Saturday 28th April 2018. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Bedfont Sports 2 Walton & Hersham 1.
A goal scored six minutes from the end of normal-time sent a much-depleted Swans’ side to their first defeat in five meetings with the Middlesex club, at the same time clinching the second promotion spot for their hosts. After trailing at the break to a fine goal scored by home player/manager Paul Johnson, they capitalised on a good spell of domination in the second-half by equalising with just under a quarter of an hour remaining through TJ Nkoma, but they were denied a deserved share of the points by the late winner.
Swans began the match with 16 year-old Joe Wotton making his first start, and Sid Dack from the U-18 side, who has just passed his 17th birthday coming in for his senior debut. The match was to finish with two more of the U-18s squad on the pitch. Bruno Tingle had joined the list of injured players, while Jamie Thoroughgood was unavailable due to work commitments.
Swans soon had to withstand pressure from the home side, dealing with successive dead-ball kicks with just a minute on the watch. Johnson’s corner-kick from the right was cleared at the far-post, and the same player’s free-kick into the box from the left touchline was also got away. Jake Hicks then put a header over the crossbar when the ball came in from the left.
Swans’ first attack came after eight minutes when an excellent through ball by Dack sent Abdeen Abdul away on the left, but his low ball into the box was cleared away.
The home side looked determined to get an early breakthrough, and Mustafa Tiryaki sent a first-time shot over from inside the box after Tim Pitt crossed from the right. Jason Nwachukwu then got free into the left of the box after the ball was given away in midfield, and he was only denied by a fine tackle by Howard Newton.
With a quarter of an hour played Swans threatened again when Wotton sent a terrific diagonal ball from wide on the right to pick out Nkoma on the left, but his low ball in was cleared from the edge of the 6-yard box. Abdul was then just denied at the far-post when Nkoma crossed a high ball from the right.
Midway through the half Bedfont won a corner on the left, and Johnson’s kick sent the ball across Swans’ goal and behind for another corner on the right. This time Joe Jackson put a far-post header over from Johnson’s kick.
Sam Shaban made a positive run forward for Swans, allowing Abdul to find Nkoma in the box, but he was just closed out.
At the other end Swans’ goalkeeper James Russell had to beat away a 25 yard strike by Tiryaki, and Johnson put a header wide at the far-post when Pitt crossed from the right. Jackson then got to the byline in the right of the box, and Russell had to make a fine block down at his near-post.
The home side’s spell of pressure paid off when they made the breakthrough after 36 minutes with a fine goal. They cut in on the left byline, and when the ball was played back to Johnson just inside the left of the box, he gave Russell no chance with a shot into the top, right corner.
Straight from the restart Nkoma was just denied by home keeper Rourke Pickford when James Simmonds’ clever pass found him in the box. Julian Hornby then made a run on the left to get in a good cross to the far-post, where Shaban just failed to get his head on the ball as it was put behind for a corner.
With time running out in the first-half Russell had to make a double block at his near-post when Jackson drove the ball in low after Pitt’s free-kick from halfway had sent him down the right. And it took another fine block by the Swans’ keeper to deny Alex Rose, who had been played into the left of the box by Tiryaki.
Straight from the kick-off in the second-half Russell was in action again, doing well to push the ball wide of the right post after Johnson had struck a low shot from the edge of the box. Swans had difficulty in clearing the ball when Pitt crossed from the right, and it was finally blasted over from the edge of the box by Jack Mills.
Ten minutes into the half Swans went desperately close to equalising when Hornby intercepted a pass in midfield and got forward down the left. His cross picked out Nkoma in the right of the box, and he made room before driving in a low shot that was blocked on the goal-line. Wotton then played Shaban into the right of the box, and with a clear sight of the goal he drove the ball just inches over the crossbar.
With just over an hour played Wotton was replaced by another 16 year-old in Maverick Gore. Swans now looked the better of the two sides, with Bedfont having to defend their lead rather than looking like adding to it, and midway through the half Abdul was played clear into the left of the box, but his final touch was heavy and keeper Pickford was able to claim the ball.
Swans made a couple of substitutions, with Cameron Gyeabour replacing Ali Fofanah and 17 year-old Monty Everett coming on for Abdul, and their dominance paid off with just under a quarter of an hour remaining when they equalised. Nkoma was found in the right of the box, and he took a couple of touches before drilling a left-foot shot low past Pickford.
Nkoma was soon getting forward to the left of the box before sending a left-foot shot just wide of the post.
But it was the home side who were to get the winner after they were awarded a free-kick deep on the right. The ball was delivered into the box and Tiryaki leapt to loop a header out of the reach of Russell and into the far, top corner.
Swans pressed forward looking for a second equaliser, and with two minutes of normal-time remaining they had a free-kick on the left, but Simmonds sent the ball dipping over the bar. Then, in stoppage-time, Simmonds’ lob from 40 yards out dipped just over. The final chance came when Hornby got in a shot from outside the left of the box, but the ball took a deflection and looped into the gloves of Pickford, leaving Bedfont to celebrate their win, and with it, promotion.
Swans’ Team: James Russell, Joe Wotton (Maverick Gore 61’), Ali Fofanah (Cameron Gyeabour 70’), Howard Newton, Jake Newton, Julian Hornby, Sid Dack, James Simmonds, Abdeen Abdul (Monty Everett 74’), Sam Shaban, TJ Nkoma. Scorer: Nkoma (76’). Cautions: Shaban, foul (34’), Simmonds, foul (53’).
Bedfont Sports Team: Pickford, Pitt, Rose (Mngadi 78’), Ruddick, Jackson, Richards, Mills, Hicks, Tiryaki (Read 90+3’), Nwachukwu (Harris 74’), Johnson. Subs. not used: Baxter, Mbonkwi. Scorers: Johnson (36’), Tiryaki (84’). Cautions: Tiryaki, foul (59’), Jackson, foul (60’), Pitt, foul (87’).