MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Hemel Hempstead Town | National League South | Saturday 6th January 2024

Published: at 2:46pm

Simon Lawrence previews our upcoming home game against Hemel Hempstead Town.

The Town are back at the TS Stadium this Saturday after a wet and windy A4 Derby saw the Bluebirds come away with a point against local rivals Bath City in a game that once again could have swung either way and Chippenham will feel a little aggrieved again as decisions seemed to go against them against the backdrop of a bumper crowd at Twerton Park. Chippenham will be looking to return to winning ways as Hemel Hempstead Town FC are the visitors in the Vanarama National League South.

Last Time Out

Chippenham went to Twerton with the intention of getting the points back that were dropped at home and started brightly and with endeavour. An early chance for the Bluebirds came when Freddie Grant linked well with Evans on the left hand side and crossed for McClure but was deemed offside. Ed Williams tested Buse from range following slick passing from the Bluebirds but his shot was straight at the City stopper. A weak penalty claim was waved away by Craig Scriven when Scott Wilson went down under a supposedly late challenge from Dan Ellison reminding the Bluebirds that the Romans were in the contest. The best chance of the half then fell to McClure after another good passing move, McClure took the ball at his feet and ghosted past former Bluebird Luke Russe to get his shot off but Parselle deflected his goalbound shot on to the post. It was immediately after that another former Bluebird Danny Greenslade was on hand to block Alex Bray’s cross and it looked very much like it struck the hand of the Welsh defender but Craig Scriven once again waved away the claim and pointed for a corner. From the resulting corner, Kieran Parselle showed a little more strength than he did on Boxing Day and wrestled McClure to the ground but once again, Scriven wasn’t interested and pointed for a goal kick. Perhaps remembering that Dan Ellison is a menace from corners, the young centre back was absolutely clattered as the ball was being delivered from Chippenham’s next corner and despite once again being a clear and obvious hold on Dan, the referee wasn’t interested. A third shout would become four minutes later when Freddie Grant delivered from the left hand side only to have his cross stopped by the hand of Joe Raynes and although it was the most obvious handball, it wasn’t clear to supporters or players whether it was inside or outside the box. In the end, perhaps unsure himself, the referee allowed play to continue and nothing was given much to Freddie’s fury!

In the second half, the heavens absolutely opened soaking the near 2500 spectators in attendance but Luke Spokes nearly gave the travelling support something to sing about when his long range strike stung the hands of Will Buse. Bath then had their best chance of the game when Jordan Thomas slotted in Cody Cooke for a 1v1 with Will Henry but a terrific save to his right hand side saw the ball turned around the post for a Bath City corner. Another great chance for Bath City came when Ewan Clark sent a cross-come-shot into the area, with Henry beaten, Scott Wilson headed over from all of two yards. Tom Owen-Evans was then sent through on goal however was deemed offside. Chippenham continued to press for a winner with substitutes Tyreke Johnson, Eddie Jones and Tom Mehew all having an impact. Firstly Jones’ cross had to be dealt with by Buse with Bluebirds lurking to stab home. Then Tyreke left Joe Raynes for dead before crossing in to McClure who’s header back across goal looked destined to be headed in by Mehew but Kieran Parselle threw his head at the ball and the danger was cleared. Jake Evans then sent a ball into orbit following good work down the right hand side but we can give him a little leniency as by this point the Twerton Park surface combined with the conditions were making it very difficult. Tyreke Johnson then put another cross into the box from the left but it just wouldn’t drop as it came off the back of Greenslade and somehow evaded anyone in a blue shirt and was able to clear. Town had one last chance in them to win the A4 Derby but following another Johnson cross, Ed Williams collected the ball on the edge of the box and after a little cut inside, saw his rising effort agonisingly head over the bar into the soaking wet Chippenham supporters and that was that. For the second year in a row, the A4 Derby on New Year’s Day ended in a 0-0 stalemate.

After the game (and once everyone had dried off) Chippenham manager Gary Horgan spoke of it being a good point on the road against a tough side. Now his attention turns to another side that they have played quite recently in Hemel Hempstead where Horgan will be looking for another good performance from his side to replicate the recent 2-0 away victory against the Tudors.

The Opposition

Hemel Hempstead Town FC, a Semi-Pro side that plays out of Vauxhall Road in Hemel Hempstead were formed in 1885 and nowadays are managed by Brad Quinton and have been in the National League South since winning the 2013/14 Southern Premier League Championship.

Currently, the Tudors sit in 13th place, 2 spots but only 1 point above the Bluebirds who sit in 15th. The National League South is a very tight divisions at the moment and both of these sides can go as high as 9th (albeit with a rather large swing in the goal difference) but both Quinton and Horgan will be telling their players of the importance of winning these games as they stake a claim to be in the conversation for the end of season show.

Countdown to kick-off






The Head to Head between these two sides is a fairly mixed bag with Chippenham of course recently picking up a 2-0 victory with goals from Craig Fasanmade and Ed Williams. This became Chippenham’s 10th win in the fixture in recent history with Hemel still having 11 wins and 7 draws between the two sides giving a very even contest over the years with Hemel just edging it with a 39.3% win rate to the Bluebirds 35.7%.

Chippenham have however, outscored their opponents notching 43 goals across the 28 fixtures to the Tudors 40. This gives us a GPG of 1.54 for Chippenham and 1.43 for Hemel making this about as close a fixture as you could hope for in terms of the tale of the tape.

One to Watch

Having just played the Tudors, we should have a little idea of who to keep an eye out for when they arrive in Wiltshire on Saturday. However, since that 2-0 win at Vauxhall Road, Hemel have added a few additions to their ranks in winger Brandon Barzey, a player some might remember from playing against the Bluebirds for Dartford earlier this season where he scored on that day for the Darts. A direct, pacey lad who will look to cause trouble whichever side of the pitch he is deployed from.

Also Tre Mitford, a striker formerly with Gloucester City will be known to a few of our lads, he has recently signed for Hemel and kicked off his time with the Tudors with a goal in their Derby Day win against St Albans over the festive period. George Williams will be another to keep tabs on as the former Wales International Midfielder has bagged 3 in his last 3 games and will no doubt be keen to add to that impressive purple patch.

Familiar Faces

Such is the nature of the quick turnaround, absolutely nothing in terms of personnel change has affected the Familiar or Famous Faces so forgive this humble young writer whilst he does a quick CTRL, ALT, C from his previous to give you this weeks.. Familiar Faces!

A couple of Chippenham Town players will no doubt be looking forward to seeing old faces at their former club. Jake Evans was back in training on Saturday and although didn’t feature in the squad, will be hoping to continue his rehab ahead of his return. But first he must return to Vauxhall Road where Evans spent 7 games on loan from Cardiff before signing permanently with the Tudors and playing 11 times before joining Hungerford from of course whom he joined up with the Bluebirds! Craig Fasanmade will also be relishing the chance to go back to Vauxhall Road where he too enjoyed two spells first on loan from Wealdstone proving a popular figure with the Tudor faithful and then permanently before joining the Bluebirds from Hemel in October 2022.

Also former Chippenham defender Arron Simpson played for the Tudors as well of course now Simpson is plying his trade at Salisbury in the Southern Premier League and looking very good atop that division.

After previously citing Paolo Vernazza as their Famous Face in the previous preview (Wow that’s easier to type than say!) I have decided to go down a different route this time and instead look to their dugout for inspiration where I found a rather quality little find amongst their coaching staff! Born in Moscow, Russia in 1968, a certain Dimitri Kharine would bounce around Moscow playing for Torpedo Moscow, Dynamo Moscow and eventually the world renowned CSKA Moscow before completing a dream move to Chelsea and the Premier League! Making some 118 appearances for Chelsea before losing his place to Dutchman, Ed De Goey, Kharine would also make several appearances for what was then the Soviet Union and later, the Russian National Team. After his departure from London, he joined another huge club in the form of Scottish Champions, Celtic under the new management team of John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish! But injury prevented Kharine from making more than a dozen appearances for the Glasgow side and upon his release in 2002, shocked everyone by signing for Hornchurch.. Before immediately shocking his new manager and getting sent off on his debut! Undeterred by this, Dimitri would go on to make 23 games for Hornchurch finally hanging up his gloves in 2004. Why are we banging on about Dimitri Kharine you ask?

Well, nowadays, Kharine keeps himself busy by warming up Craig King and the other GK’s at Vauxhall Road as Hemel’s Goalkeeper Coach! Perhaps if we are lucky, we will spot Kharine and his legendary tracksuit bottoms at the TS Stadium on Saturday.

Bluebirds News

It’s looking all rosy in the Chippenham garden after a festive period that saw the Town pick up 4 points from a possible 9 whilst taking on opposition that are firmly in the playoff hunt. This is an incredible achievement especially given the nature of the loss and the draw, Chippenham will arguably feel that more points were deserved over Christmas but it’s never been in Horgan’s nature to dwell on the past and a focus on the up and coming is firmly on the managers agenda. He will be buoyed this weekend with the return to the dugout of his Assistant Manager, Matt Coupe following suspension and the impending return of both Luke Haines (Groin) and Caine Bradbury (Calf) who will both be looking to feature against Hemel. With Tom Owen-Evans, Jake Evans, Alex Bray and Tyreke Johnson all playing significant minutes against Bath on NYD. It signals a return to match fitness hopefully for all 4 who have been out for large parts of the last couple of months with various injuries and problems and it was great to see all 4 have such a big impact over the Christmas period. With all of this in mind and it would seem a full squad to pick from, Chippenham must be confident in front of their own fans of getting back to winning ways and delivering a big 3 points when Hemel come to Town!

So, with the Christmas and New Year festivities in the bag for another year, it seems a brilliant time to thank all of our management, players, staff, volunteers and most importantly, our fans for the fantastic support we have enjoyed over the year. With big moments already behind us like the National League South Play-Off Semi-Final, the record breaking FA Cup 2nd Round appearance and now the furthest we have ever gone in the FA Trophy (and still going strong) it is with complete concurrence at the club that we could not do this without you! Your magnificent showing in the Boxing Day fixture culminated in an attendance of 1649 (a home record for Chippenham in the A4 Derby) and just when we thought you couldn’t be anymore brilliant, braving such horrendous conditions on New Year’s Day to be part of the highest EVER attendance for an A4 Derby at Twerton Park with 2945 people with a good travelling contingent from Wiltshire. We have said it time and time again, without fans, football is nothing. We as a club cannot remain competitive at this level for very long without the continued support of our fans, our wonderful sponsors and those terrific people that give up their time to help drive this club forward and develop the way we want too. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed these last couple of seasons.

With all of the above, 15 game unbeaten runs, big wins against much larger sides and plenty to look forward too in 2024! We hope you will turn out in your masses once again for every game! Each and everyone of you are so important to us as a club and when grouped together in large numbers, you make us so much more than what we could ever dare to be alone! So come along, be the 12th man, pack out the park and let’s see how long we can stay unbeaten in 2024!


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