Slimbridge Development were made to sweat as they held on to beat Malvern Town U18s 3-2 in the Preliminary Round of the FA Youth Cup, at Thornhill Park.
The visitors nearly made the perfect start, when Malvern forward Luke Meredith’s effort was well saved by Slimbridge keeper Alex Freeman down to his left.
Romaine Campbell had Slimbridge’s first chance just before the 10 minute mark, when he swept wide from a low corner.
Both sides looked capable going forward and just lacked that final ball to really cause too many problems, but then an effort came in from the edge of the Malvern box. After crashing off the bar, forward Ethan Dunbar was on head to nod the Swans in front.
Campbell forced Will Davies into a big save in the Malvern goal, when he was slipped in on the right side of the box, skipped past his man and drilled in low.
Campbell saw another shot saved just before the half hour mark, with former Tuffley Rovers man Nathan Clift skying his chance at the back post from the following corner.
Clift’s central defensive partner George Callinan showed him how it was done two minutes later when, from another corner, the Longlevens man thundered in a bullet header to double his side’s lead.
Dunbar found himself in one on one just before the break, but shot straight at Davies, before Kian Gardiner fired over for the hosts.
The second half started a little slower, but again it was Slimbridge who settled into their stride quickest and looked like they had killed the tie when Campbell’s cross fell to Dylan Miles who rifled in Slimbridge’s third.
Malvern forward Elliott Cresswell burst through one on one just before the hour mark and calmly slotted under Freeman to bring his side back into the contest.
With twenty minutes to go it was game well and truly on when Luke Meredith rifled in a sensational strike to make it 3-2. The Malvern man produced a stunning 30 yard effort with the outside of his right boot that curled curled and dipped into the top corner.
Just days after seeing Joe Hanks scoring similar for Gloucester City, we have been treated to probably the best goal for an opposition side this season.
The next 10 minutes or so saw Slimbridge panic a little bit. They became second to every ball and looked a little bit rushed, but fortunately for the Young Swans, Malvern just couldn’t force the equaliser.
Dunbar went down with a leg injury and needed to be helped off the pitch, which looked like a potentially bad injury for Slimbridge. Adam Bloomfield came on for the final ten minutes and nearly sealed the deal with a terrific volley from 20 yards, which was well saved by Davies.
Alex Freeman then pulled off a great save to deny Meredith an equaliser. After the Malvern man was found on the right side of the box, he struck the ball low and across goal but Freeman’s strong hand saw the ball go for a corner.
Slimbridge held on to advance into the First Qualifying Round of the FA Youth Cup where they will host New College Swindon after they beat Bishops Cleeve U18s 4-3 at Kayte Lane this evening. The date of the tie is to be confirmed.
Slimbridge: Freeman, Woodman, Waddington, Giles, Clift, Callinan, Campbell, Connor, Dunbar, Miles, Gardiner
Subs: Bloomfield, Matthews, Virgo, Bradshaw Metel
Malvern Town: Davies, Alston, Flint, Holland, Skidmore, Whitton, Tristram, Westrip, Cresswell, Meredith, Glover
Subs: Turton, Goulding, Spain, Turner
Severn Sport Man of the Match – Ethan Dunbar (Slimbridge Development)