MATCH PREVIEW: Hemel Hempstead Town vs Chippenham Town, Sat 18th Dec 2021
Simon Lawrence previews our upcoming National League South game against Hemel Hempstead Town.
What a difference a few weeks make in football. Flashback to November, dropping points in the league against sides we arguably should be beating, losing in cup competitions to hungry sides from below us in the pyramid and the doom and gloom around the place was almost as dreary as the upcoming weather forecast. Standing there with Mike at the end of the game against Uxbridge, we alluded to the fact December would be by far our trickiest month, and then…
Dorking Wanderers fell under the sword of Chippenham Town and their vibrant new front line. Parsons, Aguiar and Lawal tearing the vastly experienced Wanderers into pieces. And then we went to Oxford. A game many would have suggested pre-match that we would be lucky to get anything out of. We turned up in our numbers, our team turned up in full spirit and we dominated the first 45 with a momentary slip of concentration from the brilliant Greenslade allowing them to recover, break down the right side and cross home for a goal very much against the run of play.
The goal from Alefe Santos to equalise was one of the most perfect and true strikes of a football I have seen in many years. Holding it’s line fantastically, like an arrow the ball headed for Dudzinski’s top corner and even the outstretched hand of the keeper and the incredible distance from which it was struck was not stopping Santos who wheeled away to the dugout to celebrate with the rest of the squad. A great penalty save from Will Henry left the Bluebirds with a point and a baffling decision to book Dan Griffiths for “Simulation” after being pole axed in the penalty area left every single travelling supporter a bit confused as well as the large section of Oxford supporters to our left who didn’t realise why the penalty hadn’t been given. A point gained or two dropped? Who knows, however, to be saying that after a game against an Oxford side that have tasted defeat only once this term shows that heading into 2022, Chippenham are not to be taken lightly.
Failure to progress in the FA Trophy this season saw Chippenham without a fixture this weekend. However, in a fortunate turn of events, we were not the only sides in the Vanarama National League South to succumb to this fate and we have managed to re-arrange a fixture with Hemel Hempstead FC. We are seeing Hemel a lot quicker than we thought we would be, and this will give us a chance to exact a quick revenge on the Tudors after their 2-1 victory at the TSS. The Tudors will no doubt be very grateful to the Bluebirds as this win sparked a fantastic turnaround for Hemel and despite their standing when the teams first met, now find themselves a victory over Chippenham on Saturday will move them level on points with their Wiltshire counterparts.
Our last visit to Vauxhall Road will hold many happy memories for Chippenham supporters and in particular our manager Mike Cook. Mike had just come into the club, morale was down, we were lingering at the bottom end of the VNLS table and things looked a little bleak. All season we had been bemoaning a lack of good luck, playing good stuff but never getting the break we needed. And then it happened. Mike threw Nat Jarvis on to partner Scott Twine in a final roll of the dice to try and snatch something from Hemel and sparking chaotic scenes in the stand behind the goal with all 5 of us going mad as hatters, Jarv poked the ball home to record a 1-0 win for the Bluebirds but most importantly, spark a run that saw us in quite mercurial form finishing as high as 11th by the time the season had been ended due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mike will be hoping for more happy memories created this weekend as Chippenham head to Vauxhall Road again in fine form.
With very little to report in the way of injuries for the Bluebirds this weekend, it would seem Cook has his full squad at his disposal for the first time in a very long age with only Callum Gunner missing out at the moment due to ligament damage and this should be a couple of games too soon for the unfortunate Gunner, but fingers crossed he is back to add some grit to the Bath/Hungerford fixtures over Christmas. Ola Lawal picked up a slight knock, however, should be fit enough to make the squad for Saturday after several impressive displays in recent weeks have seem him a regular fixture.
A little on our opponents. The Tudors are managed by Mark Jones the former Oxford City manager and seems to be getting a good response from his charges in terms of recent results beating Hampton and Richmond last time out and also running Dartford very close but eventually going down to a 3-2 defeat against the Darts (Don’t worry boys 3-3 against Dartford isn’t for everybody). Hemel are going to be fairly familiar to most of us due to only playing them recently, but we have highlighted the “One to Watch” as that man, Freddie Hinds.
The former Bristol City and Bath City striker would have been familiar to some CTFC supporters through that link alone, but he was also the man who stepped up in the last moments of the earlier fixture and placed his shot into the top corner of Will Henry’s goal to give Hemel the win and send CTFC supporters home very unhappy. We will have to keep him quiet again should we want to claim the points here. Former Havant man Chris Paul will be another to watch out for as will Craig Fasanmade. The former Hungerford winger signed for Wealdstone after a strong season last year and finds himself on loan at Hemel and will prove a tricky customer down the flanks for our full backs to keep tabs on.
So, if you are heading to Vauxhall Road this Saturday, we will look forward to seeing you there. If the trip is just a stretch too far the from all of us here at Chippenham Town FC, from the Chairman and his team of Directors, the manager and his staff, all the players and all of the wonderful CTFC volunteers. Have a very Merry Christmas and we will see you on Boxing Day for the BIG ONE!!
COME ON YOU BLUES!!