CHIPPENHAM Town manager Mark Collier said his side paid the price for a disappointing first-half performance against local rivals Hungerford Town in the two sides’ 1-1 draw on Saturday.

The Bluebirds have a wretched recent record against Hungerford, winning just one of their previous eight meetings, and that pattern has continued into its ninth game following the stalemate at the weekend.

In front of a crowd of 377, Hungerford’s James Rusby knocked in a seventh-minute free-kick from Kofi Halliday to put the home side ahead before David Pratt equalised a couple of minutes after half-time.

Collier was left confused with his side’s slow start in the crunch game, but felt after a change of shape, Chippenham looked the more likely team to go on and take all three points.

He said: “It’s a difficult one because we went 1-0 down and we were very, very poor for 30 minutes.

“I don’t know why but we lacked energy.

“We changed the system around before half-time and we got a foothold in the game.

“The second half was much better, we got on the ball, created chances, got a relatively early goal in the second half and I thought we’d go on and win it.

“We said at half-time that if we can’t win, we need to try and draw.

“An away draw at this level is certainly not the worst result, so we’ll take the positives from it.”

Following the Bluebirds’ third consecutive draw in the league, Chippenham sit in mid-table and have stretched their unbeaten run to four games.

Collier is proud of the resilience his players have often shown so far this season, but warned them their levels of application and concentration must improve when facing the promotion-hunting sides as they are unlikely to be offered avenues of hope in those games once they fall behind.

Collier said: “We underperformed in the first half, however, we stuck in there and we kept on working away, and we go our rewards for a better second-half performance.

“I said to the players afterwards ‘against the real top sides, you have to turn up from the first whistle and be right at it.’ “The disappointing thing from my point of view is that wasn’t the case today.

“We’re still a work-in-progress, we know that, but we’re not in a bad place.

“It’s one defeat in five, so we’re certainly going in the right direction and we look forward to Weymouth next week.”