MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Gloucester City | FA Trophy 3rd Round | Saturday 9th December 2023

Published: at 9:51am

It’s the return of the Isuzu FA Trophy this weekend for the Bluebirds at the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium in a game which could see Chippenham break yet another club record if they can find a way past Gloucester City in this Third Round clash!

Last Time Out

The Bluebirds will come into the game confident after a midweek victory against Hemel Hempstead gave Gary Horgan and his men the perfect pick me up with a return to winning ways that in truth, we looked comfortable from start to finish. The Bluebirds with a couple of changes that included the return of Freddie Grant, Nat Williams and a slight tweak in the shape went off like a rocket with early chances for both Freddie Grant and Ed Williams who both saw their effort denied by Craig King in the Hemel goal. It wasn’t long however before the deadlock would be broken with flowing, passing football leading to Eddie Jones crossing the ball into the area. The ball was not dealt with by Hemel at all and Craig Fasanmade capitalised on the opportunity to slot the ball past King and give the Bluebirds a 1-0 lead. Chippenham didn’t take their foot off the gas and moments later, Caine Bradbury had a chance from a free kick following Fasanmade breaking clear. Will Henry was called into action for the first time with a great diving save to his left hand side to deny Hemel an equaliser. Chippenham then rode out a little spell from the home side where they tried to force the scores level but never really tested Henry in the Chippenham net. Just as the whistle was about to go for the break, Chippenham really changed the complexion of the game when Caine Bradbury broke down the left hand side and crossed to Fasanmade, Fas’ shot came off a Hemel defender and Ed Williams tapped in from close range to make it 2-0. After the break, any fears of a slow start from Chippenham were put to sleep when Fasanmade was sent clear following great work down the left hand side. A great Chippenham move probably should have yielded a 3rd and a killer goal but after Ed Williams slotted in Eddie Jones to cross, Fas appeared to lose his footing inside the 6-yard box and the ball was cleared. In the end though, it proved irrelevant as Hemel couldn’t muster more than a couple of half chances and in the end, Chippenham departed for Wiltshire with 3 points and 2 goals and according to Chippenham manager Gary Horgan, “It could have been more”. But it’s a big win on the road against a good side and an important clean sheet as well to really compound the defensive quality that we showed throughout the evening and it leads us nicely onto Saturday when we briefly put the league to bed in a good place only 5 points outside the playoffs in place of the FA Trophy and everyone is going to know their way around the stadium when Gloucester City are the visitors to the TS Stadium.

The Opposition

Gloucester City, the Tigers formed in 1883 and currently play in the National League North. They are of course now managed by former Chippenham Town manager Mike Cook and his team including Mark McGregor and Andy Hoskins and following a series of problems this season both on and off the field are looking to restore a bit of normality to the Meadow Park side after a catastrophic start has seen the dismissal of Tim Flowers from the dugout and their new Chairman Patrick Chambers step down from the club with them languishing at the bottom of the National League North with only Bishops Stortford below them on goal difference.

However, a recent turnaround in results has seen Gloucester pick up wins in their last 3 games one in the league, one in the county cup and one in the FA Trophy which resulted in them picking up this tie against the Bluebirds.

Countdown to kick-off





One 2 Watch

As we may have mentioned, Gloucester have one or two ex Bluebirds that will no doubt be catching the attention of the home crowd but with Hamilton injured, Hanks a maybe, Parker in and out of the side, Santos cup tied and Smile only just back after a long injury it might not be quite the romantic return for a lot of our former lads.

However, one of our former players Brandon Smalley, a trialist in Horgan’s first full season has 6 goals this year and is leading the scoring charts for the Tigers and will no doubt be one to keep an eye on.

Also former Torquay and Havant striker Danny Wright is at Gloucester these days as well and will provide a good outlet should the Tigers decide a more direct approach is needed!

Familiar Faces

It would be easier to name players that aren’t going back to their old club this weekend in the Gloucester City ranks but here goes. We have of course mentioned their manager Mike Cook and his team Mark McGregor and Andy Hoskins are now back in the dugout at Gloucester. Cook took the reins from Mark Collier and guided the Bluebirds for 4 seasons before departing Hardenhuish Park.

In the summer, Gloucester went back to a part time model and came to Chippenham for their former heroes Spencer Hamilton, Joe Hanks and Joe Parker with Hamilton the club captain at the time, Hanks a bit of a legend at the club scoring vital goals none more so than the solitary goal in the FA Cup 1st Round win against Lincoln City and Joe Parker the clubs top scorer following a second half resurgence in his one and only season with the Bluebirds. Since then the Tigers have added Alefe Santos and Josh Smile to their side to add to the list of former Bluebirds and if you believe the rumour mill, Will Richards is said to not be far behind them.

Former Chippenham trialist Brandon Smalley also has found a home at Meadow Park. For the Bluebirds, as well as being former teammates of the above. Alex Avenell, Will Henry, Eddie Jones, Tom Owen-Evans and Tom Mehew have all spent time at the Tigers on loan, Ed Williams who will miss out on Saturday being cup tied also played 83 games for the Tigers and arguably the biggest name out of all for the Tigers is their former Talisman striker Matt McClure who of course is now decked out in full Bluebirds attire complete with captain’s armband! Also our Assistant Manager, Matt Coupe is a former Tiger meaning there are connections all over the pitch and in the dugouts!

Famous Faces

Aside from the literally countless players that have shared both Chippenham and Gloucester City kits down the years, the Tigers have had their fair share of Famous Faces down the years as well. Such former Tigers that have made it to the EFL are the likes of Exeter City’s Vincent Harper, Portsmouth’s Colby Bishop and many more.

But this week we have gone for Leroy Rosenior as the Famous Face! The former Fulham, QPR, West Ham and Bristol City player had a great career in the EFL playing over 250 EFL games in his time. He found himself ending his playing career with Gloucester playing 28 games for the Tigers before taking up a career in management with Gloucester. His management career took him to Torquay and Brentford as well as the Sierra Leone International job before retiring from the sport in 2007.

Nowadays Rosenior spends his time as a coach and a pundit as well as no doubt offering guidance to his son Liam who is now the Head Coach at Championship side Hull City!

Head to Head

Of course, Chippenham and Gloucester have had their share of battles down the years however, with the Tigers spending a lot of time recently in the National League North, they haven’t met in quite a while. In fact, 2019 was the last meeting between the two sides when the Tigers beat the Bluebirds 3-2 on the last day of season to secure their National League status, reversing a 2-0 lead into a historic win. The record reads as even as it could between these two sides with 13 games between them in recent history with 6 wins apiece and 1 draw. This gives both sides a win percentage of 46.2% and Chippenham only slightly edge the goals with 1.23 GPG and Gloucester posting 1.08 GPG in response.

These two sides have got history in Cup Competition, but not a history the Bluebirds will want to rehash with Chippenham meeting Gloucester twice in the FA Cup and both times tasting defeat. In the FA Trophy, Gloucester City were Chippenhams very first opponent in the Trophy way back in 1969 and remains to this day the only meeting in the Trophy between the two sides, Gloucester won that day by a scoreline of 4-0 giving them a 3-0 lead in cup ties, a record Gary Horgan will seek to change on Saturday and in doing so, cement his own legacy as the manager that has taken us the furthest in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy as well as the Highest League Position.

Bluebirds News

Following Tuesday’s win at Hemel, the Bluebirds will no doubt be feeling a lot of fatigue with Saturday being the Town’s 3rd game in 7 days! Aaron Amadi-Holloway was withdrawn on Tuesday with a little fatigue but should be good for Saturday as well as Luke Haines who should return in time from his groin injury. Alex Bray and Jake Evans will not be far away according to Gary Horgan but may find this game one too soon for their recovery. With McClure and Fasanmade both firing on all cylinders, it will come as great news to Bluebirds fans that Fas came through Tuesday and McClure got some much needed rest in the joints to take on his former club.

So, probably the biggest draw the Bluebirds could have got without dipping into the National League sides is here. Gloucester managed by former Bluebirds, with a whole host of former Bluebirds in the squad and looking forward to visiting their old club, this is going to be a real cup tie with a friendly derby style feel to the game. Of course, that all goes out of the window when the whistle blows but with a big travelling contingent expected from Gloucester we are calling on all you Bluebirds to come on down and be the 12th man once again! With a place in the 4th Round of the FA Trophy on offer and a chance to once again be a part of a record breaking achievement at this great club, we hope you come in your masses to BE LOUD, BE PROUD and get behind those Mighty Bluebirds!!

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