MATCH PREVIEW: Weston-super-Mare vs Chippenham Town | National League South | Tuesday 14th November 2023
We preview our National League South game against Weston-super-Mare.
The Bluebirds will bid to extend their unbeaten run to 5 when they make the relatively short trip to the Optima Stadium, home of Weston-super-Mare AFC in the Vanarama National League South this Tuesday.
Last Time Out
After a draw against Welling and back to back home victories against Eastbourne and Farnborough respectively, the Bluebirds took to the field in Essex on Saturday full of confidence despite the advanced position in the league of their opposition, Chelmsford City. The pregame Remembrance was observed fantastically by both sides as you would expect and then it was a battle fit for the day between two sides with ambitions of kicking on up the league. Chippenham started much the brighter of the two sides forcing on loan Portsmouth stopper, Josh Oluwayemi into a smart save to deny Matt McClure his 8th of the season. Following a run down the left hand side from Bray, Luke Jenkins brought AB down on the edge and Luke Spokes delivered the resulting free kick. Failure to clear their lines saw City pay as Dan Ellison made it two goals in two games when he graciously nodded home the loose ball and momentum took him straight into the joyous Blue Army! However, that joy was to be short lived as on the stroke of half time, Samir Carruthers corner was headed home by Jenkins sending the two sides into the break level. As you would expect away from home, Chelmsford had a lot of the ball in the second half however couldn’t make anything of the possession that they had and the Bluebirds looked increasingly likely to hurt them if they didn’t and hurt them they did when Ed Williams cut the back line to ribbons with a killer through ball to Owen Windsor who showed his class in a rare start for the Bluebirds to lob the keeper and give Town a 2-1 lead. It was a lead that Chippenham did excellently to hold on to and it looked like all three points would be winging their way back to Wiltshire before late heartbreak saw Ody Alfa tap home in the 93rd minute following a series of little errors that the perfectionist in Gary Horgan will no doubt have been bemoaning all the way back down the motorway. However, in hindsight, coming away with a point from Chelmsford and albeit disappointing to lose 2 at the death is a testament to how well the Bluebirds have turned a corner and with 4 games unbeaten now, many will start to draw comparisons with last seasons incredible run that saw us propel up the division and will be hoping we can extend this to 5 against returning new boys in the division, Weston.
Weston-super-Mare or the Seagulls as mentioned play out of their Woodspring (Optima) Stadium in the town of Weston-super-Mare in the neighbouring county of Somerset. Managed by Scott Bartlett and boasting a few former Bluebirds in their ranks, this was a side many had their eye on last season as they marched through the Southern Premier League as Champions to claim their place back in the National League South.
The Seagulls are back at this level for the first time since 2019/2020 where astonishingly they suffered their ONLY relegation in 137 years of history before bouncing back up 4 years later to claim their spot. Weston have had a mixed season so far starting very well with the best result surely the 6-2 demolition of Bath City at Twerton Park in August but recently have found the league a little less forgiving sitting in 19th place with 18 points, this is 6 points behind the Bluebirds however with a game in hand and a chance to peg the Blues back, this will be a massive game for Weston if it wasn’t already given the local connotations. To reverse this the Seagulls will need to find something more than the form that has seen them win only 1 game in their last 5 albeit that win being a very impressive 3-2 victory over pre-season favourites, Torquay United.
Countdown to kick-off
One 2 Watch
This week we have gone for Reuben Reid as our One 2 Watch. At 35 years old you could forgive the veteran striker for slowing down a little bit but no chance of that for the former EFL Journeyman Reid who boasts among his former clubs the likes of Plymouth Argyle, Rotherham United, Yeovil Town and Exeter CIty to name just a few. Reuben signed for Weston-super-Mare in 2022 and has found a rich scoring form in his last few matches notching a very impressive 4 goals in 5 games. Fun fact, Reuben is also the brother of Jake Reid who played for the Bluebirds before signing for Salisbury City in the early 2010’s.
Not so many ‘Famous’ faces this time around but the Weston-super-Mare alumni contain much non-League royalty in the local area and more former Chippenham players than you can name off the top of your head! But we have decided that amongst the candidates none fit the bill better than Bristol City legend, Brian Tinnion.
Starting his career with Newcastle United, Tinnion made 32 First Division appearances before moving on to Bradford City. But it’s with our neighbours Bristol City that Tinnion became a cult hero. 458 games across a 12 year stay with the Robins saw BT pick up 36 goals and legend status amongst the fans. Tinnion called time on his glittering City career and in 2006/2007 ran out a few times for the Seagulls of Weston-super-Mare before hanging up his boots. He dusted them off in 2021 and is now the Academy Director at Bristol City, shaping the next generation of talent coming through at City and has left a fine imprint on many young talents we see around the National League South level these days.
With the local links between the two sides, there are going to be lots of lads facing off against former employers and teammates this Tuesday starting with the hosts. Before his release from Bristol City last season, midfielder James Morton was probably more famous for his stints against Chippenham with Bath City but actually played two games for the Bluebirds in 2017 making it his first time away from Bristol and even scored in one of those games.
Speaking of scoring, former Chippenham striker Marlon Jackson will be no doubt looking to stick one over on his old friends albeit not many left such is the turnaround at this level but Jackson was with the Bluebirds as recently as 2020/2021 where he scored 3 times in 15 games for the Town including a memorable acrobatic effort against Concord but unable to lock down a regular starting spot for Chippenham, Jackson switch to the Optima in 2021 and has gone on to be a huge part of their success with 26 goals across his 65 games for the Seagulls.
The Chippenham lads that will be returning to their old stomping ground are young centre back, Nathaniel Williams who played on loan with the Seagulls before he switched to the Bluebirds from Bristol City and of course Alex Bray who will be remembered very fondly by the WSM faithful after spending time with the club in 2019 scoring 3 goals in 10 games for the Seagulls.
On the bench former Chippenham Town midfielder Scott Rogers is now the Assistant to Bartlett for the Seagulls and will no doubt be plotting the downfall of his former club. Far too many people have shared the shirt of Chippenham and Weston in the past; we could almost write a book on it; however, we have gone for Greg Tindle as the most significant of them all.
The former Town skipper who captained the side in 2017/2018 when they lifted the Southern Premier League title had a great career with the Bluebirds before his departure. His destination? The Optima Stadium where he took the armband and captained Weston-super-Mare for a couple of seasons before electing to reduce his playing time at Melksham to get a much needed QOL surgery!
A fantastic captain for both sides and an excellent name to link the two sides together.
Head to Head
The Head to Head record against Weston-super-Mare is quite a pleasant one for Town fans to enjoy. Despite their standing as a bigger side for much of the two clubs history, the Bluebirds have enjoyed good results against their Somerset rivals with Chippenham coming out the victor TWICE, with ONE defeat and sharing the spoils ONCE giving the Bluebirds a very mathematically friendly 50% win rate against the Seagulls with a 25% each for draws and losses.
You have to go back to 2018/2019 for the last game between these two sides where the Bluebirds took a 1-0 victory at the Optima Stadium courtesy of former Chippenham and current Taunton Town striker, Nathaniel Jarvis. The goals in the game tell the tale of two sides that have always been fairly close in competition with Weston scoring 5 and Chippenham scoring 6 over their 4 meetings in the League giving Chippenham a slight advantage across most measurable statistics.
Slowly but surely, we are starting to get there with our injury list and with both Tyreke and Fas being involved and unscathed Saturday, Gary will be over the moon with that. Also Haines and Mehew showing no signs of the knocks that forced them down against Farnborough will be music to Bluebird ears. Aaron Amadi-Holloway we are still waiting on updates for but Nat Williams was an unused sub on Saturday after being forced off early against Boro. Will King was running on Saturday against Chelmsford and should be close and Bluebirds with a keen eye on our academy will have noticed that both Will Richards and Tom Owen-Evans took part in the 23’s fixture at Stanley Park on Monday with North Leigh and Gary will be hoping that both of them come through that fixture with flying colours as they strive to attain match fitness after length layoffs.
So another game on the road for the Bluebirds before a big FA Trophy game against Basingstoke and then the much anticipated visit of Yeovil Town in the National League South the following Tuesday gives us a chance to register more points to our growing tally. The support at Chelmsford was magnificent considering how far we had to travel and it was brilliant to see so many Bluebirds behind the goal cheering the lads on.
Speaking with the boys after, it makes such a difference having you guys there in attendance and really gives them that extra sprint or bit of confidence when playing away from home. It’s a relatively short journey compared to rest and we hope to see as many of you as possible at Weston on Tuesday night to get behind Gary, Matt, Joe and the team. With 4 games unbeaten now behind us and the points added to to the total, every game counts now as we head into a gruelling festive period with many big games and fun to be had for all Bluebird fans so let’s get to Weston, let’s get behind the boys and as always…
COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS