Saturday 18th August 2018. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Walton & Hersham 2 Balham 3.
Two goals down with just over a quarter of an hour played, Swans faced an uphill task against a Balham side that had started the season with a 100% record in all competitions. Their task became even harder when the visitors made it 3-0 eight minutes into the second-half, but they hit back with two goals, and then missed a great chance deep into stoppage time that would have given them an unlikely draw, and a repeat of last season’s 3-3 result.
Harrison Deacon and Dariush Heravi combined well on the right early on for Swans, but Heravi’s low, driven cross could only find the side-netting.
Balham first threatened when a cross from out on the right touchline passed across the home goal, but Mo Kamara soon forced a corner on the left for Swans, but after it was played short the cross was cleared.
Swans had started playing some neat, controlled football, dominating possession, but without creating any real opportunities, and it was the visitors who took the lead after 14 minutes. James Gallagher got totally free just inside the right corner of the box, and he drove a low shot into the far corner.
Two minutes later it was 2-0 to Balham when Khalid Savage found space on the left to send the ball low into the box, and when it was not cleared Tino Carpene drove it past goalkeeper Craig Bradshaw.
Swans continued to have a lot of possession, but it was just before the half-hour before they seriously threatened, a good build-up ending with a cross from the left and Ross Chalke having a shot from the edge of the box blocked.
Balham continued to look dangerous however, and they won a free-kick just outside the box. Tomasz Wocial played the ball to Carpene on the left, and his cross was deflected behind for a corner. With five minutes of the half remaining Balham broke and Savage was able to get in a shot from the edge of the box. The ball took a big deflection, and Bradshaw did well to leap to his left and just keep it out.
Swans had an opportunity in the final minute when Kamara was fouled on the right, but Heravi’s free-kick was cleared.
Swans had a chance straight after the resumption when Michael Holliday’s cross from the left found Marlon Pinder in space at the far-post, but his stooping header went straight to Balham keeper Kamal Nehaili.on his line. Two successive corners were then won on the left, and from Heravi’s second Dan Band headed over at the far-post.
Swans had started the second-half well, but after just eight minutes they were again caught on the break. Harry Wise was left exposed at the back, and he could not prevent a break into the right of the box. The ball was laid across to the totally unmarked Carpene, and he had the simple task of beating Bradshaw to make it 3-0.
Twenty minutes into the half Deacon worked the ball to Kamara on the left, but his low shot from outside the box was wide of the near-post. Balham replied with a glancing header over from a left-side cross.
With just over ten minutes remaining Swans reduced the deficit in unusual circumstances. They were awarded an indirect free-kick just inside the box, with keeper Nehaili being shown a yellow card for his protests. Deacon laid the ball off to Mark Waters, and his well-struck shot brought a fine save from Nehaili. A follow-up shot was judged to have struck the arm of a Balham player and a penalty was awarded. Waters made no mistake from the spot, driving the ball low into the left-corner.
Swans continued to press, and Kamara did well on the left byline before clipping the ball over, and it had to be headed away from under the crossbar. With five minutes remaining Holliday took a corner from the left, but Chalke could not direct his far-post header on target.
But two minutes later Swans were in with a great chance of salvaging a point. Kamara was wide on the left, and he worked the ball onto his right foot, before sending a superb shot dipping into the far, top corner.
Four minutes into stoppage-time Swans had a great chance to make the comeback complete, but could not take it. Dennis Gorman hit a fine diagonal ball from deep on the right to pick out substitute Frank Ngonyama unmarked at the far-post, but his first-time volley flew wide.
Swans’ Team: Craig Bradshaw, Dennis Gorman, Michael Holliday, Harry Wise, Dan Band (Frank Ngonyama 75’), Dariush Heravi (Luke Randall 53’), Mark Waters, Ross Chalke, Harrison Deacon, Marlon Pinder, Mo Kamara. Subs. not used: Jim Comer, Alex Pearson, Dave Hill. Scorers: Waters, penalty (79’), Kamara (87’). Caution: Randall.
Balham Team: Nehaili, Garcia, Henry, Gallagher (Farquharson 86’), Erriu, McConnell, Adebayo (Townsend 71’), Haire, Carpene, Wocial, Savage. Sub. not used: Thompson. Scorers: Gallagher (14’), Carpene (16’ & 53’). Cautions: Nehaili, Garcia.