Saturday 4th August 2018. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Walton & Hersham 4 Badshot Lea 0.
With every player involved making their debut for the club, new manager Gary Taylor’s completely revamped Swans got the season off to an excellent start with a fine, controlled performance. A single goal lead at the break was scant reward for their first-half dominance, but three goals in a seven minute spell beginning on the hour mark put paid to any likely comeback by the newly promoted visitors. The new Swans’ squad is a mixture of youth and maturity, ranging from the 16 year-old Dennis Gorman to the highly experienced Craig Bradshaw in goal. Gorman put in a highly competent performance at right-back, while Bradshaw made several fine saves as Badshot Lea threatened his goal in the latter stages.
On one of the hottest days of the year Swans made a fine start, and Dariush Heravi was soon being found in space on the right by a terrific diagonal pass, but his low cross just failed to pick out Marlon Pinder in the middle as the ball was cleared. Gorman was soon sending another fine diagonal ball from the right to pick out Frank Ngonyama on the left, but after cutting inside he was closed out. The visitors’ Liam Roberts soon picked up a booking for a crude challenge on Ross Chalke, but no-one was at the far-post to get to Heravi’s fine free-kick into the box from the right. Pinder got to the ball as visiting goalkeeper Jordan Clement made a hash of a clearance as he dashed out, but his shot from the edge of the box struck the left-post.
Swans had dominated the opening ten minutes, but Badshot Lea twice threatened on the right, getting in crosses, the second of which resulted in a deflection over at the far-post.
Uche Aluo sent in a good long ball from deep on the left for Swans, but Clement just got out to deny any chance. Heravi had a free-kick out by the left corner-flag for Swans, and when the ball was laid inside to Charlie Hester-Cook he drove a shot over. Swans were again unfortunate just before the quarter of an hour when Mark Waters struck a terrific shot from outside the box on the left that rattled the crossbar, with Pinder being ruled offside as he got in a header from the rebound.
Bradshaw was brought into action for the first time when Badshot Lea’s Cameron Blackie sent in a free-kick from deep, but the keeper easily claimed a header at the left-post.
Heravi took another corner from the left for the home side, and Aluo did well on the right before getting the ball across, and it had to be headed behind for another flag-kick. Swans had another opportunity with a free-kick just outside the left of the box, but Heravi’s effort was blocked, and when Gorman played Ngonyama to the byline on the right his low ball in was blocked for a corner. Heravi’s right-side kick was met at the far-post by Waters, but his header was wide.
Swans’ pressure finally paid off after half an hour when Heravi made a run on the right. The ball was played in to Chalke by the right corner of the box, and the former Molesey man drove a fine left-foot shot low inside the far-post.
The visitors had a rare chance, which Ryan Bell drove over from outside the box, but Swans again soon attacked through Heravi on the left, his low cross being blocked. With just over five minutes left of the half Swans failed to clear following a throw-in and Badshot Lea had a chance, but a shot was deflected for a corner.
Bradshaw almost scored an unlikely goal as he took a free-kick just inside his own half. The Swans’ keeper sent the ball dipping towards the visitors’ goal, and Clement just managed to get back and tip it over his crossbar. In first-half stoppage-time he ball was laid in from the left to Waters, who struck a superb shot just wide from 25 yards out.
Swans almost doubled their lead straight after the resumption when Ngonyama got past his marker on the left to play the ball low in, and Chalke was on the right edge of the box to strike a low shot just wide of the far-post. A great chance soon followed when Chalke’s clever through ball sent Pinder racing clear, but Clement was able to come out and block behind for a corner.
Clement had to go down and save Hester-Cook’s low shot from the edge of the box, but there was a chance at the other end when the ball was cleared to Stacey Thripp, but Bradshaw grasped his shot on the line.
Bradshaw again had to get behind the ball when Bell got in a snap-shot from the edge of the box, but Swans doubled their lead on the hour with a superb goal. Hester-Cook made a terrific run on the left that took him deep into the box, before he drove an angled shot past Clement.
Swans were slow to react when Badshot Lea took a short corner on the left, and when the ball came to Darren Blake on the right edge of the box he forced a fine tip-over save from Bradshaw.
Heravi sent a shot drifting just wide from 25 yards before Swans made it 3-0 after 66 minutes, Chalke driving the ball past Clement after a shot had been blocked following Ngonyama’s run on the right and low cross.
Just a minute later Pinder made it 4-0 to Swans, clipping the ball home after another run by Ngonyama on the right. Waters was then close with a far-post header from Heravi’s free-kick from the left.
The visitors began to come into the game in the final quarter of an hour as Swans seemed to flag in the oppressive conditions, and it was left to Bradshaw to preserve a clean sheet with some fine stops, starting with a fine block at his near-post when Badshot Lea got in on the right.
Swans were still creating openings however, and Clement had to make a great save to deflect the ball wide of his far-post when substitute Krzysztof Zlocki struck a fine shot from the left corner of the box.
It was then left to Bradshaw to make two more fine blocks, firstly when Badshot Lea got in on the left, and then when they broke clear to get in a shot.
Swans’ Team: Craig Bradshaw, Dennis Gorman, Michael Holliday, Dan Choules, Uche Aluo, Charlie Hester-Cook (Dre Grobler 64’), Mark Waters, Ross Chalke, Marlon Pinder (Luke Randall 75’), Dariush Heravi, Frank Ngonyama (Krzysztof Zlocki 68’). Subs. not used: Jim Comer, Dave Hill. Scorers: Chalke (30’ & 66’), Hester-Cook (60’), Pinder (67’). Caution: Aluo (44’).
Badshot Lea Team: Clement, Blake, Pound (Francis 58’), Roberts (Pilgrim 53’), Blackie, Brainch, Blanchard, Lloyd, May, Bell, Thripp (Haskell 64’). Subs. not used: Flanighan, Chase. Cautions: Roberts, Lloyd, Bell.