MATCH PREVIEW: Weymouth vs Chippenham Town | National League South | Tuesday 7th March 2023
Simon Lawrence previews our upcoming away game against Weymouth.
It’s back on the road for the Bluebirds for one of the rare occasions over the next 6 weeks that the Town play away and it’s a crucial game as the Blues take on the Terras, Weymouth FC in the Vanarama National League South.
Last Time Out
What a rollercoaster the last few weeks have been. With the Worthing game still fresh in the memory of the masses, Chippenham preparation was firmly fixed on getting a big result against bottom side Concord Rangers on Saturday. It started as the Worthing game finished, with Chippenham firmly on the front foot. Bemoaning a lack of decisions from the referee will rarely get you any joy at this level however a stonewall penalty on Alex Bray midweek against Worthing with the game level was waved away and the referee Andrew Humphries couldn’t have asked for an easier call as the man in charge saw Concord defender Aron Pollock with his arm unnaturally above his head blocking Matt McClure’s goal bound strike. The strike was too tame to trouble Beeney, but rules are rules and Chippenham should have been awarded the penalty. Inexplicably, the referee decided not to award the spot kick and instead award a corner which provided a chance for Will Richards. Following a poor clearance from a set piece, Richards missed the chance to stab the ball home at the back post. Moments later, Richards again found himself the recipient of a deep cross from Caine Bradbury. This time the ball was met with a diving header from Will and sadly, the connection just wasn’t there for the Bluebirds longest serving player and the chance went begging.
With Chippenham so dominant in every footballing measure, it was to the surprise of everyone when Concord took the lead in the 43rd minute of the game with their first effort on goal. A corner whipped in from the left, met the open Tomas who hooked the ball towards goal and saw his effort go past Henry, leaving the Concord fans in attendance jubilant after seeing much of the game in their half.
A change was made at the half, with Alex Bray pulling up with a groin injury and being replaced by the ‘in form’ Craig Fasanmade. Moments later, Bradbury was pulled, and Joe Hanks made his return following injury. It was much of the same for the Bluebirds, with constant pressure looking like they were certain to get back in the game. As the clock ran down and my god didn’t Concord do a job of running the clock down, a late challenge on Spencer Hamilton saw the Chippenham defender react a little aggressively for the referee’s liking and showing he does know the letter of the law, Humphries whipped his RED card out and Hamilton was facing a 3-game suspension and the pain of watching the rest of the game from the tunnel.
Things went from bad to worse for the Bluebirds when Nana Kyei latched onto Mo Bettamer’s flick, squeezing between Richards and Eddie Jones to slot past Henry and seal Chippenham’s fate… Or so it would seem.
Somewhat galvanised, Chippenham began once again going about their business and in the 91st minute, Eddie Jones struck from the edge of the area following a square free kick from Santos and Chippenham had one back. The proverbial kitchen sink was then thrown by the Bluebirds and in the end, it was that man Fasanmade who sent the TS Stadium into frenzy when he popped up to head Joey Parker’s 96th minute cross home and level the match in the most unlikely of circumstances. You can pick or choose whether to be happy about the point or whether Chippenham should have been taking more but the one thing that cannot be questioned is the character of the squad to come from 2 goals down against anyone in this league, with 10 men and rescue a point, a point that could prove vital come the end of the season with games coming thick and fast and the Bluebirds in a dog fight at the bottom and scrapping for their National League South status.
The draw extended Chippenham’s run to 6 in a row, 6 unbeaten and with fellow strugglers Weymouth FC up next, Horgan and his men will be hoping and expecting to keep this unbeaten run going.
Weymouth FC are a bit of a surprise package this season. With them coming down from the National League, many would have tipped the Terra’s for a quick return to the elite of non-League football however, it’s been a very difficult season for Weymouth with early results seeing David Oldfield being replaced by Bobby Wilkinson in the hot seat. However, the results, whilst improved, have not been enough to get themselves out of the relegation spots yet this season, and they will be hoping that their recent upturn in form can see them put Chippenham to the sword and leapfrog the Bluebirds in the table.
Weymouth come into the game off the back of a great result against Dartford, beating the Darts 3-1 at the Bob Lucas Stadium on Saturday. With former Bluebird, Brad Ash finding his goalscoring form at the right time for the Terra’s, Bluebirds fans will be hoping the former crowd favourite has an off day when we visit his new home on Tuesday night.
Familiar faces is an easy one this week. Brad Ash, one of the highlights of Chippenham’s ‘Covid’ season will be facing his former employers for the first time since his move to the then National League Weymouth. The youngster signed for the Bluebirds from Hereford and was the first signing of the Mike Cook era and proved to be a valuable one with 6 goals in 18 appearances for the Town and his work rate and charisma making him a very likeable member of the squad and a real fan favourite.
Weymouth also carry a Chippenham link in the dugout with former Town stopper Jason Matthews now the goalkeeping coach for the side he has been with for most of his career as a player, manager, coach and general ambassador for the Terras. Also facing his old club this Tuesday will be Chippenham winger, Alefe Santos, the Brazilian was a popular figure amongst fans at the Bob Lucas Stadium and no doubt he will be looking forward to seeing some old friends. It will be great to see Jase and of course Brad on Tuesday however, come game time Chippenham will be firmly focussed on getting a result that will provide much needed happiness and relief around the club.
One to watch
The One to Watch for Weymouth this weekend, we have decided, is Akheem Rose. The Jamaican born striker is another hitting his stride lately with 9 goals in 24 appearances this season, with most of those goals coming in the recent months. Rose has EFL experience when he was at Grimsby Town where he chipped in with 34 appearances scoring 3 goals in the process. Spells at Dover and Boston followed before signing with the Terras in 2021. His partnership with Brad Ash up top will be the main beacon of hope for Weymouth and their supporters as they look to provide the spark that sees Weymouth retain their place in the National League South.
Chippenham come into the game on a run of 6 draws with only the defeats to Braintree and Dartford preventing this from being a 13-game run where Chippenham have taken a point or more from the game. With most of these games being draws, it has left the Bluebirds wanting at the bottom end of the table, however they do still vitally have two games in hand over most of their opponents and have many fixtures to be played at home.
Horgan will have a slightly larger headache than usual with Bray looking very doubtful for the next few weeks. However, he will be encouraged by the form of Fasanmade and may need to lean on him for big minutes and with Joey P stepping off the bench on Saturday to rescue a point with a delicious cross, he will be hoping for a run of games in the side to show what he can do.
With Owen Windsor still struggling a little, the return of Hanks could be vital, and it was great to see Matt McClure back in the side against Concord. Fitness tests will surely be on the agenda for Will King and Leighton Tuodolo as well with both the academy graduates featuring this season, it will be great to have the depth back that these lads add to the side.
So, it’s another huge game in the National League South and it’s going to be a difficult one with both sides scrapping for every point on offer. I don’t often use this platform to offer my perspective but many of you will know, before I took on the honour of serving this club as the Commercial Manager, I had the pleasure and sometimes the pain of being a supporter of the club for some 25 years. I usually stood behind the goal and mingled with the more ‘vocal’ element of our support for many years. I was very disappointed at times Saturday to hear such negative and audible chanting directed at and in ear shot of players, management and their families.
I understand frustration, even now few feel it more than me but chants of “You’re nothing special, we lose every week” when we have been beaten only TWICE in just short of three months, “We’re going down”, “We’re all going on a Southern League tour” these are counterproductive in my humble opinion to the role that the 12th man can provide for Chippenham Town FC on the pitch. Opinions are a wonderful thing, and we would never wish to make this a situation where every opinion isn’t valid but sometimes the way we vocalise our opinions can have a severe knock-on effect with the players and management we are looking to inspire with our support. Let’s be the best version of ourselves at the TS and everywhere we have left to travel too! This team has given us last day drama, play-off heroics, record-breaking cup runs, and they have earned our backing in the face of adversity.
Live Commentary Available
For those who cannot make the game on Tuesday, we will be providing LIVE RADIO COMMENTARY via our Mixlr channel from 7pm with myself Simon Lawrence taking you through every kick at the Bob Lucas Stadium. If you can make it, it would be great to see as many of you as possible cheering the boys on and in situations like this, every voice counts, every Bluebird is valued and let’s defy the odds as a club once again, it’s what we do best. Let’s step into the Lion’s Den of the Bob Lucas and come home with the heads and hearts of the enemy and more importantly, three massive points to add to the tally!
COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS