Southern League Division One West
Slimbridge 4 Highworth Town 2
Slimbridge boss Tom Speers was delighted with the performance of his side as they overturned a two-goal deficit at Thornhill Park to triumph 4-2 against an impressive Highworth Town team that dominated the first third of the game, writes Tim Blake.
After falling behind to first-half goals from Toby Holland and Felipe Barcelos, a 45th-minute goal from Edji Mbunga saw the Swans go in a goal behind at the break.
However, second-half goals from Toby Lawrence, Ben McLean and a second for Mbunga saw the Swans pull off an impressive victory.
Speers was delighted with the application of his side after a poor first period: “Using a really typical football cliché, it was a game of two halves – to start with, we were poor, we were sloppy, if you don’t come out and match a team’s endeavour, the hard work, the commitment of the other team, you’re going to give away sloppy goals, and you’re not going to be involved in the game, and that’s what we did for the first half an hour, we were a yard off everywhere.
“It was a game of two halves”
“But about ten minutes before we came in for the half, we realised that if we matched them, then our footballing ability would actually take us through, and I said to the lads at half-time, although they are taking a lot of onus upon themselves – I’ve placed a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, because they’re the boys who go out – second half, we got the ball out, we took advantage of the fact that they played 3-5-2 as we went out wide, we sucked their wingback outs and dragged their outside centre backs dragged away, and I think we did that really really well. At the same time, we matched them yard for yard on the pitch.”
“The manner of the Swans’ four goals also pleased Speers, he added: “Four superb goals, Ben McLean eventually scored, we’ve been waiting a long time for that one, Edji’s header, he tried his best to miss that one that got us back in it! I thought Edji (Mbunga) was superb today – when he’s direct and he’s strong and he’s fast, there’s not a lot of people who are going to stop him. He just needs to have that real belief that every time he gets the ball that he’s going to go past people. So hopefully today, Man of the Match and two goals will help.
“I thought everyone was superb, I thought Toby (Lawrence) was really good as well, so we had 70 minutes of good hard grit and good football.”
With seven points gained from the last nine, Speers is looking forward to the next few weeks: “I bunch my games up into how many points total I want to get, and if I’d have said I got six points out of these last four or five games, I’d have been happy, so to get seven is great, Highworth is flying, they’re a good young team and I’m very happy. So to get seven points is brilliant.”
Speers also feels that the side’s new training regime is beginning to pay dividends: “Our fitness is really starting to show, we get more touches on the ball during the week, we look like better football players and fitter, we have a week off now, and then we’ve got a really good slog of six or seven games with the teams around us, so I’m looking to get a lot of points from there. Again, the onus is back on the boys and I’m putting the pressure on them, we are a good football team, but if we don’t match people, what will happen today will keep on happening, and we won’t always be able to come back from two-nil down.
“Overall, though, I’m really impressed, really happy, we just need to keep on going and keep that consistency.”
The Swans have a blank weekend on Saturday due to Plymouth Parkway’s involvement in the FA Trophy, however, the Under 18s side are at home to South Cerney in the GFA County Cup on Tuesday at Thornhill Park (14 December 7.30pm), while the Reserve side host Evesham United Development next Saturday (18th, 3.00pm) in the Hellenic League Division Two West.
The first team returns to duty on December 27th, when they make the short trip to Cinderford Town (3.00pm).