Match Preview: Bet Victor Division One South
Slimbridge AFC v Basingstoke Town
When: Saturday 19th September 2020 Kick-off 3pm
Where: Thornhill Park, Wisloe Road, Cambridge, Gloucestershire. GL2 7AF
Slimbridge (Nickname – The Swans), Average 2019-20 Home Attendance 112
Our opening fixture of the 2020-21 season, originally announced as a Home game when the league fixtures were announced, has now since been reversed and we head west in the first of numerous long journeys to the middle of nowhere.
Slimbridge, known more for being a wildlife sanctuary, is a tiny village, whilst the football club, sits in the village of Cambridge in Gloucestershire.
With the last season shutdown, we never got to play them at home, so we last played them just over a year ago on the Thornhill Park pitch, and as per the theme of our away form last season, an early goalkeeping error by Chris Rackley, set us back, which we never looked like recovering from, and we went down to a 2-0 defeat.
Slimbridge like us, are also out of the FA Cup, also losing out on penalties, losing on the road to Isthmian League club, Northwood. Drawing 1-1 after 90 minutes, they went on to lose 4-2 on penalties.
Whilst our pre-season performances have been good, this cannot be said of the Swans, who finished their pre-season fixtures, having just won one game, drawing another one, but losing to three other much lower level teams.
Slimbridge managed by Lee Driver-Dickerson, who is in his second season in charge, will look to improve on last seasons record. The season ended with the Swans sat in 12th place with an overall record of PLD 26 Won 11 Drawn 2 Lost 13 GF 54 GA 53 with 35pts, and this was surprisingly their highest placing in the history of the football club.
The forward line will be led by returning Jamie Martin (unfortunately not the chef), Jay Malshanskyj and Edjidja Mbunga, after losing their main goal-scoring threat in Soloman Wanjau-Smith, who had 17 goals for the Swans at the time.
Midfielder is club captain Dean Turner, who is one of three players called Turner.
Being the first league game of the season, there is very little else to add at this point.
My first review of this year’s Basingstoke side, has seen as expected a major shift of players in and out, but will still continue to hold a few of our younger brighter stars. Retaining seven players from March, this squad will look to vastly improve on what was, let’s be honest a dreadful season.
Having played two FA Cup games, beating Bournemouth Fc on penalties despite dominating the game, and then losing out to a quality side Chichester after giving away a two-goal lead, again on penalties.
Our season ended with us left us 19th place, with an overall record of PLD 27 Won 5 Drawn 4 Lost 18 GF 34 GA 765 with 18pts (1pt deducted). Our home record finished at 4 Wins, 2 Draws and 7 losses, whilst our away record was 1 Win, 2 Draws and 11 Losses.
Our pre-season saw us win 7 of 8 games, the one loss being against Southern League Division One Central side Kidlington.
Manager Dan Brownlie has searched for players to fit his squad and has brought players from various levels and differing leagues and will hopefully mould them into a squad that supports each other on and off the field.
Getting experience in goal was a key move and acquiring Paul Strudley is a start, but the unexpected performances of current starting keeper Julian Schwarzer has been a bonus in this area.
In defence we released Captain Dean Stow, whilst others such as Josh Edwards were not re-signed. Incoming is central defenders Daryl Wollers and Shawn Dallimore, who are two of three players who have joined us from local side Alresford Town. With young much more confident looking Scott Armsworth and experienced Adam Everiss remaining, we added backs James Smith (Badshot Lea & Fleet Town) and Aiden Lewis who will start his second stint at Stoke. Young academy player Lloyd Snell will also look to get his chance when needed.
In midfielder we have the experienced Simon Dunn, back for another season, as well as the returning fan favourites Ben Cook and Harrison Cliff, whilst D’Andre Brown will look to get more chances this season.
They will be joined in midfield by Lewis Hayden, one of two Didcot Town players we raided from that club. Lewis looks to be a strong holding midfielder. The third Alresford player joining us is Basingstoke boy Danny Vickers, who is expected to impress the home fans this season.
What’s clear is that this area contains a vastly more experienced group of players and thus a big improvement in the area.
Wingers, a separate area to me includes the other Didcot player we signed George Reid. George, has already impressed those who have seen him play, as he has impressive speed and loves to go on attacking mazy runs. Another positive sign, is that he is not frightened to have a shot on goal. He is ably supported by incoming Reading City player McKoy Palmer, who has shown signs of an old-fashioned chance creating winger. Lastly, but not least, is the return of Bradley Wilson, who has shown a new hunger to find the back of the net and has raised his game in the few pre-season and FA Cup games he has played in.
Forwards I am including latest signing Dylan Ive in this area, as it leaves just ‘Our George’ Hallahan to lead the forward line. George, has not only already shown an improving mentality, but confidence to lead the line, and early season expectations if fulfilled would expect him to break the 20-goal barrier.
Without doubt, this is our weakest area within the squad, and fans will want to see one if not two forwards to be signed for the season.
Moving onto the game tomorrow at Slimbridge, with the odd nagging injury, it will be interesting to see who will make Dan’s opening line-up, in what will be a key sign to how we have progressed in training and whether we can bring our pre-season form into the most important league action.
They have a nice clubhouse, which will be open and the food bar outside the clubhouse will be serving the normal football fayre.
The weather is expected to be sunny and warm tomorrow in the middle of nowhere, so it is hoped that as many of you, can make the journey down by car and get behind your Basingstoke side.
Remember social distancing will still apply inside the ground.
Match Preview by Martin French..