Sandhurst Town 3 Swans 2

Tuesday 4th February 2020. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Division One.

Sandhurst Town 3 Walton & Hersham 2.

With both sides vying for a top four place, it was Swans that came away empty-handed from an incident packed encounter at Bottom Meadow. After conceding an early goal they quickly hit-back to equalise, but they suffered a double blow with eight minutes left of the first-half when Hamzah Williams was sent-off, having been judged to have denied a goal-scoring opportunity, a penalty also being awarded, from which the home side regained the lead. This is the second time the Swans’ defender has been harshly dismissed for this offence this season, and if the first occasion was highly debateable, this one was even more so. Worse was to come as Justin Hemmings was sin-binned with two minutes of the first-half remaining. This reduced Swans to nine men for ten minutes, eight of which were played out at the start of the second-half, during which Sandhurst scored again to go 3-1 up. Swans fought back well, and after Hemmings had returned they made it 3-2 from the penalty-spot after 57 minutes, with home defender Sam Green being sent-off for the same offence as Williams, but they could not find an equaliser. They faced more goalkeeping problems, with Jordan Johnson having been injured the previous Saturday, so Elgi Fejzo made a belated debut, making him the tenth to do the job between the posts this season. Unfortunately work commitments made Tyreke Leslie unavailable, but Simeon Dennis was able to return to the starting line-up. It was Dennis that threatened early as he did well on the left before getting in a cross that forced home keeper Matthew Watson to tip the ball over his crossbar. But it was Sandhurst that took the lead after just six minutes when Jamie Mitchell was played clear on the right to drive the ball low into the far corner. It only took five minutes for Swans to equalise however. Leon Lalor-Dell made a fine run into the right of the box before driving the ball low across for Dennis to score at the far-post. The home side were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position just outside the right edge of the box, but Fejzo made an easy catch as the ball was crossed in. Seb Osei-Obengo made a good run on the right for Swans, and Sandhurst’s Luke Burrows saw the first yellow card of the match for bringing him down. Miguel Lopes de Matos swung the free-kick into the box, but the ball was headed away. Midway through the half Swans were almost gifted the lead when Sandhurst gave the ball away close to their own goal, allowing Osei-Obengo to get in on the left, but Lalor-Dell was just closed out when he was found on the edge of the box. The home side then mounted a dangerous series of attacks, starting with a low shot wide of the near-post after they had made space on the right. Danny Turner shot wide after he had been put clear by a long ball down the middle, and the same player then spurned an even better chance, again missing the target. With half an hour played another shot was put wide after keeper Watson had sent a free-kick from inside his own half into the box, and Mitchell was soon volleying against the near-post when a cross from the left had picked him out to the right of goal. Swans responded with a good move that got Lopes de Matos into the left of the box, but his cross went behind. Fejzo couldn’t gather the ball when Sandhurst sent a free-kick into the box, and a corner was conceded on the left, from which a header was glanced wide. Swans had been somewhat fortunate to remain on levels terms, but when they did go behind again after 37 minutes, there seemed to be more than a fair degree of injustice about it. Fejzo slipped over when another long ball was delivered into the box, but seemed to have recovered when a challenging home player went down. The Sandhurst player appeared to have just slipped, but the referee judged Williams to have impeded him, and he was sent-off, the Swans’ defender leaving little doubt what he thought of the decision. Turner beat Fejzo with the spot-kick to make it 2-1 to the home side. It was soon almost 3-1, but Fejzo made a fine save when Sandhurst had a clear chance inside the box. Osei-Obengo got in on the right byline for Swans, but Watson was able to cut out his cross, and things soon got worse for his side. Anderson Pinto-Nogueira was shown a yellow card for an innocuous challenge, and Hemmings’ questioning of the decision resulted in him being sin-binned. The free-kick from deep on the left went wide of the far-post. Swans needed to see out the opening eight minutes of the second-half, but it wasn’t long before the tricky Mitchell was weaving into the right of the box to have a shot blocked. A corner resulted, and from the kick on the right Fejzo just managed to claw the ball away from a header, but Turner was beyond the far-post to volley in and make it 3-1. Fejzo was soon having to push away a shot from Mitchell, who had again got into the right of the box. Swans responded with a terrific piece of play by Lalor-Dell on the left, but his final ball failed to find a teammate, and with Hemmings back on, Osei-Obengo and Dennis linked up well to win a corner on the left. Then, with twelve minutes of the second-half played, Swans were back in the game with a real chance. Osei-Obengo was picked out by a long ball that sent him surging into the box, only to be brought down by Green as he was about to shoot. The Sandhurst defender was sent-off, and the penalty was driven home by Osei-Obengo. Swans continued to push, and Pinto-Nogueira sent Lopes de Matos on a run down the left, but again there was no-one in the box to get on the end of his cross. Lopes de Matos was again sent down the left by a good ball from Sam Marfo, but after getting round Sandhurst substitute Carl Prestidge, his cross was cleared away. Marfo was again the provider for Lopes de Matos as another fine pass got him forward, but after cutting into the box his shot lacked the power to trouble keeper Watson. Swans challenge was in danger of petering out, but Lopes de Matos continued to be a threat with his runs on the left, and as the match entered the final five minutes he again had the beating of Prestidge, but had to settle for a corner. Lalor-Dell sent a shot dipping over from 30 yards, and in the final minute of normal-time Emmanuel Yeboah did well, but after finding Lopes de Matos on the left, the cross went behind. With the match entering stoppage-time Lopes de Matos found Lalor-Dell on the left, and after a superb run took him past a couple of defenders and into the box his low cross was taken down on his line by keeper Watson. With the home side having indulged in several pieces of time-wasting, Swans were further frustrated as the referee blew the final whistle after just two minutes of additional time.

Swans’ Team: Elgi Fejzo, Hamzah Williams, Miguel Lopes de Matos, Emmanuel Yeboah, Justin Hemmings, Sam Marfo, Leon Lalor-Dell, Munashe Mwatsiya, Seb Osei-Obengo (James Young 84’), Anderson Pinto-Nogueira, Simeon Dennis (Mo Ghailan 79’). Subs. not used: Michael Winnister, Thomas Lim, Alvin Sarmiento. Scorers: Dennis (11’), Osei-Obengo, penalty (57’). Caution: Pinto-Nogueira, foul (43’). Sin-bin: Hemmings (43’). Dismissals: Williams, denied goal-scoring opportunity (37’), Lalor-Dell, abusive language (full-time).

Sandhurst Team: Watson, Burrows, Cox, Green, M. Cooper, Mitchell, Nicholls, Etefia (Brown 57’), D. Turner (Prestidge 57’), Barley, Kemp (Dawson-Clark 70’). Subs. not used: L. Turner, Richardson. Scorers: Mitchell (6’), D. Turner (37’ [pen.] & 48’). Caution: Burrows, foul (17’). Dismissal: Green, denied goal-scoring opportunity (57’).