Chippenham v City

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Wednesday 4th October 2000: Hardenhuish Park 

Chippenham Town  vs. CITY  

FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round Replay

City's Team

This was a tough test for City against an awkward Chippenham side who gave City plenty to worry about all night. But in a physical contest which came down to being a battle of nerves City never buckled and held out for a hard earnt victory and passage through to an even tougher encounter at Tiverton.

City could hardly fail to have been fired up by some of the unmerited criticism received after the match on Saturday, but any pre-match resolve could easily have evaporated as City were dealt an early body blow in the third minute. The defence seemed to freeze as if distracted by a whistle, leaving Chippenham free to take a flying goal advantage. Lengthy protests from the City players can have only added to the unsettling effect.

City did not take long to come back when John Meadows rose unchallenged in the six yard box to nod in his first goal for City. The equaliser seemed to entirely throw the Chippenham defence who were having enough difficulty coping with Rawlins and Cox without the added problems they were getting off Meadows and Tucker. It was a Tucks run across the Blues right back that led to a clumsy challenge, which whilst not a full blooded trip was never the less a clear foul and the ref awarded a penalty. Matt Rawlins stepped up to take the kick, only to see it smartly stopped low to his left by Jones in the Chippenham goal. He was unlucky though, and only parried the ball back into the path of Gary Marshall who bundled in the rebound. (And in case you were wondering I couldn't watch, which is why I initially gave the goal to Rawlins).

The general play was scrappy and physical with several lengthy stops for treatment and a rash of bookings. City were comfortably dominant now, and the home team were becoming niggly with frustration. Danny Hunt was forced off the pitch after a late challenge left him with a hole in his ankle, his place at the back taken by Will Steadman. That did not disrupt City though, with Matt Rawlins getting plenty of time and space to try a few party tricks. One quick turn sent him free down City's left, and with Chippenham reluctant to dive in once he entered the area he had an easy run in on goal and duly beat the keeper with a low shot across goal to send City in ahead at half-time.

The Chippenham side came out at half-time fired up and quickly piled on the pressure. Hines had to gather well under pressure, and twice City cleared off the line. After some period under siege City cracked, and with the score now 3-2 nerves were really jangling. Thankfully the puerile efforts of a handful of Chippenham fans in pinching and burning a City flag gave some distraction from the tension unfolding on the pitch.

City did not bottle it though, although seasoned City fans feared the worst having witnessed so many capitulations in the past. This time it was the sheer guts of the younger players, and especially Wayne Thorne and Griffiths, who provided the momentum for city to come back. Midfield was becoming a battlefield, with Meadows collecting two purple hearts for a head wound and then a knock to the leg which eventually forced him off the pitch. The midfield eventually over heated though, and somewhat inevitably a player ended up with two bookings. The unfortunate man ordered off was Shane Andrews, although he can hardly complain after a horror challenge only minutes after a previous yellow card.

With Chippenham once again reduced to ten men City were now able to get forward with greater regularity, and unlike on Saturday they were able to take advantage. The crucial goal eventually came from Neil Griffiths, rising high to thump a downward header back across the keeper to seemingly finish the game off. Chippenham were a brave side though, and they had other ideas, forcing a penalty which seemed set to push the match to the last kick. However the expectation of the home fans proved too much pressure to bear, and the kick came back off the post for City  to hack clear.

City should really have added more, with several chances going begging. However City did grab a fine fifth, and it was a justified reward for Jimmy Cox after just about his most mature game for City. Rawlins had seen a run come to nothing only for Cox to pick up the loose ball and run straight into the heart of the Chipp defence. Their tired legs couldn't catch him and Cox cruised through them and coolly slotted the ball low past the keeper's left hand and just inside the post.

Even that wasn't enough to kill off the home side though, and Chippenham still found time to grab a third goal, although even a 5-3 score line didn't do full justice to the drama of the game. It was a match City dominated for long periods, but even so Chippenham will point to chances that could have easily seen the result reversed. Ultimately though this was a job well done, and a spirited team performance which saw several of the less proven players come through what may be a vital moral boosting examination of their credentials.

City go on to face Tiverton away on the 14th October, and the financial importance of a Cup run to the club was underlined by a rare away trip for our esteemed leader, Tracy Newport. For Chippenham meanwhile its back to the drudgery of the Screwfix Western League. Despite the behaviour of a small minority of their fans and some of the utter crap spouted about City's fans, I hope they're in the DML soon. The club looked like it had solid foundations, and how we could do with more visits from opposition who bring supporters and atmosphere.

Thorne (c)
City Scorers
Rawlins (38)
Griffiths (80)

(for 8;74) 
Johnstone t-towel
16.Steadman (for 4, 32)
17. Callinan

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