Saturday 7th March 2020. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Division One.
Tooting Bec 1 Walton & Hersham 3.
Swans moved up to third place in the table with a vital win at Imperial Fields that took them above their opponents in the promotion chase. Although their young keeper Bert White had a fine game, and was busier than his opposite number in the home goal, there could be no denying Swans were good value for an excellent win over a good Tooting Bec side. After spurning yet another penalty-kick early-on, a goal just before half-time set them on the way, and when that lead was stretched to three after 71 minutes it came down to managing the game out. Swans have not always done that this season, and although Tooting Bec pulled a goal back in a determined attacking spell to end the hopes of a third successive clean sheet, they maintained a good level of control to claim the three points. Seb Osei-Obengo was suspended, but Tyreke Leslie returned after missing the midweek win at Cove, and reinforced his lead as the Division One top-scorer with two more goals. Arif Hattabi also came back into midfield after his return to the club. On a pitch that had recovered well after the recent heavy rain, but would cut-up to a degree during the match, Swans almost took the lead after just four minutes. Miguel Lopes de Matos’s long diagonal ball from the left picked out Alvin Sarmiento in space on the right, but his attempt to lob home keeper Zdenek Machacek went just over the goal. Sarmiento had a better opportunity just two minutes later when Munashe Mwatsiya struck a fine cross-field ball from the right to find Simeon Dennis in space on the left. After getting into the box Dennis was tripped and the referee pointed to the spot, but Swans’ poor penalty-kick record this season continued when Sarmiento’s firmly-struck effort came back off the left post. Tooting Bec’s Alistair Wiltshire twice threatened on the left by working his way into the box, but after firstly shooting straight at White, he was well wide of the near-post with his second effort. With just under a quarter of an hour played Lopes de Matos’s long ball down the left got Leslie away, but after he got past Josh Sharpe the move broke down in the home box. A lunging tackle on Mwatsiya saw the first yellow card of the match shown to Tooting Bec’s Jack Martin, and Jordan Simmons was well-placed in the box, but couldn’t get on the end of Hattabi’s resultant free-kick. The home side won a corner on the left after Mwatsiya had been dispossessed in midfield, and another soon followed, but Justin Hemmings was at the far-post to clear following Martin’s kick. Just before the half hour White got well behind a low strike from 25 yards by Myles Blenkinsop. Swans responded with Dennis making a run into the box following good play by Hattabi on the left, but he was just closed out. Hemmings was then again at the far-post to head clear when Martin took another corner from the left for Tooting Bec. Wiltshire got into the right of the box to get in a good strike, but White was again well positioned on his line to get behind the ball. With ten minutes remaining of the half, good play by Hemmings deep on the right led to his long ball almost getting Leslie in on goal. As the half entered the final five minutes the home side were awarded a soft free-kick on the left, but the ball was confidently held by White when Martin swung it in. Martin then took a long throw from the right for a near-post header to loop onto the top of the net. But it was Swans who were to take the lead with a minute of normal-time left of first-half. Following a throw-in, Mwatsiya struck a fine ball from deep down the right to send Leslie bursting clear. He laid the ball low across for Dennis, coming into the six-yard box at the far-post, to slot past Machacek. In stoppage-time, Tooting Bec built-up a move outside Swans’ box for the ever-involved Martin to send a shot over from 22 yards. Martin again threatened soon after the resumption with a free-kick into the box, but after a couple of attempts to gather it White was able to fall on the ball, and it was Swans who were to double their lead eight minutes into the half. Hattabi had almost got Sarmiento in on the right, but a corner was won. Lopes de Matos swung the kick over for Ola Williams to have a close-in, near-post header blocked, but Leslie was able to get a touch to put the ball over the line. The home side responded with Eddie M’Bango breaking down the right to play the ball low across into the box, but Wiltshire was stretching as he shot over. With an hour played Lopes de Matos got Dennis into the left of the box for Swans, and some clever play won him a corner. Swans’ skipper Hemmings was soon going down injured, and Hamzah Williams came on when he could not continue. Both he and Michael Winnister were soon receiving treatment when they clashed heads as the ball was scrambled clear from the right of their box. The home side had begun to pressurise Swans, and with just under twenty minutes remaining White did well to block with his feet when M’Bango was found in the right of the box to drive in a low shot. M’Bango was immediately breaking again on the right to get in a cross that was met first-time by Panikos Oritis in front of goal, but his shot went straight at White. Swans eased the pressure in the best possible fashion by immediately going 3-0 up, Mwatsiya sending Leslie bursting clear down the middle to coolly slot past keeper Machacek. Tooting Bec immediately made a double substitution, with Swans also bringing on Gonçalo Freitas for Hattabi. The move seemed to work for the home side as Wiltshire was soon getting in on the left to drive in a low shot that White did well to block with his legs and put the ball behind for a corner on the left. Following the kick M’Bango was able to get in a cross from the right to the far-post, where Daniel Ogunmade headed in to make it 3-1. With ten minutes remaining White had to take the ball at his near-post when M’Bango drove it in low from the right as the home side pressed for more goals. With normal-time running out Swans went close to sealing the win after good play by Leslie had won him a corner on the right. Dennis sent the kick to the far-post, where Ola Williams put a close-in header just wide. Swans have had to withstand lengthy periods of added-on time in recent matches, and three minutes extra had been played when M’Bango got to their byline on the right to do well to hook the ball over to the far-post, but it was put wide. Swans almost had the last say however when some excellent play by the youngster Freitas in the right of the box set up a chance at the far-post for Mwatsiya, but he shot wide.
Swans’ Team: Bert White, Michael Winnister, Miguel Lopes de Matos, Justin Hemmings (Hamzah Williams 62’), Jordan Simmons, Ola Williams, Alvin Sarmiento (Sam Marfo 77’), Munashe Mwatsiya, Tyreke Leslie, Arif Hattabi (Gonçalo Freitas 72’), Simeon Dennis. Subs. not used: Thomas Lim, Leon Lalor-Dell. Scorers: Dennis (44’), Leslie (53’ & 71’). Cautions: H. Williams, kicked ball away (76’), Leslie, foul (83’).
Tooting Bec Team: Machacek, Parsons (Savage 72’), Fernando (Fox 72’), Martin, Sharpe, Thurbon, M’Bango, Ogunmade, Wiltshire, Heravi (Oritis 67’), Blenkinsop. Scorer: Ogunmade (74’). Caution: Martin, foul (19’).