Drama at Chippenham as Beavers’ comeback cut just short
Hampton and Richmond were denied a stunning comeback at Hardenhuish Park, running just out of time as they looked to recover from being 3-0 down.
By Peter White
Chippenham got the game underway and were quick in their efforts to assert their authority on the game. Two quick corners put the away defence under threat, but the Beavers’ backline – featuring new signing Richard Orlu – held firm in the opening stages.
But it wasn’t long before the Bluebirds took the lead. The Chippenham attack found a way through the Hampton defence twice in as many minutes, and were punished on the second occasion when Karnell Chambers slotted past Tom Lovelock to put the hosts 1-0 ahead in the eighth minute.
Orlu was the first player to be put into the book for dissent after referee Matty Buonassisi had awarded a free-kick for a challenge on Chippenham forward Nat Jarvis. The Beavers were struggling to cope with the hosts’ front three who possessed plenty of pace and creativity.
Sam Cox and Ryan Hill led the Beavers’ attempts to regain a foothold in the game, but it wasn’t long before the ball was back in the Hampton net. Luckily this time, the referee brought play back for a foul and Jarvis was booked for a challenge on Lovelock.
The game continued at a high tempo, with both sides struggling to get the ball down and play. The Beavers managed to work their way into the game towards the midway point, with two Jack Connors free-kicks being sprayed into the Chippenham box, but being dealt with comfortably by home goalkeeper Brad House.
But it wasn’t long before the Beavers found themselves 2-0 down. Bluebirds defender Will Richards found himself unmarked at the near post and nodded in past Lovelock to double the home side’s advantage.
In the last 15 minutes of the half, the game evened out, albeit with the Beavers struggling to carve out any real chances. Craig Dundas proved to be the biggest thorn in the Bluebirds defence, with his physicality causing problems for the hosts. A late spell of pressure forced a House save from a wide Karl Oliyide ball, before referee Buonassisi blew his whistle to bring a disappointing half for the Beavers to a close.
Oliyide got the game back underway, with Gary opting to leave his side unchanged for the second period. Lovelock was called into action almost straight away with opening goalscorer Chambers forcing a good save from the Beavers goalkeeper one-on-on. Richards then went close to adding to Chippenham’s lead from distance, with the Beavers under the cosh and fighting to keep themselves in the game.
Despite a brief spell of Hampton pressure, the Bluebirds got their third of the game in the 51st minute. Jarvis did well to evade the Beavers defence and coolly headed home past Lovelock to make it 3-0 and stretch the home side’s lead.
Facing an uphill battle. The Beavers didn’t lie down and Dundas and Hill continued to put pressure on the Chippenham defence. As the game drifted towards the hour mark, Hampton managed to get their foot on the ball and Craig Dundas forced a good save from House. Backed by a vocal away following, Rian Bray also went close with a header that just flashed wide.
Ricky Wellard and Matty Wichelow were introduced in the 64th minute as the Beavers looked to capitalise on the momentum that they had gained. A Wichelow ball had the Chippenham defence in a mix, before the substitute grabbed a goal for the Beavers to make it 3-1 with a fizzing shot on the half-volley that left House with no chance.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Hampton were in the ascendency as they looked to complete an unlikely comeback. Oliyide had a shot blocked from the edge of the area, and the very lively Wichelow was causing the Chippenham defence all sorts of problems. With the game now wide open, Gary introduced Casey Maclaren to add a bit of steel for the last 10 minutes.
The Beavers pressure continued and Buonassisi awarded the Beavers a penalty in the 86th minute when Hill was adjudged to have been fouled. Jack Connors stepped up in Chris Dickson’s absence but his effort was well saved by House and the scored remained at 3-1.
But Wichelow reduced the deficit to make it 3-2 with an audacious effort from 35 yards. The ball bounced high in front of his feet, and a Matt Taylor-esque attempt flew over House who was caught off of his line.
The Beavers were now well on top and pushing for the equaliser as the board was put up to indicate a minimum of three minutes of injury time. Bray pushed up front and saw a header go just past the post. The away side were well on top, but just ran out of time as the referee blew his whistle to call a halt to the match.
“You’re not going to win games if you defend like we’ve defended. Everything is where it needs to be, it’s just lapses in concentration and poor decision making that’s costing us.
“There are positives to come out of the injured lads coming back, but it’s disappointing again to come away with a defeat.”