By Tim Blake
Slimbridge boss Tom Speers declared himself delighted to see his side complete a League double over Evesham with a dominant display at Thornhill Park, in front of the club’s biggest home gate of the season.
A goal in each half from Nathan Dennis and Will Hawes saw the Swans home, and Speers challenged his players after the game to maintain their momentum.
“I was disappointed not to pick up any points at Barnstaple last Saturday,” Speers said. “‘But tonight – that the minimum we should be – I’ve talked before about us being Jekyll and Hyde, and we were definitely Hyde tonight, and this is the level we need to stay at – we’ve got 3 or 4 really big games coming up – if we keep on putting the level of desire, grit, determination and hard work, we have got quality on the pitch and now with an extra player at the back and up top, it makes us a much more dangerous side.”
Given the personnel moves between the two clubs this season, it was no surprise that the game had a feisty start, and it only took twelve minutes for the first booking – Nathan Dennis seeing yellow for a crunching tackle on Toumani Sidebe. Just prior to that, the game’s first real chance had gone to the home side, when Jack Spark and Marley Thomas combined well, but there was no-one in the box to meet Thomas’ cross as it flashed crossed goal.
Slimbridge also had the next big chance, after Myron Turner played in Will Hawes, who was felled on the edge of the Evesham box, but Hawes’s subsequent free-kick was just off target.
Jordan Lynn’s header wide on 19 minutes was the sum of the attacking efforts from the visitors, who were struggling to get a handle for themselves in the game.
With 26 minutes gone, the home side took the lead – A Thomas Free Kick was drifted in from the Swans’ left-hand side, and Nathan Dennis was on hand to guide the ball past Evesham Keeper Lewis Clayton.
As Slimbridge pressed for a second Turner was just wide with an effort, and Turner played in Thomas just before the break, who was one on one with the keeper, only to see Clayton pull off a good block with his feet to keep the deficit to one goal at the half.
The second half began with more Slimbridge pressure – Ben McLean was unlucky not to get on the end of another Thomas cross, and Thomas himself was still causing problems with his speed, nearly fashioning another opportunity running onto a through ball that Clayton reached just ahead of him.
After a Mike Symons effort for Evesham that didn’t trouble Swans Keeper Lewis Adams, Slimbridge doubled their lead on 58 minutes.
A move down the Evesham left saw Ben Prictor scuff a clearance, with the ball falling straight to Will Hawes. Hawes took his time and slid the ball past Clayton to notch the second of the game.
As the Evesham defence tried to regroup, another mix-up saw Hawes have another fine effort which was hooked off the line by Adam Mace to prevent a Swans’ third goal.
With ten minutes remaining, Mace fouled Thomas in the Evesham box and the Swans had an opportunity to put the game to bed, but Hawes’ effort was high and clipped the crossbar on its way over.
There was still time for the home side to create more opportunities – Jordan Yeo had a good effort deflected over for a corner, and Edji Mbunga had a goal-bound effort stopped on the line by Mace, but the Swans played out time comfortably to record the win which puts more distance between them and the sides at the bottom of the table.
The Swans travel to Melksham Town on Saturday (5th Feb, 3.00pm) before visiting Cinderford Town on Tuesday (8th Feb, 7.45pm).
The Under 18 side are also away next week, travelling to Westfields Under 18s on Monday (7th Feb, 7.30pm)
Slimbridge: Adams, Spark, Turner, Ford, Dennis, Lawrence, Mbunga (O’Boyle 89), Ogbeifun, Hawes (Yeo 81), McLean (Hands 81), Thomas
Supporters’ Man Of The Match: Don Ogbeifun