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FA Vase: Slimbridge 4-3 Lydney Town – the result is what matters, insists Coyle

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Joint Slimbridge manager Adam Coyle said that his team’s performance in their FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round win against Lydney Town was ‘bitty’ as they edged a seven-goal thriller, writes Tim Blake.

On an eventful afternoon at Thornhill Park, Slimbridge dominated the first half of the tie, taking the lead through Jack Smith, before conceding two sucker punch goals before the break. 

Having conceded two goals in three minutes in the first period, the Swans then scored two of their own in the same time period to put them back in front in the second, before a fourth goal with appeared to have put the game beyond Lydney’s reach. 

However, the visitors fought until the end, and pulled a goal back with eight minutes left on the clock, to leave Slimbridge playing out a nervy end to the game. 

The Swans will now travel to Highworth Town in the next round of the competition.

Slimbridge started the game brightly, and should have been well out of sight before the game got to half time. 

In the first minute, Jack Smith was off target following good work from Edji Mbunga, and then four minutes later, Smith had another goalbound effort blocked by a good challenge. 

Smith was unlucky after 15 minutes when Hawes created space for him, and his effort was initially blocked by Lydney Keeper Elliot Jones, before spinning towards the open goal, only to see it cleared off the line. As the ball fell to Rudi McKinnon, Jones, made a good stop to deny the Slimbridge man as he followed up. 

Still the chances came for the home side – McKinnon played in Dale Evans who saw his effort deflected over for a corner, and Hawes was just off target with a header. 

It took 16 minutes for Lydney to create their first opportunity, and Lucas Vaughn was denied by a good stop from Slimbridge Keeper Ellis Parker. 

Myron Turner was next to try his luck, but was again off target, before Evans had another effort just too high. 

Just before the half hour, Marley Thomas brought another good save from Jones, before Hawes fluffed his lines when through one on one. 

Finally, on 34 minutes, Evans played a great Ccossfield pass to McKinnon, and Smith edged ahead of his defender to nudge the ball home to put the home side ahead. 

However, rather than open the floodgates, the lead lasted only three minutes – some slack defending by the Slimbridge back line allowed Lewis Thompson to find acres of space and bring the tie level. 

Three minutes later, it got worse for the Swans – an awful mix up at the back saw following a Slimbridge throw in saw Steve Clark left to walk the ball into an empty net and put Lydney on top just before the break. 

It took 15 minutes of the second half for Slimbridge to settle properly back into the game – McKinnon and Smith both had efforts saved, before Edji Mbunga fought for the ball in the Lydney box, turned his man to create some space and powered the ball past Jones to level the game up again. 

Mbunga was instrumental in the next goal as well in the 70th minute, making a probing run down the Slimbridge right, before crossing the ball for Smith to knock home from about a yard out. 

Three minutes later, a superb cross from Marley Thomas found Theo Clayson, and the youngster converted for his first senior goal for the side. 

There was still time for Declan Morely-Lyne to pull a goal back for Lydney in the 82nd minute, but the nervy Swans held on to record the victory and book their place in the next round. 

Coyle admitted that the team were subdued after the game, while praising the contributions of his former Under 18s players Jack Smith and Theo Clayson: “You’d moan if you weren’t making the chances and we’re doing that – but now we’ve got to put them away and put teams to bed if we get the chances. It’s frustrating. But we can get the ball brilliantly from A to B, but we’re just not doing the last bit. 

“It was a great comeback in the second half -it was the young lads again – Jack and Theo from the 18s last year were brilliant. Jack’s probably not happy that he could have scored more, but overall as a team, that wasn’t just Jack, that was everybody. 

“We’re looking for those consistency levels, and we were so good, but then you’ve got to score when you’re on top. 

“And we did that – but then we gave them the chance to get back into the game, and gave away two horrendous goals in the first half. But I think overall, you can tell by the feeling in the dressing room – it’s not an upbeat dressing room, it’s a ‘you know what, we can do a whole lot better than that’ dressing room. 

“It’s very focussed – there’s no bouncing off the walls making happy faces, and they know we can do a lot better than that.”

Slimbridge are on the road on Monday when they travel to Brimscombe and Thrupp in a Hellenic Premier League encounter 3pm, before returning to Thornhill Park next Saturday, 3 for a replay of the previously abandoned game against Roman Glass St. George. 

The Under 18s were due to travel to Almondsbury on Tuesday 29th, but that game has now been postponed. 

Slimbridge: Parker, Turner, Mbunga, Evans, Dennis, Hitchings, McKinnon, Blackie (Mara 69), Hawes (Clayson 70), Smith (Prictor 89), Thomas

Goals: Smith 34, 70, Mbunga 57, Clayson 73

Supporters’ Man of the Match: Edji Mbunga

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