CHIPPENHAM Town manager Gary Horgan insisted he was pleased with the Bluebirds’ performance in their 2-1 loss at home to Tonbridge Angels at the weekend – especially given how stretched his squad was.

Chippenham were missing five first-team players for Saturday’s defeat, but the hosts were dominant for large periods and were arguably unlucky to go behind in the 15th minute as Stefan Payne powered a header home.

Matt McClure showed his attacking instinct late on to level for the Bluebirds, only for a controversial penalty to be awarded to Tonbridge for an alleged push seven minutes from time.

Lewis Gard slotted the penalty down the middle, leaving Chippenham without a reward for another positive display.

Prior to 10 minutes of added time, Tonbridge substitute Tommy Fagg was sent off for picking up two yellow cards.

Summing up a frustrating yet encouraging afternoon, Horgan said: “I’m disappointed not to take all three points, but I was quite pleased with the performance given the circumstances surrounding it.

“We had no Nat Williams through suspension and no Aaron Amadi-Holloway due to injury, so we had to start with teenagers Dan Ellison and George Abbott as centre-halves.

“That meant we had to change our shape a little bit. We only had two hours on Thursday to work on what we were going to do.

“But I was really pleased with how we acquitted ourselves, and I felt that – after the first 15 minutes – we were on top and quite rightly got ourselves back in the game.

“We looked like the only team which would go on and win the game, but then you’re at the mercy of a decision which you’re going to feel a bit aggrieved at.”

Despite a disappointing result, Chippenham remain 11th in National League South and could even be contesting a top-seven spot with a victory this coming weekend.

Horgan’s men travel to a Braintree Town side which has struggled so far this season, having picked up just one win and two draws from four games.

The Chippenham boss has total belief in his squad to complete their job, and may even be able to call on a couple of returning reinforcements too.

Horgan said: “We’re only four games in, so I would hope momentum is still on our side.

“If we win on Saturday, then the likelihood is – with results elsewhere – that we’ll end up in the play-off spots after only five games.

“We’ve been really competitive in our past two games. And bar sending offs and a couple of injuries, we’d probably have taken something from both.

“Going into Braintree, we’ll have Nat Williams and Luke Haines back, so that will help us make some changes if we need to.”