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Slimbridge assistant manager praises ‘brave’ new style

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Slimbridge assistant manager Tom Speers remains ‘very positive’ about the Swans’ progress in the new Southern League season, despite the side currently sitting fourth from bottom of the table, with four points from their opening six games, writes Tim Blake.

“It has been a hard start to the season, especially result wise,” said Speers. “If you look at the bigger picture, there have been plenty of positives, especially when we are in possession of the ball, which has been very pleasing. 

“We have had plenty of opportunities to take more points than we have, but that’s football. Without sounding like a cliche, if you don’t take your chances and make mistakes, at this level, you are going to get punished, which is what has happened so far. But overall, we are very positive about how the team is playing and the way that we are going forward.” 

Like many sides coming out from the aborted last two seasons, the management team are in the process of rebuilding a team, however, with the Reserves and Under 18s now beginning to provide an established route to the first team, the pyramid structure put in place is beginning to pay dividends at the club, with all three sides having a common style and playing ethos, with all coaching teams fully aligned. 

Speers acknowledges that the side is still a work in progress – “We have a young squad, who need time to adapt to a braver and more difficult playing style than previous years, and it takes time for the lads to develop as we are asking them to.” 

The Swans picked up their first three points this week with a hard-fought win at Evesham United’s Jubilee Stadium, with new signing Toumani Sidibe scoring his second cracking goal in three days, and Will Hawes notching the crucial winner fifteen minutes from time. Slimbridge held out for the rest of the game against a sustained spell of pressure from the home side, much to the delight of the travelling club officials and supporters. 

Speers was delighted with the points and the performance – ‘‘It was nice to get the three points against Evesham, the performance warranted the result, and we showed real fight to dig in after taking the lead. Our shape out of possession was really impressive, and our midfield covered a lot of grass. We hassled them, creating lots of turnovers of the ball, and then looked to retain possession when we could ease the load on the defence. 

“It shows the confidence that the players have within themselves, and their buy into the style we want to play. We need to instil the grit we showed for 90 minutes the other night (and at times in previous matches) more consistently. We know the other part of the game when we have the ball is getting better each week.” 

Slimbridge are now on the road for two successive weekends, travelling to League Leaders AFC Totton this Saturday (3.00 pm), before returning to Hampshire the following weekend to visit second-placed Sholing. The Swans return to Thornhill Park on Wednesday, September 29th, when they welcome Barnstaple Town (7.45 pm).

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