MATCH PREVIEW: Hungerford Town vs Chippenham Town, National League South | Tue 28th Dec 2021
Simon Lawrence looks ahead to our upcoming National League South game against Hungerford Town.
With such a quick period of time between games over the festive period, we barely have time to lick our wounds from Boxing Day’s clash against Bath City before we face another strong test in fellow neighbours Hungerford.
Firstly, let’s tackle the result. 4-1 to the noisy neighbours is never a good thing whatever way we choose to dress it up. A slow start from the Bluebirds saw us down by a goal inside the opening 5 minutes with former loanee, Jordan Dyer heading home from a Joe Raynes corner to set the tone for the afternoon.
We did of course give ourselves hope with a Ricky Aguiar free kick and played some very good football thereafter but sadly goals from Omar Holness and Cody Cooke (2) saw the Bluebirds slip to defeat in the first leg of the A4 derby. A lot could be said for the performance of the man in the middle, two blatant penalties waved away, one that could have been given on another day and a series of questionable fouls let go for pushing, holding and the dirtier side of the game that on another day, with a stronger referee may have seen City penalised for their transgressions.
However, it is all about on the day and as with many times before we must turn the scope on ourselves for not dealing with it as well as our opponents did. They worked him out early doors and played it to the full advantage and took the win. Credit must go to Bath City and tremendous thanks must also go to their travelling supporters who really made this an occasion worthy of the Boxing Day tradition. Rivalry in football is often friendly and the atmosphere at the TSS was fantastic and look forward to seeing them again at Twerton for part 2.
Off the field, Boxing Day was a complete success. Starting of course with the 1600+ spectators that came out for the game. It was fantastic to hear the Blue Army in full cry and lovely to see the ground packed with vibrant energy and happy faces. This is really what football is about and in trying times such as this, it’s vital we remember that beneath it all, the smoke and mirrors and the importance of 3 points. Football brings together communities and friends to share and enjoy moments like Boxing Day.
Our new 3rd kit was launched in the club shop, and I am told by Kirsty it was a fantastic day for the club shop in general. The new kit looks fantastic, and it brings me onto the best part of the afternoon for CTFC. Our new #NoHomeKit campaign alongside Shelter and Doorway was launched on Boxing Day. We had singers come down from Station Hill Church to provide carols for those queuing to get in and it was lovely to hear the festive tones ringing out as we approached the ground. Stood in front was our own Mr James Calladine with his bucket for Shelter and of course with buckets situated at the Bar, the main gate and the second turnstile. We collectively managed to raise in the buckets alone a whopping total of £403.73. Give yourselves a big pat on the back Bluebirds, that’s a tremendous effort and one I am certain will be graciously received from Shelter at this difficult time of year for those without a home.
So, with Boxing Day in the rear view, it brings us to Hungerford. The Crusaders will be no strangers to Chippenham supporters. Another local club to us, just up the M4, Danny Robinson and staff is making quite the impression at Bulpit Lane. In his first season in charge, he has changed Hungerford from (with maximum respect) relegation fodder into genuine contenders for the playoffs in the Vanarama National League South. They have gone off again well this season with a style of football that often is described less than favourably, Hungerford have mastered the art of gamesmanship, time draining tactics and tactically beating a side physically.
With this reputation, you often forget they can play as well with golden boot candidate Ryan Seager never far away from the goals and the highly rated stopper Luke Cairney and his “David De Gea” style saves with his feet, Chippenham will have to be at their best to take anything from a tricky opponent. Familiar faces at Hungerford of course include 2016/17 title winning player Matt Jones and more recently Rhys Tyler who has made his way back to Hungerford following time at Wealdstone and of course Chippenham, we are really looking forward to seeing them again and before the game would just like to register our thanks to both lads for their time at the club.
We come into the game one place and one point behind our opponents with Chippenham sitting 10th on 25 points and Hungerford of course in 9th on 26th. This really highlights the importance of this game as the Bluebirds can leapfrog the Crusaders with a win. Interestingly with St Albans not playing and Havant & Waterlooville reeling from an 8-0 Boxing Day defeat to Dorking Wanderers, results going our way could see the Bluebirds propel themselves from 10th to the 7th playoff spot going into the Bath City game on Sunday.
This won’t be an easy feat Hungerford have had their feet up over Christmas with the way the league is rotated and COVID issues elsewhere ensuring the Berkshire based club go into this fixture very well rested, whilst Chippenham of course are nursing a few bumps and bruises from the derby game. Firstly Alex Bray, it is almost a given that Alex will miss out as a recurrence of him hamstring injury saw him leave the pitch on 45 minutes and it’s expected to be around 2-3 weeks before we see him in action again.
Danny Greenslade of course dislocated his shoulder in training last week and will miss out also it would seem. Spencer Hamilton should be on his way back soon and Harry Parsons and Ricky Aguiar showed no signs of their recent flirt with the virus against Bath and should feature again. Dan Griffiths of course is still suspended, and Harry Warwick may just find this a week too soon as he deals with a hamstring injury sustained in training.
For those looking to visit Bulpit Lane (and their famous gourmet burgers as seen across the Twittersphere) please do travel safe, pop a quick lateral flow test before you travel and make sure that you bring your mask if you are going to jump in the club shop or any area you feel is built up for your own safety and protection and the protection of others.
Hope to see as many of you as possible at Hungerford.
COME ON YOU BLUES