MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Hampton & Richmond Borough | National League South | Saturday 25th November 2023
Simon Lawrence previews our National League South game against Hampton & Richmond Borough
The Bluebirds will be looking to make it ‘The Magnificent Seven’ this weekend as Hampton & Richmond Borough roll into the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium for this Vanarama National League South fixture with Chippenham who have now extended their unbeaten run to 6!
Last Time Out
Chippenham are no strangers to delivering on the big occasion. And in front of a packed out Hardenhuish Park on Tuesday, the Bluebirds can hold their heads up high with a solid point against league leaders, Yeovil Town in a game that might have seen them pinch all three!
Yeovil travelled in their masses as per the standard and got off to a bright start when on loan Exeter City forward Sonny Cox played in Rhys Murphy but he just couldn’t wriggle free of the tight shackle of the Chippenham back four. In an open game, Freddie Grant and Luke Spokes both had efforts from distance before a Rhys Murphy free kick was tipped away by Will Henry in the Chippenham net. A succession of Chippenham corners bore no fruit and Michael Smith was very aware how offside he was when he tucked the ball past Will Henry to ironic cheers from the Yeovil following. A fairly contested first half ended 0-0 and with Chippenham going down the slope in the second half, it was game on.
The Bluebirds had done their job so far, playing out through a very aggressive and high press and their reward for doing so was nearly the opening goal of the game. A neat move on the edge of the Yeovil box saw Ed Williams and Tom Mehew (two outstanding performers on the night) link up and Mehew’s strike from the edge of the 18-yard box looking goalbound but agonisingly, just went wide. Yeovil then had a golden chance to take the lead when Frank Nouble headed to Matt Worthington who with the goal at his mercy, shot straight at Will Henry and the chance went begging. It was Yeovil looking the more dangerous at this point as the full time club started to exert their will on the game with Sonny Blu Lo Everton and Will Dawes both going close but finding Chippenham defensively solid. Substitutions would start to enter the fray for both sides but it was the Yeovil change that had the first impact. Frank Nouble crossed from the left hand side before Rhys Murphy headed goalwards, a solid save from Will Henry followed but fresh off the bench, Jake Hyde was there to gratefully tap in and send the travelling supporters into a frenzy at the Sheldon End. Chippenham then showed tremendous character to pick themselves off the floor for the last ten minutes and went close with two identical efforts from the edge of the box from Leighton Tuodolo and Matt McClure both saved by Joe Day and it looked for of Chippenham’s endeavour, it was to be the league leaders who took all 3 points back to Somerset.
Aaron Amadi-Holloway was introduced as a Target Man up top and gave Yeovil a new problem to face and changed them defensively, a masterstroke by Horgan who urged his men forward to try and make something happen, and it did! A sweeping move saw Matt McClure switching the ball all the way over to Caine Bradbury who’s delicious cross was met with unfortunate defending from Duncan Idehen and Morgan Williams as Idehen headed off Morgan Williams and past Joe Day in the Yeovil goal. With 6 minutes of injury time, it was still anyone’s game to win and Chippenham had the clear cut chance in injury time when a ball down the left hand side saw Amadi-Holloway with half an opportunity to get a shot off but laid the ball across to Tom Mehew, his dinked cross was aimed back at Amadi-Holloway but the referee adjudged that Aaron’s aerial challenge was too strong for his liking and the whistle blew on an exhilarating night in Wiltshire and the points were shared.
10 years ago, Yeovil were in the Championship beating up sides like Leeds and Forest whilst Chippenham were taking hammerings from the likes of Bideford and Stourbridge and now we were exiting the field after sharing the points with the Glovers in a real testament to just how far this club has come in recent years and in true Gary Horgan fashion, he was the coolest man in the stadium already thinking ahead to the next challenge, the visit of Hampton & Richmond Borough on Saturday.
Hampton & Richmond, the Beavers are a semi-professional football side that play at the Rocket Hospitality Beveree Stadium in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames with a capacity of 3,800.
Formed in 1921, the Beavers now 102 years strong and playing in the National League South, have been present in this league since 2016 gaining promotion as Champions of the Isthmian Premier Division. They currently occupy 5th place in the table after an incredible run of form has seen the Beavers shoot up the table with wins over the likes of Torquay, Maidstone, Worthing and Dartford already in the bag during that run.
Their last league defeat came all the way back in September when Yeovil Town took a 2-1 win away from the Bev and since then Hampton are unbeaten in the league in 8 games. An early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Lewes was remedied with a victory over Cray Valley PM in the FA Trophy and they now face Southend United away. So with two clubs on a similar path it would seem at the moment, let’s take a look at the tale of the tape with our weekend opponents, Hampton & Richmond Borough!
Countdown to kick-off
One 2 Watch
For this one we have selected another really obvious candidate. Standing at 6 ft 3 and at only 27 years old, Mason Bloomfield is proving to be one of the standout performers not just in a Hampton shirt this season, but in the league. With 7 goals already this term, he is also a focal point of his team’s attack as they win a lot of second balls with his excellent hold up play. Starting his career at Dagenham & Redbridge, Bloomfield had spells with a host of Essex clubs before joining Chelmsford in 2015. He bounced around Essex again before he got his break at Norwich in 2018 but following a series of loans including Hamilton, AFC Fylde and Crawley was released by Norwich in 2020 signing for Hartlepool United. Spells at Barnet and Bromley would follow but Bloomfield found his best scoring form at Farnborough last season where he would score 11 goals in 21 games prompting Hampton & Richmond to come in for him at the beginning of this season.
Also keep an eye out for roaming full back, Ruidh Donaldson who has a horrible habit of popping up in the attack and has scored twice against the Bluebirds during his time with the Beavers.
Naturally given the area, you see a lot of lads coming through teams like Hampton & Richmond particularly on loan however, a few of their lads have made very successful careers in the game. Danilo Orsi was scoring for fun in the Beveree and this picked up the attention of the sides above when he signed for Maidenhead. He continued that goalscoring form and has since spent time with Harrogate, Grimbsy and now still plays in League 2 for Crawley Town.
Portsmouth were the beneficiary of not one but TWO of Hampton’s brightest sparks in 2017, the Blues would sign Beavers pair Nicke Kabamba and Jamal Lowe. Nicke would have a mixed time at Portsmouth and moved north of the border for Scotland before heading back to the National League with Barnet where he is now one of the most prolific scorers in non-League football averaging a goal every other game with the Bees. Lowe however was a cult hero in Portsmouth making 103 appearances for Pompey and scooped up the League 1 Championship and EFL Trophy during his time at Fratton Park. He would swap Pompey for Wigan in 2019 before a big move to the Championship came when Swansea signed Lowe for £800,000. Another great year for Jamal would see AFC Bournemouth sign the winger in 2021 and Lowe tasted another promotion this time to the Premier League with the Cherries where he remains to this day.
Away from football, Alan Simpson OBE who is likely most famous for co-writing British sitcom, Steptoe & Son was the club president of Hampton & Richmond for over 50 years and has the seating area behind the goal at the Beveree named after him which we thought was a lovely little link.
After an extensive search we found the Zaid Al-Hussaini the lad that came in from loan from Crawley, lit up the TS Stadium and then became our biggest fan during the playoffs after his injury also spent a bit of time with Hampton & Richmond back in 2019 however, there is someone in the squad this weekend that is practically a certainty to come up against his former side! Will Henry! The Chippenham stopper fresh off another fantastic performance at home to Yeovil is becoming somewhat of a cult hero at the TS these days with chants of ‘Super Will Henry in Goal’ ringing around the terraces.
Famously of course, Will is a graduate of the Swindon Town academy and we ourselves took him a couple of times from Swindon as cover over the years. The first time we did this was in 2018 where Will came in and played 6 games for the Bluebirds. He was accustomed of course to going out on loan at this point as the club he was at before he joined up with the side he would eventually sign for permanently in 2021? You guessed it, Hampton & Richmond Borough.
Head to Head
Not the prettiest viewing for Chippenham fans when you look at the H2H between these two sides. In the 10 meetings between the Bluebirds and the Beavers, Hampton have tasted victory 5 times as opposed to Chippenham 2 with 3 games finishing level between the two sides. Some encouragement however may come from the margin of goals in the game between the two suggesting we are in for a close encounter with neither side ever really dominating the other with only a 3-0 win for Hampton in December of 2020 being the only time this fixture has been won by more than a single goal. Hampton have notched 15 times across the 10 fixtures with Chippenham replying with 10 giving Hampton 1.5 GPG and Chippenham a nice and easy, 1 GPG. Encouragingly again for Chippenham, they say the only meeting that matters is your last one and in the last game between the two, Chippenham took all 3 points beating the Beavers at the TS Stadium with goals from Alex Bray and Joe Parker cancelling out an early Dean Inman opener.
Following the 1-1 draw with Yeovil on Tuesday night, Eddie Jones will be available again after suspension kept him out of the game with the Glovers.
Aaron Amadi-Holloway of course made his return and will no doubt be pushing for a starting berth to show everyone what he is capable of after an early glimpse of brilliance before his injury. Alex Bray and Jake Evans will certainly miss out, both with hamstring injuries and Will King will be knocking on the door as he returns from his niggle. With a lot of games coming thick and fast, we can expect fatigue and tightness in a lot of the lads so don’t be too surprised to see a little jiggle around as Horgan relies on his squad to keep the unbeaten run going and stretch it to SEVEN in all competitions.
What a fantastic sight it was to behold a huge crowd on Tuesday night against Yeovil. Of course the crowd was bolstered by a large contingent travelling from Somerset but for the Bluebirds, a much larger than usual home crowd was contributed too by so many of you backing the club in arguably the biggest home league fixture of the season.
I beg you, please come out and show that support every week. These lads deserve it, they way you drive them on when they need that extra push is in every sense the 12th man for us. It makes such a difference to be kicking towards a big crowd of Blue and White and the lads appreciate it more than you could ever imagine. We are now playing at the highest level we have ever played at, we are 6 unbeaten, we have held Yeovil, beaten the likes of Farnborough and Eastbourne, now is the time to come and give the support that this team has earned. So get yourself down to the TS Stadium, BE LOUD, BE PROUD and as always..
COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS!