Hellenic Premier Division
Slimbridge 2 Cinderford Town 0
Slimbridge moved up to fifth place in the Hellenic Premier League with a dominant display over Cinderford Town at Thornhill Park on Saturday, writes Tim Blake.
Two first half goals in 10 minutes from Rudi McKinnon and Ben Hands saw the Swans home.
Joint Manager Tom Deakin was delighted with the display, he said: “We’re very happy. Credit to the lads, from the first minute to the last we controlled the game, we came out of the blocks very well, and then in the second half, we made sure we dug in and kept that clean sheet for Ellis.
“The last time we were two goals up at half-time was the Lydney game, and we all know what happened then. So in the second half, we had to make sure we stuck to the clean sheet, and make sure that we got the three points.”
Deakin was delighted with the overall performance of his side: “Jack Smith was superb, Sam Blackie was brilliant in the centre of the park, Char (Charlie Hitchings) and Nath (Nathan Dennis) made sure nothing got past them.
“I don’t think Cinderford had a shot on target apart from a header from a corner, and that shows how well defensively we played. Handsy as well (Ben Hands), protecting the back four with Blackie, it was overall a real team effort.”
Deakin also revealed that despite the many first half opportunities, there was calm in the dressing room at the break.
“Funnily enough, we weren’t frustrated at the chances not taken in the first half when we came in at half time – we could have been frustrated by it, but I think we’re learning in terms of the group, and we’re keeping control of our emotions. We’ve come in, and yes, we probably should have been ahead by more – we’ve hit the post – Marley (Thomas) probably should have scored, George (Neill) probably should have scored from their chances, and it don’t think that if we’d have three or four up at half-time it would have been unjustified. We came in at half time and said, well we’ve got the two, now we need to keep hold of the two. It was a positive frame of mind, which was good to see from these lads.”
Slimbridge immediately took possession of the game and created some very early chances – Marley Thomas saw his effort saved by Cinderford Keeper James Smallcombe, and then George Neill saw another effort deflected for an early corner, which was cleared.
With three minutes on the clock, Rudi McKinnon hit the Cinderford post with an effort, and in the next minute, Thomas saw his effort come back into play off the other Cinderford post as Slimbridge created chance after chance.
Neill saw another effort saved by Smallcombe, before the deadlock was finally broken with 26 minutes gone – Jack Smith drove forward on the break and passed to McKinnon, who smashed the ball home from distance in what will surely be a goal of the season contender.
Ten minutes later, a foul on Smith saw a Slimbridge free Kick on the left hand side of the Cinderford goal, and Ben Hands saw his kick evade everyone and sneak in past Smallcombe to double the lead.
There was still time for another Slimbridge chance, but Smith saw his effort saved by Smallcombe as the teams went into the break.
The second half was very different to the first – play developed into a stalemate between the two sides, with neither really dominating, but again it was Slimbridge who came closest to scoring – Ben Prictor tried to loop a cross over Smallcombe on 63 minutes, but the Cinderford Keeper managed to palm the ball away.
Cinderford created the odd opportunity, but never really threatened the Slimbridge box, and Ellis Parker was more than capable of dealing with the odd chances that the visitors created.
Smith had another opportunity to notch a third with five minutes left on the clock, but was off target, and Slimbridge played out the five minutes of stoppage time safely to pick up the three points.
The Swans are back at Thornhill Park next Saturday, when fourth-placed Worcester Raiders are the visitors, and Deakin is already looking forward to that challenge: “I was asked the other day about our consistency – that comes with attitude and mentality, and today, the application was there, we can now go into next Saturday with that same attitude and application, and hopefully it goes in our favour again, but we’ll see where we are next weekend.”
Slimbridge: Parker, Turner, Prictor, Blackie, Dennis, Hitchings, McKinnon, Hands, Neill, Smith (Mbunga 66), Thomas (Reeves 57)
Goals: McKinnon 26, Hands, 36
Supporters’ Club Man of the Match: Jack Smith
Slimbridge Under 18s recorded two victories in the past week – firstly, dethroning the League Leaders and inflicting the first defeat of the season on Dursley Town 3-2 at Rednock School, with goals coming from Will Tainton, Kieran Bennet and Joel Jagger.
On Sunday, the U18s progressed to the next round of the GFA U18 Youth Cup with a 10-2 demolition of Leckhampton Youth U18 BOAS at Thornhill Park. Goalscorers were Logan Wyman, Will Tainton (3), Kieran Bennett, Alex Stratford, Joel Jagger, Ollie Faubel (2) and Toby Brice.