MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Torquay United | National League South | Tuesday 23rd January 2024

Published: at 11:39am

It’s back to the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium at Hardenhuish Park this weekend in the Vanarama National League South where the opponents are Torquay United.

Chippenham will come into this game in a decent run of form after effectively drawing their last three games in the Premier Shield against Westbury, the FA Trophy against Bromley and most recently against Aveley in the National League South where Chippenham will consider themselves more than just a little unlucky to not have taken all three points from their day out in Essex.

Last Time Out

Chippenham started really brightly at Parkside with the opening 10 minutes being spent largely in the Aveley half. A couple of half chances and a really good one for Craig Fasanmade left the Bluebirds hoping they wouldn’t rue not capitalising on such a good start. However, on 17 minutes, that is exactly what happened as a move down the right hand side when the lively Razzaq Coleman De-Graft beat his man and crossed for Siju Odelusi to score his 10th goal of the season. Chippenham responded well but were handed a let off when a loose pass saw Charlee Hughes bearing down on goal and it required a clever foul by Dan Ellison to deny him a one on one. Second half, it was all Chippenham, playing a possession based and patient game, the Bluebirds pulled the Millers all over the park and eventually got their reward when a ball broke loose to Caine Bradbury around the hour mark and his left foot shot flew past North in the Aveley goal to level the scores. It looked like there was really only going to be one winner here with the dominance of the second half, so it was a really disappointing one to find ourselves 2-1 down only 5 minutes later. Coleman De-Graft was once again the provider as this time he squared the ball for Charlee Hughes to tap past Henry. The Bluebirds got straight back on with it and again, it only took around 5 minutes for the tide to shift again. A long ball into the dangerous Tyreke Johnson, fresh off the bench saw the winger staring down North around 25 yards out. To the surprise of most, Johnson unleashed an absolute thunderbolt into the bottom left hand corner of the goal to give the Bluebirds a deserved equaliser. The kitchen sink then came at Aveley as Chippenham went after the deserved winner. However, the Millers held out with a strong defensive display to deny the Bluebirds the elusive 3rd goal.

After the game, I caught up with Gary Horgan who found it difficult to mask the disappointment of not taking all three points from a game he felt his side were more than worthy of that prize. Stressing that in recent weeks he has asked his side to give him 90 minutes as opposed to spells in the game and stated he felt “he got that today”. The overall performance was one that was well received on the terraces from a good travelling contingent from Wiltshire and it showed at full time with appreciative claps and cheers coming from the away end after witnessing a good Chippenham performance against a side going well in their first season in the National League South. We go home now for back to back games at the TS Stadium with the first, a Tuesday night under the lights against one of the pre-season favourites and one of National League Souths bigger fish, Torquay United.

The Opposition

Torquay United, nicknamed ‘The Gulls, were formed in 1899 and play their football at the 6,200 capacity Plainmoor, a place they have called home ever since 1910! Managed by Gary Johnson and with a fan base and budget the envy of most in the league, Torquay United would have started this campaign with ambitions of Promotion straight back to the National League however, a few indifferent results and finding it tougher than the last time they were here, the Gull currently sit 6th in the table and a whopping 18 points off top of the table Yeovil, it seems as if Johnson is to lead his men back to the National League, they are going to have to do it via the dreaded playoffs. A football league side as early as 2014, even the most ardent of Chippenham supporters would have to concede this is the proverbial “David vs Goliath” encounter however, Bluebirds fans might be slightly buoyed by a fairly remarkable form against Torquay United with the Gulls never really managing to assert the kind of dominance that stature would dictate they should.

Countdown to kick-off






An even split between the two sides over 6 games with the Bluebirds winning 3 and Torquay the same giving both sides an equal win percentage of 50%. Interestingly there has never been a draw between these two sides. In terms of the goals scored over the fixtures, Torquay just edged Chippenham by 9 goals to the Bluebirds 8 giving the Gulls a GPG of 1.5 to the Bluebirds 1.33. Also quite interesting is the pattern of victory in this fixture with the Bluebirds beating Torquay United TWICE in the year they were crowned champions of the National League South in 2018/2019 with a Matt Smith goal the separator at Plainmoor and goals from Dean Evans and Nat Jarvis in a 2-1 win at the TS Stadium making Chippenham the ONLY team to complete a league double over the Champions! Chippenham were then victorious in a PSF against Torquay taking a 2-0 win at Plainmoor. Last season, Chippenham held a 2-0 lead over then National League Torquay in the FA Trophy 3rd Round before a Stephen Wearne inspired comeback gave Torquay their first win over Chippenham with a 3-2 win at Plainmoor. In 2021, a 3-0 win for Torquay again at their place in a PSF gave them the chance to level the overall record earlier in the season when Chippenham went to Plainmoor in the league. Chippenham once again looked good value against the daunting task of Torquay but following a late red card for Luke Spokes and an injury to Aaron Amadi-Holloway, Aaron Jarvis bundled home a late winner for the Gulls after it looked like Craig Fasanmade had given the Bluebirds a share of the spoils. Some good omens for the Bluebirds coming into this one is every game bar one has been a close encounter and Torquay have NEVER WON at the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium and Gary Horgan and his men will be desperately trying to continue that.

Familiar Faces

Quite a few this week that have shared both the Blue and White of Chippenham and the Yellow of Torquay. Presently we have both Brad Ash and Ollie Tomlinson who are playing for the Gulls. Brad Ash was a brilliant player in his time with the club with his hard work and eye for goal earning him a move to the National League with Weymouth and following their relegation to the South, was instrumental in keeping them afloat earning him a big move to Torquay United staving off attention from the National League to earn Brads signature. Ollie Tomlinson was a popular loan signing at the end of last season who’s defensive displays alongside Will Richards earned him high praise from both Gary Horgan and Gary Johnson who offered him a new deal and has trusted him massively this season being an ever present in the Torquay back four and we will look forward to welcoming them both back on Tuesday night.

Former notable players for both clubs include former Southern Premier League winning squad member Jake Andrews, former frontman Chris Zebroski, players like Yan Klukowski, Danny Bailey, James Bittner and Marvin Brown, Ryan Law and Klaidi Lolos also spent time with both clubs. Ricky Aguiar, Jennison Myrie-Williams, Darren Mullings, Kaid Mohamed and Lee Phillips really does make quite a long list of former Bluebirds to turn out for the Gulls as well.

One to Watch

Again, with the Torquay United squad being the envy of most, this could have been anyone of a whole host of players. We will always be on the lookout for our former lads so Brad Ash and Ollie Tomlinson will draw an eye from the home crowd. A pacey winger usually does the same so be on the watch for the likes of Brett McGavin and Dillon Da Silva the former seemingly a scorer of absolute worldies from distance this season. Tom Lapslie is widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in this league and Asa Hall the captain will probably have his name in that hat as well but we have decided that this week our One to Watch is Aaron Jarvis. The former Luton Town man has been with the Gulls for a few seasons now and when they were relegated to the National League South, it was seen as the biggest bit of business that Torquay completed when they retained the services of one of the National League’s most predatory strikers. With 22 goals in 52 games, Jarvis will undoubtedly be one to keep an eye out for in and around the box.

Famous Face

With a club the size of Torquay, we could have word out the keys on the board typing up the amount of notable players and managers that have come through Plainmoor. Former Bristol Rovers, West Brom, Portsmouth, Blackburn and Reading striker Jason Roberts spent a fair share of his career in the Premier League but back in 1997, on loan from Wolves, Roberts was banging in 6 goals in 14 appearances for Torquay in a loan spell many consider the one that displayed the strikers instinctive eye for goal and launched his career at the higher levels.

Another player who has played for a lot of our local ‘big’ sides is former Swindon, Rovers and current Oxford United player Billy Bodin. In 2011, Bodin scored an impressive 5 in 17 for Torquay United whilst on loan before moving on to become one of the biggest stars in recent years for the blue half of Bristol scoring a whopping 35 goals in 95 games from midfield for the Gas. Justin Fashanu, the brother of John ‘Fash the Bash’ Fashanu is not only a famous but very significant face to highlight here with Justin widely credited with being the first ‘Openly Gay’ footballer and also very significantly becoming the first £1,000,000, black footballer in history when he moved from Norwich to Nottingham Forest signed by the legendary Brian Clough. In 1991, Fashanu signed for Torquay in somewhat of a coup for the Gulls and he scored 15 goals before departing Plainmoor in 1993. But perhaps somewhat appropriately, we have saved the ‘biggest’ Famous Face for last. The Beast, Adebayo Akinfenwa is known worldwide in football these days for his stints on Soccer AM, famously being the stronger player in world football according to FIFA for many years and his likeable personality coupled with his unorthodox physique defying the standard for the modern footballer for many years over a good career in the EFL. Perhaps his first big club in football was Torquay United making 37 games for the Gulls scoring 14 goals earning him a move to Swansea. After spells with Millwall, Northampton and Gillingham it was perhaps at AFC Wimbledon where Bayo made himself a household name famously scoring against the club he openly supported in Liverpool in the FA Cup and firing in the winning penalty in the playoff final against Plymouth to gain the Dons promotion to League One at Wembley. During his interview, he jovially told the cameras that his contract has come to end, he is technically unemployed urging managers to “Hit him up on WhatsApp” and get him a job. It worked as Wycombe Wanderers came in for the Beast and a fantastic time at Adams Park saw him make 219 appearances, scoring 52 goals and winning the Wanderers promotion to the Championship in a season where he finished joint top scorer! Since retirement, Akinfenwa has been a real coup for Podcasters, Vloggers and Celebrity Football with the Soccer AM star always bringing a unique energy to whatever he does, I feel quite confident with naming Torquay’s most famous son as the Beast, Adebayo Akinfenwa!

Bluebirds News

With Alex Bray still expected to be out, the return to form after injury of Tyreke Johnson will be music to the ears of Bluebirds fans with Ty once again amongst the goals last time out against Aveley. Luke Haines and Tom Mehew both missed the trip to Essex with slight injuries with Haines I believe feeling a slight groin strain and Chippenham manager Gary Horgan confirming that Mehew had tweaked his back in training. With a hard slog against Aveley on Saturday and no doubt one eye on making sure the lads are ready for Saturday as well, it can be expected that there might be some changes for this one to rotate the squad and keep it fresh and ready to do the business in what could be a pivotal week for the Bluebirds!

Back to Back HOME GAMES! This is a great chance for not only the players and management to put on a show but for the club as a whole to put its best foot forward against opponents the likes of Torquay United. We have shown on many occasions that big names and big clubs don’t scare us down here at the TS Stadium and a large part of what makes these occasions so special is you guys, the fans! Against the likes of Northampton, Lincoln, Yeovil and even Torquay the first time around, you guys have always come out in your numbers for the big games and shown this town has immense pride in the football club. We need you now more than ever! To compete at this level is something we have done consistently often against the odds and without you guys in the stadium backing us, cheering us on and often providing the added stimulus to go the distance, we of course wouldn’t be where we are now. I implore you, get yourself down on Tuesday night, get behind the boys, huddle in tight behind the goal and sing OUR songs, support YOUR team and make this another memorable chapter in the history of Chippenham Town Football Club..


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