CHIPPENHAM ended a dramatic week, which saw the departure of skipper Scott Rogers, with a resounding all-round team performance that saw them achieve a morale-boosting victory in rain-soaked Hertfordshire.
The three points moved the Bluebirds towards mid-table respectability as Tom Knighton marked his first start in a Bluebird shirt with a goal worthy of winning any match. Substitute Alan Griffin added a late second to wrap up a good day for the Bluebirds.
The first half saw a sprinkling of chances at both ends, with the Bluebirds indebted to Ben John’s incredible save on 13 minutes to deny Richard Graham. Having been drawn to the edge of his six yard area to repel an attack John rose from the ground to spectacularly throw himself back across goal to hold Graham’s shot from the loose ball.
The save was to prove important as Chippenham took the lead on 24 minutes. A high ball was hoisted into the St Albans area and won by Lee Phillips. Strike partner Knighton then produced an acrobatic overhead kick that looped over Nick Jupp and dipped into the net.
The remainder of the half saw John make two routine saves whilst in time added on the home side lost possession on the edge of their area and Knighton’s pass to James Guthrie saw the latter drag his shot across the face of goal.
The second half opened with former Bristol Rovers and Fulham striker Barry Hales becoming embroiled in several heated exchanges. The first goalmouth action saw Scott Lye’s deflected shot held by Jupp, whilst Guthrie’s shot was also deflected into the side netting.
Midway through the second period St Albans should have levelled when right back Ashley Williams was caught upfield and the ball was swiftly moved to the left wing where Chris Henry made the most of the free space before crossing to Sean Shields who somehow contrived to lift his shot over the bar from a few yards out.
Ten minutes from time the Bluebirds switched to 4-5-1 formation as they looked to protect their slender lead. Victory was ensured five minutes from time when Adie Harris’s free kick skimmed off a defender’s head and Griffin side-footed home on the volley.
In stoppage time, John again excelled as he dived to keep out Henry’s low shot and Graham’s follow-up was blocked by a combination of John and his defence.
Chippenham: John, Kite, Mings, Williams, Casey, Harris, Lye Guthrie, Ballinger (Harvey 80), Knighton (Griffiths 73), Philliips (Griffin 67) subs not used: Osman, Rudge
Referee: Nic Evans (Huntington)
Yellow cards - Chippenham: Harris 53 (foul), Griffin 90 (foul).
St Albans: Gordon 85 (foul)
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