Saturday 27th April 2019. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Walton & Hersham 3 AFC Hayes 0.
Swans at least completed their otherwise dreadfully poor season on a high note by registering their first win in nine matches, and keeping their first clean sheet in twenty. The result also condemned their opponents to joining them in relegation, owing to an inferior goal difference to Balham.
Pat Kirby was injured, but both Tyreke Leslie and Conor Symon were available to return to the starting line-up.
Wind, that always seems to be a dominant weather feature at the stadium, was exacerbated by the fringes of Storm Hannah, and the match started with the gusts blowing predominantly towards the visitors’ goal. It was AFC Hayes however that posed the early threats. With just under ten minutes played they crossed into the box from the left, and with home goalkeeper Kevin Manuel not getting to the ball, it came to Jake Edmunds in space 22 yards out, but he sent a lob over the bar. A through ball then sent Mo Jarraz bursting clear down the left, and with Manuel dashing across to try to close him down, he sent a low shot wide of the far-post of the vacated goal.
Swans quickly responded with their first effort, Seb Osei-Obengo getting forward before striking a shot wide of the left post from 25 yards. Osei-Obengo then played a fine pass to Ahmed Elsahib on the left, but after doing well to cut into the box he couldn’t get a cross in.
Osei-Obengo then played a role in Swans taking the lead after 18 minutes. Didi Castanho’s excellent pass sent him down the left, and when he crossed low across the box, Sean White was at the far-post to poke the ball over the line.
Elsahib was sent clear by Arif Hattabi’s through ball, but visiting keeper Cameron Kennedy was quickly out to claim the ball. Swans continued to have the better of the play, and Castanho beat Kennedy after being played in by Osei-Obengo, but the flag went up for offside.
AFC Hayes had an opportunity with a free-kick 35 yards out, but they struck the ball wide. Manuel then had to take the ball at his near-post following some clever play by Nathan Dennis on the right.
With just over ten minutes left of the half Leslie got in for Swans, forcing Kennedy to scramble the ball wide of his right post. Leslie was soon getting in again on the left to get in a shot that Kennedy took at his near-post.
Swans would have hoped to have boosted their lead by the break, but it was the visitors who had the last say with five minutes left of the half, Haluna Masembe striking a fine effort wide from 22 yards.
It did not take Swans long to double their lead in the second-half however, doing so just four minutes after the resumption. Castanho made a good run on the left before laying the ball across to Hattabi, and he got forward into space before slotting the ball low past Kennedy from the edge of the box.
White and Elsahib were soon both being denied in the left of the box, and when the ball came out to Osei-Obengo, his shot was beaten down by Kennedy. Swans had started the second-half really well, and they should have gone 3-0 up when Castanho made a great run into the box on the right before laying the ball back to Elsahib, unmarked on the left, but he drove a clear chance wide of the near-post.
AFC Hayes had an opportunity to get back into the game with a free-kick 35 yards out, but Manuel dived to push Dennis’s strike round his right post. Midway through the half Dennis had an even better chance when he was found unmarked on the left edge of the box, but Hattabi just got across to make a fine tackle. Unfortunately the Swans’ midfielder injured himself in the challenge and could not continue, being replaced by Aaron Bryan. Visiting substitute George Harmes was soon getting in a good strike from 30 yards that took a deflection to go wide of the left post.
Leslie made a fine run on the right for Swans that took him from deep in his own half to outside the right of the opposition box, where he was stopped by a foul, but Castanho’s free-kick from a promising position was cleared away.
Swans have been guilty of not seeing out games when in good positions, but with just under a quarter of an hour remaining they virtually made this one safe with a third goal. More good play by Castanho sent Osei-Obengo into the right of the box, and he scored his eleventh goal in fourteen games for Swans with a fine strike past keeper Kennedy.
Harry Bishop had a shot from the left for the visitors deflected wide, but Munashe Mwatsiya’s fine ball was soon getting Leslie in on the right for Swans, and Kennedy had to come out to block.
With two minutes of normal-time remaining AFC Hayes had a great chance to ruin a rare clean sheet for Swans when Jarraz was played clear into the left of the box, but their former player put his shot straight at Manuel.
The miss should have been punished immediately when Swans broke to the other end and substitute Simon Offei got into the box, but he took too long m getting his shot away, and when he did it was blocked.
The match was ending in a flurry of chances as the visitors got possession wide and deep on the right, and Manuel made the decision to leave his area and dash across almost to the touchline to clear, but failed to get to the ball. The ball was played low across towards an open goal, but the Swans’ keeper just managed to race back to scramble it off his goal-line.
With the match deep into stoppage-time Swans had the chance to equal their biggest win of the season, that came as far ago as the opening day, when Castanho sent substitute Ryan Smith clear, but with just Kennedy to beat he shot well-wide of the right post.
There was still time for the visitors to go close again to ruining Swans’ rare clean sheet, but two chances in succession for Masembe were blocked away.
Swans’ Team: Kevin Manuel, Tristan Noel, Arif Hattabi (Aaron Bryan 69’), Munashe Mwatsiya, Regan Mendes, Conor Symon, Tyreke Leslie, Sean White, Seb Osei-Obengo (Ryan Smith 80’), Didi Castanho, Ahmed Elsahib (Simon Offei 80’). Subs. not used: Charlie Burns, Troy Meehan. Scorers: White (18’), Hattabi (49’), Osei-Obengo (76’). Cautions: Castanho (54’), Osei-Obengo (65’).
AFC Hayes Team: Kennedy, Kettle, Bishop, Muldrew, O’Neill, Edmunds (McCalmon 59’), Dennis, Ferguson (Harmes 59’), Masembe, Jarraz, Ndovi (Montes 65’). Subs. not used: Blowfield, Egan. Caution: Harmes (78’).