MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Tonbridge Angels | National League South | Saturday 19th August 2023
Simon Lawrence previews our NLS home game against Tonbridge Angels.
The Bluebirds return to the nest this weekend hoping to bounce back from midweek disappointment in Devon when they take on Tonbridge Angels at The Thornbury Surfacing Stadium.
This game provides our home supporters with the first opportunity to see their team since opening day when they claimed a hard fought 1-0 win over newly promoted Aveley FC. Since then, Chippenham have acquitted themselves well on the road with a crushing 4-2 win over Havant and Waterlooville at Westleigh Park. Goals from Jake Evans (2), Nat Williams and Craig Fasanmade gave the Blues a well deserved 6 points on the board heading into arguably their hardest test this season, Torquay away on a Tuesday night!
Last Time Out
The Bluebirds were not only in the game for large parts but, at times, controlled possession against a side they should not be expected to do so given the surroundings, but it was the home side that took the lead when the ball was lost in transition and a quick break was started and finished by Ross Marshall. The centre back played a ball out wide and continued his run to meet the cross and head past Will Henry into his bottom left corner. Chippenham didn’t wait around long before striking back as only a couple of minutes later a slick move down the left-hand side saw Matt McClure drive the ball across the 18 yard box with a defence splitting pass and Craig Fasanmade was on hand at the back stick to make it 2 in 2 for him and equalise for the Bluebirds.
Chippenham looked good for the point and nearly took all 3 with Fasanmade striking into the ground and his effort looping painfully onto the crossbar of Mark Halstead and out for a corner. Sadly, the game changed in the latter stages with Aaron Amadi-Holloway who had been a rock all night having to leave the field through injury and a Luke Spokes tired challenge being deemed a second yellow by the referee, giving Chippenham all to do.
Unfortunately for the Bluebirds, they just couldn’t hold on with a loose ball being picked up down the right-hand side and a cross being met by Aaron Jarvis who smashed home to send the 2000+ crowd in attendance into delirium and send the 50+ travelling Bluebirds home empty-handed.
This seems as good a place as any to thank those travelling supporters. I was amazed by the amount of people that made it to this game on a Tuesday evening no less with even the most speedy of drivers not making it back to their beds before 2am! That kind of commitment and passion for our club is something that cannot be understated. We thank each and every one of you that travelled, listened on the radio and watched on NLTV at home, it’s very much appreciated.
Onto Saturday. Our opponents, Tonbridge Angels, a side that have caused us more than a fair share of problems during their time in the National League South. Managed by Jay Saunders, the Angels play out of Longmead Stadium, a place they have called home since 1980. Tonbridge will be hoping to build on a very strong season last term, with the Angels finishing in 9th place, only 4 points outside the play-offs.
This season has got off to a slow start for Tonbridge with back to back defeats to open the season against Worthing and Weston Super-mare by a scoreline of 1-0. However, the Angels found their first 3 points of the season midweek with a 1-0 win against Dover Athletic and will be looking at kicking on against Chippenham and adding to that points tally.
The two sides meet with the head-to-head firmly dominated by the visiting side. The two sides have met 7 times in the National League South with Tonbridge winning on 5 occasions, 1 draw and you have to go all the way back to our first meeting in 2019 for the last time we beat Tonbridge, a 2-1 scoreline giving Chippenham all 3 points. Of course, it’s always the last meeting that is the most important and the last time round for these two, Owen Windsor and Caine Bradbury notched in a 2-2 draw at the back end of last season during Chippenham’s incredible 15 game unbeaten run!
The Angels come into this game in 19th place and as mentioned, will be looking to take themselves up the league after a slow start. They recruited well over the summer bringing in a host of new players not unlike Chippenham with a very fresh looking side from that of last year. The Angels have added the likes of Kodi Lyons-Foster from Welling, Joe Boachie from Hungerford, Ibby Akanbi from Worthing and tricky winger Gianni Critchlow from Havant. Also experienced lads like Stefan Payne (Welling) and former Dartford man, Jahnade Meade regarded by many as the best right back in the league when with the Darts, now ply their trade at Longmead and will no doubt provide a multitude of tests for the Bluebirds.
One 2 Watch
For the One 2 Watch this week, for the first time ever! I have gone for a goalkeeper. With Will Henry’s heroics over the last couple of games showing the importance of having a quality stopper. Tonbridge will consider themselves very lucky to have one themselves in Jonathan Henly. Henly has been with the Angels for quite a while now and it’s no coincidence that when he has a good game, Tonbridge rarely walk away empty-handed. It is going to be a real test for Chippenham and their excellent attacking play that has been on display of late and I am sure Henly vs Henry is a battle that both are relishing!
Familiar Faces was a tricky one this weekend, with not many sharing the two clubs, so we have decided to highlight a bit of a famous face instead. Roy Hodgson! Current Premier League manager with Crystal Palace and of course, former England manager has carved out a very successful career in management with clubs such as Liverpool, West Brom, Blackburn and even Inter Milan on his CV. However, before we knew Hodgson the manager, he was a player, and it all started for Roy at Tonbridge Angels, spending 3 years at the club following his release from Crystal Palace, the club that incredibly, 58 years after his release as a player, he now manages!
For the Blues, suspensions and injury concerns will be a little bit of a worry this weekend. With Nat Williams red card against Havant and Luke Spokes’ being dismissed against Torquay, Horgan is going to have to dip into the squad this weekend to patch a few holes that have been left. Also Aaron Amadi- Holloway leaving the field early will be a concern for all and we are hoping Aaron will be fit and ready for the weekend as important as he has become to the back line!
Good news however was seeing Luke Haines out there on Tuesday kicking a ball about and doing some running following his injury in pre-season. Haines had been suspended for the first three games and could not be more champing at the bit to pull that shirt back on and make his official debut in the National League South as a full-fledged Bluebird. Tom Owen-Evans could be a little further away but all in all, the squad looks more than capable of pulling up in time for the weekend!
So come on Chippenham, let’s pack the park, get behind the boys and spur them on as they look to add to their tally of 6 points from the opening 3 games against a very good opponent in Tonbridge Angels. A win would move the boys level on points at the top of the league if results go with us so what more incentive do you need to get yourself down to the TSS and cheer on Gary and the lads!
Admission Prices for the 2023/24 Season
- Adults: £15
- Senior Citizens*: £11
- Junior (16-18): £5
- Child (5-15)**: £3
*Also, Students with a student card and serving Armed Forces personnel with an ID card.
**U16’s FREE when accompanied by a paying adult