Bluebirds’ blockade denies Terras
BRENDON King believes that the stalemate with the Bluebirds showed his team can respond well to setbacks following the disappointment of a 2-1 reverse at Bideford on New Year’s Day – a result that ended a magnificent six-match winning sequence.
Weymouth were able to keep a third clean sheet in their last five games, limiting Chippenham to just three attempts on goal, but the game will be remembered for two second- half chances that both fell to Mark Ford who hit the left-hand upright on both occasions.
And there was a real let-off for the hosts too, in a lively second period as Tom Knighton wasted probably the game’s clearest opening 10 minutes from time when, one-on-one with keeper Simon Evans he blazed his shot woefully over the bar, much to the relief of the home support.
King said after the game: “It was important we didn’t get beat today after losing on Tuesday so we’ve stopped the rot straight away.
“Overall it was a good response and maybe we deserved a bit more, but we go again at Totton full of belief.”
Two impressive performances from Dan Smith off the bench against both St Neots and Bideford helped force the frontrunner back into the starting line-up at the expense of Craig Duff who dropped to the bench.
The only other change from New Year’s Day saw fit-again Stephen Reed selected ahead of Kyle Crit-chell, who was included among the substitutes with Matt Groves, Lewis Clarke and Jamie Skinner who is still yet to figure in a league outing.
For the visitors it was good to see former Terras’ favourite Lee Phillips take up a spot on the bench.
The hosts quickly got on the front foot with Ben Joyce going close after eight minutes when he ran across the edge of the box from right to left to make space for a shot that whistled just past the right-hand post from 20 yards.
Three minutes later Ford, marauding down the right flank, tried to pick out Joyce at the back post but an alert Ashley Williams headed clear the danger.
Ford won a free-kick in the corner after 19 minutes but, frustratingly for the home fans, Walker’s delivery did not make it beyond the first man.
It was all very low-key stuff but at least Simon Evans in the home goal barely got a touch as the Bluebirds failed to conjure up a single attempt on goal in the first 45 minutes.
The game did start to liven up after the half-hour mark though and Walker’s speculative dipping volley from fully 40 yards just cleared Ben John’s crossbar.
And then, five minutes later, the game saw its first attempt on target as Smith, Ford and Joyce linked up neatly for the latter to strike left-footed at John but it was food and drink for the grateful keeper.
Seconds later, there was another opening for the hosts as Smith teed up Ford to try his luck but, leaning back, his drive soared high over the bar from the right edge of the box.
Smith, back to his menacing best, tormented Adie Harris and Steve Casey in the right corner but his cross was eventually blocked for the game’s first corner on 42 minutes.
That flag kick came to nothing and the promising end to the first period the Terras had shown, left supporters looking forward to a better second half.
Ten minutes after the restart Walker had to wait while referee Sam Ogles gave three Town defenders a stern ticking off before he was allowed to take a free-kick.
Indeed, Ogles gave a new meaning to the term lenient by only booking one Bluebird throughout a feisty second half – something that wrankled with many claret and blue followers.
In the 62nd minute, it appeared Ford would surely break the deadlock as he raced on to a raking pass from Walker. The pacey hot-shot homed in on goal and his left-footed effort across John appeared to strike the front of the near post as it whiz-zed across goal and away to safety.
Two minutes later the visitors finally showed some attacking intent when Williams neatly side-stepped Walker before picking out dangerman Alan Griffin, whose header goalwards took a deflection as it just cleared the bar.
In the 70th minute, a short Smith corner to Walker was fired in towards the near post but John held well under pressure from that man Ford who was presented with the chance of the game moments later.
Smith, rampant down the right, flashed a low centre towards Ford who, alone and six yards out, stret-ched out a toe for the ball to roll agonisingly off the inside of a post and across goal before John gathered.
The Terras still believed they could nick a deserved winner when imp-ressive Danny Clay teed up Smith for a low drive that was collected at his near post by John.
And then, with 10 minutes remaining, Clay released Ford with a delightful ball down the left side that saw the striker home in on goal yet again and, with no other options, try his luck by letting fly, but the ball whizzed wide of the far post from a tight angle.
Having shown all the attacking initiative one could sense that a single chance for the Bluebirds could end with a heart-breaking smash-and-grab scenario and that very nearly happened five minutes from the end.
Toby Osman played an incisive pass that was cleverly left by fellow substitute Phillips. He allowed it to run to Knighton who was left through one-on-one with Evans.
The Terras’ number one stepped forward, made himself big and that appeared to unsettle Knighton who blazed over and a gilt-edged chance to steal the points had gone begging.
In the latter stages, Joyce was bundled over for a free-kick that Ed Palmer could only thrash into the wall and, despite the referee playing nearly seven minutes of added time, the Terras could not force a winner even when a last-ditch cross from Barry McConnell caused heightened anxiety for Chippenham in the dying seconds before the referee blew for a foul on the keeper.