Slimbridge 1 Bristol Manor Farm 1
By Tim Blake
Slimbridge stretched their unbeaten run to five games with a point against Bristol Manor Farm who are battling to stay in the play-off picture.
In a game that could have gone either way, a draw was probably the fairest result in one of the best games of football at Thornhill Park this season.
The first chance of the game resulted in the opening goal – with five minutes on the clock, a Foul on ex-Swan Mickey Bryant resulted in a free kick on the Slimbridge right. Former Bristol Rovers and Forest Green’s Jake Gosling’s pinpoint cross was nodded home by Josh Ford to put the visitors ahead.
Slimbridge fought back, and Jamie Martin was off target with header following good work from Jordan Yeo, before Yeo created another opportunity, this one headed wide by Nathan Dennis.
With 20 minutes gone, Slimbridge had a glorious opportunity to level things up, but Farm Keeper Ben John made a superb stop from Edji Mbunga when one on one.
The visitors responded, and Gosling set up Lloyd Mills, who skied his effort when well placed.
Mbunga then set up Jamie Martin, and again John made another superb stop as Slimbridge pressed to bring the scores level.
The Swans’ backline held firm on the half-hour, when Lucas Vowles and then Bryant saw efforts blocked, and the game went in with the visitors a goal to the good at the break.
Slimbridge came out with renewed purpose at the start of the second half, and after Vowles had seen an effort saved by Slimbridge Keeper Lewis Adams, a quick break saw Jordan Yeo break down the Swans’ right flank.
His pinpoint cross into the box could have been turned in by either Mbunga or Jamie Martin, who both got behind the Farm backline, but it was Mbunga who made the first contact and levelled things up.
As the game went from end to end, Theo Llewelyn saw his goalbound header kept out by a superb stop from Adams, before Mbunga went close with another effort as the Swans broke forward.
After Martin had gone close with another couple of efforts, Gosling went up the other end and brought another stop from Adams as the game swung from end to end.
Martin was again close with 15 minutes remaining, when he chased a through ball, lobbed Farm Keeper John, only to see his effort come back off the crossbar and be cleared.
John then made another great stop from Ben McLean as Slimbridge pressed for a winner, but in the end, a draw was a fair reflection of a very entertaining afternoon’s football.
Speaking after the game, Manager Tom Speers was pleased with the performance of his side: “First of all, I thought it was a really really good game of football. Both teams had lots of chances, there were good saves, good opportunities, it was a battle, both teams had quite extended period on top – we had to dig in, dig deep, defend well, there were two really well-taken goals, so, first of all, I really enjoyed the game, as much as you can do when you’re there on the sidelines.
“I think both teams can probably say they could have won it, both teams can probably say they deserved to win, I think a draw is a fair result – we hit the bar, Lew made a great save down low, but both teams defended really well, and we attacked really well, so it was all round just a really good game of football.”
Slimbridge were boosted by the return of Myron Turner to the first eleven, but with Will Hawes still absent, Speers explained how he shuffled the squad: “Will was going to start on the bench, he was going to come on as impact, but he had a little bit of a problem with his knee, and we had Marley (Thomas) with his hamstring, so I decided to rest Marley today, and Will pulled up a little bit as well. But I thought Myron was superb today, you don’t have to worry about is fitness, he can come back from injury, he’s one of the fitter boys on the pitch.
“We did well though, I thought Toby (Lawrence) was superb today, absolutely superb and Myron on the right side against Jake (Gosling) – Jake takes football to another level, I know he’s played higher, but he’s actually really good to watch, he’s that level ahead of everyone else, he’s so level headed, and to have a player like him. I thought Mikey Bryant also played really well, but the fact we kept them quiet for large period of the game, and at the same time, we really affected them at the other end, shows that we’re actually going in a real good direction.
“We’re pressing forward rather than looking behind, and that’s what I wanted to do when I came in.”
The Swans now have a free weekend before returning to Southern League action on March 19th, when they travel to Bideford. A coach leaves Thornhill Park at 9.30pm and it’s £10 pp for any supporters wishing to travel.
Slimbridge Under 18s host Tuffley Rovers on Tuesday (8th, 7.30pm) before travelling to Cinderford Town on Thursday (10th, 7.30pm), while the Reserve side host Cheltenham Saracens next Saturday (12th, 3.00 pm).
Slimbridge: Adams, Spark, Turner, Ford, Dennis, Lawrence, Yeo, Ogbeifun ( Hands 85), Mbunga, McLean (Flo 90), Martin
Supporters’ Man of The Match: Jamie Martin.