MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Hungerford Town | Sat 27th Aug 2022
Simon Lawrence previews our upcoming National League South clash with Hungerford Town
The season is now well and truly underway following a rather unprecedented start for the Bluebirds and in what will be our 4th game of the season, we welcome the Crusaders of Hungerford Town to #TheTSStadium for the first of our ‘local’ derbies in the 2022/23 Vanarama National League South season.
The game against Chelmsford City on Tuesday took place after being re-arranged following an injury to Pablo Martinez in the original fixture. Chippenham took to the field after a solid performance against Worthing with the Bluebirds taking a point but more notably picking up some injuries to add to Gary Horgan’s headache and force his hand ahead of the return of the Clarets.
Gary tweaked his shape, his personnel and his captain with Spencer Hamilton and Aaron Simpson unable to don the shirt through injury. Joe Hanks captained the side and possibly more surprisingly found himself as a make shift centre back alongside Will Richards and Landon Golding in a 5-3-2 formation. Starts were handed to Will King and the returning Matt Jones with Noah Coppin making way for Joe Parker alongside Seb Palmer-Houlden up top.
The game started rather brightly for the visitors as their height and physicality told in the early exchanges. They forced Will Henry into a fantastic save to his left after Harry Lodavica latched onto the ball. His effort was definitely goal Bound before Henry’s outstretched hand tipped the ball wide of the post and gave Chelmsford a corner. Corners would be a big part of the night and Chippenham’s first chance came in that fashion as well with a now familiar routine of putting the ball in low to Hanks forced Ejeheri in the City goal into action. For both sides, chances found themselves few and far between with both sides creating openings but never troubling either keeper and the game, somewhat predictably fizzled out to a 0-0 draw for the 2nd time in 4 days.
Gary Horgan said in his post-match interview that with the size of the squad, everyone would be needed as Chippenham come to terms with a tough fixture period following two abandoned fixtures leaving the Bluebirds playing catch up. The first of those fixtures comes against familiar foe for Chippenham, Horgs and a good few of our playing squad as the Crusaders roll into town and Chippenham Town play host to Hungerford Town.
Hungerford will need little introduction to most Chippenham supporters. They have been an opponent many times down the years both in the National League South and the Southern Premier League.
For Chippenham fans, this fixture has not always been a happy one. Over the years the Crusaders have definitely edged the Head to Head’s and been somewhat of a bogey side to the Town. However, in the two fixtures last season, Chippenham came away with maximum points with a 3-0 win at Bulpit Lane coupled with a thriller of a 3-2 win at home with two late goals from Hungerford seemingly snatching a draw before the ball was launched forward from kick off and following Alefe Santos’ lob over Cairney, Noah Coppin was on hand to tap home and send the play-off chasing Bluebirds into hysterics.
The Crusaders are managed by Danny Robinson and they have had a couple of decent seasons under Robbo since he took over from Ian Herring with Hungerford ripping up the script to find themselves in and around the play-off spots during the COVID season and only fell short right at the end last year. Danny sets his side out to be physical, hardworking and very difficult to break down and Gary and his side will have to be at the races if they have aspirations of registering their first win of the new season.
Hungerford themselves have started the season indifferently with defeats to Concord and Dover before a goalless draw at St Albans. They picked up their first win last time out against Eastbourne and come into the game sat in 14th place. Pre-Season wasn’t the kindest to our friends from Berkshire with 25 goal a season striker Ryan Seager swapping the Bulpit for pastures new and joining Marc White at Dorking Wanderers in the National League.
They have also lost Matt Jones of course to Chippenham as he returned to #TheTSStadium for another stint with the Bluebirds. Coupled with those two, Hungerford will also have to cope without Sol Wanjau-Smith who has joined Maidstone, Keith Emmerson who has retired from football and goalkeeper Luke Cairney who has made the switch to Poole. Hungerford still have some familiar faces in their ranks with former Chippenham defender Rhys Tyler hoping to add to his impressive goal tally at the TS Stadium and following his goal last time out against his old club and in the last game against Eastbourne, we will have to be lively to the threat our former player carries.
Chippenham come into the game with uncertainty over Spencer Hamilton, Aaron Simpson and Joe Parker who limped off in the draw with Chelmsford. However, the introduction of Jordan Young in the last two fixtures looks like an indication of his return to fitness. Alex Bray was looking sharp in the warm up following his hamstring injury in pre-season and might not be too far away from pushing for the bench to give Gary Horgan a few more bodies in the ranks.
The attendance on Tuesday was 497 which given the fact it was midweek; the visitors of course had a long way to travel on Tuesday night and there was a plethora of EFL Trophy games on television that evening was a fantastic way to kick off the new season at home. We are hoping of course to build on this with it being a local derby, a Saturday and with ALL KIDS going FREE with a paying adult. Let’s really strive to make the TS Stadium a fortress and pack it with as many Bluebirds as possible. We are unbeaten at home in this relatively early stage of the season and your support is the best way to keep it that way!