I came with an old friend to see my first game of the 2021-22 season at the Bauvill stadium, home of Chatham Town. The Bauvill is a modern stadium with good covered seating and standing areas, bars and refreshment provision.
Chatham came into the season, having won the post lockdown tournament and with expectations high for a title challenge. Manager Scott Lindsey left in July to join League Two, Swindon Town, which was a shock and a blow to Chatham. Chairman Kevin Hake has kept control of team affairs since then and is yet to appoint a replacement for Lindsey.
The postponement of some of their early fixtures has left Chatham chasing points on the surprising high flyers in the SCEFL (Southern Counties East Football League) Premier Division, Glebe, Deal and Erith and Belvedere. Then, a shock loss to Sheppey United, when Chatham had held a two goal lead, pushed them a little further back in the table. Recent form however, has seen Chatham creep up to fifth place. Striker Dan Bradshaw is in great form and has scored nine goals in just six league games.
Tunbridge Wells have made a stuttering start to the season but have managed with recent results going their way, to move upto ninth place, with sixteen points from nine games. Matthew Gething is Tunbridge Wells’ top scorer, this season, with six goals from seven fixtures.
The game opened with both sides looking tentative. Chatham struggled to find a way to break through a decent Tunbridge Wells defence. Tunbridge Wells had some chances on the counter attack but looked reticent to commit themselves as Evans, Hayes and Bradshaw for Chatham pushed forward. The opening goal came on 35 minutes for Chatham Town. Dan Bradshaw finishing, to ease the tension.
Two minutes later Chatham were awarded a penalty when Tunbridge Wells were penalised for handling a certain goal on the line. Tunbridge Well’s Ryan Cheek was dismissed, before Jack Evans slotted away the penalty.
The second half saw Tunbridge Wells pull a goal back through Matt Gething on 54 minutes. Tunbridge Wells found some fire and seemed reinvigorated by the goal, although just two minutes later, Dan Bradshaw finished well for his second goal and Chatham, once more, had a two goal lead.
On 74 minutes Bradshaw completed his hat trick to make it 4-1.
After much pressure Chatham scored their fifth, late on in the game through Andy Pugh, who finished before a delighted home following, to complete a 5-1 victory.
Chatham looked like the team of last season today with a fine win which pushes them close to their SCEFL title rivals. Tunbridge Wells will be disappointed, but didn’t look like they were in the game once Chatham opened the scoring.