Tuesday 9th October 2018. Southern Combination Challenge Cup, 1st Round.
Walton & Hersham 4 Walton Casuals 6.
It may rank well down the list of cup competitions, with Swans having last taken part 13 years ago, but that did not matter one bit to those who witnessed a terrific, see-saw encounter between the town’s two senior football clubs. The attraction of seeing the first local derby between the co-tenants at the new ground they now share attracted Swans’ biggest crowd since they moved to the stadium, and those present were not disappointed at what was on offer. The result of a fluctuating match was still in the balance until the final minute, with the teams sharing eight goals and a spot-kick decider on the cards, but then a superb strike from Taurean Roberts that completed a fine hat-trick for the former Swan, put Casuals through. Then a poor penalty decision in Casuals’ favour in stoppage-time added to Swans’ disappointment.
With two divisions now separating the two clubs, and Swans having a dreadful season so far that leaves them with just one win, Casuals started the match as strong favourites. But Swans belied their lowly position by twice leading by two goals as they at last played some football to encourage their loyal fans, who have had little to cheer them this season.
They were pleased to see the appearance again of Howard Newton in a Swans’ shirt, their former player/coach having been a firm favourite over the previous two seasons.
Goalkeeper Kavanagh Keadell was soon tested, claiming the ball well when Casuals broke into the right of the box, but it was Swans who took the lead after eleven minutes. Marlon Wallen was brought down in the box after being played in by Sean White, and Joe Pratley-Jones drove the spot-kick past keeper Denzel Gerrar.
Keadell got well behind the ball when Roberts cut across the edge of the box from the left to get in a low shot, before Swans doubled their lead after eighteen minutes, again from the penalty-spot. Ali Fofanah was tripped just inside the left of the box, and Pratley-Jones again gave Gerrar no chance with the penalty.
Casuals responded quickly, halving the deficit after just four minutes. They were allowed to get to the byline in the right of the box, and a low cross set up a simple tap-in for Roberts.
Roberts was again on target when the ball wasn’t cleared following a long throw from the right, but Keadell went down to save his low shot.
Swans restored their two goal lead after 25 minutes, Newton swinging in a superb cross from the right for White to power a header past Gerrar from five yards.
Casuals again hit back, making it 3-2 just past the half hour, a cross coming in from the right for Roberts to head in at the far-post.
Two more former Swans combined for Casuals, Joe Hicks finding Harry Mills in space on the left to drive in a dangerous, low cross that was cleared. Swans responded with Dan Band playing Pat Kirby to the byline on the right to drive in a low cross that was cut out by Gerrar at his near-post. White was then found by Band on the right edge of the box to drive wide of the far-post.
Swans took their 3-2 lead into the break, but seven minutes after the resumption went close to extending it. Band got the ball to White on the right, and he got forward to drive a low cross to the far-post, where Kirby was just denied.
But Casuals immediately broke to equalise. Ryheem Sheckleford got free into the right of the box before laying the ball inside for James Ewington to drive past Keadell.
Swans had to clear away from their goal-line when Hicks got his head to the ball at the far-post from a left-side corner, before Casuals took the lead for the first time after 58 minutes with a goal gifted to them. Keadell kicked the ball straight out to Ewington, who was able to get forward unchallenged to the edge of the box to place the ball low past the exposed keeper.
Swans were not finished however, and took just two minutes to hit back. White was found in the right of the box to shoot past Gerrar.
The play continued to be end to end, and after Fofanah had sent a shot wide from the left edge of the box for Swans, Casuals got in on the left to have a shot deflected wide.
Midway through the half Pratley-Jones had to come off injured, and was replaced by Conor Symon.
With twenty minutes remaining Monty Everett, who had earlier replaced Wallen for Swans, was just denied close-in at the left post.
As the match entered the final ten minutes Casuals’ substitute Isaac Sarpong was just prevented from getting on the end of a cross from the left at the far-post by a fine interception by Frank Ngonyama, who had come on for Dariush Heravi. Swans continued to be put under pressure, with Casuals looking the more likely to prevent the tie going to a penalty shoot-out, and a free-kick from the left touchline dipped just wide of the far-post.
Then, in the final minute of normal-time, Roberts got possession on the left before sending a terrific shot into the far top corner to complete his hat-trick and win the tie for Casuals.
With all their substitutes having been used and Everett coming off injured, Swans now had to finish the match with ten men, and three minutes into stoppage-time they were hit by a very dubious penalty award. Casuals’ Dan Bennett got into the right of the box, and went down very easily as Symon came in to challenge. Ewington duly completed his own hat-trick from the penalty-spot.
Swans’ Team: Kavanagh Keadell, Howard Newton, Ali Fofanah, Craig Lewington, Joe Pratley-Jones (Conor Symon 67’), Dan Choules, Sean White, Dan Band, Marlon Wallen (Monty Everett 58’), Pat Kirby, Dariush Heravi (Frank Ngonyama 62’). Sub. not used: Bailey Tanner. Scorers: Pratley-Jones, penalties (12’ & 18’), White (25’ & 60’). Caution: Band.
Casuals’ Team: Gerrar, Sheckleford, Robinson, Hustwick, Mills, Hicks, Keley, Farrell (Sarpong 73’), Wood (Bennett 72’), Ewington (Sobowale 90+3’), Roberts. Sub. not used: Kinsaba. Scorers: Roberts (22’, 31’ & 90’), Ewington (52’, 58’ & 90+3’ [pen.]).