A SPIRITED performance could not prevent Swansea’s Men’s 3rds from being knocked out of the BUCS Western Conference Cup at the first time of asking against a strong Hartpury side two leagues above them.
Both teams played some attractive football, with some neat passing, which was impressive in the atrociously wet and windy conditions.
However, despite Swansea’s best efforts, the difference in quality between the two sides ultimately showed in the result.
Even in light of the result, captain Dave Boyle was very positive after the match, emphasising how pleased he was with his side’s efforts.
“I felt that we matched them, to be honest,” he said.
“It was always going to be tough playing a team of this quality, but it was a challenge we relished, and I thought we stepped up to it magnificently.
“I said to the boys before the game that if we gave 100% effort and played for each other we would give Hartpury a game, and we certainly did.
“I felt we were unlucky to go in at half time behind, especially considering that the scorer looked offside by several yards.
“Overall, though, I would say 1-0 to them would have been a fair result, as they are a quality side.
“But their second goal was pretty much unstoppable. I’m pleased we matched them though, I felt we gave a very good account of ourselves, and played some nice football.”
Hartpury, unsurprisingly, were the quicker side to settle, and they began to set the pace of the game and dominate play from early on.
They were unlucky not to take the lead when they hit the post after only four minutes.
However, in the 17th minute they did break Swansea’s resistance to open the scoring.
There was injustice for Swansea in the build-up, as winger Christian Plum was clearly in an offside position when he was played through.
There was no doubting the quality of the finish, however, as the Plum curled the ball into the far top corner.
Swansea had a half-chance of their own four minutes later, as only a desperate last-ditch intervention prevented the scores being levelled by a tap-in.
For the remainder of the first half it was Hartpury who looked the most likely to score, but there were few chances and at half-time it remained 0-1.
In truth, Swansea were never able to carve out any clear-cut chances, and so did not ever really look like scoring in the second half.
Hartpury, however, had several chances to wrap the game up themselves.
Only two fantastic saves by Swansea goalkeeper Simon Reeds, the first from a swerving shot and the second from a rebound, either side of a header being ruled out correctly for offside, kept Swansea in the game.
Once Reeds was beaten, the Hartpury centre-forward could only put a one-on-one wide, leaving Swansea with still a faint hope.
Eventually, however, after 83 minutes, the second goal that had been coming finally arrived.
This time it was right-winger Ash Malcolm who found the net with a stunning strike, again into the far top corner of the net, to seal the win for the away side.