CHIPPENHAM TOWN: Collier on guard

This Is Wiltshire: Chippenham Town chief Mark Collier Chippenham Town chief Mark Collier

MARK Collier is expecting a challenging afternoon when his Chippenham Town side take on local rivals Frome Town at Hardenhuish Park today (kick-off 3pm).

The Bluebirds saw their trip to bottom-of-the-table Bashley last weekend rained off and instead go looking to bring a five-match winless run to an end when they take on their west country neighbours this afternoon.

Frome sacked boss Brian O’Donnell after nine weeks as manager on Saturday, Gillingham Town’s Adrian Foster taking over on Monday.

And Chippenham chief Collier, who himself is in only his seventh week in charge of the Bluebirds, is wary of facing a backlash from the Robins’ players.

“It was a little bit frustrating that last weekend’s game was off because it was one where we would have gone in to it as favourites and it would have been interesting to see how we coped with that,” said Collier.

“Unfortunately, there was nothing that we could do about the weather and now we’ve got to concentrate on trying to get back to winning ways against Frome.

“We did have them watched quite recently and Bryan Smith joined us from them so he knows a bit about how they play. But like us, they’ve had quite a lot of changes recently.

“With the manager going, there could be a reaction from their players but the important thing is for us to concentrate on ourselves.

“Boxing Day fixtures are always difficult but hopefully we can enjoy playing in front of a big crowd.”

Swindon Town defender Aaron Oakley joined Chippenham on loan late last week and was due to be in Collier’s squad at Bashley.

The 19-year-old 6ft 5in centre-back, who has also featured for Wales U21, has joined on a month-long deal as he continues his recovery from a broken foot.

Collier said: “I coached Aaron when he was 12 or 13 years old at the Swindon Centre of Excellence and he’s highly regarded there.

“As soon as we knew that he could be available on loan, we decided to bring him in because we’ve been in need of a right-sided central defender.

“He needs matches, so the arrangement suits both parties and hopefully he can do well for us and then get back to knocking on the door of the first-team squad at Swindon Town.”

Collier confirmed that striker Lee Phillips and midfielder Iain Harvey will miss today’s clash with Frome as the duo have yet to recover from hamstring injuries.

Harley Purnell could also be missing as his partner is expected to give birth in the coming days while Joe McClennan faces a late fitness test on a bruised shin but defender Jon Beeden returns to Chippenham squad after a spell on holiday.

Follow Bluebirds Live, with Dan Barnes from Chippenham Town v Frome Town and the other Boxing Day football at gazetteandherald.co.uk/sport this afternoon

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