Harry Goodger scores against Slough last season
Chippenham 1 Hungerford Town 1
HUNGERFORD stretched their unbeaten run to 13 games – but were left fuming over the goal that never was.
Chippenham, lying second in the Evo Stik Southern Premier Division, went ahead when Alan Griffin connected with Chris Allen’s corner in the 25th minute.
Crusaders keeper Paul Strudley appeared to stop the ball, but assistant referee Adrian Matthews ruled that it had crossed the line and a goal was given.
Cue protests all round from the visitors but, after consulting with his linesman, ref Marvyn Amphlett ruled that the goal should stand.
Hungerford boss Bobby Wilkinson said: “It was never, ever, ever a goal.
“The linesman guessed and he was wrong. Struds even lay on the ball after he had saved it to show that it hadn’t crossed the line.
“It threw us a bit and they got on top because we were a bit upset.
“But we had to show our character and in the second half we were absolutely outstanding.”
Chippenham could have extended their lead before the break, while Town’s Nat Jarvis also went close.
Hungerford dominated the second half, although the home side did pose a threat on the break.
Jarvis saw another good chance go begging, and it was no more than the visitors deserved when they finally equalised in the 75th minute.
Chippenham failed to clear James Rusby’s long throw and the ball fell to sub Mike Jones, who lobbed it over the packed defence and under the bar.
Fellow sub Harry Goodger also caused the home side real problems.
But Town had their hearts in their mouths when, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Greg Tindle looked to have headed home the winner for Chippenham, only for it to be ruled out for offside.
Wilkinson, though, was happy with the point that keeps Crusaders in the thick of another incredibly tight race for the play-offs.
The draw leaves them in third place on 42 points, one behind Chippenham and 13 adrift of runaway leaders Poole Town.
But they are only three clear of Kettering Town in ninth place.
Wilkinson said: “A point was fair for both sides – they had the first half and we had the second.
“We hadn’t played for three weeks and it showed as our normal sharpness was not there early on, but it keeps our unbeaten run going and it means that we have taken four points off Chippenham this season.”
He added: “We are still in the mix. Confidence is sky high, but we know that if we lose a game we could drop five or six places in the table.
“That’s how much pressure the boys are playing under at the moment and they deserve a lot of credit.”
Wilkinson also paid tribute to the efforts of everyone at the club for launching yet another promotion challenge.
He said: “We are only a small club so we are over-achieving.
“Everyone at the club, on and off the pitch – players, staff, the committee and fans – are doing a fantastic job, and if everyone is pulling in the same direction then you will get success.”
First, though, Hungerford will turn their attentions to Berkshire rivals Slough Town, who visit Bulpit Lane on Saturday (3pm).
Wilkinson said: “I went to see them beat Merthyr 3-1 last week and they are very organised and a good unit so we know we are in for a tough game.”
Crusaders will be boosted by the return of Alan O’Brien, who has been suffering from a hamstring injury.