Saturday 14 October 2017. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Horley Town 0 Walton & Hersham 2.
Swans faced arguably their toughest test of the season so far as they met a Horley Town side that had just put together a ten game winning streak and lay just above them in second spot in the table. But they came through with flying colours, putting on a superb all-round performance to secure three valuable points and leapfrog the home side in the table. A two goal lead gained inside the first twenty minutes could well have been added to, with home goalkeeper George Hyde making some fine saves. Their opponents however rarely looked like breaking down a solid Swans’ defence, only in the final quarter of an hour having, but not taking, a couple of acceptable chances.
Swans introduced new signing Flo Bojaj up front, and he marked his debut with a truly stunning opening goal that would have graced any level of football. Bojaj, who made eight appearances for Huddersfield Town in The Championship, was also instrumental in the second goal, scored from the penalty-spot, drawing a foul in the box.
The former Albanian youth international almost set up an opening goal inside the first minute, a clever through ball getting TJ Nkoma free into the left of the box, but his well-struck shot was saved by Hyde at his near-post.
Horley’s first threat came when Leyton Regan got past Jake Newton on the right and his low cross had to be turned behind by Jamie Thoroughgood. Regan then got in a powerful strike from wide on the right that flew wide of the far-post.
Swans had another opening after ten minutes when Sanchez Benali sent a free-kick from the left into the box. Bojaj headed the ball down for Jamil Okai to get in a strong shot that brought a fine block from keeper Hyde.
Horley’s Karl Parker got free on the left to get in a cross that took a deflection, and the ball was safely pouched by keeper Brendan Norris, before Swans took the lead after twelve minutes of play. Following a throw-in on the right the ball was knocked back by Okai to Bojaj, several yards outside the right corner of the box, from where he struck a tremendous left-foot volley that sent the ball flying past Hyde into the far, top corner.
Swans doubled their lead after 19 minutes when a through ball was not dealt with by the home defence. Bojaj was found in the right of the box, and he opened up the chance as he cut inside, but just as he was about to pull the trigger he was tripped from behind. It was a clear-cut penalty, and Jim Fenlon made no mistake from the spot for the second game running.
Swans continued to create opportunities, Okai cutting into the left of the box before just being denied, and Fenlon’s ball forward finding Bojaj, who turned to get in a low shot that the keeper was well-placed to take. Bojaj then got through to work the ball to Okai in the left of the six-yard box. Okai cleverly juggled the ball, clipping it over his marker’s head, but finally putting it just the wrong side of the left-post.
One of Horley’s main weapons was always going to be the long throw-ins of Ryan Brackpool, and the first to cause a problem was after 33 minutes when one was taken from the left and the ball ran loose before Norris fell on it. The home side then got into the right of Swans’ box, but the threat was snuffed out by some good defensive work.
Just two minutes after the resumption Swans could have made it 3-0 as Okai cleverly got past Scott Robson on the left, but his low cross into the six-yard box just failed to pick out Nkoma in front of goal.
The home side had an opportunity from a free-kick five yards outside the box, but Sam Cockerill drove the ball well over.
Norris’s clearing kicks twice almost set up goals for Swans. Benali drove a fine shot just wide from 30 yards as the ball was knocked down to him, and a minute later a nod-on by Bojaj almost got Okai through, but Hyde just got to the ball first.
A long diagonal ball then found Nkoma on the left, and he cleverly pulled the ball down before drifting past Robson and cutting inside to strike a terrific right-foot shot that Hyde did well to beat away. The ball came out to Okai, but he was ruled offside.
Swans continued to create openings, and with an hour played Bojaj played Okai into the right of the box, and he got in a powerful strike that Hyde did well to get behind and beat away. The ball came to Nkoma inside the left of the 6-yard box, but his angled, goal bound shot was cleared off the line at the near-post by Robson.
Bojaj and Benali combined on the right, and Bojaj got in a left-foot shot that dipped just wide of the far-post. Okai then held the ball up well before playing a clever pass to Nkoma in the left of the 6-yard box, but his low shot was just kept out by Hyde.
Horley had a chance when, with a quarter of an hour remaining, one of Brackpool’s long throws at last found its target, but Parker planted his header wide of the left post. Another good opening came when Robson got away on the right to cross into the box, but Kerran Boylan put his header over the bar. As the match entered the final five minutes Cockerill got in a cross from the right and the ball bounced behind off the top of the crossbar.
Swans responded with Chris Onoufriou getting the ball over from the right, and when it came out to Okai on the edge of the box he drove a shot over. Bojaj was then sent away on a run from the halfway line to get into the left of the box, but his low shot was blocked by keeper Hyde.
Swans’ Team: Brendan Norris, Julian Hornby, Jim Fenlon, Chris Onoufriou, Jake Newton, Jamie Thoroughgood, Sanchez Benali, Elliott Simpson (Dave Musendo 84’), Flo Bojaj (Louis Taylor 90’), Jamil Okai, TJ Nkoma. Subs. not used: Shaun Smart, Howard Newton. Scorers: Bojaj (12’), Fenlon, penalty (19’).
Horley Team: Hyde, Robson (Bevan 82’), Powell, Poplett, Brackpool, Smith, Regan (Cockerill 23’), Grant (Herdman 82’), Boylan, Parker, Barbary. Subs. not used: Greenaway, Giles.