Chippenham 'A' back on track
By Mark Knight
Gritty performance seals win
This week, Chippenham A headed to south Somerset to face bottom of the table Taunton Civil Service, and looking to get back to winning ways after the disappointment of last week’s defeat.
The match started in much the same fashion as it finished, well in fact the entire match - Chippenham dominating possession, playing attacking and free-flowing hockey .... and Taunton playing with 10 men in defence and leaving one player high on the Chippenham D/23.
It was clear from the outset that Tauntons game plan was to soak up as much pressure as they could stand and try and hit Chippenham on the break. Looking at the previous two results for Taunton (draw and win), one wonders if that has been their game plan in recent matches????
Chippenham started the match brightly, creating chance after chance, playing the majority of the match in the Taunton half, winning penalty corner after penalty corner - However, Chippenham’s ‘Achilles Heel’ proved to be the fact they just couldn’t convert chances to goals.
The deadlock was finally broken about 15 minutes into the match, from a penalty corner - midfielder Dave Thomas took the ball from the top of the Taunton D, meandering past 3 Taunton defenders and the keeper to slot the ball home. 1-0 to Chippenham.
Despite a number of chances to put the match to bed, Chippenham simply couldn’t seem to add to the scoreline. At the end of the half, an ill disciplined Taunton defender earned himself a ‘Double Yellow’ card after a poor challenge, followed by dissent to the umpire and finally hitting the ball away after the foul had been given - all with the space of 5 seconds!!!
The first half ended 1-0, with a frustrated Chippenham team scratching their heads as to how the scoreline wasn’t a cricket score.
The second half started with Taunton down to 10 men..... despite this and the dominance of the Chippenham team, Taunton somehow equalised from a rare Chippenham error 1-1.
Chippenham regained their composure and their grip of the match - winning more penalty corners, and eventually converting this into their second goal. A mis-directed drag out was slipped to a waiting Elliot Jones who slotted the ball behind the Taunton keeper who had advanced out from his goal line expecting the strike from the top of his D. 2-1 to Chippenham.
Taunton then hit back within a couple of minutes, again pouncing on a Chippenham error to cross the ball across the Chippenham D, sending it flying past players and keeper to find a lone Taunton player to stroke the ball into the goal. 2-2.
Taunton must surely have been growing in confidence with every missed or squandered Chippenham attempt at goal, and that they had recovered the scoreline with their defensive game plan .... is this how Bristol Uni and South Glos had succumbed to Taunton in recent weeks?? Surely Chippenham will not be victim to this game plan??
A brief scare for the away side then came as Taunton broke and put the ball into the Chippenham goal...... fortunately the ball had hit the feet of three players prior to doing so - the goal was quite rightly not given. Phew!
Chippenham, refusing to capitulate to Taunton’s negative game plan, regrouped and continued to dominate the play - winning more penalty corners, but the ‘Hockey Gods’ seemed to have deserted the Chippenham team, as chance after chance slipped by without a goal.
Finally Chippenham converted when strikers Nigel Stonham and Henry Price combined to make the scoreline 3-2.
Chippenham finally put the match to bed when they converted a further penalty corner. The ball was slipped from the top of the Taunton D to the outside of the left post and an on-rushing Craig Stewart deflected the ball an acute angle behind the Taunton defender on the post, with a reverse stick deflection. 4-2 to Chippenham.
Further chances fell to the Chippenham team, Thomas dragging the ball a whisker wide of the post, and Stewart striking the same post, but the scoreline remained 4-2 at the final whistle.
It is fair to say that the scoreline did not reflect the dominance of the Chippenham team, who should surely have done better with the chances they created, however, it was not to be.
A gritty performance in the end, despite some good free flowing hockey and countless chances from the Chippenham team, securing all 3 points and leaving them in 3rd in the division on goal difference.
Chippenham will look to capitalise on this result next week and take heart from the fact they dominated the match with some good hockey played, and that so many chances were created.