Merstham 3 Swans 0

Tuesday 21 November 2017.                                          Surrey Senior Cup, 1st Round.

Merstham 3   Walton & Hersham 0.

Last season Swans visited The Moatside in the competition and were outplayed and well beaten on the evening 5-1. That was certainly not the case here, as with almost three-quarters of the tie played they were still holding a side competing two divisions higher 0-0, with the possibility of going through via a penalty shoot-out. But that all changed in a crazy four minute spell, during which they conceded three goals. Up to that point, although they had not created much in the way of chances themselves, Swans had restricted the home side mainly to efforts from outside the box, that were either off-target or dealt with competently by goalkeeper Brendan Norris.

With Flo Bojaj, Billy Jeffreys and Chris Onoufriou all injured, Swans’ selection problems increased when TJ Nkoma and Athan Smith-Joseph, who would both have started, were late arriving.

Andre McCollin had an early chance for Merstham when he got in on the left, but he could only find the side-netting. The home side continued to have most of the attacking play, Norris going down to take a low driven cross from the right at his near-post, and then getting behind a low shot from 25 yards that took a slight defection on its way through. Just before the half hour a good build-up resulted in Kershany Samuels driving in a low shot from the left edge of the box that Norris did well to prevent going inside his right post. Another low shot from 25 yards out by Ryan Hall went wide with five minutes left to the break, and in the final minute of the half McCollin crossed the ball from wide on the left and it hit the far-post.

Soon after the resumption Elliott Simpson did well to get to the goal-line on the left for Swans and pull the ball back to Jamil Okai, who was just denied at the near-post.

Merstham replied with Ryan Hall hitting a powerful left-foot shot on the half-volley from 25 yards that Norris saved well down at his right post.

Swans’ Bilal Benali made a good run in on the right before finding Simpson in space on the left, but his cross was cleared away.

Norris had to turn a shot from the left round his near-post, and then had to leave his area to deny McCollin, who had been picked out by a long ball. With an hour played Merstham played a short corner on the right, and when McCollin was picked out at the far-post, he sent a header across goal and just wide.

But four minutes later a similar move led to the home side taking the lead, this time Tutu Henriques being unmarked in front of goal to head past Norris when the ball came over from the right.

Just three minutes later it was 2-0 when a free-kick was taken from the left touchline, and the ball hit Ben Harrison, in the right of the box and rolled slowly into the far-corner.

Almost straight from the kick-off Merstham swept in on Swans’ goal and Ryan Hall finished from close-in to make it 3-0.

Smith-Joseph and Nkoma had already come on for Swans, and with just over ten minutes remaining they brought on 16 year old Maverick Gore. The Swans’ youth player had only been on for three minutes when he had his side’s first real chance of the match. Smith-Joseph laid the ball off to him in space in the left of the box, but his shot was kept out by home keeper Chris Haigh. Haigh was then tested again when Nkoma got forward on the right to drive in a low shot from 25 yards.

Things could have got worse for Swans in stoppage-time when Norris was judged to have fouled a Merstham player as he dashed out of his box to deny him, but fortunately the card shown was only yellow.

Swans’ Team: Brendan Norris, Julian Hornby, Jim Fenlon, Jake Newton, Lea Van Sullivan, Jamie Thoroughgood, Malachi Thomas (Maverick Gore 79’), Howard Newton (Athan Smith-Joseph 57’), Jamil Okai (TJ Nkoma 71’), Elliott Simpson, Bilal Benali. Sub. not used: Shaun Smart. . Cautions: Thoroughgood (37’), Norris (90+3’).

Merstham Team: Haigh, Abnett, Harrison, Cooper, Harwood (Jones 73’), Henriques, Addai, Samuels, McCollin, Ryan Hall (Bonnett-Johnson 73’), Reece Hall (Lambango 73’). Subs. not used: Douglas, Hutchings. Scorers: Henriques (64’), Harrison (67’), Ryan Hall (68’). Caution: Harrison (83’).          

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