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Chippenham Town 1
UNITED were beaten by a solitary goal in a game of very chances at Plainmoor.
The early stages were positive for the Gulls, attacking with sustained vigour and tempo, but Chippenham stayed strong and notched the decisive effort through Matt Smith on 25 minutes.
United toiled right to the end in search of an equaliser but the credit must go to the visitors for a resilient display at TQ1.
United boss Gary Owers opted for the same side that finished so well in defeating Hemel Hempstead last weekend, with Ruairi Keating partnering Jamie Reid and the wing threat coming from Opi Edwards and Jake Andrews.
Th positive momentum from seven days ago continued in the early stages, as United passed the ball with impressive fluency and conjured half-chances for Keating and Asa Hall from good delivery in the wide areas.
Referee Matthew Russell waved away strong appeals for a penalty on 10 minutes, when Keating went down hard in the box and the same Gull was then thwarted by goalkeeper Brad House after a delicious pass from Andrews.
It was confident stuff from United but the visitors dug in resiliently, and began to show some attacking muster with a long-range effort from Smith whistling past the post.
The good work from United was undone on 25 minutes and a frustrating one for the coaching staff, as Smith found too much space in the penalty area to head home Chippenham’s opener.
The goal naturally disrupted United’s flow in forward areas but they grew back into the game as half-time approached, with a succession of set-pieces forcing the visitors into some occasionally frantic defending.
United needed the same intensity to begin the second period and Reid was first to threaten, lashing a 25-yarder wide of the post. Owers turned to his bench for reinforcements, introducing Brett Williams for Keating.
Hall tried an audacious drive from distance on the hour but it was clear United were looking for a spark to ignite their afternoon. A cross from Edwards almost started the job, causing brief mayhem in the Chippenham before Curtis McDonald bundled the ball from danger.
Edwards was back in action from the next meaningful attack, picking up a loose clearance to their right channel and rifling a low drive that had House at full-stretch, gobbling up the shot on his second attempt.
It was the final taste of action for Edwards, withdrawn for Jason Banton on 70 minutes. Andrews moved to the right as part of the switch and when picked out by a raking pass from Kyle Cameron, the man on loan from Bristol City floated in a cross that House had to tip over.
The subsequent corner led to a foul for Chippenham and a definite pattern of the visitors slowing down proceedings as much as possible to protect their advantage. Former Gull Yan Klukowski was brought on for the closing stages to help bolster the Chippenham defence.
Andre Wright for Reid was United’s final roll of the dice but there was no way past a steadfast defence. A frustrating day for the Gulls and we travel to Hungerford next weekend in a bid to rediscover that winning touch.
United (4-4-2: 1 Alex Bass; 2 Ben Wynter, 4 George Essuman, 17 Kyle Cameron, 3 Liam Davis; 21 Opi Edwards (10 Jason Banton 70), 8 Asa Hall (capt), 20 Chris Regis, 18 Jake Andrews; 7 Ruairi Keating (9 Brett Williams 56), 19 Jamie Reid (12 Andre Wright 85). Substitutes (not used): 11 Bobson Bawling, 13 Shaun MacDonald.
Chippenham Town: 1 Brad House; 2 George Rigg, 4 Mick Jones, 6 Will Richards, 8 Matt Smith, 9 Nat Jarvis (20 Yan Klukowski 83), 10 Jack Compton (17 Karnell Chambers 70), 11 James Guthrie, 14 Kieran Parselle, 15 Dean Evans, 16 Curtis McDonald. Substitutes (not used): 3 Callum Gunner, 12 Lewis Ellington, 19 Josh Smile.
Referee: Matthew Russell