MATCH PREVIEW: Weymouth vs Chippenham Town | National League South | Saturday 23rd September 2023
Simon Lawrence previews our National League South game against Weymouth.
It’s a return to the Vanarama National League South this weekend. After a disappointing weekend saw the Bluebirds exit the Emirates FA Cup, Chippenham now turn their attention to Weymouth FC and a trip to the Bob Lucas Stadium in Dorset.
Last Time Out
In order to get back on track, Chippenham will need a fast and firm response to the weekend where Hungerford Town came to the TS Stadium in the Emirates FA Cup and left with their name in the hat for the next round and the Bluebirds licking their wounds. The game started brightly with both sides venturing forward in search of the opening goal with Elis Watts and Alex Bray both going close for their sides. Nathan Davies’ long throw was evident early on and Luke Carnell went close. Craig Fasanmade, in for Matt McClure who pulled up injured in the warm up, then had the best chance of the game when he beat the offside trap and went one on one with Ryan Clarke only to place his shot high and wide of the veteran stopper’s goal.
Hungerford opened the scoring when following an absurd decision to give a corner kick when everyone including the opposition was setting up for a goal kick, a cross was cleared for a throw in which was subsequently tossed back in by Davies for Carnell to act on their earlier warning and put the Crusaders 1-0 up. After the half time break, Chippenham started brightly with Spokes’ mazy run resulting in his shot going close and the Bluebirds could consider themselves unlucky not to have a spot kick when an obvious grapple on defender Aaron Amadi-Holloway was left unpunished. It was the home side however who were punished minutes later when a Will Henry clearance landed straight at the feet of Elis Watts who had the enviable task of just popping the ball over the stranded Henry to put Hungerford 2-0 to the good and seemingly in control.
A few changes were made by Horgs and one of those changes paid instant dividends as Caine Bradbury struck from range to bring the Bluebirds back into the tie. Matt Berry Hargreaves then had to clear off the line following a headed effort and sadly for the Bluebirds after some magnificent flowing football down the right hand side, Tyreke Johnson couldn’t sort his feet out and the chance to draw level went begging.
Hungerford controversially wrapped the game up when a strong challenge on Owen Windsor was waved on before Will Henry came out on the wrong side of a 50/50 with Sean Moore who walked the ball over the line and sealed the deal. Hungerford did add a 4th in injury time when Slavi Spasov exposed the fact Chippenham had streamed forward and set Elis Watts to calmly finish left footed and end Chippenham Town’s involvement in the Emirates FA Cup for another year. The result was a big kick in the teeth for everyone at the club as dreams of last year’s heroic FA Cup disappeared before their eyes and when the smoke cleared. Gary Horgan was quick to praise the effort of Hungerford Town but stressed the importance of letting it go quickly because against Weymouth, there will be no hiding places.
Weymouth FC, the Terras, formed in 1890 play out of the 6,600 capacity Bob Lucas Stadium in the town of Weymouth, Dorset. Weymouth will come into the game with Chippenham currently sat in 18th position in the Vanarama National League South which despite the Bluebirds higher standing of 12th is only a mere two points behind. The league form doesn’t make for good reading for the Terras as a win against Dover last time out ended a run of 4 straight losses for the Dorset side and they will be hoping that coupled with a 3-1 victory over Highworth in the FA Cup that they have turned the corner.
Managed by former Hungerford and Wealdstone manager, Bobby Wilkinson, Gary has the pleasure of going up against the man who somewhat resurrected his career at the non-League level and sent him on his current trajectory. Resigning for WIlkinson’s Hungerford, Horgan would go on to sign for a second spell at Chippenham in 2016/17 and was an integral part of the Southern Premier League winning side of that year and continued to play in the National League South before he joined the coaching staff and later, became the first team manager at Chippenham Town FC.
Since taking over the reins at Chippenham, this is a fixture that Horgs has twice taken charge of and both times, have come out on top with a 1-0 win away at Weymouth last season sparking a tremendous 15 game unbeaten streak that would see Chippenham pull quickly from the bottom 4 and into playoff contention in one of the most incredible runs of form seen at the club in recent history. During that run, a 3-2 win at home against the Terra’s would give Horgan and Chippenham 6 points from 6 against their Dorset opponents. With a late penalty from Owen Windsor capping off a thrilling game between the two sides which left it all to do for Weymouth to stay in the National League South at all! But they did and with a good couple of results and things going their way across the division, the Terras were here to stay for another year.
Weymouth were faced with a huge task at the start of this season of replacing their star players after narrowly avoiding the drop, Wilkinson had to replace lethal strike partnership, Bradley Ash and Ahkeem Rose with Ash choosing to swap the Bob Lucas for Plainmoor and join up with Torquay and Rose heading north of the border to Ayr in Scotland.
Other high profile departures like Tom Blair (Havant), Nathan Carlyle (St Albans) and Xander McBurnie (Buxton) left a big void in the squad that needed to be filled swiftly to avoid another season at the wrong end of the National League South table.
One 2 Watch
With many players departing last term, particularly the big hitters like Ash and Rose, we were always going to have a new face in this slot when we took on the Terras this time around.
We have decided this weekend to throw the spotlight on incoming striker, Brandon Goodship who is now in his third spell with the club. The former Bournemouth and Yeovil striker in his first stint with the Terras found a tremendous scoring form and that saw him move to Southend United (then of the EFL) but it never quite got going for Goodship and soon found himself back at Weymouth, he moved briefly to Salisbury with a couple of other Weymouth players but like most of them, returned to the Bob Lucas in the summer with Wilkinson opting for players that knew the club, cared about the project and ultimately would have the desire to drive the Terras forward.
Familiar Faces is a trickier one than you would think given these two sides have been linked together quite a lot down the years but Jason Matthews is one that really sticks out for me. A Terras legend holding down a huge number of appearances between the sticks and also in the dugout as both a coach and a manager, Matthews is a revered figure around the Bob Lucas and of course, Chippenham supporters may remember a game not so long ago against Slough at home, in the midst of a COVID crisis we live-streamed for the very first time the fixture from home where Jason Matthews stepped in to help out the Bluebirds following an injury crisis in the GK department. The game ended 2-2 but Matthews sure rolled back the years with a solid performance and definitely nothing he could do about either goal giving the Bluebirds a valuable point which arguably could have been all 3!
Of course Alefe Santos, now at Poole Town has played for both clubs and former Chippenham fan favourite Dean Evans was signed from Weymouth on arrival in the National League South for the Bluebirds.
Head to Head
As mentioned earlier, last season the Bluebirds did the double over the Terras taking maximum points from Weymouth. A solitary Luke Russe goal won the day at the Bob Lucas and a 3-2 win at the TS Stadium in an absolute barnstormer of a game. Ahkeem Rose opened the scoring for the Terras before Joe Hanks levelled. Brad Ash came back to haunt Chippenham and re-take the lead for the Terras before an instant response from Caine Bradbury made it 2-2. Deep into the latter stages of the game, Eddie Jones was felled in the box by Zaki Oualah and Owen Windsor stepped up to give the Bluebirds all 3 points on the night.
Over history, the Head to Head hasn’t been quite so straightforward for the Bluebirds however have more than held their own. In the Southern Premier League, the two sides met on numerous occasions where Chippenham dominated the fixture with 4 Wins, 4 Draws and 2 Losses for the Bluebirds. Interestingly in 2019, Chippenham played Weymouth in the COVID Season beating them 1-0 via a Chris Zebroski goal. The other game never took place due to the pandemic and Weymouth, via the playoffs, would go up that season meaning that Chippenham have NEVER failed to beat Weymouth in the National League South with 3 wins from 3 matches. However, Weymouth and Chippenham have met twice in cup competitions with the Terras running out winners both times in the FA Cup in 2017 and the FA Trophy in 2011!
Chippenham will come into this fixture no doubt looking to bury the demons of Saturday but will have to do so without Luke Haines who’s second yellow card late in the game seemingly for a fairly innocuous leap for the ball will leave him out of contention for this weekend. Tom Owen-Evans is now running and looking good on his quest to return to the side after an ankle injury. A fitness test will be required for both Eddie Jones who was withdrawn at half-time on Saturday and also skipper Matt McClure who pulled up in the warm-up despite being named on the team sheet to start against Hungerford. For Chippenham now, the focus on the league aspect of going out of a cup competition early is very much the positive and no doubt this will be a message echoing through the dressing room as we look to make the quickest possible start to the recovery from that loss with a big win at the weekend.
With it being one of the shorter trips in the National League South away calendar and with a supporters coach running (details of which can be found on our website) there really is no better time than to jump on and lend the lads your support. It could be invaluable in boosting their morale after a tough weekend. I have always said we have a responsibility as fans of the club to be that 12th man and to support our players, staff and management in times just like this. None will be more disappointed than them and our support as a club could prove vital in our quest for 3 huge points in the Vanarama National League South.
COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS