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MATCH PREVIEW: Slough Town vs Chippenham Town | National League South | Friday 7th April 2023

Published: at 8:49pm

Simon Lawrence previews our away game against Slough Town.

They say all good things must come to an end, and the season is rapidly doing so. However, Gary Horgan and his men will be hoping one thing that doesn’t come to an end is their unbeaten run in the Vanarama National League South as they prepare to travel to Arbour Park, home of Slough Town FC where the Bluebirds will be hoping to make it 16 games without defeat when they take on the Rebels.

Last Time Out

Last time out for the Bluebirds, they completed the league double over Farnborough FC with a 2-1 win against the Hampshire outfit courtesy of goals from Ollie Tomlinson and Joe Parker. A strong first half display from the visitors who themselves were needing the points to further their playoff ambitions saw the away side put the Bluebirds under the cosh in the first 15 minutes or so.

Chippenham soon found their feet however and the slick passing game that has been on display for a long time now soon came to the fore and the Bluebirds took the lead from a corner in the 39th minute when Owen Windsor put a deep ball into the area and was headed home by Torquay loanee, Ollie Tomlinson. Just after the break, Farnborough found themselves level following their own corner routine when Jack Ball lost his man and headed home at the back post. Chances to win the game came around for both sides with Boro hitting the crossbar and forcing Will Henry into a magnificent couple of stops but in the end it was the Bluebirds that came out on top when once again Owen Windsor was provider as he played the ball in to Joe Parker. Parker turned cleverly and sent both Farnborough defenders back to Hampshire with a drop of the shoulder before facing down one more and slotting a left-footed shot past Jack Turner in the Boro net for a 2-1 lead. Farnborough did have a good go at the equalising goal, but the crossbar miraculously denied Mason Bloomfield a late leveller when it looked harder to miss. A few hairy moments in the final exchanges with Farnborough desperately seeking a point from their trip to Wiltshire however, the Bluebirds saw the game out well and the final whistle blew with Chippenham arms aloft in victory extending the unbeaten run to 15 games, 7 wins in 9 games and most importantly, 14th place in the National League South with a 15 point gap between them and the drop zone and with the games left to play, it would seem all bar mathematical certainty will see Gary Horgan and his men in the National League South next term marking his one-year anniversary in the top job with celebratory news. Incredibly, Chippenham now sit just 9 points outside the playoff spots with 5 games left to go and 15 points to play for.

With the squad already having played Tuesday/Saturday for as long as I can remember, this weekend brings the Easter Football Extravaganza as Chippenham will be hoping it isn’t just a Good Friday but a Great Friday when they take to the road and descend on Arbour Park, home of the Rebels, Slough Town FC.

The Opposition

Slough Town, The Rebels, formed in 1890 are a side that will need no introduction to Bluebirds fans as they have been an opponent of ours for many a season in both the National League South and Southern Premier League. Managed by Scott Davies who took over following the surprise departure of long term joint managers, Neil Baker and Jon Underwood and boasting a strong vocal home following, Arbour Park will need to be turned into a fortress once again this weekend as Davies and his troops find themselves in need of the points to pull themselves further away from the drop zone.

Slough are currently sat in 19th position but with only 4 points between them and the relegation spots will be hoping to put some distance between themselves and Dulwich Hamlet, especially given the latter have a game in hand as do Cheshunt directly below them in 20th place. It’s not been all plain sailing for Scott Davies this year, having to contend with legendary managers leaving, settling a squad during this time and with financial difficulties off the pitch clouding the picture, Davis to his credit has done a brilliant job at Slough in steadying the ship following a torrid start to the season. They come into the game winless in 4 games with their opponents being Hemel, Ebbsfleet, Farnborough and Eastbourne. The last win for the Rebels came almost exactly a month ago, when they defeated Hungerford 4-0 at Arbour Park. With games remaining against Taunton, Farnborough, Weymouth and Braintree.

Ones to Watch

A few ‘Ones to Watch’ this weekend with Obi Ogo providing the main goal threat. The Nigerian striker is the only player for both sides this weekend that has hit double digs for the season, scoring 10 goals this term and will be looking to add to his total when Chippenham arrive on Friday. Matthew Lench has long been a thorn in the side of the Bluebirds when the two teams meet and his wand of a left foot, the undoing on so many occasions when these sides clash, will have to be silenced. As will the midfield dynamo Johnny Goddard. The former St Albans man has made the move over to Arbour Park and this season has chipped in with 5 goals from the midfield and will definitely be one to keep an eye out for.

Familiar/Famous Faces

Familiar/Famous Faces is a difficult one this week with no current members of either playing squad spending any time at the other. In fact, in my archival dig I can only see one player that has ever worn both shirts and some of you may remember a young Antiguan midfielder by the name of AJ George who made 11 appearances for the Bluebirds in 2019. Following his departure he signed for Oxford City and in 2021, he was named as an unused substitute for our hosts this weekend, Slough Town FC. Despite being formed in 1890, Famous Faces was a tricky one this week as well with not a lot of big names making the trip through Slough on the way it would seem.

In fact it was only a few that popped out to our keen eye and all of them had loan spells at the club that lasted 4 games or less. However, Ben Strevens the former manager of Eastleigh and current Dagenham and Redbridge gaffer spent a little time at the club as did current Portsmouth manager and former Oxford United cult hero, John Mousinho. However, we have decided to give it this week to former Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper, turned pundit and all around good guy, Matt Murray. With precisely 100 appearances for Wolves with one coming in the Premier League. Matt Murray is more famous these days for his time spent on Sky Sports, Soccer AM and as a reporter for the popular Soccer Saturday show with Jeff Stelling. However, many moons ago as a young goalkeeper, Murray had 2 games between the sticks for Slough in 2000. I am sorry, that was the best that I could do!

Bluebirds News

For Horgan and his men this weekend, what can we say that hasn’t already been said! 15 games unbeaten at any level of football is special and we will be hoping to make that 16 this weekend against a side in Slough that aren’t having it all their own way at the moment. Despite earlier in the season Slough beating Chippenham by a goal to nil at the TS Stadium courtesy of a Josh Jackman goal, Slough has proven a happy hunting ground for Chippenham in recent years with great memories of Ross Stearn scoring late in the league, Southern Premier League victories and of course who could forget that famous FA Cup win in the replay at Arbour Park with goals from Nat Jarvis, Luke Haines and Karnell Chambers sending the Town into a tie with Whyteleafe that would culminate in a Round 1 home tie with Northampton Town!

Horgs will be boosted this weekend by the return of Matt McClure who made it off the bench for some minutes on Tuesday night following what looked to be quite a naughty ankle injury. With others vying to get back to fitness before the end of the season including Craig Fasanmade and Caine Bradbury it seems as if all of Horgans ducks are coming nicely into a line as he prepares for his final 5 games of a long season.

It would be great to see as many of you as possible down at Arbour Park for this one. A nice ground with a modern feel, good food and a lovely bar area. Arbour Park boasts a 4G surface that will really play well for that flowing, passing football we have come to enjoy so frequently from the Bluebirds. With the amazing run we are on, naturally we have seen a few extra fans at games recently, and we absolutely love that, we cannot do it without you. You are the 12th man for Chippenham Town FC and sometimes when a player needs that extra lift, or we are searching for an elusive goal, your support does make a difference so get yourselves down for Part 1 of the Easter Weekend, come and get behind the boys and as always…


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