Melksham Town 2 Slimbridge 1
By Tim Blake
Slimbridge boss Tom Speers felt his side shot themselves in the foot as two goals conceded in the space of four first-half minutes proved Slimbridge’s undoing at Melksham.
The Swans initially took the lead, and then played against ten men for over 50 minutes. After Ben McLean had put the visitors ahead, Melksham’s Kyle Tooze saw red for an elbow on Don Ogbeifun, but then a Luke Ballinger penalty followed swiftly by an Albert Hopkins strike saw the hosts take the points.
In a largely uneventful opening quarter of an hour, the only effort of note was Jay Malshanskyj’s effort which took a deflection into the side netting for a corner with eleven minutes on the clock.
Melksham had a couple more efforts, one from Tooze and a second from Ballinger, but both were off target.
On 22 minutes, the visitors took the lead with their first chance of the game – Edji Mbunga and Will Hawes combined well to set up McLean, and his effort took a deflection on its way past Melksham Keeper Matthew Hall.
Melksham responded and, after Tooze had another effort off target, a promising scramble in the box broke down when Swans Keeper Lewis Adams was fouled as he went to collect the ball.
With 38 minutes gone, the home side were reduced to ten men when Tooze elbowed Ogbeifun right in front of Referee Jack Clench, who had no hesitation is brandishing a red card.
With a minute left before half-time, the hosts were back in the game – Hopkins was fouled in the Slimbridge box by Ben Hands, and Ballinger stepped up to convert the penalty and level things up.
Worse was to come for the Swans though in the second minute of stoppage-time when Malshankskyj set up Hopkins, who rifled the ball past Adams to see Melksham go in ahead at the break.
Slimbridge made a good start to the second period – Ogbeifun’s long range effort was saved by Hall, and both Hawes and Myron Turner went close as Slimbridge pressed for an equaliser.
Melksham had a good spell in the middle of the second period, with a Ryan Morgan and a couple of Malshankskyj efforts going close, but they were unable to increase their lead.
As the game approached theist ten minutes, Slimbridge began to create chances again – McLean set up Hawes for an effort, and a scramble in the Melksham box came to nothing when Toby Lawrence was penalised for a push.
The Swans had a series of corners as the game approached time, but Lawrence’s header was wide, and then McLean had an effort blocked, as Melksham played out time to record the victory.
Speaking after the game, Manager Tom Speers depressed his frustration and disappointment at the result, he said: “We took the lead and controlled the game, they had a player sent off, and for the umpteenth time this season, we conceded two in four or five minutes.
“Unfortunately, we’re just not learning. It’s disappointing because it’s our fault we haven’t got any points today. They had a bot more possession than us, but were playing exactly where we wanted them to, our shape was great, our defending was great, and any time they looked dangerous we nullified that, and then for five minutes we didn’t – we disappeared.
“We’ve let ourselves down. The boys are upset and they should be – this should have been our second win on the bounce, and now it makes Tuesday (The visit to Cinderford Town) very difficult. We keep putting this pressure on ourselves that we don’t need to put on because when we conceded, we always seem to concede another.
“We’ll bounce back, the boys will use the frustration of today to do that, but it’s disappointing, and it’ll be a really annoying Sunday.”
Slimbridge travel to Alex Sykes’ Cinderford Town on Tuesday (7.45pm) before hosting Cirencester Town at Thornhill Park next Saturday (February 12th, 3.00pm).
Slimbridge: Adams, Spark, Hands (Ahmed 86), Ford, Dennis, Lawrence, Turner, Ogbeifun (Yeo 66), Hawes, McLean, Mbunga
Goals: McLean 22
Supporters’ Man of the Match: Nathan Dennis