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FA CUP: Bishop's Cleeve 1 Chippenham Town 2
Chippenham Town progressed to the third qualifying round of the FA Cup earlier today but they were made to work hard to get their name in the hat by battling Bishop’s Cleeve.
The Bluebirds’ Evo-Stik League Southern Division One South and West opponents put up a stubborn resistance in Gloucestershire, with both sides finishing the afternoon with ten men.
The hosts were first to threaten, with striker Carl Brown forcing a strong save from Conor Thompson before Will Gayton attempted to beat the Chippenham keeper with a sweetly-struck volley.
In the 24th minute, Cleeve had goalie Jimmy Nortei to thank for keeping the scores level, as he produced a stunning reaction save to palm over Alan Griffin’s powerful strike.
Five minutes later, the hosts got themselves in front with a breakaway goal.
Winger Gayton got in down the left wing and Thompson could only a get a hand to his cross, which was fired back goalwards by Brown and bundled over the line by a Cleeve attacker through a host of bodies.
The home side were on a high but ten minutes after going ahead, they were brought back down to earth with a bang as they were reduced to ten men.
As Toby Osman went to jockey the ball out for a goal kick, Gayton challenged him and the referee instantly charged down the pitch to show the Cleeve man a red for an alleged kick.
As the half drew to a close, there were even more heroics from the home keeper as he produced a brilliant double save to first deny Brandon Barnes and then striker Griffin from the rebound.
With a man advantage, Chippenham began the second period in the ascendancy and half-time substitute Lee Phillips wasn’t far off target with a powerful strike from range.
And in the 67th minute, the eleven men of the Bluebirds made their dominance count as Luke Ballinger, who had come on as a substitute moments earlier, crossed from the right wing.
His ball was missed by Phillips, missed by Griffin, but it wasn’t missed by Barnes, who arrived at the back post to head home his first goal for the club.
Nathan Rudge’s side went in search of the winner and Scott Lye twice went close.
Then in the 73rd minute and following a corner, Lye lofted a high ball into the area and despite turning away in disgust to lament an apparent mis-kick, the Chippenham midfielder’s delivery was flapped at by keeper Nortei, allowing Steve Casey to stab the ball home and put his side ahead.
Cleeve did go looking to get themselves back in the game but after being run ragged in the second period, any hope of a comeback soon evaporated.
But with just under ten minutes to go, the Bluebirds did lose their man advantage when Iain Harvey was shown a straight red for leading with his arm as he challenged Lee Davis in the air.
CHIPPENHAM TOWN: Conor Thompson, Toby Osman, Shaun Lamb (Lee Phillips 45), Iain Harvey, Steve Casey, Nathan Rudge, Josh Egan (Luke Ballinger 63), Scott Rogers, Alan Griffin (Dean Griffiths 80), Scott Lye, Brandon Barnes.
Subs not used: Alex Kite, Richard Fey.