Saturday 25 March 2017. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Guildford City 1 Walton & Hersham 0.
A goal scored one minute from the end of normal-time finally broke nine-man Swans’ resistance and ended their eight match unbeaten run. Two players being red-carded meant they had battled from the 34th minute with ten men and from the hour mark, when the home side had also had a player sent-off, with nine. Both players dismissed, Stiven Rivic and Louis Taylor, can feel highly aggrieved with the decisions that ended their contributions to a match that Swans had looked well capable of winning. After an uncertain start they had begun to dominate the match, but the first red card meant their priorities changed as they had to regroup.
With Lea Van Sullivan still serving a ban, one change was made to the previous starting line-up, Taylor returning in place of the unavailable Craig Tanner.
It was the home side that started on the offensive and they soon won a corner on the right. Kiye Martin played the kick short to Evander Lopes, who was able to get in on the byline, and this resulted in three more corners in succession.
Swans’ first opportunity came when TJ Nkoma was brought down on the edge of the box, but Malachi Thomas was too high with the free-kick. Nkoma then made a run on the left before driving the ball low into the box, where Howard Newton just failed to get a touch in front of goal. Another chance quickly came, again resulting from a left-side run and cross by Nkoma, but Jamil Okai put a left-foot shot over from the edge of the box. With a quarter of an hour played some neat build-up play led to Thomas getting to the byline on the right before driving the ball in. City goalkeeper Kallum Lunn did well to beat the ball away and Rivic followed up to have a shot deflected wide for a corner.
Midway through the half the home side’s Tom Bingham looked like getting on the end of a long ball down the middle following a Swans’ corner, but Newton just denied him in the box with a fine tackle.
Swans’ keeper Liam Beach’s long free-kick into the home box found Okai, but after he made several attempts to create an opening for a shot the ball was cleared.
City had a chance when Lopes laid the ball back on the left to Greg Haydon, but his shot was dealt with competently by Beach, diving to his left.
Swans were looking comfortable and creating chances, but the game changed after 34 minutes with Rivic’s sending-off. The Croatian had already been shown a yellow card five minutes earlier when he picked up a second caution for a tackle that at worst could be described as fairly innocuous. A match that had looked like developing into a good contest was effectively ruined at that point.
Beach made a fine save on his line when Lopes struck a free-kick from outside the left of the box, and the Swans’ keeper was quick to block a follow-up by Bingham.
As the half entered the final five minutes Nkoma made a run to the byline on the left for Swans, and when he got the ball over Okai nodded it forward, but Francois Gabbidon just failed to get a foot to it.
City won a corner on the left, and when it was again played short Martin got to the byline and Beach made a fine block at his near-post as the ball was driven in.
Swans made a double change for the second-half as they regrouped with ten men, Seb Castello and Corey Haywood-Roye coming on for Gabbidon and Thomas.
They had an opportunity with just under ten minutes of the half played when Nkoma was fouled just outside the left edge of the box. Elliott Simpson’s free-kick was blocked by a two-man defensive wall, and when he had a second bite his cross into the box was taken by keeper Lunn.
Swans had coped well with their player deficit, seldom looking in trouble, but things got worse for them after an hour’s play. A free-kick was given against Castello just inside Swans’ half, but as players jostled City’s Dan Akinwande ran several yards before pushing Taylor several times in the chest. The home player was shown a red card, but just as it looked as if things had been evened up numerically the referee inexplicably also showed a red card to Taylor, who seemed to be a totally innocent party.
Despite defending what they had being the priority Swans still mounted the odd attack, and with just under twenty minutes remaining Simpson cut in from the left of the box, but his low shot was straight at Lunn in the home goal.
City quickly responded with Robbie Mundow getting forward and hitting a low shot from outside the box, but Beach got well behind the ball.
With eight minutes remaining Nathan Gordon did well on the left for Swans before getting the ball inside to Haywood-Roye, but after making room he shot wide. Simpson’s free-kick from the left edge of the box was then over-hit and went wide of the far-post.
With the match now inside the final five minutes Martin got forward for City to have a shot deflected wide, but just as it looked as if Swans would hold on for a deserved draw their defence was finally breached. Lopes was allowed to pick the ball up in midfield, and he ran into the box through a gap in Swans’ defence before shooting past Beach.
Beach had to make another fine save as the home side threatened to double their lead, but Swans had one last opportunity in stoppage-time, only for Simpson’s free-kick from the left to be cleared at the far-post.
Swans’ Team: Liam Beach, Howard Newton (Sean White 82’), Nathan Gordon, Elliott Simpson, Louis Taylor, Jamie Thoroughgood, Malachi Thomas (Corey Haywood-Roye 45’), Stiven Rivic, Francois Gabbidon (Seb Castello 45’), Jamil Okai, TJ Nkoma. Sub. not used: Alex Filipe. Cautions: Gabbidon, Castello, Okai. Dismissals: Rivic, 2 cautions (29’ & 34’), Taylor (60’).
Guildford City Team: Lunn, Booth (Pinder 65’), Siaw (Downs 72’), Haydon, Dormer, Akinwande, Lopes, Lyle, Bingham (Anderson 78’), Martin, Mundow. Subs. not used: Hayles, Hawkins. Scorer: Lopes (89’). Cautions: Haydon, Dormer, Downs. Dismissal: Akinwande (60’).