Saturday 30th March 2019. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Walton & Hersham 3 Hanworth Villa 3.
It was very much a case of having seen it all before as Swans once again set up a winning position, only to surrender it by not managing out the game. After conceding an almost habitual early goal they hit back to equalise, and then take the lead with less than twenty minutes remaining. Several chances had come and gone before that lead was taken, through a mixture of slack finishing and a fair degree of ill-luck. But having got that hard won lead, and with the visitors having an outfield player in goal due to their keeper having retired injured, they soon gave away a soft penalty, and were then reduced to ten men when Didi Castanho picked up a second yellow card with just under ten minutes remaining. Villa capitalised by going into the lead in the final minute of normal-time, but a stoppage-time equaliser salvaged a draw, that unfortunately may well prove not enough to keep Swans out of a bottom two finish at the season’s end.
With Liam Allen being recalled by Molesey, Jordan Johnson became the ninth different goalkeeper to appear for Swans this season, the other change being Jordan Simmons returning in defence.
Swans attacked from the off, and Arif Hattabi was soon sending Tyreke Leslie on a good run down the right that got him into the box to open up a chance, but his shot was deflected wide of the near-post. Pat Kirby’s corner-kick picked out Regan Mendes at the far-post, but his looping header was taken on his line by Villa keeper Terry Buss.
The visitors, with four former Swans in their squad, quickly mounted their first attack, and Jacob Lambe was allowed space on the edge of the box to turn and get in a low shot that Johnson saved on his line.
Swans broke quickly and Leslie was brought down in full flight just outside the right corner of the box by Jerimiah Debayo, earning The Villains’ defender an early yellow card. Kirby’s firmly driven free-kick brought a good tip-over save from Buss.
Swans’ attacking start had not brought the goal it deserved, and instead it was the visitors who took the lead after ten minutes. T’Sharne Gallimore was allowed far too much space outside the box, and with no-one closing him down, he drove a fine shot into the top, right corner.
Villa have had some fine recent results that have helped take them out of the danger-zone, and having seen off Swans’ early surge they began to have a spell of dominance. Former Swans’ favourite André Scarlett was given yards of space on the right before driving the ball in low, and it had to be scrambled away from the goal-line.
Swans’ began to settle again however, and they equalised after twenty minutes. Leslie’s tricky, pacey runs had been a constant problem for the visitors, and when he was found on the right by Kirby’s fine, long diagonal pass he burst past his marker to get to the byline. When he laid the ball back, Sean White was by the right corner of the 6 yard-box to clip it first-time into the far corner.
Swans went desperately close to taking the lead when Kirby again found Leslie on the right. He laid the ball inside to Castanho, who made space to get in a low shot that crept agonisingly just wide of the far-post. Swans went even closer to making it 2-1 with five minutes of the half remaining when Ahmed Elsahib struck a terrific shot from 35 yards that thumped against the right post. Swans looked determined to go in at the break ahead, and Castanho’s through ball sent Seb Osei-Obengo clear into the right of the box to get in a low shot that looked to be going in until the ball was just scrambled away from the goal-line, with some debate as to whether it had gone over it. Osei-Obengo was soon being sent clear by White’s through pass, but Buss was quickly out to save at his feet. Another great chance came in stoppage-time when Elsahib was left with just Buss to beat from twelve yards, but the keeper made a fine block.
Swans came out in the same vein for the second-half, and straight from the restart Elsahib was finding Osei-Obengo wide on the left, and he sent a right-foot shot dipping just over the far, top corner. Osei-Obengo should soon have made it 2-1 when he blocked an attempted clearance by former Swan Louis Clark, but after getting through with just Buss to beat he failed to get the ball past the Villa keeper.
Swans were soon almost punished for their wasteful finishing when their goal had a triple escape. Karle Carder-Andrews got in on the right to have a shot blocked, the ball was then headed against the bar, and a follow-up shot was saved by Johnson.
Swans immediately went close again when Scarlett’s foul and subsequent booking on the left resulted in a free-kick. Kirby’s delivery to the far-post picked out Mendes, but his powerful header just cleared the bar.
Castanho was then shown a yellow card for a foul, something that would later come back to bite the Swans’ midfielder. The free-kick was sent into the box by Santiago Navarro, and when the ball was not cleared the same Villa player got forward to put a left-foot shot over. Gallimore then swung the ball over from the right, and it fell just wide of Swans’ far-post.
Just past the hour the game was marred by a serious injury to keeper Buss, who had only recently celebrated his 600th appearance for The Villains. Buss came out to save at the feet of Elsahib, who had broken clear, and in doing so received a bad, facial injury. After lengthy treatment and a hold-up of 6-7 minutes, the keeper was replaced in goal by outfield player Lambe.
Soon after the resumption Buss’s opposite number Johnson was having to save and concede a corner when Villa got in on the right.
But it was Swans who took the lead after 72 minutes. Osei-Obengo found space in the box, and he thumped a right-foot shot to the stand-in keeper’s left.
Unfortunately Swans’ hard-won lead was only to last three minutes, as they gave away a penalty. The visitors took a corner from the right, and Mendes was judged to be guilty of a push on Carder-Andrews as the two players contested a header at the far-post. Carder-Andrews elected to take the spot-kick himself, and drove the ball past Johnson.
The match then took another significant turn with just under ten minutes remaining. Leslie had just made another fine run on the right for Swans to get past the last defender, but his lay-back into the box failed to find a teammate. Castanho then went down just outside the box, but the referee judged he had been guilty of simulation, and the Swans’ player was shown his second yellow card of the afternoon, a decision that appeared to be a harsh one.
Swans now had a struggle on their hands to hold on to at least a draw, and with just under five minutes of normal-time remaining Johnson had to make a fine block from a shot when Villa drove the ball in low from the right. But in the final minute the visitors’ substitute Scott Walker got free on the right, and his shot took a deflection before finding the far corner.
As a consequence of Buss’s injury there was considerable time to be added on for Swans to find an equaliser, but it came just two minutes into it. Leslie was found in the left of the box, and although his low shot was not hit with any great power, it could not be kept out of his near-post by stand-in keeper Lambe. There was still time left to find a possible winner, but it was not to be.
Swans’ Team: Jordan Johnson, Arif Hattabi (Tristan Noel 80’), Jordan Simmons, Pat Kirby, Regan Mendes, Sam Marfo, Tyreke Leslie, Sean White, Seb Osei-Obengo (Ryan Smith 90+6’), Didi Castanho, Ahmed Elsahib (Simon Offei 90+1’). Subs. not used: Conor Symon, Peter Arnold. Scorers: White (20’), Osei-Obengo (72’), Leslie (90+2’). Cautions: Mendes, dissent (30’), Marfo, foul (88’). Dismissal: Castanho, 2 cautions, foul (57’), simulation (81’).
Hanworth Villa Team: Buss, (Walker 69’), Scarlett, Debayo (Taylor 45’), Osei, Ansah-Palmer, Clark, Lambe, Gallimore, J. Esprit, Carder-Andrews, Navarro. Sub. not used: Autorino. Scorers: Gallimore (10’), Carder-Andrews, penalty (75’), Walker (89’). Cautions: Debayo, Scarlett, Clark, Gallimore.