Swindon Supermarine showed great character to battle back from two early goals to grab a point in an entertaining 3-3 draw away at Larkhall Athletic to move up one place in the league standings to fourth and remain unbeaten in 2018.
Played under boggy conditions not ideally suited to Dave Webb’s side’s style of flowing passing football, the home side adapted to the testing conditions quicker and after the Marine defence failed to clear the ball, the Larks’ top scorer, Joe Tumelty, made it goal number 12 of the season firing home on 16 minutes.
Matters got worse for Marine when the home side doubled their lead only a few minutes later when the pacy Cory Simpson was allowed to run with the ball from inside his own half, elude a Sam Morris challenge, drive through the middle of two more defenders before blasting home.
Marine, realising they were in a tough battle, then began to create their own openings, midfielder Joe Shepherd tried his luck from 20 yards out, followed by top scorer Josh Parsons’s dribble and shot being blocked.
In-form Marine winger Joe Selman got his side back in the contest just before the break, curling home after a clever back heel from Shepherd.
Selman almost equalised on the stroke of half-time, his effort flying just over the bar from a well-worked short corner.
With both sides endeavouring to stick to their passing game in the second half, Larkhall went close when first Greg Peel then Simpson both carved out half-chances.
Marine were back on level terms on 74 minutes when, under pressure from the Marine front line, home defender Mike Baker fired into his own net, with Selman claiming the strike as his.
Parsons then completed the comeback for Marine on 82 minutes, hitting goal number 15 to put his side in front for the first time in the contest.
Marine’s hearts were broken just three minutes from time when keeper Josh Hill fell foul to an awful bounce as he was about to clear the ball outside his area, allowing Larks winger Alex Lambert to gleefully snap up the belated Christmas gift and walk the ball into an empty net to grab a point for the Bath-based side.
Speaking post-match, Marine Manager Dave Webb was able to see the positives from the draw, “I’ve mixed emotions really.
“When you go two goals down after 20 minutes you fear the worse.
“We weren’t focussing, so I changed it a bit with the midfield two as we were sitting too deep, then for the next 25 minutes we played some really good stuff.
“In the second half we tried to be more positive despite the heavy conditions.
“We showed a lot of character and the players deserve credit.”
With many fixtures to come in a short period of time, Webb has challenged his players, “We’re unbeaten in the new year, we’ve moved up one place and we have to take care of our own games.”
Webb also revealed that defender Zak Westlake has to return to the Great Western Hospital on Monday to see a specialist regarding his fractured eye socket sustained on New Year’s Day in the draw at home to Kidlington.
Long-term absentee Ash Taylor is to have his protective boot removed on January 14th, having had surgery on his foot, with Webb optimistic his commanding defender is on schedule to return to the squad by February.