Chipping could only manage a point this weekend when they faced Division 2 strugglers AFC Preston at home in what was overall a pretty tame encounter. Eccles named a similar side to the one which had brushed aside Newman College 6-2 in the Cup the previous week, with the addition of Kucper, back in the squad after a two month layoff with an ankle injury, on the bench.
Both sides created chances in the early going but the ball did spend the majority of the first half bogged down in the middle of the park. Holt and Walmsley worked hard together to find an outlet for Chipping but the Greens could not find the net despite efforts from Bibby, Hollis and Harrison all coming close. AFC Preston tested the Chipping defence at the other end but Catt and Coupe won their battles and dealt with each attack. As half time loomed Holt stung the goal-keepers gloves from range and Walmsley stuck a volley from the edge of the box in an attempt to break the deadlock. However, neither proved successful and the half time whistle sounded.
In the second half things began to get heated between the two sides with the referee having to make some big calls to remain in control of the game. Chipping came close again when a Hollis corner was met by the head of Ross six yards out. He angled the header down but the keeper reacted well to save low to his left.
Eccles began making his changes, bringing on Bradshaw in place of Ross followed shortly by Kucper for Holt. The desperation to snatch a late goal and steal the points was evident on both sides. A few full blooded tackles started to creep in and again the referee had to maintain order. The continuing deterioration of the playing surface didn’t help matters as areas began to cut up, making playing the ball along the floor increasingly difficult, adding to the scrappy nature of the game. Hobro gave way to Ollerton for Chipping as the clock ran down.
The visitors looked as though they might have been in on goal with only minutes to play when the ball was launched forward and the striker got on the end of it, only to see the flag raised for a clear offside. The referee brought proceedings to a close and once again Chipping were to rue their early chances, somewhat of a re-occurring theme this season, and one which Eccles has expressed his concern over to the squad. The Greens had, however, kept another clean sheet and remain unbeaten at home this season.
Chipping’s next outing is this Saturday, March 7 away at Southport Trinity, kick-off 2.30pm where they will be looking to get more points on the board and keep themselves in the race for the title.