Report – Chippenham Town 0 – 0 Wealdstone
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Wealdstone slugged out a typically hard fought National League South match at Hardenhuish Park on Saturday and came away with another point that keeps them in 12th spot in the league with other clubs in FA Cup action.
The main talking point in this encounter was the sending- off of the Blue Birds No 11 Jamie Guthrie after only 24 minutes play for an awful foul on the match-long battered Ryan Sellers, meaning that Stones had a man advantage for much of this clash of two sides with polar opposite home and away records. However, those experienced in the game will know that losing a player can create as much of a challenge for the team with the supposed advantage as the depleted side doubles up and is usually psychologically spurred on – and so it proved.
Not that the away side didn’t have their chances because they did have several, particularly in a better second period on a pitch that looked like it needed a good cut. Stones problems in front of goal continue to frustrate and is clearly a priority for Manager Bobby Wilkinson who nevertheless was pleased with a clean sheet and, overall, a sound defensive performance still without the key athleticism of Eddie Oshodi, out of the side with a back injury.
After the game Bobby Wilkinson was quick to praise his players: “I am pleased overall – it was always going to be a tough one with their excellent home record and after their bad result last week. We looked more composed in the second half and had enough chances to win the game 2 or even 3 nil, so frustrating in that sense. No, we didn’t get the win but I felt it was a particularly good team performance today”
Asked about the possible return of key injured players, Oshodi, Matty Whichelow, Elliot Benyon and Alan O’Brien, he said: “They all need extra treatment and most are still 50/50 at best for next week, they will probably need more time to be fully recovered”
Chippenham started very strongly and burst into Stones box from the kick-off but the danger was cleared for a very early scare. Sam Cox made a welcome return to the starting line in the centre of midfield and immediately made his presence felt with some close attention and crunching tackles.
The Blue Birds main threat came from their experienced ex Bath City striker Dave Pratt who was thorn in the side of Stones defence all afternoon with his strong, clever running off the shoulder. The home side continued to dominate the danger area possession in the first period and were picking up the loose ball better than Wealdstone.
Stones had a great chance to take the lead on 20 minutes when a powerful strike from Matt Day through a crowd of bodies in the box was somehow held by excellent ‘keeper Jared Thompson who was later named man of the match.
Then, 4 minutes later, Sellers was upended with a two- footed challenge and Guthrie was shown red. There was no discernible difference for much of the remainder of the half as Stones struggled to break down a stubborn Blue Birds defence despite several corners and free kicks awarded to the away side.
Stones looked more composed in the second period and pushed up with greater tempo. After Day had lost the ball to Pratt and North came to the rescue the same player, Day, almost found the net but Thompson expertly tipped over the header.
Abo Eisa was introduced and made an immediate impact with some good runs at goal as did the wily Harry Goodger. Stones were desperately unlucky with an ‘almost’ own goal that bounced off the upright and then from the resultant melee Thompson saved again in the 60th minute.
The game then settled into a kind of entertaining war of attrition with both sides trying to nick the win. Goodger to his credit battled to carve out a couple of late chances with his muscle power that were blasted wide.
Stones are at home at The Vale next Saturday when they entertain high flying Truro City, fresh from their FA Cup triumph last Saturday. No doubt another battle royal is in prospect.
WEALDSTONE: North, Wilson, Sellers, Hill, Day, Williams, Cox, Okimo, Fitchett, Green, Hippolyte-Patrick. Subs used: Goodger, Eisa, Wellard. Not used: Brown, Ngamvoulou.
Report by Nick DuGard
‘Ronnie Raffle’ pictures HERE