Saturday 26 January 2013. Ryman League, Division One South.
Walton & Hersham 2 Eastbourne Town 2.
After going 2-1 down two minutes from the end of normal time, ten man Swans battled to a deserved draw with a dramatic equaliser scored five minutes into stoppage-time. Having taken an early lead and looking comfortable, they suddenly faced an uphill task when Matt Holliday was shown a straight red card after just 28 minutes, a decision that appeared totally unjustified. They managed to hold onto their lead until the 73rd minute, and then conceded the late goal that looked like condemning them to defeat, until that last ditch equaliser.
Holliday had come back into the side as a replacement for Liam Flanighan, who was serving a one match suspension, while Victor Kiri was happily fit again to return, with Mark McLeod beginning a three match ban. With Harold Odametey recovering from the serious internal injury he received against Horsham, Tom Hayden came into the side, while Michael Gordon, who has re-signed for Swans, was named amongst the substitutes.
Swans took the lead after seven minutes with a goal that strangely followed a mistake by them. They were awarded a free-kick on the left, but although Adriano Moraes’ mishit his short pass to Hayden and the ball failed to reach his teammate, the visitors did not respond quickly and Hayden was able to get possession, make space, and cross to the far-post, where Graeme Purdy headed home off the hands of goalkeeper Josh Pelling.
The long throw-in was to prove one of Eastbourne’s main ploys, and when Ross Treleavan took one from the right Ben Austin got in a header, but it went straight to Swans’ keeper Chris Manderson.
With a quarter of an hour played Moraes’ free-kick found Jaymo Ellis on the right, and he cut in to strike a shot that Pelling took at his near-post.
Swans had looked in reasonable control, but just before the half hour the game was to change due to a highly debatable refereeing decision. Holliday slid in with a tackle on Treleavan close to the touchline by the technical areas that although strong, was one-footed, not high and won the ball. But with concerted appeals from the visitors’ technical area for a red card to be shown, and their players responding in similar fashion, the referee deemed the offence worthy of a sending-off. It was a severe blow to Swans’ hopes, but also to the player, who had looked comfortable in a left-back role after returning to the side.
Swans’ sense of injustice was not to end there, as with five minutes left to the break Hayden took a corner from the right, Chris Grayland headed the ball down at the far-post, and there seemed to be a clear handball by Eastbourne right-back Adam Davidson, but the referee waved away the concerted appeals of the home players.
Manderson had to go down to save a shot from the edge of the box, but three minutes into first-half stoppage-time the Swans’ keeper kept his side level at the break. Eastbourne’s Danny Curd was played clear, but Manderson was quickly out to make a fine save as he pushed Curd’s shot away.
Despite their numerical disadvantage Swans seemed to be coping well in the second-half, restricting the visitors to shots from the edge of the box from Treleavan and John Lansdale, both of which Manderson dealt with comfortably. But with just over a quarter of an hour remaining Ross Sutton was allowed too much space on the left to cross to the far-post, where Treleavan drove a fine volley into the far corner to equalise.
The referee was soon oblivious to more cynical play by the visitors as Grayland was subjected to a punch to the stomach that left the Swans’ central defender requiring treatment.
As the match entered the final five minutes of normal-time some fine play by Steve Betancourt on the right culminated in the young Swans’ right-back driving a left-foot shot to the near-post that Pelling saved low down at his near-post.
But just a minute later Moraes was guilty of a slack pass just inside the home half, and this led to the ball being played through by Treleavan to Curd on the right, and he drove a low shot into the far-corner to give his side a 2-1 lead.
Swans threw men forward in the attempt to salvage a point, and with a minute of stoppage-time played Chris Wales drove a free-kick in from the right, and when the ball came out to Liam Collins he struck a shot that looked goal-bound, until it took a deflection and the ball ended up going straight to keeper Pelling. But with the last of the indicated five minutes of added-on time being played, Swans had one last chance when they were awarded a free-kick midway inside the visitors’ half. Moraes sent the ball into the box, and when it broke to the right Swans’ substitute Connor French drifted past a defender before driving a fine shot just inside the far-post to rescue a deserved point for his side.
Swans’ Team: Chris Manderson, Steve Betancourt, Matt Holliday, Adriano Moraes, Chris Grayland, Victor Kiri (Courtney Warren 77’), Jaymo Ellis (Connor French 77’), Chris Wales, Graeme Purdy, Liam Collins, Tom Hayden (Michael Gordon 61’). Subs. not used: Kyei Banton, Audie Matheson-Light. Scorers: Purdy (7’), French (90+5’). Caution: Wales, kicked ball away (83’). Dismissal: Holliday, foul (28’).
Eastbourne Team: Pelling, Davidson, Sutton, Elliott, Austin, Strevett (Lockyear 61’), Treleavan, Lansdale (Geard 84’), Curd, Greenfield (Bolwell 90+1’), Crabb. Subs. not used: Rogers, Pulling. Scorers: Treleaven (73’), Curd (88’).