REPORT – Slimbridge 2-3 Taunton Town

Fifth placed Taunton Town may have recorded their expected double over the Swans this afternoon at Wisloe Road, building on a 4-1 victory at the Viridor Stadium in October, but were made to fight hard for the victory after a spirited Slimbridge revival saw them claw back a two goal deficit, before eventually losing to a badly defended corner.

The result leaves the Swans in 15th position in the table, mathematically still ten points from being assured of playing at this level next season, but with now a seventeen point gap between the Swans and Burham, who occupy the second from bottom spot, it would take an astonishing turn of events to see the Swans sucked into the relegation battle.

During the previous encounter between the two sides, the difference between them was down to some clinical finishing, and it looked like history was repeating itself when the Taunton took the lead in the first minute – Rich Thwaite attempted a back header to Keeper George Burton, only to see Jamie Short to pounce on the ball and drill it past Burton to put the visitors on the scoresheet early on.

Slimbridge felt they may have had a shout for a penalty on ten minutes, when Sam Babatunde’s volley was blocked, possibly with a hand, but the Referee was having none of it.

With 20 minutes on the clock, Lewis Powell converted a cross to double Taunton’s lead, despite these being their only two efforts on target. The visitors were dominating proceedings, with crisp, bright passing moves, despite the lack of a real end product.

Slimbridge’s best efforts of the half came late on – firstly, Freddy Ward’s Free Kick was too high just before the break, but there was still time for Babatunde to shoot wide when well placed, leaving Taunton well in control at the half.

The first ten minutes of the second period saw Taunton again pressing – Rich Thwaite nearly netted an own goal with another back header that looped over Burton, but just edged the right side of the post as far as Slimbridge were concerned, while Short’s header, and then another from Ollie Chamberlain both went close for the visitors.

But one thing that we have seen from this Slimbridge side this season is determination, and they fought their way back into the contest in spectacular style – After Babatunde had brought a good save from Taunton stopper Lloyd Irish, Sean Lawson’s strike from the edge of the box on 56 minutes beat Irish all ends up, and the Swans were back in it.

Within a minute, Lawson had swept in his second of the game after great work and a good lay off from Paul Fahy, and the scores were level.

The deciding goal of the game came on 64 minutes, when slack Slimbridge marking from a corner allowed Owen Irish far too much space in the six yard box, and he made no mistake to retake the lead for the visitors.

Slimbridge nearly clawed it back again on 75 minutes, when a superb double stop from Lloyd Irish denied firstly Lawson, and then Jamie Martin.

Taunton thought they may have had a fourth with five minutes remaining, when Craig Veal reacted quickest to nod home after Ben Carter’s shot rebounded into play off the bar, but the effort was ruled out for offside, and Taunton were able to play out time to take the three points back down the M5 to Somerset.

The Swans, meanwhile, turn their attention to Tuesday night, when they travel to Bridgwater Town (7.45pm) before hosting League Leaders Banbury United at Wisloe Road on Saturday (3.00pm)

Team: Burton, Turl (Brown 77), Ry Thwaite, Hoyle, Rich Thwaite, Ward, Turner (Mace 67), Twyman, Fahy, Lawson, Babatunde (Martin 64)

Supporters Man of the Match: Sean Lawson