MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Hungerford Town | National League South, Monday 2nd May 2022
Simon Lawrence previews our upcoming National League South fixture at home to Hungerford Town
As we prepare for our final home game in the Vanarama National League South for the 2021/22 season. We do so in the knowledge that a win for the Bluebirds against the Crusaders of Hungerford tomorrow will send us to West Leigh Park, home of Havant & Waterlooville for a showdown with the Hawks that will determine the 7th and final Play-Off spot. But, as we have been reminded of many times in football, never look past your next fixture and ours is a brilliant one. A local albeit friendly rivalry resumed with Hungerford no doubt looking to put an end to the poor form that has seen their own play-off bid falter at the final hurdle.
Last time our for the Blues was a real humdinger! Heading to Ebbsfleet, there couldn’t have been many people fancying our chances against a side that are often referred to as “the best footballing side in the league” and that had already proved their mettle against us once this season. The Fleet left the TS Stadium with all 3 points and a 5-2 victory to their name earlier in the season however, it was the Bluebirds who had the last laugh over their Kent counterparts by taking a vital point toward their own ambitions of the final show and leaving Ebbsfleet condemned to needing a slip from Dartford to avoid the playoff eliminator.
The away side took the lead around the half hour mark with Joe Hanks finding the corner of the Fleet goal after a flowing move from Chippenham left the home side unable to deal with the free flowing football that the Blue Army were throwing down as a challenge. Whilst many assumed that away from home it would be a case of absorbing pressure and hurting on the counter, the Chippenham following were treated to a high pressing, attacking brand of football much more fitting of a home side and rightly took a 1-0 lead into the half time talk. After the half Ebbsfleet clearly responded to the chorus of jeers and jibes from their own supporters and started about getting back into the game. The equalising goal came from a corner as the ball was floated in deep and Elliot Romain got away from his man to head home unmarked at the back post. Chippenham could be forgiven at this point for buckling under the pressure but such is the spirit in the camp at the moment that they found themselves back in the lead a few minutes later. A corner of our own, whipped in by Joe Hanks met a familiar target for Chippenham supporters of recent years as Will Richards rose highest to head the ball into the Fleet net and wheel off to celebrate in front of the main stand. Minutes later a curling effort from Hanks hit the inside of the post and Ebbsfleet were riding their luck. The ship settled for the home side and with a few missed chances from the boys in blue and energy levels sapping from the intensity of the shift, the Ebbsfleet equaliser had an air of inevitability about it. A foul 30 yards from goal allowed the home side to lift the ball into the box once more where it met the foot of Chris Solly (The Ebbsfleet Captain, lucky to be on the pitch after a first half, two footed challenge was only deemed a yellow) and the Fleet’s blushes were spared. The end of the game felt like a basketball match with chances to kill the game at both ends but in the end, the Bluebirds and the Fleet shared a point which did a lot more for Chippenham than it did for the home side.
A fantastic game most notably for the inclusion of both Landon Golding and Caine Bradbury. Both lads, academy graduates and Landon in particular had a fantastic first half with Caine coming on to replace Hanks in the latter stages, neither looking out of place at one of the best sides in the league. A big hat tip to Joe and his lads who also had Noah Coppin, Ola Lawal and Will King in the travelling matchday squad. The U23’s cemented their league victory in the Suburban Premier League last week after Bromley failed to clinch a 9 goal swing against Woking in their final game, declaring Chippenham Town FC, Champions once again! The Presentation will take place on Monday at half time against Hungerford and I am sure you will all want to join us in congratulating the boys in person with a big cheer and thunderous applause!
So, Hungerford. A team that will need no introduction to Chippenham supporters. For a long time our local rivals have always seemed to get the better of us however, earlier in the season, a 3-0 win for Chippenham at the Bulpit was a wonderful tonic after defeat to Bath City in part one of the A4 Derby. Goals from Harry Parsons (2) and Luke Russe sealed the win for the Bluebirds and we will be hoping for more of that on Bank Holiday Monday.
Hungerford come into the game after seeing a poor run of form destroy any hopes of repeating last season’s heroics where they were placed in the play-off spots before a cruel ending to a great campaign when the league was curtailed and voided the season. Managed by Danny Robinson, Hungerford are famed for being extremely tough, hard working and physical and playing the game very sensibly in order to achieve their targets. Plenty of familiar faces to look out for as well with former full backs, Rhys Tyler and Matt Jones both playing their trade for the Crusaders as well as Ryan Seager, the mercurial striker that has set the National League South on fire again this season scoring 25+ goals for the second year in a row.
The form guide will absolutely go out of the window in this fixture with Hungerford suffering defeat in their last five games and Chippenham unbeaten in 3. This will make no difference to a Hungerford side that have made a habit of flipping scripts and ruining parties, No doubt we will have to be at our very best!
For Chippenham, they know the score. A win (or slightly more risky) matching Havant & Waterloovilles result away at Hemel will see us head to Havant & Waterlooville on the 7th of May for an all important, “Winner takes all” clash with the Hawks for the 7th playoff spot!
Without being at all presumptuous, Chippenham Town are running a Supporters Package for this all important fixture, dueling arguably our biggest game of the season with our End of Season Awards Ceremony in the Blues Bar later than evening. Win, lose or draw, this season has been once to celebrate with constantly defying the odds and showing that spirit and fight that has made Chippenham a force to be reckoned with in the League! I hope you can all join us down at Havant and back at the club for one big, well deserved party in the evening.
So for the penultimate time this season, I hope to see as many of you as possible at the Hungerford game and don’t forget to head over and see myself or Jonny Garraway to book your seats for the Havant game made possible by our amazing friends at Shoestrings Chargrill and of course our wonderful Chippenham Town FC who have battled so valiantly to this point! See you all Monday!
COME ON YOUR BLUEBIRDS!!