EVO-STIK LEAGUE SOUTHERN PREMIER DIVISION: Chippenham Town 1 Hemel Hempstead Town 2 (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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EVO-STIK LEAGUE SOUTHERN PREMIER DIVISION: Chippenham Town 1 Hemel Hempstead Town 2
CHIPPENHAM Town recovered some pride at Hardenhuish Park with a hearty, battling display against high-flying Hemel Hempstead Town.
But the spectre of last weekend's woeful defeat to Bideford told as the Bluebirds conceded twice in the opening seven minutes and despite a swashbuckling fightback, couldn't prevent themselves slipping to another home loss.
Nathan Rudge's side got off to a nightmare start as they found themselves a goal down in the opening minute.
The visitors won a free-kick just inside the Chippenham half and right-back Danny May's whipped delivery arrowed into the box and deceived everyone as it nestled in to the side-netting.
Then, with only seven minutes on the clock, it was 2-0 to the visitors.
A quickly-taken short corner saw Dave Pearce play the ball out to Victor Osobu on the edge of the box and the Hemel man unleashed a powerful strike into the top corner, which the palms of Bluebirds goalie Ben John couldn't prevent from finding the roof of the net.
Despite being left shellshocked and with a mountain to climb in the opening stages, Chippenham didn't capitulate and slowly found their rhythm.
In the 34th minute James Guthrie broke and charged into the box before squaring the ball, which eventually found Scott Lye on the edge of the box.
The midfielder smartly evaded a diving challenge before striking low towards the bottom corner but was denied by May on the line.
Greg Tindle charged down Moussa Diarra as he chased the follow-up and the two players' collision was so forceful that it popped the match ball.
Alan Griffin rolled a shot across the face of goal soon afterwards while at the other end, Adie Harris put in a well-timed challenge to block Jordan Parkes, with the winger attempting to chip John at the second attempt but only finding the keeper's gloves.
Steve Casey headed over late in the half as the Bluebirds ended the first period in the ascendency, but trailing by two goals.
Five minutes into the second half, Chippenham almost reduced the deficit in freak fashion as Lye lofted a ball into the box, which Hemel keeper Ashley Timms opted to leave before having his heart in his mouth as it bounced and looped just over the bar.
In the 53rd minute, Dean Griffiths got a faint head on an Adie Harris free-kick but the effort wasn't enough to trouble Timms and on the hour mark, Chippenham were denied by a stunning save from the Hemel keeper.
Guthrie floated a cross to the far post and Griffiths nodded the ball down towards the target but Timms scrambled across to the bottom corner to somehow clear off the line.
And six minutes later, the Bluebirds finally got the goal they'd been threatening when Griffiths' deft delivery was cleared to the edge of the area and Guthrie beat Timms at his near post with a low, driven strike.
At the other end, following a bout of pushing and shoving involving players from both sides, Hemel's Pearce almost restored his side's two-goal advantage with a free-kick that dropped a whisker wide of the upright.
At the other end, a swift Chippenham counter-attack ended with Timms holding on to a Griffin header while Hemel's Osobu got in behind the Bluebirds defence but blasted wide under the attentions of Jim Rollo.
Chippenham continued to dominate through into stoppage time, with half-chances falling the way of substitutes Tom Knighton and Lee Phillips and then at the death, the hosts were relentless.
They piled the pressure on Hemel and the big chance to rescue a point came in added time when the ball dropped to Luke Ballinger on the edge of the area, who struck a superb left-footed strike that was agonisingly matched by an equally brilliant fingertip save from Timms.
CHIPPENHAM TOWN: Ben John, Jim Rollo (Lee Phillips 89), Greg Tindle, Ashley Williams, Steve Casey (c), Adie Harris, Dean Griffiths (Luke Ballinger 77), Scott Lye, Alan Griffin, James Guthrie, Iain Harvey (Tom Knighton 84).
Subs not used: Michael Gonzalo, Brandon Barnes.
REPORTS, REACTION & PICTURES FROM CHIPPENHAM TOWNS IN THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES