Knaphill 2 Swans 1

Saturday 13th April 2019. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.

Knaphill 2 Walton & Hersham 1.

Swans were finally condemned to finishing in bottom spot of the table with another defeat that was pretty much symptomatic of their performances in recent weeks. After going ahead early, they created enough good chances in the first-half that should have taken them into the break with a more comfortable lead than that single goal, but they failed to accept any of them. A Knaphill side, that was a distinct second-best in that first-half, was then able to regroup after the break, and a change of shape and a half-time substitution led to them bossing the rest of the game. Swans’ defensive frailties led to them conceding two goals in that second-half, and having done so they seldom looked like getting anything from the game.

The problems had begun before the match however, as the squad had been hit by a mass of players not being available for selection, leading to only three substitutes being named, one of which was assistant manager George Busumbru. Kevin Manuel, Jordan Simmons, Erivaldo Felix, Daniel Pinto, Sam Marfo and Sean White were all unavailable for various reasons, and the numbers were added to by Didi Castanho, through sickness, and Ahmed Elsahib, who had picked up an injury in training. Manuel’s late withdrawal meant a last-minute call-up and a return in goal for Luke Daley, while a debut was given in midfield to Munashe Mwatsiya. Fortunately both Pat Kirby and Conor Symon were able to return from injury lay-offs. Problems increased for Swans when one of their main attacking threats in Tyreke Leslie had to come off injured with a little over a quarter of an hour played.

Swans had an opportunity with just over five minutes played when Aaron Bryan’s ankles were clipped just outside the left of the box. Kirby’s free-kick was dipping just under the crossbar, and former Swan Sean Fallon in the home goal had to make a smart tip-over. Seb Osei-Obengo then got the ball to Simon Offei on the right, and he cut back to get in a low shot that Fallon got behind on his line.

Swans took the lead after eleven minutes when Osei-Obengo did well to just keep the ball in on the right byline. After cutting the ball back onto his left-foot he clipped it over to pick out Arif Hattabi close to the penalty-spot, and he sent a looping header into the far, top corner.

Leslie was then in the box to send a header just over when Offei swung the ball over from the right. Unfortunately that was to be Leslie’s last contribution, as he picked up an eye injury with just over a quarter of an hour played. After being off the pitch for several minutes he was eventually replaced by Ryan Smith.

Swans won a free-kick on the right, and Kirby’s excellent delivery into the box forced Knaphill to put the ball behind at the far-post. The corner on the left eventually led to Symon getting the ball in the right of the box, and he was able to get in a low shot that drew a save from Fallon. With just under half an hour played Symon sent Hattabi to the byline on the right, but his lay-back into the box failed to find a teammate.

Swans immediately had a chance to double their lead when the ball dropped onto the head of Smith, totally unmarked close-in on the right, but he could only direct it into the gloves of keeper Fallon.

Smith soon had two more fine chances in rapid succession. A high ball down the middle sent him past the onrushing Fallon and clear into the box, but his shot struck the only defender between him and the goal. Smith was able to regain possession and lob the ball towards goal, but there was not enough power in his effort, and Knaphill were able to clear.

Swans were to go into the break rueing their missed opportunities, which were added to in the final minute of the half. Once again it was the substitute Smith who had the chance when he got clear in on the right, but he failed to beat Fallon with a shot to the near-post.

Knaphill had not posed a serious threat in the first-half, but they looked a different outfit straight from the resumption, and they equalised just six minutes in with a really soft goal from Swans’ viewpoint. An attack broke down, and when the ball was played up-field no-one took on the responsibility of getting it clear and it was allowed to run across to Matt Kellet-Smith outside the right of the box. The Knaphill right-back struck a shot that Daley got both hands on, but could only help on its’ way into the net.

Straight from the restart it could have got worse for Swans when the ball fell to Knaphill substitute Nathaniel Thomas in the box, but his half-volley went over.

Swans soon had an opportunity to restore their lead when Offei got into the right of the box, and when the ball came back to him he put a first-time shot wide of the right post.

Daley had not been seriously troubled in Swans’ goal in the first-half, but ten minutes into the second he had to make a fine save to push the ball over his crossbar when Thomas got into the left of the box to cut back and get in a shot. From the corner on the right the home side got in a header at the far-post that Daley just managed to push away. Knaphill continued to dominate, and Daley had to get behind another far-post header when Kellet-Smith crossed from deep on the right.

Swans had mostly been on the back-foot in the second-half, and with a quarter of the match remaining they went behind. Knaphill were allowed to get the ball over from the left, and Kellet-Smith was unmarked in the right of the box to get in a header that looped over Daley and into the far, top corner.

Osei-Obengo had a rare opening for Swans when he turned by the left corner of the box, but his left-foot shot dipped over.

At the other end Owen Roberts got in a half-volley from the edge of the box that Daley got behind on his line.

Swans had one last opportunity to salvage something from the game with a free-kick on the left in stoppage-time, but Symon’s far-post header from Kirby’s kick was comfortably taken by keeper Fallon.

Swans’ Team: Luke Daley, Tristan Noel, Aaron Bryan (Khalid Al Saud 83’), Pat Kirby, Regan Mendes, Conor Symon, Tyreke Leslie (Ryan Smith 20’), Munashe Mwatsiya, Seb Osei-Obengo, Arif Hattabi, Simon Offei. Sub. not used: George Busumbru. Scorer: Hattabi (11’). Caution: Busumbru (72’).
Knaphill Team: Fallon, Kellet-Smith (H. Roberts 77’), Leighton, Rowley, Collins, O. Roberts, Barry, El Amrani, Rapley, Ahorlu (Thomas 45’), Losty. Subs. not used: Harris, Camara, Skinner. Scorer: Kellet-Smith (51’ & 68’). Cautions: Kellet-Smith, Rapley, El Amrani. .

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