Slimbridge 5 Thornbury Town 2
A freak head injury to striker George Neill put a dampener on Slimbridge’s first win of the season, writes Tim Blake.
The Swans had nosed ahead through Rudi McKinnon, and with 22 minutes on the clock, an accidental head injury to Neill saw the game held up for 38 minutes while he received medical attention, and resulted in Neill leaving the ground in an ambulance.
The striker left hospital at 5am this morning, suffering from concussion and a perforated eardrum and will return to hospital later today for another check up, and more checks over the next seven days.
Slimbridge co-manager Adam Coyle said: “It was a difficult situation.
“Obviously, you hear lots of things that are going on in the area, but once we knew he was going to be fine, the lads were happy to get the game back on. The mentality was ‘let’s go and do it for George’ really.
“You don’t like to see one of your teammates be taken away in an ambulance, but we hope he’s alright – we think he is, he’s sent a message into our group chat, but the lads wanted to do it for him, and they responded.’”
After the match resumed, Richard Joyce’s Thornbury equalised through Will Fowler, and then, ten minutes into the second period, Harvey Pritchard put the visitors ahead.
But the Swans responded with four goals in the last 15 minutes of the game – Jack Smith pulled things level and then Will Hawes, on for Neill, converted a nine minute hat-trick to win the game for the home side, at the end of a game that eventually finished at 10.30pm.
Coyle added: “It’s a relief to get off the mark, I think it was a mental block that we had, and now the monkey is off our back, and so we can look forward now. We have got the first win out of the way and the changing room is really happy, and I think we probably deserved it.
“We didn’t respond to the break very well. Thornbury started well, and we didn’t really react to it. Credit to Thornbury for coming and having a go.
“What I was really impressed with was the reaction after going 2-1 down – we could have folded, but we absolutely dug in, and we said to them that we needed a match-winner, and Hawsey absolutely deserves that.”
Coyle also praised the contribution of three players who last season were playing for the Slimbridge Under 18 side – Jack Smith, Theo Clayson and Tyler Jaggers: “It has been an absolutely brilliant two days for the club – the Under 18s won in the FA Youth Cup yesterday, and those three – Tyler, Theo and Jack were all superb tonight. It’s a really really good time for the club at the moment, we work hard for our Under 18s and it’s a big thing for us, we want to produce our own players, and they have been superb.”
Coyle is already looking forward to the next game at home to Wantage Town: “The feeling in there now is’ We were ok, there were some bits to improve, and we need to iron them out, but let’s kick on to the next one – we know it’s not going to be easy, but we’re at home and hopefully we can put in the same second half performance, and be good for 90 minutes.”
Slimbridge continue their Hellenic League campaign on Tuesday when they entertain Wantage Town at Thornhill Park (7.45pm), before started their FA Vase campaign on Saturday with a home time against Lydney Town.
Slimbridge: Parker, Hunt, Clayson (Mbunga 75), Hands, Hitchings, Prictor, McKinnon, (Jaggers 83), Blackie, Neill, (Hawes 22) Smith, Thomas
Goals: McKinnon 10, Smith 75, Hawes 78, 82, 87 (penalty)
Supporters’ Man of the Match: Marley Thomas