park as Dartford ran out 2–0 winners’ courtesy of goals from Jack Smith and Luke Allen.
It was Smith who opened the scoring after only two minutes at Princes Park, a Luke Coulson cross finding Smith who came across his defender to meet a delicious cross and finish first time past Will Henry. After that the Bluebirds responded well with the majority of the first half being in their control. Chances were few and far between for the Darts, however Chippenham went close through Russe, McClure, Bray twice and Windsor making his first start for Chippenham in the league. However, the biggest chance of the half fell to Joe Hanks, great work from the boy to get free in the box, he swivelled and lashed a right footed shot, sadly for the Bluebirds behind the goal, it was closer to the car park than the back of the net and Hanks pounded the ground in frustration.
Frustration turned to anger at the start of the second half as after Chippenham had responded excellently, they found themselves chasing a 2 goal advantage as Luke Allen capitalised on a 2v1 down the Chippenham left, the ball was crossed over and quite similarly to the first goal, put past Will Henry albeit to his credit, Henry nearly got a foot on the effort and had it just been a touch stronger might have gone down as one of the saves of the season.
Chippenham again went after their counterparts and the goal did look inevitable with Bray still cutting through full backs like they were invisible and McClure making all the right movements but, in the end, it was Russe who slotted the ball past debutant keeper Ben Dudzinski in the Dartford net. However, at this point, the linesman made the most inexplicable decision/mistake of the game when he incorrectly flagged Russe offside. Russe had latched on to the ball, had to roll his man to do so and then slotted past Dudzinski but more frustratingly for the Bristol Kante, Bonner and Essam who were there to block making it by our count THREE players playing Russe onside making the linesman’s decision ever harder to stomach.
The game fizzled out to a 2-0 win for the home side and whilst it was hard to argue we deserved more from the game because the scoreline was convincing, it didn’t tell the full tale of the tape and goals change games and for the second week in a row, the Bluebirds were ruing a mistake from the officials after Craig Fasanmade had his header ruled out the week before against Braintree.
Match Center: Dartford 2-0 Chippenham Town
Still, we take our lumps and move on to the next fixture, and they don’t come much harder than this one. Ebbsfleet United. Last season’s play-off runners-up and of course the side the eliminated Chippenham at the Semi-Final stage after extra time. The Fleet are managed again this season by Dennis Kutrieb and occupy the top spot in the National League South. Unsurprisingly, this is a position they have occupied for most of the season with an unbelievable squad of players improved upon this season, the Fleet are going all out for the title this season and a brave man would bet against them at this point.
Playing out of the Kufflink Stadium, the Fleet are equipped to return to the National League after spending 3 seasons at this level trying to return to the holy grail of non-League football. Ebbsfleet are a side that will need no introduction to Chippenham supporters in fact, Ebbsfleet are the side we have played most in the National League South playing them not only the two times in the league but also playing against the Fleet in the FA Cup, FA Trophy and the Play-Off Semi-Final during their stay in the National League South, we even managed to sneak a league game in against them during the COVID season which was curtailed early doors. Last time we took on the Fleet was the opening day of this season at the Kufflink seeing Chippenham’s first league game of the year taking place at the ground it ended the season before however, there was no draw this time around with an early red card to Matt Jones aiding Ebbsfleet to a 3-0 win on the day, although credit to the Bluebirds, with 10 men for the majority of the game, they did ever so well to stick in it as long as they did!
Ones to Watch
The one to watch this game should be hard in a team full of quality, but when you are a star among stars, you really are one to keep an eye on. Dominic Poleon is the best striker in this league according to many and it’s hard to disagree with the former Leeds United striker currently boasting 22 goals in 29 games for the Fleet.
Worryingly for the rest of the league, his partner Rakish Bingham has chipped in with 15 and will also be a threat. Live wire Omari Sterling-James will cause a problem for any full back in the division, and the recent signing of midfielder Billy Clifford from Havant & Waterlooville will be sure to excite the fans as well.
For Chippenham this time out, it will seem as if Horgan has Eddie Jones back there or thereabouts in terms of fitness, with the right back getting a bit of game time over the weekend to try and increase his match fitness. With a fully fit squad, at least Gary will have his best foot forward against a side that have only lost twice on the road all season.
We are going to need you for this one Bluebirds! Don’t forget that ALL KIDS GO FREE with a paying adult and it is a perfect half-term treat for the little ones, also with-it being Valentine’s Day the ultimate romantic hotspot is the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium with a cheeky burger from F&W Catering followed by 3 points for dessert what more could you want to show your significant other that you really care! Looking forward to seeing as many of you there as possible to really be the 12th man that we are under no illusion we will need when we take on the Fleet!
COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS