The sides in third and fifth place in the Toolstation Western League Premier Division shared the spoils in a highly entertaining game between two sides who tried to play good football on a very heavy surface. This was the Swans’ first 0-0 of the season, completing a January when they didn’t concede a goal, in a game that also ended Shepton Mallet’s record of scoring in 75 League games in a row.
The home side had the best chance to win the game with three minutes remaining, but Dave Evans’ penalty save from Ben Cleverly saw the sides having to settle for a point apiece.
In a first that largely saw both sides cancelling each other out, it was the visitors who made the first decent opportunity when Sean Lawson latched onto a through ball only to see his shot blocked with under a minute on the clock.
Mallet responded well, and Tyson Pollard’s mazy run on four minutes was broken up by Man of the Match Rich Thwaite. Thwaite was again in action on 11 minutes clearing Ash Willmott’s dangerous cross behind for a corner as the home side built up a little bit of pressure.
On the quarter hour, the best chance of the game so far went to the Swans – Mace and Turner combined well and Turner’s effort was turned behind for a corner by Mallet stopper Steve Phillips.
Again, momentum swung between the sides, and a good spell of pressure from the hosts saw them gain three corners in quick succession, but the Swans’ back line held firm, with Sam Turl in particular making some important blocks.
With half an hour gone, Slimbridge had a shout for a penalty turned down when Jamie Martin went down in the Mallet box, but Referee Chris Wade was having none of it.
Lawson had a good opportunity just before the break, when he went on another run, but then delayed his shot for a little too long, and the chance was lost. The final effort of the first period also went to the visitors, but Martin’s Free Kick was saved by Phillips to leave the scores even at the half.
Slimbridge started the second half as the better of the sides, and Martin’s header which drifted wide from Lawson’s cross perhaps should have finally opened the scoring, and Martin had another good opportunity after Turl’s pass set him up, but overran the ball, and it went out harmlessly for a goal kick.
The momentum of the game changed on the hour mark, as the home side upped a gear, and chances began to be created for Mallet. Tyson Pollard drilled high and wide when left in space on the edge of the Slimbridge box, before Liam Watson’s header looped past Evans, hit the bar and went over.
With 15 minutes left, all the pressure was coming from the home side, and Leroy Odiero was called into action for some crucial clearances as the Swans were pinned back. Pollard’s header from Dave Thorne’s cross went into the side netting, and it was all hands to the pump for the visitors as the game drifted into the final few minutes.
On 87 minutes, Jordan Townsley’s neat turn deceived Odiero, and the Mallet striker was felled in the box. Cleverly struck the penalty to Dave Evans’ left, and the Swans Keeper pulled off a great save, with the ball being cleared as it came back into play.
Still the home side pressed, and it was a nervous few minutes as the Swans played out time to gain a valuable point.
Slimbridge travel to Street next Saturday (3.00pm) for another League encounter.
Jack Twyman has confirmed, following an MRI scan, that he will miss the rest of the season with ligament damage following his injury in September during the game at Almondsbury. All at Slimbridge AFC wish Twy a good recovery, and look forward to his return to the side in due course.
Team: Evans, Turl, Brown, Odiero, Rich Thwaite, Ward, Turner, Parrott, Lawson (Fahy 66), Martin, Mace (Hammond 75)
Supporters Man of the Match: Rich Thwaite