MATCH PREVIEW: Tonbridge Angels vs Chippenham Town | National League South | Saturday 3rd February 2024

Published: at 8:01pm

After a return to winning ways, the Bluebirds head to the road full of confidence in the Vanarama National League South this weekend. Chippenham will need to draw on every drop of that confidence as standing in their way are Tonbridge Angels!

Last Time Out

After a fantastic week in Wiltshire, the Bluebirds will no doubt be absolutely buzzing to get back into action this weekend and build on a fantastic last few games for the Blue Army. Tuesday under the TS Stadium lights, Gary Horgan’s men shared the spoils with Torquay United and many experts claimed that it would be a solid point if we could back it up at the weekend against relegation threatened Havant & Waterlooville. And back it up they did! With a fairly injury hit squad (particularly at the back), Gary moved quickly to bring in Jem Hewlett on a month loan from Southampton and Jem was handed his Bluebirds start with injuries to Luke Haines and Aaron Amadi-Holloway forcing them to the stands and Dan Ellison only able to make the bench. His first action in a Chippenham shirt was nearly to face coming back from 1-0 down as a bright start by the visitors saw Kai Innocent deliver deep, evading the head of Grant and a cushioned volley from Ryan Seager hit the inside of the post. Hewlett then had a half chance to make it a memorable debut when his header from Luke Spokes’ corner was glanced just wide.

Then a real moment of controversy, when Tom Owen-Evans and Caine Bradbury combined down the right hand side to tee up Will King, his shot was deflected into the path of Craig Fasanmade who tucked the ball past Havant stopper Ross Worner. A quick glance across the line saw the Assistant Referee with his flag in the air to rule out the strike but it seemed at the time, Fasanmade was clearly being played on by both Havant defenders Joe McNerney and Kai Innocent. Upon looking at the replay, this was confirmed and the goal should have stood with Fas clearly onside but in real time, the officials have a hard task and if anything, it looked to spur the Bluebirds on to ensure the injustice wasn’t a costly one. A long ball then saw Ryan Seager denied by the feet of Will Henry before Chippenham returned the favour and a Caine Bradbury ball over the top found Fasanmade bearing down on goal. Fasanmade was always going to beat McNerney to the ball but unfortunately couldn’t sort his feet out in time, ran out of pitch and his shot hit the side of Ross Worner’s net. Callum Kealy’s shot was then deflected over and a long range effort from Roarie Deacon was repelled by a double handed stop from Henry before Bradbury once again played in Tyreke Johnson in a similar position to where he scored against Aveley from. However, this time his shot only found the feet of Ross Worner. Patient build up play from the Bluebirds then saw Caine Bradbury with the chance to run at the heart of the Havant defence. And when Bradbury had danced through Deacon and McNerney, the ball bounced off the challenge of Innocent back to the feet of Bradbury who made no mistake from just outside the 18 yard box, lashing a right footed strike past the Havant keeper to give the Bluebirds a 1-0 lead and Bradbury a goal that his first half play had certainly warranted. It was the last action of a half that arguably should have seen the Bluebirds two up.

In the second half, Bradbury almost made that the case with a long range free kick but Ross Worner moved quickly to stop it being a real threat. Bradbury then stabbed Craig Fasanmade through but the recovering challenge of Kai Innocent denied Fas another 1v1 with Worner. A free kick was then won in a dangerous area by Will King who seemed everywhere in this game and Bradbury and Spokes combined to win a corner from the resulting set piece. Chippenham were turning the screw and when Grant crossed from Fasanmade, Fas just couldn’t quite direct it towards goal and Chippenham were left hoping that they wouldn’t rue not putting the game to bed. A couple of free kicks from Ben Morgan and Ryan Seager were warning signs for the Bluebirds that Havant hadn’t gone away and when Kwaku Donker crossed for Ryan Seager it looked like the former Hungerford and Dorking man had given Havant the equalising goal but his effort went just wide of Will Henry’s post. A lengthy injury time period seemed never ending and when Ross Worner made his way into the penalty area for the last kick of the game, you could cut the tension with a knife. However, Will Henry punched clear and the referee brought an end to proceedings and the Bluebirds were 3 points better off, condemning Havant & Waterlooville to the foot of the table in the process.

After the game, Gary praised his hard working team, stating that although it wasn’t the best performance of the last few weeks, not getting what he felt they deserved, today they probably weren’t at their best and they found a way over the line with the 3 points. Looking ahead to Tonbridge, Gary was full of praise for the Kent based side stating that “It would be another tough game, they are a good possession based side and out of possession, well organised with a fantastic manager in Jay (Saunders). So let’s take a look at our opponents for this weekend, Tonbridge Angels.

The Opposition

Tonbridge ‘the Angels’ are based in the heart of Kent in the town of Tonbridge and play at the Halcyon Wealth Stadium, Longmead which boasts a capacity of 3,200. Managed by Jay Saunders, the Angels have been in the National League South since 2019, winning one of the ‘Super Play-Offs’ to reach the level after competing in the Isthmian Premier League until then.

This season, the Angels are experiencing a bit of a mixed bag after a really good start saw the Angels flying high. In their last 5 games they have won 2 and lost 3 but possibly most importantly, have played the most number of games in the division with early exits from the cup, coupled with the 4G pitch at Longmead allowing to get more games on for Tonbridge and having played 31 games. Tonbridge will also be aware that their opponents this weekend can leapfrog them in the National League South should they come away with all 3 points. However, in order to do so, Chippenham manager Gary Horgan and his side are going to have to do something they have NEVER done before, and that is beat the Angels at Longmead! With this in mind, let’s take a little in depth look into the Head to Head between these two sides.

Countdown to kick-off






The Head to Head between these two sides reads rather dismally for a Chippenham supporter having played 8 games against the Angels and only winning on ONE occasion, their very first game against Tonbridge at the TS Stadium in 2019.

Of the remaining fixtures, Tonbridge have won a massive SIX times and there has been ONE draw between the two sides. This gives Tonbridge a whopping 75% Win percentage against Chippenham with the Bluebirds only 12.5%. Also concerning for the Bluebirds is there have been goals in this fixture in the past, but mostly for Tonbridge with their 17 goals giving them a 2.13 Goals Per Game compared to the Bluebirds 7 in response and posting a low 0.88 GPG. As always, the most important fixture between any two sides is the last one and the last meeting between these two sides was back in August where Tonbridge claimed a 2-1 victory against the Bluebirds in very controversial circumstances. A Stefan Payne goal gave the Angels the lead before Matt McClure pegged Tonbridge back. With the game looking like it was heading for a draw, a penalty was given for a foul by Owen Windsor which no player, supporter or manager appealed for, nobody apart from the referee spotted and Lewis Gard happily placed the ball past Henry to give his side what looked like an unlikely 3 points. There was still time for Tommie Fagg to be sent off for Angels but they held out and took all three points back to Kent with suggestion in the Chippenham camp that there might have been a slight assist from the man in the middle on this occasion.

Nonetheless. Chippenham manager Gary Horgan will have to navigate his Chippenham side through a very tough fixture, as mentioned, NEVER beating Tonbridge at Longmead but Gary Horgan has built a reputation during his time with the Bluebirds for having little to no respect for the record books, smashing them out of his way time and again and with the recent performances of the Bluebirds, coupled with their brilliant away form this season, Chippenham will be hoping to take something back on the bus with them from Kent.

Familiar Faces

Familiar Faces was another tricky one this week with not many players sharing the two clubs however, there was one that we did spot that raised a smile to our faces here at Blue Army Towers.

Mo Dabre, a popular and really likeable member of our squad that reached the National League South Play-Offs only a few short seasons ago is fondly remembered by Bluebirds fans for his hard work, his cheeky smile and his incredible appetite to do the dirty work whilst having a real quality in wide areas. Mo of course now is with Tonbridge Angels following his transfer to Longmead from Chelmsford and we will be looking forward to seeing Mo again when we visit his new place of work on Saturday afternoon.

One to Watch

Tonbridge have as I said, had a mixed start to the National League South campaign this season. But with a squad assembled to win by committee and a really strong work ethic, the Angels can pose a threat from any area on a football pitch. With one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the league, Chippenham will have to find their way past Jonathan Henly between the sticks for Tonbridge and at the back, the former Welling man, Kodi Lyons Foster and former Dartford full back, Jernade Meade will be a tough opposition for our forward players.

However, we have picked out a man that few will fail to notice if he plays. Standing a 6ft4, Jordan Greenidge is now back with the Angels as a contracted player after loan spells at the club in a career that has seen him play for the likes of Stoke City, Omonia Nicosia and Newport County before bouncing around the non-League sides in the Kent/London area and with 9 goals already this season, he will definitely be one to keep an eye out for. Of course, this isn’t the first time we have come up against Greenidge having played against him when he was a Dartford player in the famed Play-Off eliminator which saw Chippenham progress on penalties. He is also the brother of Reiss Greenidge who most recently could be seen sending Maidstone through to the 5th Round of the FA Cup after playing against Ipswich at Portman Road. With a big week in the Greenidge family, Jordan will no doubt be looking to make sure his name isn’t forgotten anytime soon and will be looking to reach double digits for the season when he lines up against the Bluebirds.

Famous Faces

Famous Faces, a real easy one this week as Tonbridge have had some real attention grabbing names at Longmead over the years! Alongside the standard spat of EFL players that have spent time there. 3 names really stood out for us starting with England and Newcastle legend, Malcolm McDonald. ‘Supermac’ of course is most remembered for his goalscoring exploits for the Toon, scoring 95 goals in 187 games at St James’ Park and also running out 14 times for England! Ron Saunders is another big name that jumps out at you. Making his name primarily in management with a glittering career that saw him manage at such clubs as Norwich and Manchester City, Saunders also has a rather unique achievement in terms of managing not one, not two but THREE local rivals in Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion with relative success at all 3 of those clubs so just about able to walk around the West Midlands with no fear until his sad passing at the age of 87 in 2019.

But surely, the most famous on Tonbridge Angels’ sons is current Crystal Palace and former Liverpool and England manager, Roy Hodgson. Starting his career with the Angels in the greatest year in English football history, 1966. Hodgson spent 3 years with the Angels in what I am sure he won’t mind my saying was a rather unremarkable playing career in the Kent area but it was as a manager where Hodgson became a household name. Starting in the unlikely surroundings of Halmstad, Roy made his way to Bristol City as first an assistant and then First Team manager in the early 80’s. After leaving, a few more jobs in Scandinavia came along with Oddevold, Orebro, Malmo and Xamax before getting his big break as manager of the Swiss National Team in 1992. He qualified for the 1994 World Cup in the United States, losing only one qualifying game and eventually making the Round of 16 with Switzerland defeated by Spain. Hodgson also managed to qualify for the European Championships in England in 1996 but left before the tournament to join Italian giants, Inter Milan. From the San Siro to Lancashire when he joined Blackburn Rovers in 1997 and after a brief stint back at Inter in 1999, he took the job as Grasshopper Zurich. Never one to be scared of a little travel, Roy would then manage Copenhagen (Denmark) and Udinese (Italy) before taking the United Arab Emirates National job. Onto Viking and then the Finland National Team, Hodgson would then make the move that really revived his career on home soil when he took control of Fulham in 2007 staying 3 seasons and remarkably making the UEFA Cup final where they lost at the death to a Diego Forlan goal for Atletico Madrid.

This was enough for Liverpool to come calling in 2010 but it never quite worked out for Hodgson joining West Brom in 2011 replacing the outgoing Roberto Di Matteo. Doing well at the Baggies, Hodgson got the job perhaps most people remember him for replacing Fabio Capello in the coveted England Manager role. Roy led England into the 2014 and 2016 World Cup and European Championships respectively and although he didn’t set the world alight, he did one thing few England managers do and left of his own accord to join Crystal Palace, his boyhood club and where he remains manager to this very day at the grand old age of 76.

Bluebirds News

For Bluebirds supporters, the addition of Jem Hewlett for a month from Southampton was a very welcome one on Saturday and will be pleased to see him come through his first game with a good debut and a clean sheet to boot. Especially given the concerns of the fitness of Luke Haines, Aaron Amadi-Holloway and Dan Ellison. Speaking to the gaffer in the early stages of the week he was quite blunt about the chances of the aforementioned being involved on Saturday stating Haines was unlikely, Holloway he is hoping will be involved in some respect and Ellison would need to be looked at again later in the week. With this news, it will be music to Bluebirds ears that Ed Williams and Tom Mehew have both been cleared to play coming through fitness tests on Saturday however, Alex Bray remains sidelined with a Hamstring injury. Keeping players fit will be key again this week and with no game and two training sessions to manage the squad before Saturday, Horgan and Chippenham can be hopeful of seeing a similar squad to the one that took all three points at the weekend. Of course, Gary has good connections at the local level and should he need to move to bring any new faces, we will update you as best we can via our Social Media Channels.

So, here we go again. After last weeks 4 points from 6 and arguably a draw that could have been so much more against Aveley in our last away fixture the Bluebirds come into this one hoping to build on what has been a brilliant January with only one loss to Hemel Hempstead coming by way of an incorrect, last minute penalty given against us and a penalty shootout defeat to Bromley in the FA Trophy blemishing the unbeaten copybook. Bemoaning a lack of luck will give you something to do, but ultimately it won’t change anything. Hard work will overcome this and more and more over the last few weeks we have seen our side perform well and against Havant on Saturday finally got that win that arguably we could have seen from anyone of our performances this calendar year. Our last away trip saw us take a good number of travelling supporters down to Aveley and a really gutsy performance from the Bluebirds saw us home with something to celebrate even if it was just another point to add to the tally but I hope to see just as many of us down at Longmead on Saturday for what promises to be another pulsating game in the National League South. On the 4G surface, our ethos and philosophy can really be seen in full flow and the slick passing game that many have come to really appreciate is evident for all and we have got some great results on the road. So, come along, support the boys, get behind the club and as always..

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