Tuesday 24th April 2018. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Walton & Hersham 4 Epsom & Ewell 0.
Following a run of four defeats Swans made it five wins in a row with an impressive display. Their opponents had put together a recent run of good results that had lifted them off the bottom spot in the table, and for periods they showed why they had done so. But Swans were determined to finish their home matches on a high, and if they had been more clinical in front of goal their final score could easily have been doubled or more. Sam Shaban twice hit a post with headers, and several other gilt-edged chances were created but not taken as the visitors were carved open on numerous occasions.
Louis Taylor and Billy Jeffreys joined Jim Fenlon on the injured list, so Ali Fofanah came in at left-back, with Bruno Tingle returning and Jake Newton moving into central defence. With James Simmonds unable to make kick-off Elliott Simpson came into midfield, and Brendan Norris returned in goal after missing five games.
Simpson had only made one start for Swans since mid-January, but with less than two minutes played he was hitting a superb diagonal pass to pick out TJ Nkoma on the right. Nkoma got into the box to force a save from visiting goalkeeper Conor Young before the ball was put behind for a corner.
The visitors threatened when the ball ran loose following a long throw-in from the left by Alex McKay, but Norris was able to fall on it. At the other end Young took two attempts to claim the ball when Simpson sent a free-kick into the box from the right.
Swans were unfortunate when Nkoma got down the right before delivering a terrific cross to pick out Shaban, but his header thumped against the far-post. Julian Hornby then made a good run on the left to force a corner, and this led to Swans taking the lead after twelve minutes. Jake Newton was in a crowded box to meet Simpson’s kick ten yards out and hook the ball over his head and inside the right post.
Scott Murphy struck a shot wide from 25 yards as Epsom & Ewell tried to respond, and midway through the half the ball ran to Louis O’Brien in the right of the box, but he put wide of the near-post.
Swans had a chance to double their lead when a fine ball down the right sent Abdeen Abdul clear into the box, but his shot was saved by Young, and although Abdul got a second opportunity he struck the ball over the bar. Abdul was then picked out by a long forward pass, but after turning on the edge of the box he put a low shot wide.
The visitors had an opportunity just before the half hour when Jake Newton was judged to have tripped O’Brien just outside the box, but Murphy’s free-kick was easily taken high up on his line by Norris.
Swans went close again when Abdul robbed McKay on the right to get forward and drive the ball low across, and McKay was in the box to send it just wide of his own goal and behind for a corner.
Joe Loftus-Cheek had looked lively for Epsom & Ewell, and he got to the byline on the right to drive the ball low across the goal-face, but a free-kick went to Swans for a foul at the far-post.
Swans immediately doubled their lead, when after 38 minutes Tingle robbed Lloyd Connelly and got clear into the right of the box before thumping a right-foot shot past Young.
The visitors tried to get back into the match before the break, and they had a shot blocked at the far-post after Adam Heagney took a corner from the left. Kyen Nicholas then got forward to the edge of the box, but his low shot was saved on his line by Norris.
In the final minute of the half Fofanah made a good run on the left for Swans, and his low, driven cross was well taken at his near-post by Young.
Swans had the benefit of a strong wind for the second-half, and soon after the resumption had a chance to increase their lead. Tingle made an excellent run on the left, surging past two defenders before laying the ball low across to set up Shaban, but his shot lacked power, and Young was able to go down and push the ball wide of his left post. From Simpson’s corner-kick Jake Newton put a close-in header over. Then a fine diagonal ball by Tingle picked out Nkoma on the right, but he drove his shot over after getting into the box.
Chances were now coming thick and fast for Swans, and Shaban shrugged past a couple of defenders to force his way into the box, but his low shot was blocked by the legs of keeper Young and the ball went behind for a corner. Abdul was then played clear into the left of the box, but although he lobbed the ball over Young in an attempt to find the far, top corner, his effort did not have enough power, and the keeper was able to scramble back and clear.
Swans’ pressure had to pay off, and eleven minutes into the half Nkoma made a terrific run on the right before driving the ball low across to the far-post, where Shaban tucked it home to make it 3-0.
With an hour played the visitors made a triple substitution, while Swans brought on Simmonds for Fofanah.
Epsom & Ewell had no answer to the darting runs of Nkoma, and he again got down the right to pick out Shaban at the far-post, but his diving header sent the ball across goal and against the right post. Nkoma was soon sending another superb low cross in from the right to find Abdul close-in on goal, but he somehow put the ball wide.
The visitors still posed the odd threat, and one of their substitutes, Endrit Dobraj, struck a shot wide of the right post from 22 yards. It then took a great tackle by Jake Newton at the near-post to stop an attack on the left.
With just over ten minutes remaining Simpson struck a fine shot from 25 yards for Swans that flew over.
As the match entered the final five minutes Loftus-Cheek had a shot blocked for the visitors when a free-kick was sent into the box from the left, but Swans finally scored again with a minute of normal-time remaining. Hornby laid the ball in from the left to Simpson 25 yards out, and he drove a fine, low shot past Young and inside the left post.
Swans continued to attack in stoppage-time, and the ball was blocked for a corner when Nkoma got down the left to play the ball in low. The final chance came when a clever pass by Jake Newton got Abdul into the right of the box, but he sent the ball across the goal-face and just wide.
Swans’ Team: Brendan Norris, Howard. Newton, Ali Fofanah (James Simmonds 60’), Bruno Tingle (Cameron Gyeabour 72’), Jake Newton, Jamie Thoroughgood. TJ Nkoma, Elliott Simpson, Abdeen Abdul, Sam Shaban (Joe Wotton 84’), Julian Hornby. Scorers: J. Newton (12’), Tingle (38’), Shaban (56’), Simpson (89’).
Epsom & Ewell Team: Young, Griffin, Masterson (Dobraj 59’), Connelly (Roberts 59’), McKay, Heagney, Pinder, Murphy, Loftus-Cheek, Nicholas, O’Brien (Dyson 59’). Subs. not used: Russell, Jeannoel.