MATCH PREVIEW: Salisbury vs Chippenham Town, Tue 30th Nov 2021
Simon Lawrence previews our upcoming Wiltshire Premier Shield tie against Salisbury FC.
After the weekend and another exit in a cup competition at the hands of lower league opposition. Chippenham supporters will need a massive lift ahead of potentially the hardest and most important two months of the season. In the month of December, we face Dorking, Oxford, Hungerford and Bath City. All of these games will be very tough with Dorking needing no introduction at this point, they are well established in this league now and will be pushing hard with big financial backing to take themselves into the National League this season. Oxford and Hungerford are the two surprise packages this season and will strongly fancy themselves to continue their respective good form against any side in the division and then of course, Bath, A good squad, massively underperforming with some horrendous results in the early part of the season. Here is hoping our big rivals don’t find their feet just in time!
But before all this, Chippenham have a chance to get their house in order with a trip to Salisbury FC in the Wiltshire Premier Shield on Tuesday evening. The WPS is a competition that Chippenham have an interesting relationship with. First hoisting the shield aloft in 1901 under the guise of the Wiltshire Senior Challenge Cup, Chippenham have gone on to win this competition numerous times a particular period of dominance coming in the early 2000’s where the Bluebirds lifted the prize in 01,03,04 and 05 with the only relinquishment of the Shield coming in 02 where it was won by our opponents this Tuesday, Salisbury FC.
In recent times as we have climbed further up the Non-League Pyramid, the Shield has provided us with an opportunity to field some of the fringe players or the young lads coming through. This is something that now more than ever will be vital to the success of this season. With the academy providing valuable minutes for the first team this year, this will be an ideal opportunity for Cook to assess the qualities of the young lads at his disposal going forward and for supporters, the Shield often provides us an opportunity to visit grounds and teams of a time gone by with big local rivals from our time in the Western League and Southern Premier League.
Our opponents Salisbury FC will need little introduction to many supporters. A fixture that was often the biggest in our calendar for a long time, Salisbury still play at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium, a 5000-capacity ground in the heart of Salisbury that for a long time hosted National League football and harboured ambitions of the EFL before the liquidation of Salisbury City FC in 2014/15. From the ashes Salisbury FC was formed and under the guidance of former Premier League striker Steve Claridge have been plying their trade in the Southern Premier League South since their promotion in 2015 from the Wessex League.
Familiar faces for Salisbury are a little few and far between these days however, former Chippenham midfielder Darren Mullings is now a player/coach at the club, and we could well see Darren line up against his former employers alongside former Poole Town player Marvin Brooks whose significance being he always had a horrible habit of scoring against Chippenham whilst playing for the Dolphins and will be looking no doubt to add to that run on Tuesday. Also plying his trade for Salisbury FC these days is Yemi Odubade who scored the dramatic late equaliser in the National League South’s last playoff final (Pre Covid) for Weymouth against Dartford to force a penalty shootout in which Weymouth prevailed and Odubade will bring a wealth of experience to the Salisbury front line which will no doubt test our presumably young squad.
For the Bluebirds, following the weekends defeat, we learned from manager Mike Cook that his intention will be to play a lot of the younger lads against Salisbury and maybe use the game to find the fitness of returning players such as Alex Bray, Danny Greenslade and Alefe Santos with the latter finding 10 minutes at the end of the game on Saturday against Uxbridge and will be looking to prove a point as he continues his journey back to first team football.
The winners of this tie face a quarter final tie AT HOME to Melksham Town FC and this will provide Chippenham a chance to re-ignite arguably the fiercest rivalry in my time supporting the club. Nowadays that rivalry is much more friendly and with former Chippenham, players, management and directors, scattered through the ranks at Melksham, it will be a lovely opportunity to get through and play Melksham and gives the supporters a nice home tie against the old local rivals to get their teeth into. But first, we must get through the old foe in White on Tuesday, and we hope to see as many of you as possible make the short trip to Salisbury on Tuesday to cheer the boys on and see them into the next round, God knows we could use a win in a cup competition!
COME ON YOU BLUES!!