Swans 0 Farnham Town 1

Saturday 26th September 2020.        Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Division One.

Walton & Hersham 0    Farnham Town 1.

Swans went down to their first defeat of the season and failed to keep a clean sheet in the league for the first-time, as they came up against a very good, well-organised Farnham Town side. Their opponents have now denied Swans a goal in their last three meetings, and they seldom looked like surrendering that record in this game. Despite the home side putting on a much-improved performance in the second-half, good approach play failed to lead to the final pass that would unpick a solid, well-marshalled visitors’ defence.

A player who would have possibly supplied that decisive pass, Reece Brewster, was unfortunately starting a three-match suspension, and the injured Dominic Ogun was another big-miss, Jamie Byatt lacking his powerful support play up-front. Max Hustwick was however able to return after being injured in the opening game.

The visitors dropped deep from the first whistle, allowing Swans to have a lot of possession and to pass the ball around at will, but they had the first chance after just four minutes. They broke free on the left before driving the ball low into the 6 yard-box, where Swans’ goalkeeper Liam Allen just managed to get a hand on it. The ball was laid back from the right to Charlie Oakley on the edge of the box, but he drove a clear chance well over the goal.

Swans had an opportunity with a free-kick out on the left touchline, but the ball ran through to Farnham keeper Richard Ossai when Sean McCormack drove it in.

The visitors again went close after a quarter of an hour when Swans gave the ball away out by the right corner-flag, allowing Max Meaton to get into the box, but his cross drifted across the goal-face. Allen then did well to take the ball on his line under pressure when Darren Blake sent in a free-kick from out on the right touchline.

Farnham continued to look the more threatening, and Matt Glass cut in from the left to drive a shot over. Glass went even closer a minute later when he sent in a terrific shot from 30 yards that clipped the top, left corner of the goal-frame.

After half an hour Farnham’s Joe Sowden became the first to be shown a yellow card for a late tackle on Joe Pratley-Jones.

Despite having the bulk of possession, Swans continued to struggle to create openings, with attacks breaking down in the final third and Byatt getting little service up front. The visitors however had another half-chance when they won a corner on the right. Tom Smith played the kick in short, and when the ball came back to him his cross led to Jacob MacDonald putting a header wide.

Swans finally went close with just under ten minutes left of the half. McCormack swung in a free-kick from the left touchline for Hustwick to get in a header, and the ball took a slight deflection to go over for a corner.

The visitors took the lead with a minute of normal-time remaining of the first-half when Stuart Baldwin conceded a free-kick five yards outside the box, and was booked. Smith took the kick, and drove the ball superbly into the top, right corner, giving Allen no chance.

Swans started the second-half by giving away a needless corner on the right, but they began to put together some good attacks. Some neat play on the left led to Pratley-Jones driving in a dangerous cross that was just too high to pick out a team-mate. Pratley-Jones then played a fine ball for McCormack on the left to win a corner. Substitute Max Lohmeier got to the byline on the right to lay the ball back to Youcef Azzouz, whose shot was blocked. Another excellent piece of build-up play led to Azzouz sending in a terrific ball from the right that just failed to find a colleague in the middle.

Swans continued to probe for openings, and after another fine bout of passing, Darren Simpson drove the ball over from the edge of the box on the right to pick-out Byatt at the far-post, but he volleyed wide. The Farnham defence made Swans work hard to create opportunities, but with just under ten minutes remaining a patient build-up led to Baldwin driving in a low shot from 25 yards, but it was straight at keeper Ossai. McCormack then took a corner from the left, and when Baldwin got his head to the ball it just failed to find Hustwick at the far-post.

Excellent long throw-ins from Pratley-Jones in the final minutes looked to give Swans a possibility of finally getting a goal, but apart from a looping header from substitute Joe Hicks that Ossai clutched under his crossbar, attempts were frustrated by the referee awarding free-kicks to the visiting side for offences that were not immediately obvious.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Dan Taylor, Michael Cayford (Max Lohmeier 45’), Alex Kelly, Max Hustwick, Stuart Baldwin, Youcef Azzouz, Joe Pratley-Jones, Jamie Byatt, Darren Simpson (Joe Hicks 85’), Sean McCormack. Subs. not used: Joe Sewell, Jigar Kumar, Sonny Stiller. Cautions: Cayford, foul (33’), Baldwin, foul (43’), Hustwick, foul (57’), Pratley-Jones, foul (85’), McCormack.   

Farnham Team: Ossai, Meaton, Smith, Lloyd, H. Oakley, MacDonald, Nash (Trah 86’), Sowden (Bauchop 72’), C. Oakley, Glass, Blake (Cardona 77’). Sub. not used: Horwood. Scorer: Smith (44’). Caution: Sowden, foul (30’).