Raynes Park Vale 4 Swans 1

Saturday 14th September 2019. FA Vase, 2nd Qualifying Round.

Raynes Park Vale 4 Walton & Hersham 1.

Swans’ interest in the FA Vase ended following an ill-tempered encounter against their Premier Division opponents. On a bone-hard, dry, bumpy playing surface, and against a side who utilise a direct, no-nonsense style of play suited to their pitch, Swans never really settled, and struggled to build-up any constructive moves. With a refereeing display that left a lot to be desired, the outcome was a pretty poor spectacle to serve up to the fairly sparse crowd. It was an indictment on the quality of the play that the main talking points will be around the officiating and niggling confrontations between opposing players and the referee, culminating in an unseemly fracas involving both teams after the final whistle. Any chances Swans had of staying in the tie were virtually ended when they were reduced to nine men as the home side went 3-1 up with just under ten minutes to go. A frustrating first match for Seb Osei-Obengo on his return to Swans, when he was starved of service and struggled to make an impact, ended prematurely when he was sent-off as the teams prepared to kick-off following Raynes Park Vale’s third goal. This followed straight after Sam Marfo had become Swans’ first player to be sent to the sin bin under the new laws. Swans had the perceived advantage of kicking down the pronounced slope for the first-half, but they were almost caught out straight from the kick-off. Joshua Ano was allowed to find space on the right, but he shot well-wide of the near-post. The home side soon had a free-kick on the left, but Seanan McKillop sent the ball wide of the far-post. Justin Hemmings then had to head away from the goal-line when a cross came in from the left, and the ball was cleared away when McKillop took another left-side free-kick. Swans had not settled at all, and some clever play by Ano on the right led to the ball being stabbed wide of the near-post when it was laid inside. It was over a quarter of an hour before Swans got into the game, and they won a free-kick on the right, but Anderson Pinto-Nogueira sent the ball over the goal after Alvin Sarmiento had tapped it to him. The first quarter of the game had been littered with free-kicks, almost wholly awarded to the home side, leading to frustration for Swans and preventing any flow to the play. Swans’ goalkeeper Jordan Johnson had to punch the ball away when Ano drove in a kick from outside the box, and it was then headed clear when another kick came in from the left. After their shaky start Swans began to settle, and Osei-Obengo just failed to latch onto the ball in the box when Simeon Dennis got in a good cross from the left. The ball was then cleared away when Pinto-Nogueira and Dennis combined well on the left byline to drive it low across. But Swans were almost undone when Ato Okai broke clear, and it took a good block by Johnson to deny him. With half an hour played Arif Hattabi made a terrific run in on the left, leaving two defenders trailing, before being cynically tripped just outside the box by Marcus Dowdeswell, earning the home defender the afternoon’s first booking. Sarmiento drilled the free-kick low across the 6 yard box, but could not pick out a teammate. But it was Raynes Park Vale who took the lead with just under ten minutes left of the half, and in doing so it was Dowdeswell, along with the referee, who again incurred the anger of the away supporters. As a free-kick was sent into the right of the box from the left Dowdeswell clearly pushed Marfo, and as the ball bounced up he headed it over Johnson and into the far, top corner off the underside of the bar. Swans tried to hit back, and when they won a corner on the right a home defender had to head the ball over his own crossbar, but the flag went up for offside. Sarmiento’s free-kick from the right then picked out Marfo in space on the left, but his cross failed to find a teammate. With the final five minutes of the half being played Dennis made a run on the left before laying the ball inside to Tyreke Leslie, five yards outside the box, but his low shot lacked the power to beat home keeper Dan McKerracher. Dennis then found some space 30 yards out, but he shot well-over. The second-half was only three minutes old when Swans equalised with a fine goal. Leslie has scored at least once in every match he has played this season, and although he had had a relatively quiet game, he kept up that record. Hattabi found him in space on the right, and he only moved the ball forward a few paces before lashing a terrific low shot that beat the keeper just inside his near-post. Straight from the restart Pinto-Nogueira struck a powerful shot from out on the left that flew just wide of the far-post. But it was the home side that regained the lead in somewhat bizarre fashion after 54 minutes. A corner-kick was taken from the right, and when the referee blew for an offence in the box it appeared he was awarding a penalty, but amongst some confusion an indirect free-kick was given just a few yards out from goal. Swans’ efforts to defend their goal-line proved unsuccessful, as the ball was tapped to Jack Williamson, and his shot took a deflection to just find the bottom, left corner. The game now swung back to the home side, and after a shot from the left was blocked on the goal-line, Johnson made a fine save to deny Ano, who had broken clear. With twenty minutes remaining Dennis crossed from the left for Swans to find Leslie in the right of the 6 yard box, but after bringing the ball down his half-volley could not beat the keeper at his near-post. Pinto-Nogueira got the ball to Osei-Obengo out on the left, and he struck a good shot that dipped into the gloves of keeper McKerracher on his line. Raynes Park Vale doubled their lead amid an incident packed few minutes. A free-kick was awarded on the right edge of the box, Marfo was sent to the sin bin, and Johnson made a good save to push the shot round his near-post. From the corner on the right the ball was knocked back at the far-post, and Dan Alderton headed into the right, top corner. Before the match could be restarted Osei-Obengo was sent off for venting his feelings to the referee. That effectively put the tie out of Swans’ reach, and Johnson had to beat away a shot when the home side got in on the left. They did however go close to halving the deficit in the final minute of normal-time, when Leslie got in a strong, close-in header from Hattabi’s right-side corner that the keeper did well to keep out. But in stoppage-time Okai got in on the left, catching Swans short at the back, before driving a shot past Johnson to make it 4-1. There was still time left for a long ball to send Leslie clear, but he was just closed out.

Swans’ Team: Jordan Johnson, Alvin Sarmiento (James Young 90’), Sam Marfo, Munashe Mwatsiya (Parish Muirhead 84’), Justin Hemmings, Hamzah Williams, Tyreke Leslie, Anderson Pinto-Nogueira, Seb Osei-Obengo, Arif Hattabi, Simeon Dennis. Subs. not used: Ryan Smith, Thomas Lim, Gus Lukuni, Michael Winnister. Scorer: Leslie (47’). Cautions: Williams (23’), Sarmiento (61’), Marfo (78’ [sin bin]). Dismissal: Osei-Obengo (81’).

Raynes Park Vale Team: McKerracher, Williamson, A. Harland-Goddard, Fraser, Dowdeswell, Alderton, Gibson, McKillop, Okai, Ano, Chambers’ Subs. not used: Kirsten, Turner, Jordan, Yuusuf, T. Harland-Goddard, Smith. Scorers: Dowdeswell (36’), Williamson (54’), Alderton (81’), Okai (90+2’). Cautions: Dowdeswell (30’), Alderton (61’).