CHIPPENHAM Town battled in the wind and the rain to earn themselves a festive point at Chesham United on Boxing Day.
Despite an unpredictable surface causing chaos at times, Nathan Rudge’s side hauled themselves back from a goal down in Buckinghamshire.
Despite a scrappy first 45 minutes, it was the Bluebirds who shaded matters and put on the pressure against a shaky-looking Chesham defence.
However, 20 minutes in, the first chance of the game fell to the home side’s Scott McGleish, who latched on to a John Kyriacou clearance but shot weakly at Ben John.
Three minutes later, Chippenham threatened through Scott Lye, who arrived in to the box to meet Alan Griffin’s cut-back and saw his strike deflected wide by Chesham defender Rob Bartley.
Alex Kite headed Brandon Barnes’ free-kick into the side-netting and Dean Griffiths outpaced the home defence before testing keeper Shane Gore.
Shortly afterwards, Gore had to be alert to beat away Ballinger’s effort before, in the closing stages of the half, Chesham’s Inih Effiong wasted a great chance to give his side the lead as he scooped his shot wide.
There was still time for Lye to set up Ballinger for a well-struck volley on goal, which was tipped over the bar by the Chesham goalie to keep the scores level at the break.
Barnes was played in early in the second period but his powerful effort whistled just over before United’s Sam Barker flashed an effort past the post at the other end.
Conditions soon worsened, and torrential rain began to hamper the flow of the game.
But midway into the half, the hosts stole in front when striker Scott Thomas unleashed an effort from the edge of the area, which flew into the bottom corner past a despairing John.
In the 77th minute, the Bluebirds got their equaliser. Barnes’ effort was touched wide by Gore and from the resulting Lye corner, defender Kite stooped low to head goalwards, with his effort finding the net, despite a deflection off the body of a Chesham defender.
With five minutes remaining, John punched away a Wales free-kick as the match entered a nail-biting finale but the Bluebirds survived a late onslaught to earn a point.
Chippenham: Ben John, Adie Harris, Toby Osman, Ashley Williams, Steve Casey (captain), Alex Kite, Luke Ballinger (Iain Harvey 85), Scott Lye, Alan Griffin, Dean Griffiths (Nathan Rudge 85), Brandon Barnes.
Subs not used: Richard Fey.
Chesham United: Shane Gore (c), John Kyriacou, Toby Little, Matt Bevans, Rob Bartley, Sam Barker, Dave Fotheringham, Steve Wales, Inih Effiong, Simon Thomas, Scott McGleish.
Subs: Michael Chennells, James Quinn, Tim Shaw, Matt Lench.
Referee: Mr M Scholes.
REACTION FROM TODAY'S MATCH AT GAZETTEANDHERALD.CO.UK/SPORT AND WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT LATER