On a crisp and bright day at Shepton Mallet FC both SFA and GFA started brightly.
The visitors just edged the opening ten minutes whilst SFA adjusted to nullify their shape and strong runners.
From that point onwards SFA played the more considered approach.. Chapman, Morgan and skipper Ham anchoring the centre field whilst Powell, Yule-Turner and McKenna provided a presence upfront. The game was still well poised, but with a contrast in approach to suit their personnel.
SFA with two looked to exploit the flanks from central Bahadur and Durrant providing excellent support.
A number of good chances fell to SFA where Yule-Turner got past his marker to provide Powell for one, a strike that zipped over the bar, then a cut back for Chapman who caught the strike well but the keeper saved.
On the other side McKenna linked inside with Morgan whose clever decisions produced some good moments.. Yule-Turner himself bringing a save from one such Morgan pass.
GFA themselves counter attacked and had one effort that grazed the outside of the post, any others were thwarted by Byrom and Paradise nicking the ball with timely interventions or blocking strikes.. all the time standing up well.
For the edge in possession SFA had they couldn’t breach the GFA goal. Some good approach play was either pushed wide for a corner or agonisingly hit wide! It was then even more disappointing to concede before the interval with an error! A deep ball into the SFA box wasn’t dealt with as miscommunication between
Allen in goal and his defence sore the ball come off one of them into the goal 0-1.
To SFA credit the level and positive play wasn’t hindered, but with only three minutes until half-time no response could be mustered before both teams came off.
In the second period Ambrosini replaced an injured Chapman as he dovetailed into the midfield and competition almost mimicked the first period but at a slightly better pace.
SFA had to be a touch more bold in pushing forward but although susceptible to a counter Byrom, Ham, Durrant, Bahadur and Paradise protected Allen’s goal with good decisions.
Plant was then introduced to replace Powell who had worked hard to bring the side forward, Plant with fresher legs to maintain the threat.
The positive play seemed like it would prevail until GFA had a counter that was halted thirty yards out, but a speculative strike ricocheted off a defenders block looping up and over Allen 0-2, so unfortunate from an SFA point of view.
With a two goal margin a change in shape and personnel was initiated. Ham and Ambrosini were given more licence by Bougourd and Hendy fitting into deeper roles as the emphasis was to get more runner from midfield higher around Plant, Yule-Turner and McKenna.
Obviously an element of throwing some caution to the wind in pursuit of the breakthrough was required, but fortunately Durrant, Hendy, Byrom and Allen kept it safe.
SFA hit the post plus threatened with some pressure but couldn’t manage to break down a committed GFA rear guard that could afford to sit deep and counter.
A disappointing result for SFA but a positive performance that just needs goals to complement its really slick approach play.
Five debuts: Harry Durrant, Josh Morgan, Oliver Chubb, Callum Hendy & Louis Bougourd
Travis Yule-Turner and Lewis Bahadur edging the man of the match on the day.