Next Match – Chippenham Town (A)

City conclude 2023 at the venue where they started the year – Chippenham Town’s Thornbury Surfacing Stadium.

Boxing Day is the eagerly anticipated A4 derby in Wiltshire where many familiar foes will cross paths in front of a bumper crowd. Chippenham’s side contains six ex-City men with four among the Romans ranks previously plying their trade for the Bluebirds.

Chippenham’s management team of Gary Horgan and Matt Coupe were also formerly of Twerton Park, Coupe notably making 336 appearances across two spells. The duo have overseen a steady season in SN14 – since an August loss at home to Tonbridge they’ve been between 8th and 17th in the table and their record of eight wins, eight draws and seven defeats highlights their mid-table status. They’ve not been helped by throwing away 16 points from winning positions, the most in National League South, and haven’t kept a clean sheet at home in all competitions since the opening day. That’s despite handing an 18-month contract to the promising Dan Ellison in defence, who has also chipped in with three goals. The centre-back played against City in pre-season for Westbury and has adjusted superbly two levels up. Matt McClure leads the scoring charts with nine including the opener against former employers Gloucester City in a recent 5-3 FA Trophy success. After a disappointing draw with Weymouth they recorded an excellent 1-0 win at Maidstone where Jake Evans marked his return from injury with a stunning first half winner.

The former City men in Chippenham’s side are Will Henry, Eddie Jones, Freddie Grant, Aaron Amadi-Holloway, Luke Spokes and Tom Mehew. Between them they made 122 appearances for City scoring five goals. Henry, Jones, Grant and Mehew have played for both sides in this fixture, Grant netted his only City goal here in a 1-1 draw on Boxing Day 2020.

That maintained City’s unbeaten run at this venue under Jerry Gill, and they’ll head to Wiltshire full of confidence after Saturday’s 4-0 demolishing of Welling United. Chippenham ended an eight-game winless streak against the Romans last Boxing Day with a fine 3-1 victory at Twerton Park but haven’t beaten City on their own patch since 2005. Last year was the first campaign where City failed to beat Chippenham since 2005/06 when Darren Perrin’s men clinched a pair of 2-0 successes, a year where both failed in the play-offs in the Southern Premier. In more recent times, the 0-0 here on New Year’s Day was the first goalless draw between the two since November 1901 at the Belvoir Ground.

The four former Town men in Gill’s side are Dan Greenslade, Jordan Dyer, Kieran Parselle and Luke Russe. Parselle and Russe were Chippenham’s Player of the Year in successive seasons before switching to Twerton. Dyer spent a brief loan spell with the Bluebirds in 2020 before haunting them a year later, opening the scoring in a 4-1 win for the Romans. Greenslade spent two years at the Thornbury Surfacing Stadium before starting his second spell with the Stripes.

A lot of City fans are expected to make the 13-mile journey from Bath. There will be a supporters coach running, anyone unable to attend can listen to Bath City Radio for live coverage. We urge you to come along and see if the Romans can get one over on their local rivals!