MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Worthing | National League South | Saturday 21st January 2023
Simon Lawrence previews our home tie against Worthing.
The third time will hopefully be the charm for Chippenham Town this weekend as Tony Godwin and his team prepares for battle against the elements, Gary Horgan and his men prepare for the visit of Worthing FC to the Thorrnbury Surfacing Stadium in the Vanarama National League South.
Chippenham were looking forward to a return to the TS Stadium for a packed January however, the weather had a different idea with the game against Weymouth falling due to the torrential rainfall in Wiltshire and the fixture against Welling on Tuesday night having to be postponed unless the Wings were prepared to face the Bluebirds at Ice Hockey with chilling temperatures of –5 degrees overnight turning our football pitch into an ice rink.
One out, one in
In the absence of drama on the pitch, Chippenham supporters have been glued to the socials for the last week or so with comings and goings within the playing squad taking centre stage and coupled with the clubs revived form in terms of results, has left supporters excited and looking forward to 2023 and what it may hold.
Firstly, departing the club was talisman youngster, Jordan Young. Young joined us from Gloucester City and made his debut for the club in January 2022 and signed permanently with the club in February. He quickly established himself as a fan favourite with his creativity and flair, alongside his tendency to shoot from anywhere on the pitch with a good level of success. Some of his goals were truly special including a Goal of the Season winning strike against Concord Rangers from just inside the Concord half, lobbing keeper Myles Roberts and sending the TS Stadium into elation after witnessing one of the best goals any of our supporters would have ever seen at the famous old stadium.
Jordan’s goals were vital in seeing us reach the playoffs last season, popping up many a time and probably none more so celebrated than his double strike against Havant & Waterlooville to send Chippenham 7th in the league on the last day of the season and taking a coveted place in the National League South Play-Off Eliminator against Dartford. He would miss a penalty in the shootout that night however, Chippenham prevailed due to the heroics of Will Henry and in his first season, Young would take the field against Ebbsfleet alongside his teammates where after a heart-breaking extra time winner from Lee Martin would seal the Bluebirds fate and end their season at the penultimate hurdle.
Subject to pre-season gossip about a move away from the club, Jordan got his head down and had a good return this year as well as scoring vital goals in both the league and cup competition to help the Bluebirds reach the FA Cup 2nd Round for the first time in their history, the FA Trophy 3rd Round, and of course, famously slotting the winning goal at Twerton Park to end the drought against local rivals Bath City and give Chippenham and their supporters a Christmas present like no other. 4 goals in 4 games renewed the interest around Young and with the player keen to make the jump back to full time football with hopes of making it back into the EFL, Yeovil Town jumped at the chance to bring Young to the Glovers and with terms agreed, Chippenham supporters waved goodbye to Jordan Young, and he goes with the very best of wishes from all the club. A truly special player that on his day, is worth the price of admission alone is now a Yeovil Town player.
With this move, Chippenham supporters would be forgiven for thinking that times were going to be a little tougher moving forward. However, on the 17th of January around 6pm, the worst kept secret in football was revealed as Matt McClure held up a Chippenham Town shirt alongside Chippenham Town Chairman Neil Blackmore and the news broke that the Bluebirds had signed the striker that many would argue the club has been crying out for.
Departing Gloucester for the Bluebirds, McClure was the top goalscorer last season in the National League North and signs for Chippenham as the second-highest goalscorer this season as well, notching 14 goals in 24 appearances for the Tigers. A huge coup for Chippenham Town with EFL experience in 110 appearances for Wycombe Wanderers before a further 103 games with Aldershot in the National League. A mercurial goalscorer for both Maidstone and Gloucester City after leaving the Shots, Matt comes to the Bluebirds with an underlying promise of goals. Many a time this season, Chippenham supporters have been left wondering “what if we had that real fox in the box finisher”, “that out-and-out goalscorer that could take advantage of our creative play and solidity at the back of the pitch”. Matt McClure is that proven striker. Fingers crossed that Matt hits the ground running and helps propel Chippenham Town up the National League South table. All of us here at the Bluebirds would like to welcome Matt and wish him all the very best of luck for his time in the Blue and White.
So, with that out of the way, back to the football, our opponents for this weekend, Worthing FC. The team from Woodside Road in West Sussex are a brand-new entity in the National League South this season following their promotion to the league via winning the Isthmian Premier Division. Ironically, Worthing will consider themselves unlucky not to have been at this level for a couple of seasons now after being top of the Isthmian Premier League when COVID ruined football for a couple of years, however, they are here now and came into the league with tremendous promise and so far, they have lived up to that promise.
Coming into this game, Adam Hinshelwood’s troops are unbeaten in 5 games and sit 4th in the National League South taking the place of Chelmsford City (our last league opponents) and Chippenham will be hoping for a similar performance and result against the side 4th in the division. Worthing FC have, as mentioned, been on a bit of a roll of late with 3 wins and 2 draws in the last five with victories against Hampton & Richmond, Welling United and Eastbourne Borough to go alongside a late equaliser against Bath City in a 2-2 draw and a Boxing Day stalemate against Hampton & Richmond. Worthing will no doubt be a team that given the opportunity with give Chippenham a world of problems if we are not on our A game.
Last time out for these two sides was at Worthing in the early stages of the season. Some may remember it as the first competitive game back after the Pablo Martinez incident. It was a glorious, sunny, south coast afternoon that promised much and delivered little with few chances for both sides and ultimately the game ended in a 0-0 draw. On the balance of it, Chippenham left perhaps a little disappointed that they didn’t take all three points with the better chances on the day. However, a point was a good result in hindsight against a side that have gone on to have their own promotion ambition this season.
Familiar Faces this weekend is an obvious one. Over the years Chippenham have enjoyed a great relationship with Swindon Town in the loan market taking custody of such players as Scott Twine, Ricky Aguiar and Harrison Minturn to name a few. Towards the end of last season, Chippenham announced they had signed a versatile little lad on loan from Swindon, he could play full back, he could play on the wing, he could do it all with his tenacity and work rate. He would go on to be an integral part of the squad the made the play-offs and his likeability made him one of the most popular lads in the dressing room and on the terraces for the Bluebirds. Nowadays, he is on loan at Worthing from Swindon Town and Chippenham cannot wait to welcome Mo Dabre back to the TS Stadium.
Ones to watch
Ones to watch is a tricky one, with many a great player in the Worthing squad including Portsmouth loanee, Liam Vincent and last year’s Dorking Wanderers trio of Kane Wills, Callum Kealy and Davide Rodari, but we are going for Worthing striker Ibby Akanbi this week. Joining in October from Dulwich, Akanbi has gone on to make 17 appearances for the Reds scoring 5 goals and his pace and power will no doubt cause problems for the Bluebirds. Also keep an eye out for Ollie Pearce, scoring over 30 goals last season in the Isthmian Premier League and already has 8 goals this season.
For Gary Horgan, buoyed by the signing of Matt McClure and with the game cancelled on Tuesday likely giving Spencer Hamilton the time to get over his ankle injury, the game against Worthing arguably couldn’t have come at a better time. The fitness of Craig Fasanmade and Eddie Jones are due to be assessed before the weekend but for Jones at least, it might be a week too soon as they recover from ankle injuries. Chippenham will be looking forward to this one, not least because it’s a game at home, which is much needed for the club coffers considering the time we have spent away from the TS Stadium with the weather killing the last two.
Make no mistake, we need you supporters to attend in your droves again for this one, the club needs the support through the gate and on the terraces. With the potential to get a glimpse at massive new signing Matt McClure available, be a part of the inevitable debut goal for the Superstar Striker and join in the celebrations that I am sure will come more and more at the TS Stadium, BE THERE!
COME ON YOUR BLUEBIRDS!