City welcome near neighbours Chippenham Town to Twerton Park on Boxing Day for Part One of the A4 Derby. These matches are always seen as highlights of the season by both sets of supporters with crowds in excess of 2000 watching at Twerton in recent years.
Of course those of a black and white persuasion will go into the match on a high after the incredible fightback in last Tuesday’s Trophy match against Bromley and if there is just half the drama witnessed on that memorable evening then they’re in for a treat.
The League season has so far been a disappointment for The Bluebirds especially after finishing seventh back in May, then beating Dartford in the play-offs eliminator before falling to Ebbsfleet.
With only sixteen points gained from their nineteen matches and just four wins, all at home, they sit in 23rd position. They are presently on a winless run of ten matches having last won against Dulwich back in late September. However, success in the FA Cup means they have games in hand on all of the other clubs struggling at the wrong end of the table.
When they last visited Twerton a year ago, Chippenham boasted a fine away record, having only lost at eventual champions Maidstone and tasted defeat in just six games in total away from Hardenhuish Park. However, this season only three draws have been achieved from their eleven trips and their latest outing saw a 5-3 defeat suffered at Oxford City.
It has been a very different story in knock out football with Gary Horgan’s team reaching the second round of the FA Cup for the first time in their 149 year history. Victories over Sholing, Metropolitan Police and Hendon earnt them a home draw against League One Lincoln City. A back heeled goal from Joe Hanks was enough to send the Wiltshire club through and a trip to Burton Albion where they were well beaten by the Staffordshire club.
In the FA Trophy, Chippenham travelled to National League strugglers Torquay on Tuesday evening having won at Hastings in the previous round. Goals in the first half hour from Jordan Young and Alex Bray had the visiting fans in dreamland but their full-time opponents pulled back the deficit to earn a tie with Taunton in January.
Although these matches with our local rivals and friends are seen as the two clubs’ traditional Christmas/New Year fixtures, this is not the case. The first league encounter was staged as recently as 2002 while they played at different levels for a few seasons and the League’s make up meant the pair also played festive fixtures with the likes of Weston and Hungerford.
Honours are pretty even between the two clubs in league matches at Twerton with City winning four, drawing three and losing two. There were only eleven goals scored in the first five meetings but there have been nineteen in the last four!
Last season’s fixture at Twerton Park was played on the second day of this year and came on the back of a fine City win on Boxing Day at Hardenhuish. The teams were divided by two home goals in time added on at the end of the first half, an own goal and a second from a very fine angle converted by Alex Fletcher.
Of interest to supporters in these local derbies are former players in the opposition’s colours. While Keiran Parseille and Danny Greenslade have been regulars in Jerry Gill’s team this season, Will Henry, Will Richards, Eddie Jones and Tom Mehew have all made the reverse trip along the A4. But the most familiar face for City supporters will be in the visitors’ dugout as Gary Horgan’s assistant is none other than Twerton legend Matt Coupe who made 336 appearances in the striped shirt.
So everything points to an entertaining match on Boxing Day with plenty of goals and drama. City aim to close the gap on the play-off places whilst Chippenham hope to move towards safety.