Saturday 16th March 2019. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Walton & Hersham 0 Sutton Common Rovers 5.
Swans’ hopes of climbing out of the relegation spots were dealt another severe blow with a crushing defeat against the championship contenders. With a powerful wind, accompanied by severe gusts, blowing down the ground throughout, conditions were awful, and it was always going to be a vital factor in the course the match took, which side utilised those conditions best when favouring them. Swans started with the wind in their favour, but failed to capitalise on that distinct advantage. They certainly had chances in that first-half, but lack of composure resulted in them failing to take any of them. The visitors however, playing into the teeth of the almost gale-force wind, quickly adapted their game after realising long, high balls would not work, and they cruised into a 3-0 lead by half-time. Swans’ leaky defence had again been punished, and with their forward players misfiring it was always going to be damage limitation in the second-half, but two more late goals from Rovers capped a miserable afternoon for them.
Their cause was not helped by the unavailability of influential central defender Regan Mendes, Jordan Simmons moving into his spot and Aaron Bryan returning at left-back. Another big miss was the injured Didi Castanho in midfield, although fortunately Pat Kirby was fit to return.
Swans had an early chance when a good ball sent Tyreke Leslie through into the right of the box, but he was just denied and the ball went out for a corner on the right. Following the kick the ball came to Simon Offei 30 yards out, but he shot over. A real opportunity came with a free-kick ten yards outside the box, but with the ball persistently rolling in the wind, Sean White laid it off to Kirby, whose shot was blocked. White followed up with a strong drive, but Rovers’ goalkeeper Ollie Ellaway was well-placed on his line to save.
The visitors’ first opportunity came with a free-kick close to the byline out by the right corner flag, but Kyle Henry’s delivery into the box was cleared.
Leslie made a clever run on the left for Swans that took him into the box, but his low cross was cleared away.
With a quarter of an hour played Conor Symon was booked for a clumsy challenge out on the left touchline to give Rovers another free-kick. Swans failed to get the ball clear as the kick came in, but the flag went up for offside as two Rovers’ players tried to force it past keeper Liam Allen on the line.
The visitors had begun to look threatening, and Malachi Robinson got down the right to hit a fine cross to the far-post, but Ollie Twum volleyed a good chance over.
With 21 minutes played Swans had another chance when Kirby’s long ball found Leslie on the left edge of the box, but he struggled to get in a shot and the ball was eventually blocked away.
Rovers responded immediately by taking the lead. Twum was found on the left, and he cut inside, along the edge of the box, before driving a fine, right-foot shot into the far corner.
Just four minutes later it was 2-0 to the visitors as Swans conceded a really poor goal from their viewpoint. This time Twum was found in space wide on the right, and Allen made the decision to dash across to try to close him down, but failed to get to the ball. Although the angle was tight, Twum was left with an open goal, and he did really well to guide the ball in.
Swans soon had another fine chance to get on the scoresheet when Leslie’s run took him in to the left corner of the 6 yard-box, but Ellaway saved at his near-post. Seb Osei-Obengo then had a shot from 30 yards deflected for a corner. With half an hour played Kirby’s corner-kick from the right looked like swinging into the goal, but Ellaway just got a hand to the ball to tip it over the far, top corner. Kirby’s corner from the left went even closer as the ball went across the goal-face and struck the far-post. Andrew Demby was soon getting in a shot from the edge of the box that brought a fine save from Ellaway. The ball ran to Osei-Obengo on the left, and when he drove it in from a tight angle it was just kept out at the near-post.
Instead of being still in with a chance, Swans were effectively put out of the game after 36 minutes. The visitors were given time in the box, and a neat back-heel set up Daryl Cooper-Smith to shoot low past Allen.
Leslie had a long-range shot that dipped just over the Rovers’ goal, but Swans were fortunate not to go further behind three minutes before the break. Cooper-Smith got in a shot from the right, and although Allen got his hands to the ball he could only deflect it onto his near-post.
Just over ten minutes into the second-half Twum went close to completing his hat-trick for Rovers when he sent in a wind-assisted shot from fully 40 yards out on the left that went just wide of the near-post.
Osei-Obengo won a corner on the left for Swans when he had a chance in the box, and from the kick he sent a bicycle kick over the bar.
Rovers had not really seen their lead seriously threatened in the second-half, and with ten minutes remaining they went close to adding to it, but Allen made a fine save from a close-in shot. But the fourth goal wasn’t long in coming, as Twum made a run into the right of the box before driving a shot into the far corner to complete a fine hat-trick.
As the match entered the final five minutes Osei-Obengo had a chance to get a consolation for Swans when he got in on the right, but his shot from the corner of the 6 yard-box was beaten down by keeper Ellaway. Then, with two minutes of stoppage-time played, substitute Gus Lukuni found Osei-Obengo, who got forward on the right to drive a low shot just wide of the far-post.
The wind had got even stronger and gustier as the second-half had progressed, and Rovers made it 5-0 with a goal that matched the somewhat farcical conditions. A wind-assisted high ball was played down the middle, and with Sam Marfo and his onrushing keeper Allen on different wavelengths, neither got to the ball, and Cooper-Smith was able to run into a vacated penalty-area before rolling it into an empty net.
Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Conor Symon, Aaron Bryan, Pat Kirby, Jordan Simmons, Sam Marfo, Tyreke Leslie (Gus Lukuni 57’), Sean White, Seb Osei-Obengo, Andrew Demby (Arif Hattabi 45’), Simon Offei (James Robertson 57’). Subs. not used: Ryan Smith, Charlie Burns. Cautions: Symon, foul (15’), Marfo, foul (68’).
SCR Team: Ellaway, Robinson, Tanton, Hastings, Baskerville, Rixon-Nicholls (Fenlon 75’), Twum, Farrell, Cooper-Smith, Nelson (Ferdinando 81’), Henry (Pinder 54’), Subs. not used: Bogle, Brown. Scorers: Twum (21’, 25’ & 82’), Cooper-Smith (36’ & 90+3’).