The Swans got back to winning ways after their defeat at Winterbourne with a comprehensive and fully deserved victory over fourth placed Street at the Tannery Ground this afternoon. Slimbridge notched three first half goals to put them in control of the game – a superb brace from Danny Chandler, and an opportunistic effort from Jamie Martin. Although Street had the better of the second period, they could only manage a single goal in reply from Craig Herrod, and the late dismissal of Bradley Middleton topped off a miserable afternoon for the home side.
The game was played in very heavy conditions, and with the added complication of a very low sun, it was no surprise that the opening exchanges between the sides were very scrappy.
Street had the first decent effort of the match on six minutes, when Mark Salter’s header from a corner was only prevented from going in by the presence of Rich Stevenson on the Swans goalline, and the chance was cleared as the home side pressed.
Two minutes later though, the visitors took the lead in a clinical counter attack – Man of the Match Jack Twyman, who worked tirelessly in midfield all afternoon, broke from midfield and fed Dean Turner on the Slimbridge right flank. Turner played the ball down the line for Jamie Martin, whose cross was swept home by Danny Chandler to put the visitors ahead.
There followed a period of pressure from the side in response to going behind, but the Swans back line held firm – After 16 minutes, Salter had probably more space than he realised as Craig Mawford’s cross found him in the Slimbridge box, but allowed himself to be disposessed and the chance lost, while the increasingly dangerous looking Tom Hurley saw two powerful efforts blocked.
As we approached halfway through the first period, Slimbridge had regrouped and began to create their own opportunities again. After Twyman and Chandler had combined well, the final ball aimed at Martin just went astray, and a minute later, Turner’s cross saw Liam Harding’s header go wide as the visitors began to ask questions again of the Street back line.
Just before the half hour, Chandler found himself in space on the edge of the Street box, with no support, and tried his luck, only to see his shot go high and wide.
At the other end, Street nearly nicked an equaliser on 33 minutes when Dale Hunt turned Jack Rutter, only to see his shot elude Dave Evans, but drift just the wrong side of the far post.
With 36 minutes gone, Slimbridge struck again – in a move almost identical to the first goal, Twyman and Martin combined to see Chandler convert Martin’s cross and double the Swans’ advantage.
Three minutes later, the visitors got their third – Lee Begg made a hash of his backpass to Street Keeper Nathan Whatley, and Martin nipped in to dink the ball past the Keeper, much to the delight of the Slimbridge travelling fans.
As the game approached the half, Middleton shot over for the home side, and Craig Herrod brought a good save from Evans, butthe visitors were well in control of the game at the interval.
Slimbridge could have notched a fourth goal within 17 seconds of the restart, when Turner charged down a clearance, and the ball fell to Martin. His cross found Chandler, who opted to head the ball rather than bring it down, and this allowed Whatley to make a save and keep the home side in the game. It was to prove one of the few chances that the Swans’ created in the second half, as Street pressed the visitors back for large portions of the half.
Matt Hurley and Salter combined well on 50 minutes to create a good chance, but Salter’s shot was too high, and the Slimbridge defence held.
As Slimbridge tried to get the ball out of their own half, it took a magnificent block from Dan Robinson to get in the way of a goal bound effort from Hunt on the edge of the Swans’ penalty area.
Ten minutes into the second half, Street must have started to think it wasn’t going to be their day, as Dave Evans punched clear a corner, and then somehow managed to keep out the follow up effort from Salter when it looked as if the home side had managed to get themselves on the scoresheet.
With an hour gone, Robinson again got in a crucial block to deny Salter, although a minute later, Street finally managed to pull a goal back – a neat passing move threaded the ball through to Herrod, and he placed the ball calmly past Evans.
Street again had a spell of pressure following the goal, and Lee Smyth would have wanted to do better on 72 minutes when he was well placed, but he skied his effort.
With five minutes remaining, after Scott Holland and Smyth had combined well only to see Smyth out his effort too high again, Street were reduced to ten men.
Dylan Ford broke forward as Street were pressing, and was felled by a combination of three backpedalling Street defenders. After consulting with his linesman, Referee Steve Morris showed a red card to Bradley Middleton, who made plain his displeasure at what he felt was an unfair decision.
Paul Fahy, who had been introduced for Martin just over the hour was a crucial part of Slimbridge relieving the pressure on their back line the last few minutes, and caused Street all sorts of problems with his speed as time approached. As the game went into what was to be five additional minutes, he forced a good save from Whatley, as the visitors played out time to gain a valuable three points.
The Swans travel to Cadbury Heath on Wednesday for a GFA Trophy Quarter Final tie (7.30pm) before retuning to League action at Wisloe Road on Saturday, when Brislington are the visitors (3.00pm)
Team: Evans, Rutter, Stevenson (Ward 62), Sterling, Robinson, Twyman, Turner, Harding, Chandler (Carter 57), Martin (Fahy 62), Ford
Goals: Chandler 8, 36, Martin 39
Supporters’ Man of the Match: Jack Twyman