Sunday 1st September 2019. FA Vase, 1st Qualifying Round.
Tooting Bec 2 Walton & Hersham 4.
Swans progressed through to the next round of the FA Vase with a well-deserved win over first-time opponents, and fellow Division One side, Tooting Bec. At the same time they put an end to a run of first-time cup exits that lasted the whole of last season.
After going behind after a quarter of an hour to a superbly struck free-kick, they hit back with two fine goals of their own to lead at the break. With a sending-off reducing the home side to ten men for the second-half they soon extended their lead and looked comfortable. Sloppy defending however led to the home side getting back into the tie with just under a quarter of an hour remaining, and only a superb save from goalkeeper Logan Cullen prevented the possibility of extra-time. A fourth Swans’ goal deep into nine minutes of added-on time finally sealed their deserved progression to the next round, where they will be away to either Lydd Town or Raynes Park Vale.
With five minutes played Tyreke Leslie was played down the left to get into the box and cut the ball back from the byline, but home keeper Zdenek Machachek was able to deny James Young in the middle. Tooting Bec’s first effort was a shot over from 25 yards by Jack Martin after former Swan Darius Heravi had laid the ball back to him. With a quarter of an hour played Anderson Pinto-Nogueira was booked for a foul 30 yards out, and this led to Tooting Bec taking the lead from the resultant free-kick, Martin curling a terrific shot into the top, left corner. Leslie did well on the right for Swans, but Arif Hattabi was just denied when the ball was played inside. Leslie was then sent to the byline on the right by Alvin Sarmiento’s fine ball, but his effort was blocked. Swans continued to dominate, and midway through the half Sarmiento played a corner short on the left to Leslie, who had a low shot blocked. Sarmiento then sent in a free-kick from close to the left corner flag, but it was played too long and the ball passed harmlessly wide. Swans’ pressure finally paid off when they deservedly equalised after 24 minutes with a fine goal. Hattabi was played into the left of the box, before sending a shot into the far corner. The home side’s Heravi lobbed the ball just over from the left corner of the box when Swans failed to clear, and when Martin took a free-kick from deep on the right Sam Marfo had to head behind for a corner. Following Martin’s kick on the left Cullen had to get behind a shot from the right. With just over half an hour played a mix-up in the home defence almost allowed Leslie in, leading to keeper Machacek kicking the ball behind for a corner, and from Sarmiento’s kick on the left a header was put over.
Swans turned up the pressure in the final ten minutes of the half, and Sarmiento made a good run forward before laying-off to Pinto-Nogueira, but his 25 yard effort was well over the goal. Young then sent a looping header into the hands of the keeper when the ball was nodded on from Sarmiento’s free kick from deep on the right. Swans should have taken the lead with five minutes of normal-time left of the half when a ball in from the left set up Young with just Machacek to beat, but he snatched at his shot and stabbed the ball well wide of the right post. Leslie was then played down the right, and after getting into the box his shot beat Machacek, but was inches wide of the near-post. But a half-time lead was finally secured with a fine goal. A terrific drag-back and spin in the centre-circle by Hattabi completely wrong-footed the home defence, and a precision through pass sent Leslie racing clear to go round the keeper and roll the ball in. As the half entered stoppage-time Tooting Bec’s Alistair Wiltshire clashed in the air with Marfo, and the Swans’ defender was left prostrate on the pitch. The home number 9 was judged guilty of serious foul play and was shown a straight red card, while Marfo was left being treated for a bad cut above his right eye, before finally leaving the pitch several minutes after the other players had gone in for half-time.
Swans had to regroup for the second-half, with Gus Lukuni coming in on the left-side and Jordan Simmons moving into Marfo’s defensive role. A corner was soon won on the left when Young was played free to have a cross cleared behind, and from Munashe Mwatsiya’s kick another was won on the right. Felix Lucas was then set up in space on the left, but his shot was just wide of the near-post. But Swans immediately doubled their lead seven minutes into the half. Machacek had to come out to block at the feet of Young, but the ball ran loose to the edge of the box, and Sarmiento set himself before firing home. Swans began to catch the home side on the break, and when Martin’s long throw-in from the right was cleared, Lukuni burst forward with Leslie free on the right, but he was just caught offside.
There was another opportunity with a free-kick 30 yards out, but Sarmiento drove the ball straight through to the keeper. Swans went close to extending their lead when Lukuni left both James Parsons and Fabian Unwin trailing on the left to get into the box, resulting in a shot being put just wide. Parsons got free on the right for Tooting Bec, but his low cross went unchallenged across the box and out on the far side. Lukuni continued to cause problems on the left, and a corner was won when his cross was blocked. The kick was played short on the left, and Leslie was just denied at the near-post as the ball was blocked for another corner. Tooting Bec had an opportunity with a free-kick just outside the right edge of the box, but Martin’s driven ball was safely cleared. Swans had looked comfortable with their lead, but with thirteen minutes of normal-time remaining the home side got themselves back in the tie. Swans were guilty of switching-off, and when the ball was crossed from the left Nick Fox was unmarked at the far-post to knock it back across goal, and his fellow substitute Ryan Ejezie was left in front of goal with a simple tap-in. Leslie could have settled it for Swans when he broke after a Tooting Bec free-kick from deep on the left had been defended, but after getting into the box he was denied by Machacek coming out to block. Their second goal had given the home side renewed belief, and with five minutes of normal-time remaining they went close to equalising. The ball broke to Ejezie in the box to give him a clear chance, but his shot was superbly kept out by Cullen, diving to his right to punch the ball away. Martin then sent a free-kick in from deep on the right, but when the ball came out to the edge of the box it was driven well over. Home keeper Machacek again had to come out to block and deny Leslie, who had been sent through by Cullen’s kick-out, but Tooting Bec again went close with a shot from the left that just cleared the far, top corner.
There was a lot of added-on time for Swans to see-out, but five minutes into it Parish Muirhead, who had replaced the injured Hattabi, had a shot pushed round his near-post by the keeper after being played into the left of the box. But Swans finally made the tie safe with another fine goal. Leslie was found on the right, and he cleverly turned before curling a superb shot into the far corner with the outside of his right foot.
Swans’ Team: Logan Cullen, Alvin Sarmiento, Jordan Simmons, Munashe Mwatsiya, Hamzah Williams, Sam Marfo (Gus Lukuni 45’), Tyreke Leslie, Felix Lucas, James Young (Gonçalo Freitas 65’), Arif Hattabi (Parish Muirhead 82’), Anderson Pinto-Nogueira. Subs. not used: Ryan Smith, Michael Winnister. Scorers: Hattabi (24’), Leslie (44’ & 90+7’), Sarmiento (52’). Caution: Pinto-Nogueira, foul (15’).
Tooting Bec Team: Machacek, Unwin, Lewis, Martin, Field (Smith 62’), Ibesson, Parsons (Fox 69’), Ogunmade (Ejezie 65’), Wiltshire, Heravi, Fernando. Subs. not used: Thompson, Whyte. Scorers: Martin (16’), Ejezie (77’). Caution: Fernando, foul (34’). Dismissal: Wiltshire, serious foul play (45+1’).