FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Slimbridge 1 Thatcham Town 1
THERE is no doubt that Thatcham were the happier side at this result, which leaves the Swans facing a tricky trip to Berkshire on Tuesday night for a replay.
The scoreline, however, doesn't tell the true story, and Slimbridge battled back into a game playing with ten men for the second half, following the dismissal of keeper Dave Evans in an incident that ultimately led to the visitors taking the lead.
With Jamie Martin taking over between the sticks, the home side were rewarded for their endeavours when Jamie Hammond tied things up with just over ten minutes to go.
As a result, the Swans' home game on Tuesday when Brislington were due to visit will be rearranged.
The first half was almost devoid of incident as both sides cancelled each other out, and chances were at a premium.
Jack Twyman brought a good block from Thatcham keeper Chris Rackley on 25 minutes and Paul Fahy went close a minute later.
Just before the break, Jamie Martin's flick on set up Fahy nicely, but his shot was deflected for a corner, leaving the sides level at the break.
Two minutes into the second half, the defining incident of the game occurred. Rich Thwaite miscued a back pass to Evans and Alex Oakman beat the Swans keeper to the ball, nudging the ball past him before being clipped by Evans and going down.
Although the free kick was correctly placed outside the box, the inevitable red card followed for the Slimbridge stopper.
Barry Elmore's initial free kick was blocked by the Slimbridge wall but then the referee awarded another free kick for handball as a follow-up shot came in.
This time, Elmore's shot took a deflection on the way on to put the visitors ahead.
Chances continued to be scarce. Thatcham skipper Paul Taplin blasted high and wide after Sam Turl was caught in possession, while Martin was called into action on 63 minutes, making a save following a break from Josh Stockwell.
Eventually the game turned on a four-minute period in the last 15 minutes. Oakman made a dangerous run resulting in a shot which Martin did superbly to push behind and Slimbridge were rewarded for their efforts on 79 minute, when Hammond, chasing down a misplaced defensive header, lobbed Rackley to level things up, and ultimately secure the draw for the home side.
Following Tuesday's replay, Slimbridge make the trip to Melksham Town next Saturday (3pm) to visit another of the Western Premier League's pacesetters.
Slimbridge: Evans, Turl (Mace 61), Ryan Thwaite, Rich Thwaite, Tunnicliff, Ward, Turner (Parrott 70), Twyman, Lawson, Martin, Fahy (Hammond 61)
Star man: Jamie Martin.