Buckland Athletic 2-0 Slimbridge AFC
TOOLSTATION Western League
Undertaking one of their longer trips of the season, the Swans never recovered from conceding a sixth minute goal, with Buckland controlling the game and, despite an improved second period from the visitors, seeing out a comfortable victory. Jordan Havlin seized early upon a misplaced pass to put the home side ahead, and although it took until the 74th minute for the hosts to add a second through Dan Griffiths, the scoreline reflected the balance of play at Kingkerswell Road.
After Jamie Martin had an early effort blocked following Alex Parrott’s corner, the Buckland combination of Marc Revell and Griffiths, who were to torment the Swans all afternoon, were soon looking dangerous for the home side.
Slimbridge gifted their opponents the opener with seven minutes on the clock – an Alex Parrott back pass ended in no mans land, and was sized upon by Havlin, who rounded Dave Evans and netted to give Buckland the lead. Griffths nearly doubled the advantage a couple of minutes later, when he beat Niall Halford, before shooting too high. Griffiths was instrumental in much of the home sides attacks, just overrunning the ball when Simon Revell attempted to play him in behind the Swans defence down the left flank.
Revell was next to try his luck for Buckland, but saw his shot deflected for a corner off Freddy Ward, and the resulting corner was pulled back after Dave Evans was fouled as he went to gather the cross.
As Slimbridge struggled to maintain any kind of possession, Griffiths was revelling in the home side’s pressure, bringing a good save from Evans in the 26th minute as Buckland continued to attempt to convert their dominance into further scores.
With 28 minutes gone, it was the turn of Buckalnd Centre Back Michael Booth to go close, but his header from Revell’s cross drifted just wide.
As the game approached half time, Griffiths again and Revell both worked Dave Evans, who was also called upon to make a sharp stop from a Danny Gaze effort just before the break. But the Swans hung on to go into the interval only a goal behind.
It was a better second period from Slimbridge, and early in the half, Jack Twyman and Adam Hughes combined well to set up Dominique Njoya, playing in an unaccustomed left wing position, but Njoya’s cross was blocked. At the other end, Buckland continued to look dangerous, with Ellis Laight going close with a header from Ben Carter’s cross.
The Swans suffered another of their seemingly never ending stream of injuries this season, when Niall Halford pulled up with a recurrence of his groin problem, and was replaced by Liam Harding, who has rejoined the club after, most recently, a spell at Cheltenham Saracens. Njoya went back to his usual position at Left Back, with Harding going into central midfield alongside Twyman.
On 54 minutes, a quickly taken free kick saw Gaze beat the Slimbridge wall, but just fail to find the net with Evans stranded on the other side of the goal. As Buckland continued to press, Evans was again called into action to make a fine diving save from Booth’s goalbound header on 56 minutes.
Evans was again called upon to deal with Liam Drew’s shot on 64 minutes, and although Slimbridge upped the tempo and started to play the ball around, they were still being contained by Buckland, who looked the more likely to pick up the second goal.
On 65 minutes, Slimbridge nearly notched an equaliser – Martin latched onto a through ball, rounded Kenny Griffiths in the Buckland goal, but was forced too wide, and only managed to hit the side netting from a very tight angle. It was to prove the best spell of pressure of the match for the visitors, as Sean Bennett saw his shot hit the outside of the Buckland post and go wide three minutes later.
Griffiths finally got the goal his play had deserved on 74 minutes, when he broke from midfield and went on a mazy run, slotting easily past Evans to double the home side’s advantage.
To their credit, Slimbridge continued to play the ball around and make chances for themselves, with Twyman and Njoya showing some neat interplay, with Harding’s resultant shot being blocked on the edge of the Buckland box, with the resulting corner producing a blocked shot from Parrott.
As the game moved towards a close, Twyman, who by now had been moved up front, went close after some good work between Will Wellon and Freddy Ward, and Ward himself saw his shot go too high in the final minute. There was still time for Griffiths to go very close with another superb effort in stoppage time, but in the end, the home side saw out a comfortable win.
The Swans travel to Farnham Town in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Vase next Saturday (3.00pm). There are still a few spaces available on the free supporters’ coach, which the club are running to the game, leaving Wisloe Road at 11am. Please ring Colin Gay on 07702 070229 to reserve a place.
The Swans have been boosted by the loan signing of Shortwood’s Adam Mace to help bolster the midfield. ‘I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in’ he said, ‘and helping to kickstart the season.’
Team: Evans, Hughes, Wellon, Halford (Harding 48), Bennett, Ward, Twyman, Parrott, Martin (Sterling 77), Nash, Njoya
Supporters Man of the Match: Jack Twyman