Poppies relegated after defeat to Chippenham

Thomas Baillie
Thomas Baillie
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Kettering Town have been officially relegated from the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division as Chippenham Town claimed a comfortable 4-2 victory at Steel Park.

Poppies boss Thomas Baillie recalled Pat Noubissie to the starting line-up while Aman Verma was also brought back in to partner stand-in striker Henry Eze in attack while Will Muzvimbiri switched to the left wing.

Chippenham started brightly and Michael Quirke was forced to save Alan Griffin’s header early on before visiting goalkeeper Ben John denied Kettering’s Dan Crowie at the far post after a good free-kick from Ben Ford.

But it was the visitors who drew first blood on the quarter-hour when Joe McClennan dispossessed Chris Logan and pulled the ball back for Griffin who made no mistake.

It could have been 2-0 soon after when McClennan sprinted through but was denied by Quirke, who made another decent stop.

But the visitors did extend their lead on 27 minutes when Toby Osman crossed from the right and Lee Phillips was given too much space to take a touch and fire home.

Kettering’s problems continued as, having already lost Nathan Fox through injury, winger Louie Hamilton also pulled up and had to be replaced by Troy Johnston.

And Chippenham continued to pose the bigger threat with Quirke saving well from Darren Mullings while Griffin also shot just wide shortly after Muzvimbiri had an effort ruled out for a foul on John.

The visitors should have made it 3-0 early in the second half when McClennan went clean through but could only shoot into the side-netting.

But Kettering were handed a lifeline on 54 minutes when Aman Verma was fouled in the area. The referee’s assistant flagged for a penalty and captain Nathan Hicks stepped up to fire home from 12 yards.

However, the hope didn’t last long as Phillips headed in his second of the game to restore the visitors’ two-goal advantage just four minutes later.

But, in a topsy-turvy encounter, Kettering pulled another goal back when Ben Ford’s free-kick to the far post was headed into his own net by Griffin.

Chippenham, however, once again restored a two-goal advantage with what proved to be the clinching goal when the impressive McClennan expertly volleyed into the bottom corner.

James Guthrie dragged another effort wide for the visitors before the end but it didn’t matter as Chippenham comfortably saw the game out to send the Poppies down.

Poppies: Quirke; Noubissie, Logan, Crowie, Fox (sub Kelly, 23 mins, sub Bradshaw, 81 mins); Hamilton (sub Johnston, 30 mins), Hicks, Ford, Muzvimbiri; Verma, Eze. Subs not used: Alleyne, Baillie.

Chippenham: John; Osman, Tindle, Harris, Allward; McClennan, Harvey, Mullings, Guthrie (sub Griffiths, 88 mins); Griffin, Phillips (sub Knighton, 90 mins). Subs not used: Kite, Rudge, Blackmore.

Referee: Mark Scholes.

Goals: Griffin (15 mins, 0-1), Phillips (27 mins, 0-2), Hicks pen (54 mins, 1-2), Phillips (58 mins, 1-3), Griffin og (65 mins, 2-3), McClennan (77 mins, 2-4).

Bookings: Guthrie (dissent), Logan, Mullings (both unsporting), Verma (foul).

Attendance: 256.