CHIPPENHAM Town remain in the top three of the Southern League Premier Division but their draw with Paulton Rovers this afternoon came at a cost.

Youngster Tyron Leigh was sent off and fellow defender Matt Coupe was forced off with injury whilst Bryan Smith required medical attention after being elbowed in the face in a feisty West Country derby at Hardenhuish Park.

With both first-choice strikers Alan Griffin and Lee Phillips ruled out, centre-back Greg Tindle, who has formed an impressive partnership alongside Coupe, was also missing with a dead leg.

Chippenham’s injury problems were increased on the half-hour mark when Coupe was the victim of a challenge from former Bluebirds man Ashley Williams and although he tried to continue, the defender was eventually replaced by Pete Monks, with Jon Beeden moving to the heart of the back line.

On 65 minutes, young centre-back Leigh was shown a straight red by Frome referee Richard Corp for bringing down Nick McCootie, despite there being another home defender in attendance.

Then, ten minutes from time, Mike Perrott, another former Bluebird, caught Chippenham substitute Bryan Smith in the face with an elbow – causing an injury that required the attendance of an ambulance.

The Bluebirds players stood in disbelief as Corp only showed Perrott a yellow card.

The referee also controversially ruled out an effort by Darren Edwards, who poked a foot onto a loose ball that Rovers keeper Kyle Phillips had dived on, only to fail to gather, with the striker receiving a yellow card for his troubles.

McCootie gave the visitors the lead with 25 minutes on the clock after ex-Chippenham full-back Stuart Tovey knocked the ball forward and the striker drove into the box before firing past Kent Kauppinen.

In the fifth minute of first-half stoppage time, Phillips pulled off a superb save from a James Guthrie free-kick.

And Mark Collier’s men equalised ten minutes into the second half from a throw in.

Edwards’ shot was stopped on the line by Scott Brice but defender Beeden steamed in to thump home from close range.

Kauppinen saved the Bluebirds with two excellent saves from another former Bluebird, forward Brandon Barnes, whilst Phillips pulled off an equally impressive stop to deny Edwards.

In stoppage time, Perrott’s shot was blocked by Kauppinen but the Paulton player fired home the loose ball only to see it ruled out for off side.

CHIPPENHAM TOWN: Kent Kauppinen, Conor McCormack, Jon Beeden, Matt Coupe (Pete Monks 35), Tyron Leigh, Iain Harvey, Alex Ferguson, Jordan Roberts (Bryan Smith 46, Ben McCready 83), Darren Edwards, Luke Ballinger, James Guthrie.

Subs not used: Callum Wright, Toby Osman.

Attendance: 373