CHIPPENHAM TOWN: Rudge hands it to Conor

This Is Wiltshire: Luke Ballinger scored twice from the penalty spot against Gosport Borough Luke Ballinger scored twice from the penalty spot against Gosport Borough

NATHAN Rudge says teenage keeper Conor Thompson is his new number one between the sticks.

The 17-year-old, who left Swindon Town’s youth set-up at the end of last season and is the son of former Chippenham keeper Paul, impressed on his debut as the Bluebirds got back to winning ways at Gosport Borough on Tuesday night.

Thompson, who has represented Northern Ireland at U16 and U17 level, has signed from Gloucester City but Rudge admits that he sympathises with Josh Dempsey, who had a difficult time in goal after his summer switch from Yate Town.

“For some reason, it hasn’t worked out for Josh and maybe his confidence is down but I still think that he’s got all the attributes to be a great goalkeeper and go on to play at a higher level,” said the Bluebirds boss.

“Conor is a great prospect and he’ll be my number one for the rest of the season.

“He did really well against Gosport – one of the goals he conceded was unstoppable and after that, he did everything right.

“We deserved the win.”

On Tuesday, before the second minute had elapsed, striker Lee Phillips was brought down in the box by the hosts’ Dan Woodward.

The referee pointed to the spot, and Luke Ballinger sent keeper Nathan Ashmore the wrong way to open the scoring.

Gosport replied on ten minutes with a free kick from Justin Bennett that took a wicked deflection off the defensive wall, giving debutant Thompson no chance.

Chippenham were awarded their second penalty on 34 minutes when Ashmore brought down Scott Lye and Ballinger fired home his second from the spot.

Gosport equalised a second time just before the hour mark when Shaun Lamb lost possession to Woodward, who raced into the area before firing a crisp shot across Thompson.

On 65 minutes Dean Griffiths replaced Lye, who was suffering from a dead leg, and two minutes later the substitute thought he had opened his Bluebirds account when he headed home Steve Casey’s free kick, only to see it harshly ruled out for a foul on Gosport’s Ashmore.

But six minutes from time Griffiths played a through ball to Phillips to the right of the area and he sent a delicious chip over the advancing keeper to take all three points.

Alan Griffin is expected to miss this weekend’s FA Cup clash with Mangotsfield United with a groin injury while Dave Gilroy, Toby Osman and Scott Lye are all struggling with knocks.

Mani Randhawa is also short of match fitness.

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