Swans 4 Abbey Rangers 4

Tuesday 26th February 2019. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.

Walton & Hersham 4 Abbey Rangers 4.

A battling Swans’ side were denied another deserved three points by a stoppage-time equaliser by the visitors, the third goal they had conceded from a corner, and the fourth from a dead-ball situation. After trailing 3-1 with half-time approaching, a spirited fightback saw them lead 4-3 with less than twenty minutes remaining, and they had chances to add to that lead, but they just failed to see it through to the win. Abbey Rangers showed why they have had such a good season, but they struggled to cope with Swans’ pacey attacks. Unfortunately Swans’ tendency to concede goals means they have had to score three or four times to get a result, and in this match their vulnerability from set-pieces resulted in them having to settle for a draw. If those defensive problems could be ironed out they will surely put opponents to the sword.

Apart from Jordan Simmons returning in defence, the starting line-up was unchanged from the previous match against Cobham.

Less than a minute had been played when Seb Osei-Obengo surged down the right, and was unceremoniously dumped over the touchline by a cynical challenge from Tom Bentley that earned the visitors an early yellow card that could easily have been of another colour. Pat Kirby sent the resultant free-kick into the box, and Rangers’ goalkeeper Jake Fuller went down at the far-post to collect.

Unfortunately Swans’ tendency to concede early goals returned, as they went behind after seven minutes. The visitors won a corner on the left, and ironically it was Bentley who was at the far-post to score with a free-header from Alex Hendrie’s kick.

Home keeper Kevin Manuel got well behind a low shot from the right of the box by former Swan Harrison Deacon, but Tyreke Leslie was soon breaking down the right at the other end to get in a low cross that had to be cleared away from the 6 yard-box. The visitors were finding it difficult to deal with Leslie’s quick, clever breaks, but Michael Carey found a way when he was beaten on the right, crudely hacking down the Swans’ player, another yellow card the inevitable result. Regan Mendes put a header over from Kirby’s free-kick.

Swans equalised after twenty minutes when Ahmed Elsahib made a good run down the left before laying the ball across for Leslie to drive home from close to the penalty-spot.

It should have been 2-1 to Swans straight after the restart when Sean White blocked an attempted clearance by keeper Fuller. White got possession on the right byline before crossing to the far-post, where Osei-Obengo put a good chance over.

Manuel got well behind a shot from outside the box by Rangers’ Spencer Maw, before Kirby was just wide at the other end with a well-struck effort from 30 yards.

But Swans went behind again after 36 minutes. The visitors forced two successive corners on the right, and from the second, taken by Hendrie, Carey was unmarked to head home from ten yards.

Swans won a corner of their own on the left, and after it was played short the ball came to White, 30 yards out, and he struck a terrific shot just wide. With the first-half entering the final five minutes Swans had another opportunity to equalise with a free-kick outside the right of the box, but Mendes headed a chance over from Kirby’s delivery.

Instead of being level Swans found themselves 3-1 down when Manuel was penalised and booked for handling just outside the right of his penalty area. Carey drove in the free-kick with his left-foot and the ball went in off the underside of the crossbar.

Swans soon gave themselves a lift for the second-half ahead by reducing the deficit to a single goal before the break. Elsahib again got down the left before picking out White, who stooped to plant a far-post header past Fuller from the edge of the 6 yard-box.

Swans soon went close to equalising in the second-half when Leslie was found on the right, and he struck a superb, low shot that Fuller just got a hand on to deflect the ball inches wide of his far-post. Simmons was soon getting in a good strike from 30 yards that the Rangers’ keeper just managed to keep out down by his right-post, with Mendes heading wide from the corner-kick. Didi Castanho then played a fine through pass that put Osei-Obengo away on the right, and when he sent the ball in to the near-post, Fuller just prevented Leslie from turning it in.

At the other end Manuel had to go down at his near-post to take the ball when Rangers got in a shot from wide on the left.

A terrific opening to the second-half by Swans deservedly brought them an equaliser just past the hour, and it was a trademark Kirby goal. Leslie got down the right before playing the ball across to Kirby 25 yards out, and the Swans’ skipper drove a great, low shot in-off the left-post.

Kirby was soon having another shot blocked, and Leslie followed up to net, but was ruled offside. Midway through the half Carey prevented Leslie from breaking through the middle by bringing him down, and was fortunate not to pick up his second yellow card of the match. The visiting bench made the wise decision of immediately substituting the offending player.

Rangers put a header wide when Bentley took a free-kick from the right, before Swans took the lead for the first-time with just under twenty minutes remaining. Osei-Obengo made a fine run in on the left byline to drive the ball low across goal, and Rangers’ Ben Kersley could only deflect it into his own net at the far-post.

Swans looked to add to their lead, and Osei-Obengo made a run forward before driving a shot just over from 25 yards. Arif Hattabi and James Robertson came on, and with five minutes of normal-time remaining they combined to almost make it safe for Swans. Hattabi played a fine long, through ball to send Robertson running clear, but he dwelt too long and the chance went.

Swans looked to have sealed a valuable three points, but, with stoppage-time being played, the visitors won a free-kick outside the left of the box. The kick took a deflection, and the ball went behind for a corner on the right. Hendrie drove the kick into the 6 yard-box, and Ben Kersley stole in to score from close range.

Swans’ Team: Kevin Manuel, Conor Symon, Aaron Bryan, Pat Kirby, Regan Mendes, Jordan Simmons, Tyreke Leslie, Sean White, Seb Osei-Obengo (Andrew Demby 86’), Didi Castanho (James Robertson 81’), Ahmed Elsahib (Arif Hattabi 81’). Subs. not used: Simon Offei, Sam Marfo. Scorers: Leslie (20’), S. White (45’), Kirby (62’), B. Kersley, own goal (71’), Cautions: Kirby (34’), Manuel (42’).
Abbey Rangers Team: Fuller, Bower, Hendrie, Bentley, Thomas (Bradley 71’), Deacon, Carey (Davies 67’), Taylor (Robertson 71’), R. Kersley, Maw, B. Kersley. Sub. not used: Watts. Scorers: Bentley (7’), Carey (36’ & 43’), B. Kersley (90+2’). Cautions: Bentley (1’), Carey (18’), Taylor (59’), Davies (79’).