CONOR Thompson has thanked Chippenham Town for the priceless first-team experience he gained at Hardenhuish Park.

The 17-year-old goalkeeper made a cameo return for the Bluebirds in their FA Cup defeat at the hands of his former side Gloucester City last weekend, after returning to the pro game with Torquay United earlier this month.

Former Swindon Town scholar Thompson made nine appearances for Chippenham after joining Nathan Rudge’s side in September and is now looking forward to completing his youth career with the Gulls after a successful spell under the Bluebirds’ wing.

“It’s been a great experience and everything that Chippenham has offered me has been brilliant,” said Thompson.

“It was hard at first because, as you saw on Saturday, I was getting smashed left, right and centre but it’s all part and parcel of it.

“I think it shows you what you’re going to be doing because youth team football’s kind of fake in some respects, with the fact that you don’t play against the big lumps that are going to come and hit you.

“But it’s been a real good learning curve. I’ve been to the bottom back up to where I wanted to be and it’s just been nice to play games. To be given that chance from Rudgey and Feyer (Richard Fey) is brilliant.

“I’m really excited to go back to playing at a pro club. I think a few clubs were monitoring me when I went to Gloucester and Chippenham. I went on trial at Exeter and I’ve been at Bristol Rovers and Bristol City.

“Torquay have said I can finish my scholarship off and play in the FA Youth Cup so it’s only going to bring me on.”

Thompson was delighted to have been a part of Chippenham’s showpiece fourth qualifying round clash at Whaddon Road – even if it did end in heartbreak.

He added: “Torquay were brilliant about it and when I found out the other day and was obviously happy to help.

“Rudgey said that he’d been playing football for 17 years at mens’ level and he’d only played in two games as big as that. That speaks for itself when you see the club’s he’s been at.”

Darren Edwards’ goal in the first minute of added time ended the first round proper dreams of the Bluebirds, who had earlier had striker Dean Griffiths sent off.

Midfielder Lewis Hogg was sent racing into the penalty area and had space to square the ball to Edwards, who calmly side-footed home.

Alan Griffin almost dramatically snatched an equaliser in the dying moments when his volley was nearly spilled into the net by home goalkeeper Mike Green.

Griffiths and Brandon Barns hit the Tigers’ woodwork in the opening 10 minutes and Mitch Harding did likewise for Gloucester.

The Bluebirds’ man then saw red in the 74th minute, picking up a second yellow card after sliding in to block Matt Coupe’s clearance but catching his man.