MATCH PREVIEW: Tonbridge Angels vs Chippenham Town | National League South, Sat 22nd Oct 2022
Simon Lawrence previews our upcoming National League South game against Tonbridge Angels
With the Emirates FA Cup now laid to rest until early November, Chippenham shift their focus back to the Vanarama National League South and a visit to Tonbridge Angels this weekend.
Coming into the replay against Hendon on Tuesday, it would have been a bold claim to predict the same level of excitement that we saw against the Southern Premier League side on Saturday at their Silver Jubilee Park home.
Last Time Out
However, in true Emirates FA Cup style, expect the unexpected and against the backdrop of the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium, the Bluebirds claimed their place in the First Round Proper of the Emirates FA Cup in dramatic fashion on a night that will be remembered for talking points both on and off the pitch. A big and expectant home crowd arrived at the TS and big queues out the front saw volunteers and staff running around to get everyone in before the 7:45pm kick off time.
They needn’t have worried, as the linesman spotted a problem with the net at the LIT Fibre Community End. This would be the first delay of the evening but certainly not the last. Many people would assume that Hendon given their lower league standing would have had their chance on Saturday to see off their National League South counterparts however, the Dons started the brighter of the two sides and saw early half chances repelled by Will Henry and the excellent Spencer Hamilton who returned to his more natural centre back position for this game. Chippenham rode out the pressure well and were rewarded for that just before half-time when an excellent move down the left side saw Young put the ball across the edge of the penalty area towards Russe. (Russey has asked me to write it this way). An excellent ‘dummy’ from Luke on the edge saw the ball run through to the left foot of Joe Parker whose shot appeared to be heading towards the clutches of the Hendon keeper until it struck a heel and deflected past the helpless goalie to give Chippenham a 1-0 lead.
A lengthy delay followed as Parker went to celebrate with the home fans, the perimeter wall gave way and thankfully, no one was hurt. Chippenham Town would like to register thanks to the quick actions of supporters and officials to clear the area, assess the damage and get the game back underway. 9 minutes of added time crept by and Chippenham went into the break, albeit much later than usual, 1-0 to the good.
The second half was one of very little incident. With the First Round on the horizon, Chippenham and Hendon both struggled to create anything clear cut although credit to our visitors, they probably had the better of the second half although a tactical substitution from manager Gary Horgan, saw Will Tizzard come on for Harvey Greenslade and the extra defender seemed to really neutralise the threat of Liam Brookes who had been a live wire for Hendon in both the first game and the replay. As Hendon pushed, space opened up for Chippenham to kill the game off with a second goal, but in the end, one was enough for the Bluebirds to claim a win and book their place in the First Round Proper at home against League One, Lincoln City.
What followed was a disgraceful scene that saw FOUR Hendon players and Will Tizzard sent off at the F/T whistle. Nobody likes to see this in football despite the ugly scenes, we would like to wish Hendon the very best for the rest of their season as they seek to move up the Southern Premier League table.
Our opponents for this weekend Tonbridge Angels are managed by Jay Saunders the former Maidstone United gaffer who oversaw the Stones rise from the Isthmian League to the National League South before joining up with Tonbridge following the departure of Steve McKimm. The Angels play out of the Halcyon Wealth Longmead Stadium and in 2022, made the switch to a 3G surface. Tonbridge Angels come into the game this Saturday 11th in the table and despite being in 15th, the Bluebirds can leapfrog their Kent opponents with a win this weekend.
Much has been said about Tonbridge this season, a great start followed by a very disappointing 4-0 defeat to lower league Binfield in the Emirates FA Cup and results almost impossible to call in the National League South it is almost impossible to predict what Tonbridge side we will come up against this weekend.
However, Tonbridge have always been a bit of a bogey side for the Bluebirds including last year despite Chippenham finding themselves in the National League South Semi-Final Playoffs, Tonbridge took all 6 points on offer from the 2 meetings with the Bluebirds with 1-0- and 2-0-wins respectively. Familiar faces is going to be another difficult one this week however, veteran and well-travelled defender Craig Braham Barrett will be a name that many Chippenham fans will recognise from their time in the National League South with stints at Farnborough, Havant & Waterlooville, Woking, Whitehawk, Dover, Braintree, Welling, Dartford, Chelmsford City, Hemel Hempstead and Tonbridge on his CV.
Interestingly as well, he is a good friend and international duty travel companion of former Chippenham striker, Nathaniel Jarvis with Braham-Barrett himself a full international for Montserrat. His last appearance for the National team came in June where he starred in a 2-1 win against Grenada however, it wasn’t enough to continue their journey to Qatar this winter.
For manager Gary Horgan, after the excitement of the Emirates FA Cup fixture has died down. Chippenham face league games Saturday/Tuesday right up until Lincoln City, so the squad is really going to have to rotated around and players will have to play valuable minutes as we seek to stay competitive for the Emirates FA Cup but by no means take our eyes off the bread and butter of the League.
With games against Tonbridge, Hemel, Concord and Braintree coming up over the next fortnight, Chippenham supporters will no doubt be looking for strong showing and good points haul if they are to replicate or go anywhere near last season’s exploits. They are placed in 15th with only a few points between them and the playoff spots Chippenham will no doubt be focused on these games with Lincoln City in the bag for early November.
Injuries to Fasanmade and King seem to be coming to their conclusion and we will be without Will Richards through suspension this weekend and subject to appeal could be without Will Tizzard for the three games after but with players champing at the bit to break into the Bluebirds Starting XI, it promises to be a few fantastic weeks of football for Chippenham and its supporters.