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Coyle heaps praise on Slimbridge

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Goals from Myron Turner and Rudi McKinnon along with an Ellis Parker double save from the penalty spot earned Slimbridge three points at Pershore in the Hellenic Premier Division, writes Oli Neale.

Pershore’s Dan Baldwin looped a shot onto the crossbar from range as the home side started in better shape.

Five minutes before the interval, Ben Hands’ scuffed corner cross was bundled over the line by captain, Myron Turner.

Rudi McKinnon’s superb second half strike doubled the Swans’ lead before Ellis Parker’s double save denied Josh Willis and Pershore a way back into the game from the penalty spot.

Pershore had the better of the opening moments, Baldwin curled an inviting cross into the six-yard box for Aidan Clark who, having escaped his marker, tapped his effort wide.

Just two minutes later, Baldwin was inches away from opening the scoring through an audacious long range volleyed effort, the cross bar spared the blushes of Parker who believed the ball was heading over.

The Swans grew into the game down both wings, Edji Mbunga and McKinnon proved a threat going forward and linked up well to provide the first big chance for Slimbridge, as Hands’ bounced effort was eventually tipped over from inside the penalty area.

Then, with five minutes of the first half remaining, Slimbridge opened the scoring. Although it may not have meant to reach Turner, Hands’ cross found the midfielder who tapped home his first of the season, despite multiple bodies in the way.

Similarly to the first half, it was the home side who came out looking the stronger team, the Swans’ defence had to stand firm to withhold the pace of the Pershore attack.

Undeterred by the pressure, Slimbridge went down the other end to double their lead.

Ben Prictor’s lofted pass found George Neill who, using his chest, laid the ball to the edge of the penalty area to McKinnon who took a touch and curled his shot past Eddie Cox in the Pershore net.

A goal which sent the travelling supporters into jubilation.

As Pershore pushed more players forward, gaps opened on the break. Substitute, Elliot Gardner showcased his pace as he passed a Pershore defender before hitting a shot over the bar while running in at Cox.

The job then fell back to the Swans’ defence and keeper who were hoping for their fourth clean sheet of the season. 

In the 82nd minute Willis had the chance to deny this feat from the penalty spot as Joe Hunt caught his marker in the area.

Parker, however, was prepared well for the spot kick, diving the right way and palming away Willis’ first effort and his rebound to keep Pershore at bay. 

The centre back partnership of Charlie Hitchings and Bogdan Mara starred in the final minutes, and rounded off a brilliant team performance which helped Slimbridge leapfrog their opponents in the league.

Gaffer tapes

Joint manager, Adam Coyle was delighted with Slimbridge’s performance.

“So proud of the players tonight and their work rate. In the first half we were good in possession but the second half we had to defend, and defend for long periods.

“Goalkeeper brilliant again, I thought Bogdan (Mara) and Charlie (Hitchings) were brilliant, the fullbacks did really well against their wingers who were very good players.

“This is a really tough place to come and that’s going to give our group a lot of belief, the mentality has completely changed now.”

Coyle was also quick to praise fellow joint manager Tom Deakin, whose penalty preparations aided the Swans on the night.

“Deaks is delighted he said all along he would go that way, he does his homework. But, Ellis (Parker) has still got to make the save and it’s a great save and the rebound as well!

“When you come to places like this you need your goalkeepers to to be good, and he was very good.”

The result backed up an emphatic win over Tuffley Rovers at Thornhill Park on Saturday and, following this weekend’s Hellenic League Premier results, leaves Slimbridge in fourth.

Up next, the first team face more tough competition away from home as they take on Highworth Town at the Save On Tyres Stadium Tuesday night, before returning to Thornhill Park on Saturday when they host Lydney Town.

The Slimbridge 18s are also back in action Tuesday night, as they take on Evesham United U18 at Thornhill Park.

Team: Parker, Hunt, Prictor, Blackie, Hitchings, Mara, McKinnon (Thomas 68′), Hands (Smith 90′), Neill (Gardner 68′), Turner, Mbunga (Clayson 75′).

Goals: Turner 41′, McKinnon 57′.

Man of the Match: Edji Mbunga.

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