North Greenford United 0 Swans 1

Saturday 16 September 2017.     Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.

North Greenford United 0   Walton & Hersham 1.

After scoring twelve goals in their last two matches Swans had to settle for just one at Berkeley Fields as they came up against a home side that had drawn five of their first six matches. They struggled to create clear openings in a first-half that saw their opponents utilise a back five, but having made the breakthrough early in the second-half the game opened up and they had several more chances to increase their lead. The home side proved to be difficult opponents, playing some good football, but Swans’ defence was rock solid and the win was well merited.

A side that was unchanged for the third match in succession soon won a corner on the right, and a fine delivery from Elliott Simpson just failed to pick out a teammate at the far-post. TJ Nkoma then got forward on the right to drive a low shot wide of the right post.

North Greenford had a chance when Sandro Costa got through on the left to get in a low shot, but Swans’ keeper Brendan Norris got well behind the ball.

Abdeen Abdul was just denied from getting his head to the ball when Nkoma crossed after some clever play on the right, and Simpson’s ball in from the right was put behind for a corner at the far-post. Simpson then struck a good effort just wide from 25 yards.

Costa was proving a threat on the home side’s left, and when he played the ball inside to Daniel Vincent, his shot from outside the box was deflected for a corner. When the kick was played short on the right James Simmonds got in a shot that went straight through to Norris. Norris then had to go down to save a good strike from fully 40 yards out by Costa.

Swans continued to have the better of the play however, and with just over ten minutes of the half remaining Chris Onoufriou found Julian Hornby on the right, and he cut inside to have a shot deflected over. Onoufriou then sent a shot dipping over from 30 yards.

Abdul and Sanchez Benali combined well on the right, and when the latter got past his marker his ball into the six-yard box was deflected wide. Another fine build-up allowed Sanchez Benali to play Hornby down the right, and he cut inside to get in a low shot that home keeper Alex Partridge got well behind.

Swans made a double substitution for the second-half, with Bilal Benali and Jamil Okai coming on for Nkoma and Sanchez Benali.

Abdul was soon being played clear into the box, where he was just denied by a combination of keeper Partridge and Kamal Akel, which resulted in the latter picking up an injury.

Swans finally made the breakthrough five minutes into the second-half with a fine goal. A challenge in the air by Okai resulted in the ball falling to Hornby by the right corner of the box, and he struck a terrific, first-time shot low into the far-corner.

With an hour played a good move almost got Bilal Benali in on the left, and when the ball came to Onoufriou outside the box he shot wide. Having taken the lead Swans looked like they could add to it, and Jim Fenlon’s long ball sent Okai down the left. His cross to the far-post found Hornby, but he was just prevented from turning the ball in. Abdul was just denied in the right of the six-yard box, and Okai’s glancing header from Simpson’s left-side cross was taken by keeper Partridge.

But the best chance for Swans to double their lead came with just under a quarter of an hour remaining. A break from a North Greenford attack sent Hornby surging down the right, and after getting into the box he set up Okai in front of goal, but instead of shooting first-time he dwelt too long and Partridge smothered the ball at his feet.

Swans were almost made to pay when they were hit on the break and Costa was played in on the left. The home side’s best player struck a strong shot that Norris deflected over his crossbar with a superb save.

Norris’s opposite number Partridge then kept his side in the game at the other end. Simpson got Okai into the left of the box, and he set up Bilal Benali on the edge of the six-yard box, but his shot brought a fine tip-over save from the keeper. Okai then made a good run into the right of the box, but his shot was blocked for a corner.

The game was quite open as the home side continued to press for an equaliser, but they left themselves open to the break, and Norris’s clearance got Bilal Benali through, but he took too long to get a shot away. The last chance came in the final minute of normal-time, but Abdul shot just over from the left of the box.

Swans’ Team: Brendan Norris, Shaun Smart, Jim Fenlon, Chris Onoufriou, Jake Newton, Jamie Thoroughgood, TJ Nkoma (Bilal Benali 45’), Elliott Simpson, Abdeen Abdul, Sanchez Benali (Jamil Okai 45’), Julian Hornby. Subs. not used: Dwade James, Howard Newton, Lea Van Sullivan. Scorer: Hornby (50’). Caution: J. Newton, foul (87’).

North Greenford Team: Partridge, Hillier, Murphy (Payton 64’), Ansah-Palmer, Akel (Bower 67’), Travis (Connor 44’), Mensah, Vincent, Velinor, Simmonds, Costa. Subs. not used: Ellis, Adams. Caution: Vincent, foul (90+2’).          

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