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Slimbridge boss Coyle takes positives after opening day point

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Slimbridge co-manager Adam Coyle took the positives from his side’s 0-0 draw against Highworth Town in their Hellenic Premier Division opener at Thornhill Park.

Coyle said: “Overall, I’m disappointed with the score, but lots of positives to take and lots to work on.

“We need to score when we’re on top in games, we started really well but our final pass or shot just wasn’t there.

“I thought our overall shape out of possession was okay and we deserved the clean sheet, which we are pleased about.”

The first half was dominated by the Swans, who were unable to capitalise on numerous chances on goal, while the second developed into a stalemate with both teams going close to snatching the points. 

Slimbridge started the game strongly,  and were soon creating chances – Jack Smith headed over with three minutes on the clock, George Neil went close with an effort deflected for a corner two minutes later, and Edji Mbunga was wide with a header on six minutes. 

There was a controversial incident on ten minutes, when Smith sent Neill through on goal, and he was taken out by the last Highworth defender as he closed on goal, but referee Ian Butler saw no need to award anything more than a free kick on the edge of the box to the home side, which came to nothing. 

It took 15 minutes for Highworth to create their first opportunity, when Connor Maitimore was off target following a quick break. 

Slimbridge continued to create chances, and Marley Thomas hit the side netting after good work by Sam Blackie and Neill had sent him down the wing. 

On 24 minutes, Myron Turner was just off target, and another string of chances saw the Swans frustrated – Nathan Dennis was wide with a header, Mbunga was thwarted by a great tackle as he shaped to shoot, and Neill’s effort saw a superb save from Highworth keeper Connor Johns to leave the teams level at the break. 

Highworth came out of the blocks a lot sharper at the start of the second half, Sol Pryce, Luke Whelan and Maitimore all had chances to get the visitors on the scoresheet.

On 55 minutes, a Thomas effort was cleared off the line, but the game developed into a stalemate. 

Coyle and Tom Deakin made a trio of substitutions on the hour mark, but the game petered out somewhat.

Smith had two good chances for the Swans on 77 and 82 minutes, but at the final whistle, both sides had to settle for a point apiece. 

Speaking after the game, Swans co-manager Deakin was philosophical about the side’s first Hellenic League game in nearly a decade: “It feels like we should have got more from the game, but then I think at the same time that Highworth probably got something from the game that they worked hard for. 

“It’s a first point on the board, it’s a clean sheet at home, so in that aspect it’s a positive start. In terms of not getting all three points, it’s a bit disappointing for us. 

“We didn’t quite find that end product that we needed, and we missed that clinical edge today. 

“They came into the game second half, they came out a lot better than us, we didn’t really get back into a rhythm until there was 15, 20 minutes to go. They were a threat second half, and we didn’t quite do enough our end until it was probably a bit too late.”

Slimbridge: Adams, Turner, Prictor (Hands 60), Evans (McKinnon 60), Dennis, Hitchings, Mbunga (Jaggers 60), Blake, Neill, Smith (Clayson 84), Thomas

The Swans are back at Thornhill Park on Saturday when they entertain Reading City in an FA Cup Extra-Preliminary Round tie, 3pm.

The Under 18s side continued their pre-season on Friday night, when they defeated Uley Under 18s 4-1 at Tinkley Lane. Goalscorers for the Swans were Freddie Harris with a brace, Devon Morgan and Cameron Lowe.

Their next scheduled pre-season game is on Thursday August 10th, when they entertain Royal Wootton Bassett Town Under 18s at Thornhill Park. (7.30pm)

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