MATCH PREVIEW: St. Albans City vs Chippenham Town | National League South | Saturday 6th April 2024

Published: at 6:35pm

Matt Billett previews our away game against St. Albans City.

Last Time Out

The Bluebirds are back on the road this weekend as we travel to Hertfordshire to take on tenth-place St Albans City. Chippenham are still hopeful for a place in the play-offs this season despite dropping points in a 0-0 draw at home against Truro on Easter Monday. We currently sit 11th in the league, eight points adrift of Bath City in seventh place with five games left of the season. A place in the play-offs is still on the cards but Gary Horgan’s side will probably need to win each of their last five games to make it there. The odds may be against us, but you’d never write us off.

Gary Horgan called Monday’s draw against Truro a “disappointment” in his post-match interview, the Bluebirds were held to just a point at the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium as blustery conditions and pre-match injuries hindered the set-up for the match; Horgan said there were “no excuses” for the performance and said “too many were below par” in a game where: “a real opportunity” was missed. Horgan went on to describe this weekend’s fixture as “a really tough game, but hopefully, we continue our run and leapfrog them to finish as high as possible.”

The Opposition

St Albans (the Saints) were founded in 1908 and are based at Clarence Park in Hertfordshire. They started life off in the Isthmian League and enjoyed 80 years competing in the Isthmian League structure before a restructuring in 2004 saw them win a play-off against Heybridge Swifts to gain entry to the Conference South. Then in 2006, the Saints beat Histon 2-0 in the play-off final to earn promotion to the Conference; but they only lasted one season in the higher division before returning to the Conference South where they’ve remained ever since.

St Albans currently sit just one place above us in the table and have endured a very similar season: winning four more games (19) than the Bluebirds, but losing three more (16) as well, putting them just six points ahead of us at the moment and only two points away from the play-off places.

Head to Head

It’s been a historically contentious fixture with the two sides playing each other 16 times in total with Chippenham coming out victorious only once more (5) than St Albans (4), and the other seven games ending in deadlock. Additionally, in those 16 fixtures, there have only been four occasions in which there was more than one goal separating the two teams.

It looks as though this will be an incredibly tough game to call with the teams having very similar seasons, fighting for the same things, and having a very close historical head-to-head record. The only thing that would make you tip the Bluebirds to win this one is that St Albans have lost three and drawn one in their last four games; whereas Chippenham have won four and drawn one in their last five games meaning, on current form, Chippenham would just be the bookies favourites.

Familiar Faces

Ironically, despite the history between the two clubs and both being at similar levels in the English pyramid for a sustained period, there are no players in either team that have had a spell with the opposition.

Famous Faces

St Albans boast several ex-players who have gone on to have successful footballing careers, including Arthur Grimsdell who captained the 1921 FA Cup-winning Tottenham Hotspur side and went on to make six appearances for England.

Harold Miller, another England international, also started his career with the Saints and went on to spend 14 years at Chelsea.

Dean Austin, who spent most of his career at Spurs also started at St Albans, as well as Alan Cockram who went on to make almost 100 appearances for Brentford.

One to Watch

The one to watch this week no doubt goes to striker Shaun Jeffers who has scored 26 goals in his 40 appearances this season, averaging a goal every 94 minutes. His impressive record puts him second in the Golden Boot race, only trailing behind Worthing’s Ollie Pearce. Jeffers has now scored 107 goals in 166 games for the Saints after extending his stay with a two-year deal in June 2022. The number 9 has previously played for Coventry City, Cheltenham Town and Newport County and even gained two caps for England at u19 level. Last season, Jeffers came runner-up in the Golden Boot race with 27 goals in 44 games; and the season before, he came second again with 34 goals in 50 games (27 league goals) supplying 49% of St Albans’ goals that season.

Bluebirds News

As far as Chippenham are concerned, Monday’s game saw Dan Ellison pull out in the warm-up. Aaron Amadi-Holloway replaced him despite still having swelling on his ankle which could mean that we don’t see either of them in this weekend’s starting XI. Still, hopefully, their recovery has gone well and they’re available for Horgan’s selection. Tom Mehew also failed a fitness test and Matt McClure was out last week which could mean more changes to the starting XI.

So it looks like it will be an incredibly close game with both teams still hoping for a place in the playoffs; both will feel like it’s a must-win coming into it so expect a cagey affair. If you’re making the trip to Hertfordshire, then safe travels. The boys will need every bit of support you can give for this huge game in the fight for the playoffs so be loud!


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