MATCH PREVIEW: Worthing vs Chippenham Town | National League South | Saturday 2nd December 2023
The Bluebirds head back out on the road this weekend in the Vanarama National League South when they take on Worthing FC.
The Bluebirds will be looking to kick off another good run of form as their unbeaten streak that stood at 6 was wiped out by the visit of Hampton & Richmond Borough at the weekend.
Last Time Out
With Gary’s words still ringing in their ears, Chippenham surrendered an early lead to the visitors who were the grateful recipients of an error by midfielder Luke Spokes.
After Freddie Grant and Dan Ellison exchanged passes in the corner, the ball into Spokes looked like it was going to be a routine turn and pass but the ball was lost and Mason Bloomfield had the easiest job in the world to slot past Henry and open the scoring with only 4 minutes on the clock. Chippenham however, got straight back on with it and created countless chances throughout the half, the first coming when Matt McClure volleyed against what the referee deemed to be the chest of a Hampton defender amidst shouts for handball. Seconds later, the ball was won back and found its way to Craig Fasanmade who’s tame volley went straight into the hands of Adam Desbois. After slick passing football, Tom Mehew went close with a left footed effort but sadly it was the side netting that rippled. A throw in down the right hand side for Hampton would soon prove costly as not one but two attempted clearances from Freddie Grant and Dan Ellison would find Jordan Thomas who somehow made his way into the box to double the away side’s advantage and without having really earned it.
A long range strike from Bradbury was followed by a chance for Fasanmade inside the box but his effort was deflected over for a corner. That corner yielded a chance for Matt McClure but the assistant referee deemed the striker offside. Town would again go close after quick movement from the back saw Grant throw to Spokes who evaded both of his defenders but his cross wasn’t quite accurate enough and again, the chance went begging. By this point, Town had racked up more than enough chances to be level and got a clear sight of goal when Bradbury and Fasanmade combined to set up Mehew on the edge of the box who didn’t quite catch his volley and Desbois collected to end the half. Second half, I am hard pressed to remember a single chance of note for Hampton as it was all Chippenham coming down the slope. Spokes was the first to drag his effort wide of the post from outside the box before Haines tried one from distance past the opposite post.
Chippenham were working their openings well and with the introduction of Eddie Jones and Aaron Amadi-Holloway, it nearly reaped instant dividends but Aaron’s turn and swivel resulted in his shot flashing past the post. A great chance followed when a clever ball from Mehew found Amadi-Holloway in the penalty area but with the goal at his mercy, his shot only found Desbois. Freddie Grant’s delivery was an inch too high for McClure but only minutes later, Spokes delivered a corner from the right hand side and perfectly met the run of Dan Ellison who’s bullet header hit the back of the net in the 88th minute to give Chippenham hope of a successive late comeback. Another Jones cross was controlled by Amadi-Holloway who stabbed his effort towards goal but sadly, nowhere near strong enough to beat Desbois and the game was done. Chippenham 1-2 Hampton & Richmond.
The lads cut a disappointed figure afterwards, perhaps knowing that a team 3rd in the league had come to town and barely laid a glove on them in terms of quality and yet, and yet. After the game, Gary Horgan was resigned to the fact that two mistakes had cost his team dearly today and with a plethora of chances created, there was no need to hit the panic button as he prepares his team for a difficult trip down to Worthing, a team that before a ball was kicked this season, started as one of the favourites for the league with a great set-up, a top manager and a very good side that narrowly missed out on promotion via the play-offs last season.
Worthing FC, the Rebels, were formed in 1886 only shortly after the Bluebirds and are currently managed by former Brighton and Wycombe player, Adam Hinshelwood. They play out of the 3,250 capacity Woodside Road Stadium in the town of Worthing and currently occupy the 7th spot in the National League South. They come into the game in mixed form with eliminations to Alfreton in the FA Cup 1st Round and Frome Town in the FA Trophy following a penalty shoot out, the Rebels will be counting their lucky stars that the league form hasn’t dipped with wins against Farnborough and Havant, a draw against Taunton Town and only the one defeat coming by way of a 4-3 thriller at Princes Park to Dartford FC.
Worthing have been back in the National League South since 2022 after winning the Isthmian Premier League Title in 2021/22 and fared well in their first season back missing out in a play-off Semi-Final to eventual winners Oxford City by a scoreline of 2-0.
This season, consistency has been their enemy picking up big wins over the likes of Torquay, Bath to name a few but plenty of losses against sides they would expect to be beating has left Hinshelwood scratching his head but keeping them in and around the mix in the play-off picture will no doubt be his aim and he looks to repeat the success of last season and maybe even go one better this time around!
Countdown to kick-off
One 2 Watch
We have already mentioned their top scorer for this season and one of their most dangerous men in Ricky Aguiar but in truth, this could go to any number of players in the Worthing set up!
Former Dorking Wanderers players, Kane Willis and particularly Nick Wheeler are lighting up the season for Worthing with Wheeler widely regarded as the best crosser of a ball in the division. With Forwards like Olly Pearce, Jake Robinson and Danny Cashman in the squad, the Rebels are never going to be short of a goal but we have gone with one of the other players in this squad that is widely regarded as one of the best in the division.
Former Barcelona schoolboy and Maidstone United cult hero, Joan Luque. Luque is another forward player who on his day, is virtually unplayable at this level. After starting his career in Spain, Luque made his name in England with Heybridge Swifts in a publicity stunt that saw 21 players from Spain, Andorra and Argentina train with then Swifts player, Guillem Ramon. Joan Luque combined working as a waiter with playing for Heybridge and smashed 17 goals in 38 appearances including 6 in the 2017/18 FA Cup. He signed for Lincoln and spent time with Bromley and Concord on loan but really found a home in Maidstone United making 43 appearances in two spells with the club with a return of 24 goals and his viral clip with the Maidstone supporters away at Dartford gave him a place in the Stones Hall of Fame forever. When they made the step up, the difficult decision to move the ageing Luque on was met with huge fan resistance but ultimately, he left to join Worthing in the National League South and is desperate to prove his former colleagues wrong by propelling his new side to the National League in a season he will come up against Maidstone after their relegation last season back to the National League South.
In the immortal words of the Highlander, there can be only one. And it is the same when it comes to Familiar Faces this weekend. Ricky Aguiar, the Swindon loanee that came into the TS Stadium and took the breath away from supporters with his performances and goal contributions went back to the County Ground and broke into the First Team after his stint with the Bluebirds. Many people said that with Jordan Young coming in and them playing one game together, if Ricky had stayed that year, the 6-1 demolition job on Slough wouldn’t have been a one off and that Chippenham would have had that little extra spice to kick on via the playoffs and maybe even eclipse their Semi-Final finish. Ricky went out on loan again to Torquay but now finds himself back where it started for him on the South Coast on loan at Worthing (the team that sold him to Swindon) and it’s going VERY well for Aguiar in his second stint.
He is not only Worthing’s top scorer but also one of the League’s best marksmen with 8 goals this season and we will need to be at our very best to stop a familiar face from piling misery on the Bluebirds when we arrive at Woodside Road.
Again with this one, one name stands out above all others for Famous Faces that have pulled on the red kit of Worthing FC (even if just the once).
Steve Claridge, a legend at the likes of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Portsmouth, Birmingham and Leicester to name a few had had a much storied career with his involvement in non-League being just as strong as his time in the top flight managing such sides as Weymouth and Salisbury and playing for many teams across the South Coast where the former pundit is based. In 2007, Claridge stepped out for Worthing in one of his final playing roles before taking up residency in the dugout at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium for Salisbury in an affiliation that would last well over 7 years!
Head to Head
Due to many years being apart in the pyramid, the two sides have only met in the league twice during their history and it’s a totally even split between the two sides in every sense of the word with both games ending in a stalemate. A 0-0 draw at Woodside Road last season was followed by a 1-1 draw at the TS Stadium later on in the year when Alex Bray cancelled out the opener by former Chippenham loanee and then Worthing midfielder, Mo Dabre. Although Chippenham will feel aggrieved not to take all 3 points when Bray was denied the most blatant penalty anyone had ever seen late in the game but the referee didn’t point to the spot before Owen Windsor blazed over when it seemed easier to miss.
Dipping into the archives, Chippenham and Worthing have met before in the FA Cup (ironically, my first ever FA Cup games with the Bluebirds) when a 1-1 draw at Hardenhuish Park led to a replay in Worthing in the 3QR but the Rebels would oust the plucky Bluebirds who went down by 3 goals to 1 on the night. Of course, it would be another FA competition that took the sting out of that loss as Chippenham would go all the way to Wembley in the FA Vase Final that same season.
The news broke before the game against Hampton that Owen Windsor had moved on to pastures new, he has now signed for Chester FC in the National League North and goes with our best wishes and luck for the future.
Alex Bray, Jake Evans and Tyreke Johnson all remain on the injured list however, Evans was spotted running at the game against Hampton indicating he is on course for his return in December. Will King and Aaron-Amadi Holloway have both featured in the last two matchday squads with Holloway twice being deployed from the bench so it’s a safe assumption those two are back and ready to compete.
Eddie Jones returned Saturday following his suspension and will no doubt be vying with Leighton Tuodolo for a spot on the right hand side of our back four.
It was a real shame to see our unbeaten run go at the weekend, especially given the nature of the two goals conceded. Both were viewed by all as avoidable but I would urge supporters to remember, these mistakes in the game of football are always going to be there for both sides, for all sides and I thought the lads showed tremendous courage to come back into the game and create more than enough chances to win the game. On another day, with a little luck or slightly more accuracy, we would have walked off with 3 points on Saturday and the mindset in the camp is that we are more than able to shake this off and head to Worthing on Saturday with the aim to give the travelling Blue Army something to cheer about. We hope to see as many of you as possible down on the South Coast for this all important clash between the Bluebirds and the Rebels and as always, BE LOUD, BE PROUD and..
COME ON YOU BLUEBIRDS!