MATCH PREVIEW: Ebbsfleet United vs Chippenham Town | National League South, Sat 6th Aug 2022
Simon Lawrence previews our upcoming clash away to Ebbsfleet United.
On the 15th of May, Chippenham Town FC travelled to Ebbsfleet United for the National League South Play-Off Semi-Final. After a fantastic end to the season from Gary Horgan and his men, Chippenham finally came unstuck in the first half of Extra-Time against the Fleet as a Lee Martin strike from the edge of the 18-yard box, gave the Fleet a 1-0 victory and sent them through to a final against Dorking. Late dramatics in the final with Craig Tanner seemingly giving Ebbsfleet the win, only to be pegged back by a Luke Moore goal and finally an Extra-Time winner by Alfie Rutherford. Dorking prevailed on the day and took their place in the National League whereas both Chippenham and Ebbsfleet were condemned to another season in the National League South.
The 2022/23 season opens where the 2021/22 season closed as Chippenham travel to the Kuflink Stadium to take on the bookmaker’s favourites, Ebbsfleet United. For Chippenham, it is a great chance to get their season up and running against a side they have come to know quite well, playing them twice in Gary Horgan’s relatively short tenure as Chippenham Town manager.
Naturally, there have been a few changes since the last time we took on the Fleet with the departing Kieran Parselle and Danny Greenslade opting for moves away from the Bluebirds and Summer signings, Eddie Jones, Matt Jones, Joe Parker, Tom Mehew and Pablo Martinez will all be at Horgan’s disposal. For Eddie, Matt and Tom they will not be making their first starts for the club as of course Tom was with us on loan last season, Eddie was with us for a season before his departure for Bath City and Matt Jones was part of the squad that alongside Will Richards, lifted the Southern Premier League in 2016/17.
Chippenham come into the game after picking up some good form in pre-season with a strong showing against Cardiff City ending in a 2-2 draw before heading to Melksham Town to compete in the Ian Monnery Cup on Saturday. A tough test
for the Bluebirds ended in a 0-0 draw but as we have come to expect with Will Henry between the sticks, Chippenham took the cup home following a 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory.
The better chances in the first half seemed to fall the way of the Bluebirds, with Joe Parker, Joe Hanks and Noah Coppin all going close. In the second half, the Bluebirds goal seemed to be living a bit of a charmed life with a couple of fantastic stops from Henry, a couple of goal mouth scrambles and a post being struck in the dying minutes looking like it was going to give our lower league opposition, a sensational victory over their local rivals.
A couple of chances of note in the second half saw Joe Parker lift the ball over the former Chippenham goalkeeper, Conor Thompson but just sail over the crossbar and Jordan Young, fresh from his return from injury, drag a shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box following some strong build up play. In the shootout, the first 9 penalties hit the back of the net and it seemed to be heading for sudden death before Dan McBeam stepped up for Melksham and Henry went the right way to palm away his spot kick and hand the Ian Monnery Cup to Chippenham Town!
For the Bluebirds, they have almost a full complement of players for Horgan to choose from with Mehew and Young making steps back towards full fitness and Ola Lawal not too far away. Sadly, one player who will not be available for selection is Alex Bray following a recurrence of his hamstring injury sustained against Cardiff. The news coming out of the camp is that it is not as bad as last time around but given Alex has had this injury before, we can assume it will be at least 3-4 games before we see the winger back in action. All of us at Chippenham wish Alex all the best in his recovery and hope to see him back flying down the wing soon.
Our opponents this weekend Ebbsfleet United as we have mentioned play their football at the Kuflink Stadium at Stonebridge Road and are managed by German manager, Dennis Kutrieb. For most of the Chippenham faithful, the Fleet will need little introduction with quality all over the pitch from back to front sure to cause Chippenham a world of problems if they are not at their absolute best. Men to watch out for are far too numerous to list but you can be sure that with Dominic Poleon, Rakish Bingham, Elliot Romain, Shaq Coulthirst, Darren McQueen, Greg Cundle, Jack Paxman and Omari Sterling-James all listed as forward players for the season, Gary Horgan is going to have his work cut out keeping the Fleet quiet.
Working in his favour however is the fact that Ebbsfleet have not managed to beat a Horgan managed Chippenham in two attempts over 90 minutes with a 2-2 draw in the league and of course the play-off ending 0—0 before needing the extra period to see off Chippenham. This will have to be another resilient and character forming defensive display on the road if Chippenham are to stand a chance of picking up anything from this one.
But, with a new season comes new hope that Chippenham can pick up where they left off last season. Boosted by the return of the majority of the squad that performed so heroically last season and perhaps vitally adding strength in depth with the promotion of several players from the Chippenham Town Academy, supporters will be looking forward to another fantastic campaign in the National League South. Let’s do our best to make the trip, cheer the boys on and get our season off to the best possible start.
If you are planning to make the trip to Ebbsfleet, then please click here, for all the latest Ticket and Travel information you need!
COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS!!