Saturday 7th December 2019. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Division One.
Walton & Hersham 3 Dorking Wanderers Reserves 4.
A complete meltdown in the last ten minutes led to Swans inexplicably losing a game they had looked to have comfortably won. A 3-0 half-time lead, that could well have been extended further, was still looking secure with under twenty minutes remaining, with the visitors having barely troubled home goalkeeper Jordan Johnson all match. But the balance of the match was to completely change when that lead was reduced, and new signing Zyon Francis was then sent-off just 22 minutes into his Swans’ debut after coming on as a substitute just past the hour. The visitors then showed the belief that they could get something from the match, and when calm heads were needed by Swans to see the remaining time out, they were not there, and they conceded three further goals inside the final eight minutes to lose a game they should have won comfortably. The 4-3 defeat is also their second by that score-line in successive home matches. Instead of consolidating their top four position, Swans have now dropped to sixth spot in the table, and they will need to restore their confidence quickly to get back to winning ways. With Seb Osei-Obengo and Alvin Sarmiento both starting suspensions, Swans also lacked the services of Justin Hemmings, who is still troubled by a hamstring pull, and the unavailable Michael Winnister, who would normally have come in at right-back. Swans soon mounted an attack when Parish Muirhead sent Tyreke Leslie surging down the left, but he allowed the ball to run away from him. Anderson Pinto-Nogueira then got in a good strike from 25 yards out on the left that visiting keeper Drew Churchwell went down on his line to save. Trae Cook-Appiah had come on as an early substitute for Wanderers to play on the right, and he had his side’s first opportunity with just over a quarter of an hour played, but after getting free his shot was well-wide of the near-post. Swans immediately broke and Leslie got through into the box, but Churchwell was just able to stretch and claw the ball away from over his head. Leslie made another run on the left before playing the ball inside to Mo Ghailan, but his low shot from the edge of the box was wide of the left-post. The visitors went close when Cook-Appiah crossed from the right to find Javin Dougan on the left edge of the box, and his shot dipped just over the far, top corner. James Dickson then sent the ball wide of the left-post from 35 yards out. Swans took the lead after 23 minutes when some terrific skill by Leslie on the left took him bursting away from his marker and into the box. Churchwell was able to push away Leslie’s stinging, low shot, but Ghailan was there to knock the ball in. It only took a minute for Swans to double their lead when some neat play between Muirhead and Ghailan led to the latter playing Leslie into the left of the box, and this time Churchwell could not keep out his low strike. It could soon have been 3-0 when Simeon Dennis sent in a free-kick from deep on the left to pick out Jordan Simmons unmarked on the edge of the 6 yard box, but his first-time volley cleared the crossbar. Hamzah Williams then glanced a header wide when Dennis sent over another free-kick, this time from the right. Dennis was soon in action at the other end with 37 minutes played, doing some terrific covering to tackle Dougan, who had got free to the edge of the box. Leon Lalor-Dell then drove a shot just over for Swans after being played into the left of the box, but he was to make it 3-0 in the final minute of the half. After being played through into the box by Pinto-Nogueira, he brushed past a challenge to get in a shot that Churchwell half-saved, but the ball rolled past the keeper and over the line. That should have been the game done and dusted for Swans, and soon after the restart for the second-half Pinto-Nogueira’s free-kick into the box was just cleared away. The visitors quickly broke, and their main threat Cook-Appiah almost got through on the right, but a fine tackle by Muirhead denied him. Pinto-Nogueira was soon getting forward for Swans to get in a fine strike from 22 yards that dipped over. Swans had started the second-half as they had finished the first, looking for a fourth goal, and Leslie cut inside from the left to drive low shot just wide of the near-post. Dennis then made a fine run to the byline on the right to drive the ball low across the goal-face, with Ghailan just failing to get a touch. A free-kick was won five yards outside the visitors’ box, and Lalor-Dell’s strike took a defection to send the ball looping over the bar for a corner. Just before the hour the visitors mounted a rare attack, and a build-up on the left led to a shot over the goal. Swans were still calling the shots however, and Ghailan played Leslie clear in to the left of the box, but Churchwell was able to block his low drive. Lalor-Dell then got the ball to Leslie on the left, and when it was played back inside to him his shot was saved by Churchwell. Just past the hour the influential Pinto-Nogueira had to go off injured, to be replaced by Munashe Mwatsiya, and Francis came on at the same time for Ghailan. It only took two minutes into his Swans’ debut for Francis to be shown a yellow card for what looked a fairly innocuous tackle. Lalor-Dell was soon making a good run into the right of the box, but with teammates well-placed in the middle, he chose to drive in a low, left-foot shot that brought a fine save from keeper Churchwell. The visitors had brought on Andrew Demby, who played several games for Swans last season, early in the second-half, and he had gradually become influential, controlling the centre of midfield. It was still against the run of play however when Wanderers pulled a goal back after 71 minutes. Cook-Appiah again got away on the right, and when he drove the ball in to the near-post it went in-off Sam Marfo for an own goal. That still looked like being just a blip for Swans, and Francis shot just wide of the near-post when Williams did well on the right before playing the ball inside to him. The visitors began to look more threatening, and George Membrillera turned 22 yards out to send a shot over the goal, but Francis went close to settling it for Swans with ten minutes of normal-time remaining, his low shot passing inches wide of the far-post after he had made a clever turn outside the right of the box. But, just two minutes later, Wanderers won a corner on the left, and Dickson was in the box to drive a fine shot past Johnson to make it 3-2. Swans began to look ragged, and with six minutes of normal-time left Francis picked up a second caution for a foul tackle and was sent-off, although his two misdemeanours probably warranted no more than a yellow card between them. Swans desperately needed to regain control and see the game out, but they were fortunate to clear the ball away from their goal-line when Cook-Appiah crossed from the right. The right-side threat of Cook-Appiah continued to go unchecked, and when he was again allowed to get a cross in, Johnson had to make a superb tip-over save as a shot was driven in. But that was a mere reprieve, as from the corner-kick on the right Jakub Saczek was beyond the far-post to power a header in to tie the game up at 3-3. The win could still have been rescued for Swans as Miguel Lopes de Matos made a terrific run in on the left byline, but his cross passed agonisingly across the goal-face. Leslie immediately broke into the right of the box, but Churchwell was able to go down and save his shot. But it was the visitors who were to snatch an unlikely win in the final minute of normal-time as the ball was not cleared following a corner, and Dennis Asante drove it past Johnson, leaving the home supporters to leave disappointed and bemused at the turn of events and what they had just witnessed.
Swans’ Team: Jordan Johnson, Hamzah Williams, Miguel Lopes de Matos, Parish Muirhead, Jordan Simmons, Sam Marfo, Leon Lalor-Dell (Sam Osei 78’), Anderson Pinto-Nogueira (Munashe Mwatsiya 62’), Tyreke Leslie, Mo Ghailan (Zyon Francis 62’), Simeon Dennis. Subs. not used: Thomas Lim, Elgi Fejzo. Scorers: Ghailan (23’), Leslie (24’), Lalor-Dell (45’). Cautions: Muirhead, foul (60’), Osei, foul (81’). Dismissal: Francis, 2 cautions for fouls (64’ & 84’).
Dorking Wanderers Team: Churchwell, J. Downs, Elbishlawi (Cook-Appiah 8’), Hulford, Saczek, Cunningham-Flood (Demby 54’), Dyson, Dickson, Membrillera, Asante, Dougan (O’Connor 74’). Scorers: Marfo, own goal (71’), Dickson (82’), Saczek (87’), Asante (90’). Caution: Cunningham-Flood (47’).