MATCH PREVIEW: St Albans City vs Chippenham Town | National League South, Sat 8th Oct 2022
Simon Lawrence previews our upcoming National League South game against St Albans City
Chippenham will be looking to build on their win in the Emirates FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round at the weekend against Met Police when they hit the road for the second time in as many weeks to take on an out of sorts, St Albans City side at Clarence Park this weekend in the Vanarama National League South.
The FA Cup proved a welcome distraction for The Bluebirds as they had no time to dwell on losing their unbeaten home run a few days earlier against Slough Town. A tight, 1-0 defeat for Chippenham not only saw them beaten at home for the first time this season, it also was the first time that Chippenham manager, Garry Horgan has tasted defeat at the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium in a competitive game since he took over in the hot seat on the 22nd of April 2022. For that game, Gary made 4 changes to the starting XI and being able to manage minutes into players and rest crucial players for the FA Cup fixture, the higher ranked side avoided the ‘cupset’ and booked their place in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round.
Last Time Out
The game against the Met didn’t go all the way of The Bluebirds however. A disrupted start to proceedings with a nightmare journey from Chippenham saw the team depart Bristol Road at 10:15am and not arrive at Imber Park until 2:15pm! 4 hours on the coach didn’t do much for anyone, as the hosts started much the brighter of the two sides, their energy and enthusiasm that of a side knowing this would be their biggest chance against higher league opposition. The home side put the scare up Chippenham early doors when a long ball found its way to Afrane-Kesey who blazed over from range following a struck post. It didn’t get much better for the travelling fans as after a breakdown in play, Caine Bradbury lost possession and in recovering wiped out Luke Russe allowing Josh Keeya to strike home for the Met Police from just outside the box. The well-placed shot finding the corner of Will Henry’s net to put the home side 1-0 to the good. Chippenham to their credit started to then control the tempo of the game and dominated the possession for the remainder of the half. One half chance for Greenslade blazed over and the same man forced the Met GK into a fine save down to his left before the half-time whistle blew.
Chippenham came out of the blocks fast in the second half, with Joe Parker causing untold problems down the right-hand side. In the end it was his fine work that gave Chippenham a corner from which Spencer Hamilton thumped his header home from close range following a Jordan Young delivery. A lot could be said about the marking for the corner with Hamilton able to rise unopposed, but that was nothing compared to the second goal. A break down the right-hand side again from Parker saw him get to the 18-yard box with ease, The Bluebirds fitness and experience telling the story for much of the second half! A clipped ball into the box saw one lone defender try to clear. His header found the queue of Chippenham players bursting forward to join the attack and in the end, Caine Bradbury volleyed home the winning goal to send Chippenham supporters behind the goal home very happy and safe in the knowledge that they would be in the hat for the next round of the FA Cup!
In a day where ‘giant killings’ and ‘cupsets’ aren’t hard to come by, Chippenham avoided the fate of several other high profile non-League clubs and will now play Hendon on Saturday 15th October.
But for now, our focus switches to the challenge ahead of us in the league and St Albans City F.C.
The Saints are having mixed fortunes in the National League South at the moment and come into the game with 3 wins, 3 draws and 3 losses, scoring 7 goals and conceding 7 goals so far, playing one game less than all bar Concord Rangers and accumulating 12 points and sitting in 15th position in the National League South.
In a rather strange circumstance, manager Ian Allinson was relieved of his duties last week after 15th place and an early exit to AFC Sudbury in the FA Cup was deemed enough to place David Noble in charge on an interim basis with the former Arsenal, West Ham and Watford man due to take charge for the first time against Chippenham Town F.C.
Familiar faces is a difficult one for this weekend with no players sharing time at both CTFC and the Saints however, the One to Watch is a lot easier with mercurial goalscorer Shaun Jeffers still with the Hertfordshire outfit for another season. A striker who is so lethal in front of goal that his 13 goals in 32 appearances for Chelmsford City caught the eye of St Albans and has since bagged 36 goals in 53 appearances for the Saints including an eye catching 27 goals in one season in 2021/22.
For Chippenham, they come into the game in 12th place, 4 points outside the playoffs and still going strong in the FA Cup, they might consider themselves slight favourites for the first time ever against St Albans however, being at Clarence Park, under new management, a talented squad and 1000+ supporters cheering them on, Chippenham will have to be at their very best to get anything from the game. Gary Horgan will have a slight headache for the weekend with Eddie Jones and Jordan Young being forced off in the game against Met Police with Eddie’s injury certainly looking like it might rule him out this weekend. Jordan will face a fitness test this week and will undoubtedly be looking to get himself in contention for this one.
Last time out for these two sides was a humbling affair for St Albans with two goals including an absolute wonder strike from Alefe Santos either side of a Jordan Young goal gave Chippenham a 3-0 lead before Jeffers pulled one back for the Saints. The game ended 3-1 and coupled with a 1-1 draw in the away fixture, The Bluebirds picked up 4 points from 6 from a good St Albans side last term and if they have any ambitions of returning to the end of season show, they will need to continue to pick up results against the likes of St Albans and Co.
So, after all the excitement of the FA Cup win and of course the draw! It would be fantastic to see as many of you Bluebirds at the St Albans game as possible. The lads could really use your support and it’s always noted by the players, management and board what a fantastic group we are when we travel in our numbers. The Supporters are running a coach for the St Albans game with limited availability still there so please get in touch with Tina Hemmings at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your place and get there for this all-important league clash with the Saints!
COME ON YOU BLUES!!