The Swans ended 2014 with a comfortable victory against their near-neighbours, a result which sees them end the year in fifth place in the Toolstation Western Premier League, having come close already to matching last season’s points total, a measure of the progress that Leon Sterling and Freddy Ward have achieved with the team. First half goals from Paul Fahy and Dean Turner did the damage, and the outcome should have been a lot greater had shooting boots not been left under the Christmas table.
Slimbridge made a bright start, and were causing problems for Winterbourne from the off – Sean Lawson’s tricky running was to prove problematic for the visitors all afternoon, and he nearly set Jamie Hammond up with only two minutes on the clock, but a last minute tackle meant the chance was lost.
With eight minutes gone, Winterbourne Keeper Tom Sheppard superbly tipped away a goalbound effort from Sam Turl, and it seemed only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken. Craig Mills and Lawson combined well, with the resulting cross just too far in front of Fahy, and Lawson saw a cross punched from under the bar by Sheppard as the home side piled on the pressure.
On 16 minutes, the breakthrough came – Lawson run down the left flank saw him deliver an inch perfect ball into the Winterbourne box, and Fahy was on hand to sweep the ball home and put the home side ahead.
Just under the half hour, Winterbourne had one of their rare chances, when Sam Vile’s cross cum shot hit the top of Dave Evans’ crossbar, but the visitors were being totally outgunned all over the pitch at this point.
After Fahy, Mills and Rich Thwaite has all gone close, the second goal when it came was a peach – on 36 minutes, the ball fell to Dean Turner on the edge of the Winterbourne box, and his precision shot gave Sheppard no chance to double the advantage.
Fahy had a chance to record a third before the break, but Sheppard made a good stop at his feet as Fahy went through one-on-one with the Keeper.
Winterbourne started the second period with more purpose than they had shown in the first half, but the balance of the play remained mainly one way. Lawson’s cross on 46 minutes saw Hammond’s shot cleared off the line before Turl blazed over, before a mix up in the Winterbourne back line saw Hammond take the ball off Sheppard and only a saving tackle saw the ball go behind for a corner.
Still the home side pressed – Lawson’s miskick, and then Hammond effort saved by Sheppard continued the pressure, before Sheppard again pulled off a wonderful save to deny Hammond just before the hour mark.
On 66 minutes, Swans Keeper Dave Evans was called into a rare piece of action, making a good double save as the ball pingponged around the Slimbridge box, the second of which the visitors were convinced had seen the ball go over the line. The linesman, however, was adamant, and Referee Simon Wales, who managed the game well in difficult conditions, did not award the goal.
Fahy and then Jamie Martin failed to take advantage of good opportunities to close the game out, but the home side played out time to record a deserved victory.
Slimbridge are back at Wisloe Road next Saturday (January 3rd, 3.00pm) when Melksham Town visit for a top six clash.
Team: Evans, Turl, Brown, Rich Thwaite, Tunnicliff, Mills, Turner, Parrott, Lawson (Martin 67), Hammond (Mace 67), Fahy
Supporters Man of the Match: Dean Turner