MATCH PREVIEW: Oxford City vs Chippenham Town | National League South | Tues 13th Dec 2022
Simon Lawrence previews our away clash at Oxford City
A return to action for the Bluebirds after Mother Nature gave us a rare weekend off and Wilson Sampaio led France to victory in the World Cup with a shameful display of refereeing usually reserved for Sunday League more than the World Cup, as we take on Oxford City at Marsh Lane on Tuesday night in the Vanarama National League South.
Chippenham are now once again looking to kickstart their league campaign following a record-breaking run in the FA Cup (Something our opponents know about all too well) and with a game on the horizon against Torquay United of the National League in the FA Trophy, Chippenham are approaching the festive season with games in hand over so many in the league however, as we discovered last year, points in the bank are far more valuable than games in hand and Chippenham manager Gary Horgan will no doubt have a difficult task in hand despite the fantastic omens surrounding a game against Oxford City!
Oxford City nicknamed “The Hoops” are a side that the Bluebirds will need little introduction to.
In 2015/16, Oxford City were moved from the Conference North to the Conference South in the year when the pyramid was restructured and the newly named National League South was a prize that Chippenham were looking at from down below in the Southern Premier League.
In 2016/17, Chippenham famously were promoted to the National League South following their historic Southern Premier League title win, and the two sides have shared the division ever since. This isn’t of course the only thing the two sides share, Oxford like Chippenham are losing FA Vase finalists, with Chippenham of course tasting defeat to Deal Town in the 2000 show piece and Oxford City themselves losing finalists 5 years earlier, missing out on the trophy courtesy of Arlesley Town and a 2-1 score line.
These days things are a little different for both sides with both Chippenham and Oxford finishing last season in the National League South Play-Offs with Chippenham famously defeating Dartford before succumbing to Ebbsfleet United in extra time and Oxford City defeating Eastbourne Borough before falling at the same hurdle of the semi-final against eventual winners, Dorking Wanderers.
You would expect for a side with the pedigree of Oxford City that results against them would be hard to come by however, you must go back to the 2nd of March 2019 to find the last time Oxford defeated the Bluebirds courtesy of a Kabongo Tshimanga goal. 4 wins and 3 draws have followed including one already this season where a late Jordan Young penalty gave the Bluebirds a 1-0 win at Hardenhuish Park, a win in the amazing run put together to reach the playoffs last season with Alex Bray slotting the winner in another 1-0 victory and a game credited with one of the contenders for National League South ‘Goal of the Season’ in a 1-1 draw at Marsh Lane where Alefe Santos (struggling for form at the time) picked up the ball 25 yards from goal on the angle and showed Chippenham supporters just what he was about picking out the top corner of Ben Dudzinski’s goal and silencing his critics in a brilliant season for the Brazilian winger.
Familiar faces this week is a bit easier. Oxford City currently have Klaidi Lolos banging in goals for the Hoops. The Greek striker once of Plymouth Argyle came on loan to the Bluebirds and is arguably most remembered for his sending off in the A4 Derby against Bath City with a late challenge on Bath’s Ryan Harley seeing the young lad sent for an early bath in a 1-1 draw with our local rivals.
Another player that has shared the shirt is Tom Harrison, the former Bristol City defender came to Chippenham on loan and put in a few commanding performances and even got himself on the scoresheet with a late equaliser against Ebbsfleet in the FA Trophy sending the game to penalties where in the opposite of the earlier heroics in the FA Cup, Chippenham would be defeated and exit the competition. Upon his release from City, he joined up with Gloucester City and after a season with the Tigers, was allowed to find a new club and that club was Oxford City. We look forward to seeing them both with their new club and wish them the very best for the time they spent with the Bluebirds.
Famous faces for Oxford City is another fun one. Long before Ross Jenkins took the reins at Oxford City, they were looking to re-establish themselves as a major force in the area and became a limited company in 1979. The management team that was entrusted with the task of taking Oxford City to the summit in the local area, Sir Bobby Moore and Harry Redknapp! The only English World Cup Winning Captain and one of the most successful English managers of all time, Redknapp has West Ham, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Tottenham and many others on his CV and who knows what might have been had Oxford City held on to Bobby Moore’s young apprentice.
Away from football. Chippenham Town fans have often had a little giggle over the fact our full back, Aaron Simpson was once a star of TV show, Love Island! Well, another little link between the two clubs is that Finlay Tapp, who won the show alongside his partner Paige Turley, upset his football team by going AWOL to join the show, the club that he left in the lurch, Oxford City! Tapp returned to England a winner of the popular show and with a lovely new girlfriend, but no longer has a role in the Oxford City defence after 20 appearances for the Hoops.
Chippenham will come into this game with a week of rest in their legs following the postponement of the Ebbsfleet United game. For manager Gary Horgan, this should give him a little bit of breathing space with players such as Craig Fasanmade and Joe Hanks now likely to be in contention for this fixture, whereas Ebbsfleet might have just been a game too soon. A turn in fortune is needed for the Bluebirds as many performances over the last few months have warranted so much more than what we have got, but that is football.
The Chippenham boss has urged supporters not to get down heartened, this is when we need our supporters more than ever to be the 12th man and give the lads that extra bump needed to get over the line. We have a huge December coming up with games against Oxford, Torquay in the FA Trophy and of course our usual festive showdown with Bath City only mere weeks away! It would be brilliant to see as many of you as possible at Oxford to support the lads and with it only being a short trip up the M4, this local derby promises to be another great one. Unbeaten in SEVEN games against Oxford City, can we make it 8?
COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS