MATCH PREVIEW: Farnborough vs Chippenham Town | National League South | Friday 29th March 2024

Published: at 12:18pm

Matt Billett previews our Good Friday clash against Farnborough.

The Bluebirds are on the road for this year’s Good Friday fixture as we take on Farnborough in a game that could be make or break for our hopes of reaching those all-important play-off places and push for promotion this season.

A fifth win on the bounce for the Bluebirds would take us to 60 points with five games remaining and – if results elsewhere go our way – will put us within three points of the National League South playoff places.

Last Time Out

Last Saturday saw the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium play host to a Non-League Day thriller as the Bluebirds came back from a goal down to beat Welling United 4-1 and make it four wins in a row for Gary Horgan’s men.

Welling took the lead in the tenth minute through a rather scrappy goal from Jack Burchell and the game looked to be a tight one throughout the first half. After the break, however, it was a different story. Chippenham seemed to find their feet again on a surface which was much more tailored to our style of play than that of the damp, dismal conditions in Somerset for the game against Taunton, and in the 66th minute, Luke Haines scored a screamer to draw us level. Just six minutes later, Tyreke Johnson scored from what could’ve been a cross (we’ll let you decide that for yourselves), but fluke or not it was a belter! From then on, Chippenham dominated the game and managed to get a third in the 81st minute through Tom Owen-Evans and capped off an impressive second-half display with an incredibly well-worked goal which saw Johnson secure both his second goal of the match and all three points for the Bluebirds.

After the game, assistant manager Joe Sharples said he was “really pleased” with the teams’ performance and praised their ability to hang in there during the blustery conditions in the first half which “made it difficult for us.” He went on to say that “there was no huge, brilliant team talk, it was one that the players fully got themselves out of the situation and they fully dominated after the second goal.”

Sharples called the upcoming game against Farnborough “the first end-of-season six-pointer” and said the team will travel there in “full confidence.”

Finally, he spoke on Gary Horgan’s Manager of the Week award saying: “He’s a really good manager, he has his ideas, but he’ll take on board others’. We’re starting to do more work on the training ground, and I think it’s showing. We’ve got a really young team and I think we’re starting to see the rewards of a little bit of patience with the group and Gary deserves all the credit for that.”

The Opposition

Farnborough were founded in 1967 and have had an unfortunate history in recent times seeing them go into administration twice since the 2006/07 season and subsequently have been up and down the southern football leagues before being promoted back to the NLS in 2022 after beating Hayes & Yeading United in the play-off final.

They currently sit in 8th place in the NLS, outside of the play-off places on goal difference. They, like Chippenham, have been in fine form recently, winning all of their last six matches, scoring 15 and conceding just four goals. During that run, they recorded victories against fellow promotion hopefuls: Bath City, Worthing and Aveley, as well as beating Chippenham’s last opponents, Welling just over three weeks ago.

It’s certain to be a thrilling encounter between the two teams with both looking to further boost their hopes for a place in the play-off places, and both coming into the game having a perfect record over their last four and six games respectively.

A win for the Bluebirds will take them to just three points away from Farnborough (with a game in hand) and St Albans City making their late charge for a play-off place all the more tangible; whereas a win for Farnborough will take them nine points clear of Chippenham and most likely take them into the play-off places with just four games left of the season to play. It’d be an improbable end to the season if Gary Horgan’s side could make it into the playoffs like they did two years ago, but with the way the team are playing at the moment, you wouldn’t bet against it.

Countdown to kick-off





Head to Head

The head-to-head records for this fixture make for pleasant reading for Chippenham fans; in just over a year, the sides have faced each other three times with Chippenham coming out victorious on all three occasions. The games have been tight, however, with all three victories only being won by one goal for the Bluebirds. Chippenham have only played at Cherrywood Road twice in their history, winning last year’s away fixture 2-1 thanks to goals from Joe Parker and Ollie Tomlinson, but losing out in the second round of the FA Cup in 2010 in a 1-0 defeat.

Both teams are on high-scoring runs recently with Chippenham scoring at least two goals in their last four games, and Farnborough scoring at least three in their last four, suggesting this could be a high-scoring affair.

Familiar Faces

Chippenham’s Jake Evans and Freddie Grant have both enjoyed spells at Cherrywood Road in their career with Evans spending half a season on loan at Farnborough during his time with Swindon Town, and Grant having two spells at the club with the first coming in 2014-2016 while on loan from Oxford United, and the second coming 2022 where he played 35 games and scored twice for them in a season where they just missed out on the play-offs. Chippenham signed Grant from Farnborough in 2023 with Horgan appraising him as “one of the best attacking full-backs at this level;” he has been a great addition to the team and will be hoping for victory over his former employers on Friday like the rest of us.

One to Watch

The one-to-watch this week for Farnborough was a tricky one to choose with both Aaron Kuhl and Jordan Norville-Williams finding their scoring boots in their last six games but overall, the exciting talent that is Joe Haigh is one to look out for this Friday.

Haigh has scored four goals in his seven appearances for the club having only made the starting XI four times. At only 21 years of age, he already has a great footballing CV, starting at Chelsea’s youth academy and even representing England at under 15 and under-16 level. Haigh joined Aldershot Town in October 2023 before moving to Isthmian League South Central side South Park and has since been signed by Farnborough in February this year.

While many of his appearances have come from the bench, he seems to have fit in well with his new team and has now started contributing to the scoresheet which has earned him a few starts as well. Whether he is in the starting XI on Friday or on the bench, he’s certainly one that could cause a few problems and definitely one to keep an eye on.

Bluebirds News

Saturday’s starting XI saw just one change from Wednesday’s game against Taunton with club captain Matt McClure being reintroduced to the starting lineup and leaving Ed Williams as a substitute. Having had six days rest since our last game and the team finding a good run of form, it’s hard to see that there will be any drastic changes from Gary Horgan and it may well be the same starting XI as last time out against Welling.

So the last six games of the season are upon us and thanks to four wins from four, so may be a place in the playoffs. It will be a tricky game for both sides and, knowing the importance of the result could be a cagey affair.

Can the Bluebirds keep up their near-perfect record against Farnborough or will the yellows prevail on home soil? Either way, you won’t want to miss this one. If you’re making the trip to Hampshire, have a safe journey. Be loud and get behind the boys for this massive game!


Related News


Accredited Club Logo Wiltshire FA logo Respect logo charter standard club