Swans 8 Cove 2

Saturday 11th January 2020. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Division One.

Walton & Hersham 8 Cove 2.

Swans lifted themselves into the top four of the table with a comprehensive beating of their Hampshire visitors. They have been guilty recently of not making their superiority pay by turning chances into goals, but they were clinical in their finishing in this match. That is not to say they accepted all the chances on offer, as a 2-0 lead at the break was scant reward for their dominance, but they netted a further six goals in a scoring spree during the first 26 minutes of the second-half, and their final goal tally could possibly have been even higher. They were pleased to welcome back midfielders Parish Muirhead and Anderson Pinto-Nogueira from injury, and a debut was given in goal to Bert White, who has joined on work experience from AFC Wimbledon, making him the ninth player to appear between the sticks for Swans this season. The visitors started with the all too familiar Waterside Drive gusty wind in their favour, but for the opening minute or two failed to get a touch as Swans played keep-ball, a multi-pass move finally breaking down with Cove keeper Craig Atkinson getting possession. Atkinson then had to be quickly off his line to clear and deny Tyreke Leslie, who had got free to the left corner of the box. But the keeper was beaten after five minutes when Leon Lalor-Dell showed some fine footwork to cut in from the left and make room on the edge of the box, before turning and planting a low, left-foot shot inside the left post. Swans were almost caught out when Cove’s Chris Morris pumped the ball forward from the centre-circle, and the wind took it just over the crossbar with White back-pedalling, the referee awarding a corner although the keeper did not appear to get a touch. Leslie was soon leaving Cove left-back Adam Alliston in his wake as he surged down the right, but there was no-one in the box to get on the end of his low cross. With just under ten minutes played the visitors mounted their first attack, and it almost brought them an equaliser. A break down the right finished with a cross to the far-post, where Lucas Pickett was unmarked to get in a header that struck the post, and the ball ran across the goal-face before being cleared. But the game was mainly being played out in the visitors’ half, and when Mo Ghailan and Simeon Dennis combined on the right, Dennis got to the byline to drive the ball low across the goal-face. Alliston was again no match for Leslie when he was played down the right by Hamzah Williams, but his cross couldn’t pick out Ghailan who was waiting in the middle. But Swans immediately doubled their lead after 18 minutes, and it came from a great strike by Lalor-Dell. Louie Chambers held Ghailan to concede a free-kick 30 yards out, and when Pinto-Nogueira tapped the ball to his right to Lalor-Dell, he made space just outside the box before cutting the ball back onto his left-foot and striking a terrific shot that dipped under the crossbar for his and Swans’ second goal of the match. A fine ball cross-field by Muirhead picked out Leslie on the right, and he again left his marker standing before playing the ball low in, and Ghailan was just denied at the near-post as it was put behind for a corner. Following the kick Pinto-Nogueira sent a shot dipping over from the edge of the box, and Muirhead did likewise with a strike from 35 yards. Just before the half-hour Leslie played Dennis down the right, and Ghailan was again just unable to get on the end of a low cross. Muirhead struck a superb diagonal pass to pick out Jordan Simmons on the left, and he forced a corner. Following the kick Dennis drove a low shot wide of the left post. Swans were striking some great balls to their wide players, and Sam Marfo did so in finding Lalor-Dell on the left, who cut into the box to open up the chance. Atkinson managed to save his shot, only for Ghailan to have a chance from the follow-up, but again the ball was blocked. With just over five minutes remaining of the half Cove were guilty of giving the ball away 40 yards from goal, but Pinto-Nogueira’s attempt to lob the keeper went over. Lalor-Dell showed some more superb skill in the box that deserved to result in a goal, but again no-one was able to finish the move. Apart from a couple of early scares White had enjoyed a quiet first appearance in the home goal, but in the final minute of the half he was well-placed to field a shot from 22 yards out by Kieran Rodgers. Swans were able to take a 2-0 lead into the break, which on chances created and their dominance should possibly have been greater, and recent experiences indicated they needed to stretch it. But inside the first five minutes of the second-half any fears were effectively removed as that 2-0 lead was doubled to 4-0. Leslie had already gone close when Marfo found him on the left, and he cut inside to strike a low shot that clipped the outside of the near-post. But when Dennis made a clever run to the byline on the left to get the ball across, Ghailan was unmarked at the far-post to drive it in. Marfo was soon at the far-post to nod the ball back as a free-kick came in from the right touchline from Miguel Lopes de Matos, and Williams stooped to get in a header that was saved by Atkinson. The ball ran to Simmons, who set up Marfo on the left edge of the 6 yard box, and while facing away from goal the central defender cleverly back-heeled it past a startled keeper and score his first goal for Swans. It should have been 5-0 minutes later as a terrific long ball from the edge of his own box by Simmons picked out Leslie to run into space on the left. He cut inside before setting up Ghailan unmarked to his right, but Atkinson denied him with a fine save. Instead it was the visitors who pulled a goal back following a rare attack. A corner was won on the right by Johnnie Gurney, and from Pickett’s kick the ball was headed home by Chambers at the far-post. Any fears that this would set up a wobble for Swans were soon alleviated when they made it 5-1 ten minutes into the half. Leslie cleverly nutmegged Aaron Parfitt on the left before laying the ball in to Ghailan, who found Lalor-Dell in space on his right. Lalor-Dell capped a fine personal performance by driving home a left-foot shot to complete his hat-trick. That was both his and Ghailan’s last contributions as they were replaced by Munashe Mwatsiya and Seb Osei-Obengo. Swans made it 6-1 after 63 minutes when Muirhead pick-pocketed Luke Neller before laying the ball off to Pinto-Nogueira in the left of the box, and he thumped a left-foot shot past a hapless Atkinson. Things almost got worse for the Cove keeper when Pinto-Nogueira sent Leslie through to the byline on the left, but he made a good save from Muirhead’s first-time, left-foot strike as the ball was laid across. But Leslie gave Atkinson no chance in making it 7-1 after 68 minutes, expertly slipping the ball into the far corner from the left corner of the 6 yard box after Muirhead’s neat pass had played him through. Minutes later the Cove keeper prevented an eighth goal, making a fine, tip-over save when Osei-Obengo drove in a terrific free-kick after he had been fouled 30 yards out by Chambers. But it was only a brief respite as Swans scored again following the corner on the left. Pinto-Nogueira got the ball back after playing the kick short to Muirhead, and when he drove it low across Osei-Obengo stepped over it at the near-post and Simmons was at the far one to score. Swans will feel disappointed they again failed to defend a corner-kick with twelve minutes remaining, but with a seven goal lead it was of little consequence. Chambers struck the far-post following the kick on the right, and Darren Turner hooked the loose ball past White. It was a brief moment to savour for the visitors, and things got worse for them when Gurney was sent-off after picking up a second yellow card for a foul on Williams. Swans fancied themselves for more goals, and when Williams sent substitute Stanley Channell down the right, he crossed low to the far-post to pick out Leslie, who failed to make good contact and put the ball behind. With five minutes of normal-time remaining Cove had a chance when Atkinson’s long clearance was nodded-on to put Neller down the left, and his high cross found Christian Cox unmarked at the far-post, but he put could only put the ball weakly straight to White. But it was their keeper who was to make the final save, doing well to turn a shot from Channell round his near-post and deny him a debut goal after he had been played into the right of the box by Williams.

Swans’ Team: Bert White, Simeon Dennis (Stanley Channell 65’), Miguel Lopes de Matos, Hamzah Williams, Jordan Simmons, Sam Marfo, Leon Lalor-Dell (Munashe Mwatsiya 55’), Parish Muirhead, Mo Ghailan (Seb Osei-Obengo 55’), Anderson Pinto-Nogueira, Tyreke Leslie. Subs. not used: Michael Winnister, Alvin Sarmiento. Scorers: Lalor-Dell (5, 18’ & 55’), Ghailan (47’), Marfo (49’), Pinto-Nogueira (63’), Leslie (68’), Simmons (71’). Caution: Dennis, foul (60’).

Cove Team: Atkinson, Parfitt (J. Jupp 69’), Alliston (Neller 45’), Morris, Turner, Chambers, Pickett, Elward, Rodgers, Lupton (Cox 65’), Gurney. Subs. not used: Sumbler, Clarke. Scorers: Chambers (52’), Turner (78’). Dismissal: Gurney, 2 cautions (65’ & 81’).