Saturday 12th October 2019. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Division One.
Walton & Hersham 5 Ash United 1.
‘A game of two halves’ is a well-worn cliché, but no-one who was a witness to this match on a rain-sodden Saturday afternoon could dispute it being applied to Swans’ win over opponents Ash United. After the visitors had been gifted a goal with less than a minute on the watch, Swans continued to offer them more opportunities in the first-half, at the same time spurning several chances they had created for themselves. But having finally equalised straight after the resumption with a goal scored in even quicker time than their opponents’ opener, Swans proceeded to find the net four more times, a figure that could well have been added to by the time eleven minutes of stoppages had been completed. Even before the visitors had scored their shock opener, the afternoon had not started well for Swans, with all three of their registered goalkeepers being unavailable. With the suspended Logan Cullen and the injured Jordan Johnson already not available for selection, Kevin Manuel was a late dropout. This meant central defender Sam Marfo, who had been forced to take over the keeper’s jersey for almost half the match a week previously when Cullen had been sent-off against Farnham Town, doing so again, this time for the whole game. Wearing hastily purchased gloves, Marfo again did a highly competent job between the sticks. His second spell in goal could hardly have got off to a worse possible start however, as almost straight from the kick-off casual play resulted in an attempted pass down the left to be blocked and the ball to run through to Ash’s Luke Cairns, who had the simplest of tasks to go past the exposed stand-in keeper and tap in. Things almost got worse as another wayward pass allowed Zachary Aubrey-Simpson to get in on the left byline, but Marfo was able to cut out his cross at the near-post. Swans were quick to respond, and Anderson Pinto-Nogueira’s ball in from the right found Michael Winnister, but he was unfortunate to see his strong shot from the right of the box take a deflection and go over. Tyrek Leslie then got into the right of the box, but couldn’t pick out a teammate in the middle. Ash keeper Aaron Lucas then did well to prevent Parish Muirhead’s powerful strike from outside the box finding his bottom, right corner. The visitors’ Cairns was almost gifted his second goal of the afternoon when Hamzah Williams’ stray back header fell straight to him, but fortunately he put a weak shot straight into the gloves of Marfo. With a quarter of an hour played Ash sent in a free-kick from deep on the right touchline, and a header just cleared the crossbar from close-in. At the other end Winnister set up Mo Ghailen in space 22 yards out on the right, but he shot straight at Lucas. Swans continued to press for the equaliser, and Lucas had to go down to save a good strike from 30 yards by Pinto-Nogueira. The Ash keeper then had to make a fine tip-over save to keep out Miguel Lopes de Matos’s shot from out on the left. The visitors had an opportunity with a free-kick on the left, but Jordan Devanney’s delivery was poor and went well wide of the far-post. Swans again went close when Arif Hattabi played a fine ball to Winnister on the right, but he sent a lob just over the bar. Swans continued to live dangerously at the back, and Marfo had to come out to prevent Aubrey-Simpson from getting in. A long throw from the left then led to successive corners having to be defended. Just past the half-hour Ash should have doubled their lead when Cairns broke on the right to drive the ball low into the 6 yard box to pick out Stan Staines, but he poked it wide of the far-post. Play was very open, going from end to end, and Ash keeper Lucas did well to block Leslie’s low shot from the left of the box after he had been played in by Ghailan. Cairns again got in on the right for Ash, but shot wide of the far-post, and Marfo did superbly to parry a shot from close to the penalty-spot, a follow-up being put just over. Swans made a strong finish to the first-half, and after Hattabi sent a free-kick from outside the left of the box wide of the near-post, he finished a fine build-up by playing Pinto-Nogueira through to net, but he was just offside. Leslie’s clever back-heel in the left of the box then almost got Ghailan through on goal, and in the final minute of the half he should have equalised. Hattabi played Ghailan into the right of the 6 yard box, but in trying to chip the ball into the near, top corner he could only clear the bar. Whatever was said in the half-time team talk seemed to have the desired effect on Swans, as straight from the restart Muirhead struck a terrific shot past keeper Lucas from outside the box to equalise. Leslie was immediately being played through to net, but the flag went up for offside. Swans again got exposed on the right as Aubrey-Simpson got through, but Marfo came out to block, resulting in both players needing treatment, with the Ash striker coming off worst from the encounter. Swans won a corner on the right, and when Pinto-Nogueira laid the ball back to Muirhead, he crossed a fine ball to the far-post for Jordan Simmons to head just wide. An immediate change was made with Thomas Lim coming on for Mamadaliu Balde. Ten minutes into the half Lucas twice had to gather shots on his line in quick succession, from Pinto-Nogueira 30 yards out on the right, and then from Leslie, who had cut inside from the left. Hattabi was just denied close-in on the right, and when Muirhead found Lim on the right, he burst free into the box but couldn’t finish, getting clattered for his pains. Swans had got well on top, pressing for a potential winning goal, and Pinto-Nogueira drove a free-kick over from outside the left corner of the box. Lim immediately made a good run on the right to get in a fine cross to the far-post, where Leslie just failed to get his head on the ball. Muirhead then got in a shot from the edge of the box that keeper Lucas got well behind. Swans’ pressure finally paid off midway through the second-half with a superb second goal to give them the lead. The ball was laid inside from the left to Pinto-Nogueira 30 yards out, and he rifled a low, left-foot shot past Lucas. The win was not yet secure however, and after Marfo had juggled the ball at his near-post from a long throw-in from the left, Cairns just failed to make contact in front of goal when Ash drove the ball in low from the left. Swans could have settled it when a fine ball from Muirhead found Lim on the right, but after getting into the box he shot straight at the keeper. But the three points were virtually secured with ten minutes of normal-time remaining. Pinto-Nogueira sent in a free-kick from deep on the right, and Williams leapt at the far-post to send a strong header looping over the hands of Lucas and just under the crossbar. Swans were almost caught out when Ash played a long ball forward, and with Marfo coming out a deflection took it over the bar for a corner. The kick from the left sent the ball across goal and wide. With three minutes of normal-time remaining Swans made it 4-1. Leslie pressurised Devanney into losing the ball on the left, and after getting into the box he was brought down by the Ash defender. Seb Osei-Obengo drilled the penalty-kick past Lucas, but was ordered to retake it, presumably for encroachment. The Ash keeper made a fine save from Osei-Obengo’s second kick, but the Swans striker was able to follow up and tuck the ball inside the left-post. Leslie was then able to get his customary goal, but he had to wait until five minutes into stoppage-time to score it. Another excellent through pass by Muirhead sent Leslie into the right of the box, and he took the ball wide of the keeper before slotting home. It was now a question whether Swans could add to their lead with still another six minutes of added-on time left, and they went close to doing so. Leslie seized on a poor clearance to get into the left of the box, but his angled shot towards goal was cleared off the line. The ball finally came to Pinto-Nogueira just outside the box, and he sent a shot smashing against the crossbar and over.
Swans’ Team: Sam Marfo, Michael Winnister, Miguel Lopes De Matos, Mamadaliu Balde (Thomas Lim 54’), Jordan Simmons, Hamzah Williams, Tyreke Leslie, Parish Muirhead, Mo Ghailan (Munashe Mwatsiya 74’), Arif Hattabi (Seb Osei-Obengo 68’), Anderson Pinto-Nogueira. Subs. not used: James Young, Alvin Sarmiento. Scorers: Muirhead (46’), Pinto-Nogueira (68’), H. Williams (80’), Osei-Obengo (87’), Leslie (90+5’).
Ash United Team: Lucas, Samad, Chilton, Holmes, Devanney, Lally, Bale, McCormack, Aubrey-Simpson, Staines, Cairns. Subs. used: King, Roper, Hobbs. Scorer: Cairns (1’). Caution: Devanney (87’).