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Match Reports

Exiles make it two from two in pre-season with victory over Chippenham Town FC

19 July 2017

The Exiles secured their second successive pre-season victory with a 2-1 success at Chippenham Town.

Summer recruit Robbie Willmott got his second of the pre-season schedule with a fine strike early-on, before ex-Exile Andy Sandell would net the equaliser mid-way through the second-half.

Marlon Jackson would grab the winner at Hardenhuish Park, slotting home after being teed-up by another summer recruit Lamar Reynolds with fifteen minutes to go.

Joe Day made a welcome return to the side after recovering from the thigh strain that had so far kept him out of pre-season action, and playing alongside him were a combination of trialists and players that appeared in both the Undy and Swindon Supermarine games.

And it would be one of the goal-scorers from the Swindon game on Saturday that would open the scoring.

In just the 5th minute, Robbie Willmott unleashed an unstoppable 27-yard free-kick that went straight into the top corner, leaving goalkeeper Jason Matthews with no chance in the home goal.

The home side were not going to take going behind as a negative, ex-County promotion hero Andy Sandell and James Guthrie both coming close with attempts from outside the penalty area.

Robbie Willmott would come close to doubling his tally on the quarter-hour but his curled effort from the edge of the area went narrowly over.

Other than that, chances were few and far between in the opening half-hour, a real tense midfield battle developing at Hardenhuish Park.

In the 40th minute, the home side did fashion another chance, Sandell forcing a fingertip save from Joe Day in the County goal to keep the Exiles ahead.

Aaron Williams would come close to opening his pre-season account moments later, before another ex-promotion player Scott Donnelly curled over from a free-kick for the home side.

That brought an end to the first-half proceedings as County looked to the ring the changes ahead of the second.  

In fact, it would be a full eleven changes to the County side. That saw Scot Bennett make his first minutes in pre-season after recovering from injury to be joined at centre-half by Mark O’Brien.

And while it would take the side a little time to gel, they would create the opening chance of the second-half.

Summer signing Lamar Reynolds, scorer of the opener at Swindon saw a 20-yard strike clip the crossbar on the way over.

Sandell would come close again for the home side moments later, his free-kick in a similar area to Willmott’s goal curling just over James Bittner’s right-hand post.

But Sandell wouldn’t have to wait too long to get his goal against the Exiles.

In the 62nd minute, the ball would fall nicely to Sandell in the area following good build-up around the area - and he wouldn’t waste this opportunity as he drilled it straight past Bittner in the Exiles goal.

Tom Owen-Evans would come close to restoring the County lead on 65 minutes, before a mix-up in the County defence almost gave Chippenham the opportunity to take the lead.

Reynolds would be the next County player to come close, his effort hitting the woodwork after a scintillating 30-yard drive into the Chippenham area.

But he wouldn’t have to wait too much longer before having a greater impact. After cutting in from the left again, and selflessly squaring the ball across the area, Marlon Jackson had the simplest of jobs to slot the ball home with a quarter-of-an-hour to go – his 2nd goal in pre-season following his strike at Swindon Supermarine.

Frank Nouble came close to extending the advantage five minutes later following an excellent passing move by County, before Donnelly came close to an equaliser.

Reynolds would again show his excellent dribbling ability to fashion another opportunity, unlucky to again be denied by Matthews in the home goal.

No further chances, or goals, could be fashioned as County saw out another pre-season victory in a controlled manner – something assistant manager Wayne Hatswell was delighted about post-match.

“I’m really pleased,” he said.

“There were a lot of positives tonight, especially in midfield. We’re playing 4-3-3 at the moment which gives us good wide outlets from Frank and Lamar and it’s been working well. All the lads have had a tough 45 minutes, it’s been a really positive and tough week. Again, it is about coming off the pitch in good shape and fortunately no injuries.”

With the returns of Joe Day and Scot Bennett to the first-team fold, that leaves just Joss Labadie and Ben Tozer without minutes in pre-season.

And while both are a little way off returning, Hatswell says both have been making an impact in training.

On Labadie, he added: “We really want to get him on the pitch. He’s been first-class in training, he’s a tough character and its just about getting him ready for when he is ready and his cast is off.”

Some players that have had minutes have come in for praise from Hatswell.

He commented: “Lamar will be a threat to any right-back or centre-half, he’s lightning quick. We just have to keep nurturing him because he’s an enigma – nobody wants his pace up against them. He’s a positive player to create us chances.

“I’ve known Frank from Gillingham and he’s a threat when he gets going. I’m chuffed for Marlon because Marlon is starting to look really good, he’s trained really well and there a lot of positives about this club. “

Lamar Reynolds added: “It was a bit different to the Swindon game. It was very physical today but I thought I dealt with that well. My fitness is definitely improving so I’m really pleased.

“I like to get goals which has left me disappointed but I got the assist so that kind of counts. Hopefully this continues because I really can’t wait to get going competitively.”

 

County: Day (Bittner '45), Pipe (Trialist 3 '45 ), Demetriou (O’Brien '45), Turley (Bennett '45), Butler (Barnum-Bobb '45), Dolan (Trialist 4 '45), Rigg (Owen-Evans '45), Willmott (Trialist 5 '45), Trialist 1 (Reynolds '45), Williams (Nouble  '45), Trialist 2 (Jackson '45)


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