Hastings United 2 Swans 0

Saturday 24 October 2015.                           Ryman League, Division One South.

Hastings United 2   Walton & Hersham 0.

After going in at the break at 0-0, Swans looked on course to go on and pick up at least a valuable point, but then, less than ten minutes into the second-half, a controversial and confusing interpretation of the offside law led to them going behind. A through ball caught the home side’s Billy Medlock two yards offside and the referee’s assistant immediately put his flag up. Players from both sides stopped playing, but after a hiatus of several seconds with Swans preparing to take a free-kick, Hastings’ Tyrell Richardson-Brown, apparently realising the referee had not blown his whistle, resumed playing. Swans’ new goalkeeper Jack Howard was too late spotting the danger and could not quite close the tall striker down in the right of the box, and when the ball was rolled towards the goal he just failed to keep it out at the near-post and a goal was awarded.

Richardson-Brown’s second goal after an hour was a fine finish however, but Swans’ chances were effectively ended with that controversial first goal.

As mentioned above Swans fielded a new keeper in Jack Howard, who has played for Millwall U-21s and been at Merstham this season, while another new signing, Moses Ashikodi, started up front. Unfortunately the former Walton Casuals’ player had to come off early in the second-half with what looked like a hamstring problem. Andrew Mensah returned following a three-match suspension, but both Jack Battie and André Scarlett were serving one-match bans.

The home side had the first chance with just over ten minutes played when James Richmond could not prevent Richardson-Brown from playing the ball inside from the left, and Simon Johnson drove a left-foot shot over from the edge of the box.

With a quarter of an hour played Swans’ Dominic Ogun forced a corner when Harry Mills’ deep ball from the right picked him out on the left, but from Kadeem Ajeon’s kick Richmond could not get enough head to the ball and it went wide of the far-post.

Richardson-Brown’s neat back-heel got Hastings’ Chris Cumming-Bart into the right of the box, but Howard cut out the danger at his near-post. Richmond’s header got the ball away from the box when Sam Cole crossed from the left, and the Swans’ defender then got in a timely tackle when Cole drove into the left of the box. The home side continued to have the bulk of the attacking play, and midway through the half they had a good chance when Johnson was played into the right of the box, but his low shot went wide of the far-post. Richardson-Brown challenged Howard when the ball was crossed from the left, but a foul was given against the Hastings’ striker as both players required treatment. Howard had to make a good save when Medlock got forward to send in a shot from the edge of the box, and the keeper reacted well to deny any follow-up.

Swans had done little attacking, but just past the half hour they put together a neat move that allowed Ogun to cross from the left, but the ball was cleared in the box. Their best chance came when Mills crossed from the right and Ajeon knocked the ball back at the far-post. Mensah’s first effort was blocked and Ashikodi was close to the penalty-spot to get in a shot, but it was only half-hit and was straight at home keeper Josh Pelling. Following Ogun’s throw on the left he was played into the box, but his shot from a tight angle was taken by Pelling at his near-post. Ashikodi then laid the ball off to Mills on the right, where he was brought down just outside the box, but Ogun put the free-kick straight through to Pelling.

In the final minute of the half Hastings’ Richardson-Brown got into the right of the box, but Regan Mendes had tracked him well and got in a good tackle to put the ball behind.

Five minutes after the resumption Hastings’ Sam Adams sent in a free-kick from the left, but Howard beat the ball down then fell on it.

Mills got in a clever backward header from Ogun’s free-kick from the right, but the ball went wide of the far-post, just before Hastings scored their controversial opener eight minutes into the half.

Howard did well to beat the ball away when Sean Ray got in a header from Adams’ corner on the right, before Hastings doubled their lead with an hour played. The goal resulted from indecision between Howard and Mendes when Cole’s diagonal ball came in from the left, Richardson-Brown nipping between them to score with a clever volley.

Swans had a chance to reduce the deficit when Mills hooked the ball over his head from the right to find Shaquille McIntosh at the far-post, but he put a half-volley wide. With a quarter of an hour remaining Ajeon sent in a free-kick from deep for substitute James King to loop in a header from the right, but the ball was headed away from close to the goal-line. As the match entered the final five minutes substitute David Koduah had a shot blocked in the box when Mills crossed from the right, and a run by Mensah was ended by a foul just outside the box, but Ajeon flighted the free-kick well over the bar.

The home side could have added to their lead a minute into stoppage-time when Cole drove the ball in low from the left to find substitute Jack Harris at the far-post, but he stabbed the ball across goal and wide.

Swans’ Team: Jack Howard, C-J. Williams-Agunabor, Dominic Ogun, Regan Mendes, James Richmond, Harry Mills, Myles Powponne (David Koduah 75’), Kadeem Ajeon, Andrew Mensah, Shaquille McIntosh (Shawn Lyle 71’), Moses Ashikodi (James King 51’). Subs. not used: Sean Fallon, Shannon Wallace.  

Hastings Team: Pelling, Cumming-Bart, Cruttwell (Hollobone 75’), Rowe, Ray, Walder, Medlock (Harris 80’), Adams, Richardson-Brown (Temba 80’), Johnson, Cole. Subs. not used: Hall, Vickers. Scorer: Richardson-Brown (53’ & 60’). Caution: Adams, foul (73’).

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