Caretaker Ward earns his chance

Freddy Ward has been installed as the permanent manager of EVO-STIK League Southern Slimbridge.

The caretaker boss was named as the club's new manager until at least the end of the season on Tuesday only hours before his side's 2-0 reverse at Swindon Supermarine in EVO-STIK League Southern Division One South & West.

Former assistant manager Ward stepped in as interim manager following the departure of Leon Sterling over Christmas. The former Swans boss left Thornhill by mutual consent after his side's 2-1 defeat at home to Bridgwater Town on Tuesday 27 December, their fifth reverse in the final month of 2016.

Slimbridge chairman Barry Gay told the club's fans that former player Ward had the support of everyone at the club after the early impact he'd made.

In a club statement announcing his formal appointment, Gay said: "I am absolutely delighted that Freddy has accepted our offer. After seeing the response from players, staff and committee, and the manner in which Freddy has gone about his duties, I had absolutely no hesitation in asking Freddy to continue in his role.

"He has the full support of everyone here at Thornhill Park, and our main aim for the rest of this season is to steady the ship and ensure we finish in a respectable position in what it is a very tough league."

Ward, pictured alongside Gay, has made 412 first team appearances for the Swans since making his debut against Chipping Norton Town back in August 2003 and as a number two to Sterling representeed the club in 330 games.

He told fans: "Leon is a very hard act to follow – I wanted to carry on playing until the end of the season anyway and I’m going to give it my all, and hopefully we can pick up a few results with a very tough run of games coming up.

"Johnny Cant and Lee Smith will be backing me up behind the scenes, so it will be a good challenge for all of us and I know we can count on a good response from the lads."

Sterling stepped up from assistant manager in the summer of 2010 and led the Swans into the EVO-STIK League Southern for the first time in 2014-15 after a securing a third-placed finish in the Western League's Premier Division.

Image courtesy of Slimbridge FC

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Where next?

Tuesday's Premier Division action review Chippenham Town moved into third place in the EVO-STIK League Southern Premier Division at Hardenhuish Park on Tuesday night after completing a 2-0 win against in-form Weymouth, despite being down to ten-man, writes Pitchero's Steve Whitney.
Father succeeds son at Plain Ham Former Bristol Rovers star Phil Bater has succeeded his son Geraint as the manager of EVO-STIK League Southern Larkhall Athletic.

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