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CHIPPENHAM TOWN: Chippenham Town 1 Arlesey Town 1
CHIPPENHAM Town brought the curtain down on their season with a point at home to Arlesey Town this afternoon.
After the Bluebirds took the lead early in the second period, the visitors had to rely on player/manager Zema Abbey to level things up and ease any worries of failing to beat the drop.
The visitors should have been ahead less than a minute in when Chris Dillon drove into the box and squared for Leon Constantine but the tall midfielder blazed his shot over from a great position.
At the other end, Ross Stearn’s free-kick swerved in the viscous wind and almost created a problem for Arlesey keeper Nick Bussey.
Despite a fast, combative tempo, goalscoring chances were in short supply until the 33rd minute when Lee Allinson attempted to side-foot home a free-kick from just outside the area.
The Arlesey man’s effort struck the right post but a weak follow-up from Joel Mason was gratefully gathered by Chippenham keeper Kevin Sawyer.
At the other end, Scott Lye had a powerful effort palmed away by Bussey and in the 40th minute, there was controversy as the Bluebirds were denied the opener.
A deflected James Guthrie corner was poked towards goal by player/manager to be Nathan Rudge and looked to be handled by an Arlesey defender.
Despite Chippenham’s protests that the ball had crossed the line, referee John Mayhew refused to give the goal and also opted not to award a penalty.
Minutes later there was another talking point as the visitors’ Allinson appeared to catch Iain Harvey with a flailing arm.
The Bluebirds midfielder retaliated with a strike of his own but the match officials bizarrely chose not to even stop play, with both players certain to have been facing action.
Eight minutes after the break, Chippenham took the lead when Lye delivered a delicious cross from the right flank, which was turned into the net through a host of bodies at the back post.
Attacking midfielder Stearn led the celebrations as he claimed the final touch.
The Bluebirds then began to take the initiative with Ashley Williams and Stearn also having efforts saved by keeper Bussey shortly afterwards.
But with Arlesey unaware of the progress of fellow strugglers Hemel Hempstead Town and Evesham United, they were desperate for a goal to ensure they didn’t slip into the relegation zone.
And it came seven minutes from time, courtesy of former Norwich City and Cambridge United man Abbey, who headed home from Stefan Bailey’s cross to earn his team a point.
CHIPPENHAM TOWN: Kevin Sawyer, Iain Harvey, Mani Randhawa, Ashley Williams, Steve Casey, Nathan Rudge, Scott Lye, Ross Stearn, Alex Kite, Alan Griffin, James Guthrie.
Subs not used: Dave Gilroy, Ben Wickens, Charlie Austin, Toby Osman.