CHIPPENHAM TOWN: All hands on deck

This Is Wiltshire: Alan Griffin (background) can’t believe it after being sent off by referee Adam Penwell, as teammate Rob Dean pleads his case Alan Griffin (background) can’t believe it after being sent off by referee Adam Penwell, as teammate Rob Dean pleads his case

MARK Collier says he has no immediate plans to trim down his Chippenham Town squad as the Bluebirds head into the busy Christmas period.

The Chippenham chief has continued to re-shape his squad, most recently snapping up former Swindon Town youth team midfielder Jake Simpson and releasing defender Stuart Tovey, but insists that he is working comfortably within his playing budget.

“(Signing players) doesn’t affect the budget too much because the non-contract players don’t get paid when they’re not playing,” said Collier.

“We just need to get competition for places and as big a squad as everyone thinks we’ve got, we’ve still got a lot of injuries to cope with.

“We’re missing some experienced players in Iain Harvey and Lee Phillips – unfortunately, it’s looking like they may be out until at least Christmas.

“We’ve got three or four out so we still need the people that we’ve got so that we’ve got a competitive bench.

“We haven’t got any plans to bring anyone else in but with Griff now getting suspended and Phillips out too, it does leave us a little bit short of firepower – it leaves with Tom Knighton and Lloyd Macklin. But we’re always looking and if anyone comes along that we think can make a difference, then we’ll be interested.

“Things change week-to-week so we need to cover every eventuality.

“Stuart Tovey’s gone. We’ve got a bit of cover in that position and I wanted to be fair to him and not be dragging around the south of England and not giving him football, so we made the decision to release him from the squad.

“He’s free to get some football somewhere else and he’s done okay for us, so good luck to him wherever he goes.”

The Bluebirds were well-beaten by league leaders Hemel Hempstead Town last weekend and Collier is looking towards a crucial trip to struggling Bashley this Saturday.

The Chippenham boss said: “We’re aware of where we are and what we’ve got to do so we’ve got to keep working hard collectively and I’m sure the tide will turn for us – I’m quite positive about that.

“There are a few people who are below par at the moment and we need to get them back to where we want them to be, to give us an opportunity to move forward. “Obviously we’ve been making some changes but it’s taking a little longer than we’d have liked to settle down.

“We need to get some points and hopefully we can do that at Bashley. The games come thick and fast over Christmas and we need to move on and move forward.”

The Bluebirds battled well against Hemel in the opening half at Hardenhuish Park, with James Guthrie having a shot blocked at the near post by the visitors’ Danny May while keeper Ben John did well to deny Tommy Berwick at the other end.

But on the stroke of half-time, a long ball forward saw Ben Mackey catch out the Chippenham defence and deftly lob over the head of the onrushing John to give the Tudors the lead.

Eight minutes into the second period, Collier’s men switched off from a disputed throw-in and Hemel skipper Jordan Parkes had time and space to fire home the visitors’ second.

Things went from bad to worse for the Bluebirds when striker Alan Griffin was shown a controversial second booking for his challenge on David King before substitute Lewis Toomey struck with 79 minutes on the clock to finish off ten-man Chippenham.

Meanwhile, Chippenham have completed the signing of midfielder Jake Simpson.

Former Swindon Town youth teamer Simpson, 18, the son of former County Ground favourite Fitzroy Simpson, was released by Swindon in the summer.

His capture was confirmed after his registration was completed, international clearance being required because Simpson has played for Jamaica U20s.

Collier, who may be without injured midfielder Joe McClennan for Saturday’s trip to Bashley, said: “There was a bit of a hold-up because of the international clearance but it’s all come through now.’’

  • MANAGER Collier and his assistant Tom Jones will be hosting an open question and answer session for fans at the Bluebirds Bar on Friday evening (7.30pm).

The evening will also include the prize-giving for club’s grand Christmas draw.

FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @gazsport

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