Saturday 7th September 2019. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Division One.
Walton & Hersham 2 AFC Hayes 1.
A Tyreke Leslie goal scored with just three minutes of normal-time remaining gave Swans a dramatic win that had begun to look more and more unlikely when they had been reduced to ten men for the whole of the second-half, and their early lead had been cancelled out. They must be given great credit for staying in the match during that second-half, when the visitors had several chances to go on and win the match. A tight match certainly did not look to be on the agenda as Swans threatened to blow away their opponents during the opening stages of the match, but their opponents managed to come through the first-half with just a one goal deficit, helped by their goalkeeper Tom Clark making a double save from a penalty-kick. A crowd of over 200, boosted by the attraction of free-entry to the match, would certainly not have been disappointed by an incident-packed encounter that was a credit to football in the Combined Counties League Division One. Swans made three changes to the side that had started in the previous FA Vase match. Jordan Johnson returned in goal for the unavailable Logan Cullen, and Jaydan Willis also came back in to replace Sam Marfo, who had suffered a head injury at Tooting Bec, allowing Jordan Simmons to move back into central defence. Simeon Dennis also came back into the side after being unavailable the previous Sunday. Swans were quick out of the traps against opponents they had beaten in the final game of last season, when both clubs had ended up being relegated from the Premier Division. Straight from the kick-off Leslie got in on the left to drive in a shot that Clark saved at his near-post. The AFC Hayes keeper was then well-placed on his line to take the ball when Alvin Sarmiento whipped in a free-kick from the left touchline. Leslie then popped up on the right to surge into the box and lay the ball back, but could not find a teammate. There was still only five minutes on the watch when Leslie drove in a low shot from the left edge of the box that Clark did well to save on his line. Almost immediately Swans looked certain to take the lead, only to be denied in controversial circumstances. Arif Hattabi took a free-kick quickly, threading the ball through an unsuspecting defence, and sending Leslie clear. There was clearly no-one between the Swans’ striker and the goal, apart from the keeper, when he was brought down outside the box by Sam Adams. Surprisingly the AFC Hayes right-back was only shown a yellow card. Hattabi’s free-kick took a big deflection off a defender to send the ball looping over for a corner. Swans’ blistering opening was finally rewarded after ten minutes. Willis curled a free-kick into the 6 yard box from out on the right, and Felix Lucas got to the near-post to tuck the ball past Clark. Swans went desperately close to making it 2-0 minutes later when the irrepressible Leslie again got in on the left before lobbing the ball over the keeper, but, aided by a defender, Clark just got back to prevent it crossing the line with inches to spare. The visitors finally managed to ease the pressure on their goal with just under a quarter of an hour played by winning a free-kick on the left. Fabio Azize laid the ball across for a shot from outside the box to be blocked. Johnson was then brought into action for the first time, getting behind George Harmes’s shot from the edge of the box. Parish Muirhead sent a free-kick into the visitors’ box that Clark needed two attempts to take, but AFC Hayes had begun to come into the game, and they had an opportunity when the ball was cleared. Sarmiento conceded a free-kick on the left, which earned the Swans’ skipper a caution, and from Bruno Manuel’s delivery to the far-post a strong header came in that brought a fine save from Johnson. Anderson Pinto-Nogueira won a corner on the right after being put away by Sarmiento, but, midway through the half, Swans went desperately close to conceding an equaliser to one of their former players. Mo Jarrez was played clear, and took the ball round the advancing Johnson, but he somehow contrived to roll it wide of the left post with the goal open. After an unsettling few minutes Swans began to threaten again, and Clark had to fingertip the ball over his crossbar when Sarmiento sent over a free-kick from out on the left touchline. From Sarmiento’s corner on the right the ball was headed behind for another kick on the left. Around the half-hour mark Clark twice had to make good saves on his line, both shots coming from Hattabi. Following a neat build-up the Swans’ midfielder drove in a low shot from 25 yards, and the AFC Hayes keeper was then tested with a shot from the left of the box. As the half entered the final five minutes Swans had the opportunity to double their lead, and go into the break with a deserved buffer. Sarmiento fed Leslie on the right, and he burst into the box to drive in a shot that Clark managed to push away, with Hattabi just failing to get to the loose ball. But, almost immediately, Hattabi was tripped in the left of the box, giving Swans a chance from the penalty-spot. Sarmiento took the kick, but Clark dived to his right to push the ball away. Sarmiento followed up in the left of the 6 yard box, but his shot was again blocked by the keeper. It was the visitors who had the final opportunity of the half with a free-kick on the left, but Johnson tipped the ball over from Azize’s delivery. Swans should have resumed after the break with a comfortable lead, but instead they found themselves facing the final 45 minutes a player short after Lucas had been shown a red card following an altercation as the teams left the pitch. The narrow lead could have been wiped out just five minutes into the second-half. Pinto-Nogueira was clearly fouled close to the halfway line, but the visitors were allowed to play on and Harmes broke clear into the left of the box, but he dwelt too long on the ball and Johnson did well to deny him his chance. But five minutes later Azize broke free on the left, before driving the ball low into the far corner to level the score. The visitors now looked like they could go on and win the game, and Jarraz sent a free-kick from the right across goal and wide. Johnson then had to tip the ball over when Adams crossed from the right. Twenty minutes into the half Swans looked to have a good case for a second penalty when Pinto-Nogueira went down after getting into the left of the box, but the referee was unmoved. Swans were not giving up on a win, and after Leslie had almost capitalised on a slack back-pass, he went close to making it 2-1 with just over twenty minutes remaining. Simmons got into the left of the box and Leslie was left with a close-in chance, but Clark made an instinctive save to deflect the ball onto his crossbar and over. The visitors immediately had a chance to win the game themselves, but after being played clear, Jack Smith dragged the ball wide. But, with three minutes of normal-time remaining, Swans scored the goal that gave them the win that looked to be escaping them, and fittingly it was Leslie who found the net. Another surge into the right of the box was finished with a terrific shot past the keeper. Swans now had to manage the game out, and they did this well. A free-kick 35 yards out, that Sarmiento drove through to keeper Clark, saw the match into stoppage-time, and Leslie drove a shot just over the far, top corner from the left. There was still time left for a fine piece of skill from Dennis, who nutmegged his marker on the left to drive in a shot that Clark beat away, the keeper then blocking Dennis’s follow-up for a corner.
Swans’ Team: Jotdan Johnson, Alvin Sarmiento, Jaydan Willis (Michael Winnister 79’), Parish Muirhead (Ryan Smith 85’), Jordan Simmons, Hamzah Williams, Simeon Dennis, Anderson Pinto-Nogueira, Tyreke Leslie, Arif Hattabi (Munashe Mwatsiya 67’), Felix Lucas. Subs. not used: Gus Lukuni, Sam Osei. Scorers: Lucas (10’), Leslie (87’). Cautions: Sarmiento, foul (19’), Simmons, foul (44’), Willis, foul (77’). Dismissal: Lucas, violent conduct (45’).
AFC Hayes Team: Clark, Adams, Manuel, Nfodjo, Garnett, Day, Dennis, Edmunds, Jarraz, Harmes, Azize. Subs. used: Bobb-Baxter, Smith, Willingham. Subs. not used: Lazizi, Findlay. Scorer: Azize (55’). Caution: Adams, foul (6’). .