MATCH PREVIEW: Chippenham Town vs Yeovil Town | National League South | Tuesday 21st November 2023
Simon Lawrence previews our National League South game against Yeovil Town
The Bluebirds are in action under the lights on Tuesday night when the Vanarama National League returns and with it, arguably the toughest opponent it could throw up when the fixtures came out at the start of the year when former Championship side, Yeovil Town land in our small corner of Wiltshire.
Last Time Out
Chippenham come into this game after extending their unbeaten run to FIVE games after completing a late comeback to see off the challenge of Basingstoke at the weekend in the Isuzu FA Trophy Second Round. In truth, it was a game in which it wasn’t going to take a rocket scientist to work out the tactics of both sides with Chippenham trying to find their passing game early and hit the wingers and Basingstoke pressing hard and playing direct in order to try and cause the upset. It was unfortunate that with that in mind, Stoke got the first goal of the contest when a corner was cleared only as far as Paul Hodges who’s volley was seemingly heading wide before Nathan Smart stuck out a foot and turned the ball into the back of the net. To their credit, a couple more chances came in the half for Basingstoke but in truth, Will Henry was never really tested again.
Gary Horgan rang the changes at H/T sending on Luke Spokes and Craig Fasanmade. Chippenham had the ball in the back of the net shortly after when Tom Mehew crashed home but Fasanmade was adjudged to be offside and the goal was chalked off. Fasanmade then broke in behind the Stoke back line and tee’d up Caine Bradbury who’s first time shot from the edge of the area might still have the crossbar at the Sheldon End rattling but alas, it hit the underside and was cleared to safety. It then became a very frustrating afternoon for the Bluebirds as Basingstoke sat in a low block and the fitness levels between the two leagues clearly started to show with a staggering amount of injury and the Basingstoke physio definitely got her steps in! The referee added 9 minutes of injury time and in truth, it could have been double that but it was during this period that Chippenham would finally get the reward for their perseverance. Caine Bradbury delivered a free kick from the right hand side and Luke Haines had time to bring the ball down and send a shot towards goal. In an almost ironic twist of fate, it was a similar goal to the one that opened the contest when Craig Fasanmade re-directed the ball past Paul Strudley to send the crowd into delirium and the game into PENALTY KICKS!
Will Henry has quite the reputation from 12-yards and showed us why when Paul Hodges saw his attempt repelled before Tom Mehew slotted into the top corner. Basingstoke then saw their effort sail onto the Cricket pitch before Strudley had his moment saving to his right from Luke Spokes. Both sides converted their 3rd penalties when Fas stuck home emphatically. Both sides then scored their 4th penalties and when Caine Bradbury smashed the ball past Strudley, it was 3-2 to the Bluebirds and Kai Hobbs couldn’t afford a mistake. The epic turnaround was complete when Hobbs stuck the crossbar and Chippenham would progress to the Isuzu FA Trophy 3rd Round for the second time in as many years and by the time this will be read, we will know our opponent for this record equalling fixture.
The 3rd Round of the FA Trophy is where the National League sides come into the fray and last season, that is exactly where our opponents on Tuesday were playing and with the size and stature of the Glovers, it would take a brave man to bet that Yeovil Town won’t be back there again next season as they sit atop the National League South, 9 points clear of 2nd place, a game in hand and on an incredible run of 11 straight wins in the NLS.
Yeovil Town, the Glovers are a professional football club based in Somerset and play out of the very impressive 9,565 capacity Huish Park. Managed by Mark Cooper, the Glovers find themselves in the National League South following their relegation from the National League last season which saw them complete a fall from the cusp of the Premier League after playing in the Championship only 10 short years ago.
At the start of the season, Martin Hellier took over the as chairman at the Glovers and promised to deliver good times back to the club and so far, with a record breaking unbeaten run, an FA Cup Second Round tie ahead with Wrexham to look forward too and laying waste to most that come across them, it would be hard to argue that he is doing exactly that.
In the league, their last defeat came months ago at the hands of Havant & Waterlooville in a 4-3 thriller that current Chippenham midfielder, Tom Mehew played his part in and will be hoping to make it 2 from 2 against the Glovers when they arrive on Tuesday.
Countdown to kick-off
One 2 Watch
Take your pick! Any one of Yeovil’s impressive squad could be on feature here with a plethora of attacking talent and a resolute and sturdy defence to boot but goals win you games and Yeovil have a few players that can score them. Rhys Murphy and former Bluebird Jordan Young currently lead the scoring charts at Yeovil with 7 each in the league and former Wrexham striker, Jake Hyde isn’t far behind them.
But we have decided to pick our One to Watch as Frank Nouble. A Chelsea youngster before moving across London to West Ham United. The 6ft 3in striker would spend 3 years at the Hammers going out on loan to WBA, Swansea, Swindon, Barnsley, Charlton and Gillingham before signing permanently with Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2012. However, it was at Ipswich the following season where Nouble would really get his break playing 56 games for the Tractor Boys before signing for Coventry City. On his way down the leagues, Nouble would play for the likes of Colchester, Plymouth, Southend, and Newport before signing with Yeovil in 2023.
With 5 goals this season already, Nouble is an old school, target man style striker who will provide a physical threat to our defenders both on the deck and in the air and should he bring the ball under, will look to bring Yeovil’s other dangerous attackers into play making him the One 2 Watch, in a whole team of One’s 2 Watch!
For a club like Yeovil, there are far too many to name. With ex-Premier League alumni such as Asmir Begovic, Sam Johnstone, Luke Ayling and even someone who just bagged a Champions League goal against PSG in Dan Burn, the Glovers are sure spoilt for choice when it comes to remembering their favourite ever Yeovil son!
However, whilst scrolling through the darker corners of Yeovil Town’s illustrious history I couldn’t help but notice the name of the young centre back that had a choice to make between playing professional football for Yeovil Town or pursuing his cricket career. And for fans of Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham MBE, I’m sure they would agree that the England cricketing legend made the right call!
Of course, before becoming the cricketing legend, the television personality and a household name across the UK, Botham was a talented footballer who was offered a chance to play professionally at Crystal Palace in the First Division before he signed with Yeovil Town. He made a good few league appearances for both the Glovers and Scunthorpe United before deciding to pursue cricket full time and leave everyone wondering what might have been for Ian Botham the footballer!
Well this is another easy one isn’t it?! Despite a few players down the years calling both Huish and Hardenhuish Park their home such as Dean Birkby, Alefe Santos, Charlie Griffin, Ryan Law, Seb Palmer-Houlden and Steve Winter but to name a few, the only real name on most Chippenham lips for this one is Jordan Young! Youngy etched his name on to Chippenham hearts with a series of performances during his time at the club.
In 2022, he signed on loan from Gloucester City and immediately made his mark, scoring 2 goals on his debut in a 6-1 win against Slough Town. Young would sign permanently shortly after for an undisclosed fee and would go about repaying his new masters with a string of important goals for the club and perhaps none more so than the brace that took Chippenham Town into the National League South Play-Offs downing Havant 2-0 and giving everyone in Blue that day, one they would never forget!
Such an adored figure, it was always going to sting a little bit when he swapped Hardenhuish for Huish Park in the Summer of 2023, stepping up to the National League in the process. Of course, this season Yeovil line up against us, something that wasn’t either the club or Jordan’s plan but it gives Youngy a chance to come back and see some old friends, the fans he loved and the club he in his own words, will always be his hometown club that he loves!
Sadly for Jordan (but rather luckily for us) he will have a lot of time on his hands Tuesday to catch up with people as he will be ruled out of playing due to suspension after picking up 5 yellow cards in the league this season.
Head to Head
This is a nice easy one this week. In the modern era, the two sides have never met in league competition and when scrolling back through the archives, I could only find one fixture between the two sides, an FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round match in 1997/1998 in which the Glovers won the day resoundingly with goals from Owen Pickard, Dean Birkby, Al-James Hannigan and Graham Kemp giving Yeovil a 4-0 victory against their Western League opponents in front of a crowd of 1,762 supporters.
Sadly for Chippenham, the ever growing injury list was added too on Saturday with the injury to Alex Bray. It looked like a fairly bad hamstring injury when he left the pitch and this was confirmed in the post-match interview with Gary Horgan who could be forgiven a slight headache given that Bray now joins a list of players that are not quite fit and healthy enough to tussle with the league leaders and after 100 minutes of football on Saturday and the drama of a penalty shoot-out, fatigue will be sure to play part with such a quick turnaround.
Encouraging to see Tom Owen-Evans make a start on Saturday and come through fairly unscathed before his removal at half-time and we are told this was purely precautionary as to not push him too hard too fast. Aaron Amadi-Holloway featured as an unused substitute as did Will King signalling they are not far off from fitness. Owen Windsor and Tyreke Johnson both watched from the stands and I would assume that is again due to fitness, so lots for Horgan to ponder ahead of the Yeovil game.
So, this is it, only a fool would deny how big this game is for the Bluebirds. Not in terms of the result being a must win. In truth, I think most people would view this as a free hit against a club of Yeovil’s stature but they are where they are for a reason and as Gary has said on countless occasions, we are going with a plan to win the game. It’s a big game in terms of how far Chippenham as a football club have come. 10 years ago,
Yeovil were playing the likes of Watford, Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn whereas we were still banging on the door of the Conference South. Fast forward to Tuesday night and nothing more than 17 points separate us from the Glovers. I would fully expect a large following from Yeovil Town on Tuesday and welcome that following with open arms. These are the games we have dreamt of at CTFC for as long as I have been involved with the club. These occasions are a cause for celebration at the TS Stadium and each one of us has our part to play in the proceedings and would expect our supporters to act with respect, kindness and in a welcoming manner to our visitors both on the pitch and on the terraces.
Segregation will be in operation for the safety of all of our spectators on Tuesday evening. Home fans are to as usual access the ground via turnstiles 1 & 2 at the LIT FIBRE Community Stand End, and away spectators are to use turnstiles 3 & 4 at the Sheldon End.
As always, please pay heed to the message at the start of every game. Chippenham Town F.C will NOT tolerate chants or comments of a racial, sexist, homophobic or abusive nature. Anyone who flouts these rules will be asked to leave and may face further action if required. Nobody wants that. Football is for EVERYONE. So grab your scarves, grab your flags, grab your family and friends and head on down to Hardenhuish Park on Tuesday night for what promises to be one of the biggest games the club has ever had in league competition. BE LOUD, BE PROUD and as always….
COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS!!