CHIPPENHAM TOWN: It’s Bluebells to Bluebirds for Tom

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Tom Knighton warms up before his Chippenham debut last weekend Tom Knighton warms up before his Chippenham debut last weekend

TOM Knighton is hoping he can build on an already unforgettable season at Chippenham Town.

Striker Knighton, 24, joined the Bluebirds last week after playing a key role in Yate Town’s historic FA Cup run earlier this campaign.

He scored in both legs of the Bluebells’ fourth qualifying round victory over Conference giants Newport County and then featured as Yate travelled to Whaddon Road to take on League Two Cheltenham Town in the first round proper.

The former Tiverton Town man is now looking forward to testing himself in the Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division.

“Chippenham put the seven days in and that was the first I heard of it – I had a word with Nath and Rich and liked where they wanted to go with the club and what they wanted from me,” said Knighton, who made his debut as a substitute in the Bluebirds’ frustrating 1-0 defeat at Redditch United last weekend.

“The chance to step up to this level appealed to me so I took the chance to give it a go and we’ll see what happens.

“(The FA Cup run) was pretty surreal to be honest – our league form wasn’t the best and we got rooted to the bottom of the table but were going away beating Oxford City and Newport and then playing at Cheltenham in the first round.

“I did enjoy my time at Yate but I thought it was time to test myself at a higher level.

“I played for Tiverton for a few years but I was only 18 or 19 back then so it’s been nice to have a few years away from this league and get a bit of experience under your belt before having another crack at it.”

Bluebirds assistant boss Richard Fey revealed that he received some good scouting reports on Knighton.

He said: “I spoke to Timmy Harris (director of football) at Newport and he said that he ran them ragged over two legs so if he can do that against a side top of the Conference then hopefully he can do it against sides at this level.

“He’s a proven goalscorer in the league below and what impressed the most when we sat down with him was that he just wanted to be given an opportunity at this level.”

Chippenham suffered a huge slice of misfortune at Redditch as the hosts netted the opener wth 13 minutes on the clock.

United’s Josh Quaynor took a quick free-kick and found Gary Moran in space, whose speculative pot-shot took a wicked deflection and flew into the right corner of the net.

Former Bluebirds’ man Jake Reid should have put the hosts 2-0 up late in the half when he was sent racing clear towards goal but the Redditch front man fired straight at Ben John.

Chippenham were on the front foot in the second period, with the hosts remaining camped in their own half, but the breakthrough never came.

Alex Kite wasn’t far off target with a diving header and, in the 70th minute, James Guthrie found Luke Ballinger in space in the area but his powerfully struck shot was deflected to safety.

Ballinger had an inswinging corner tipped away by Redditch goalie James Wren and, in the 85th minute, his cross was spilled by Wren and Alan Griffin got his body in the way of the United keeper before being barged over but referee Matthew Wilkes waved away the calls for a penalty.

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