Saturday 17th October 2020. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Division One.
Walton & Hersham 3 Kensington & Ealing Borough 2.
In the corresponding fixture last season Swans went in at half-time 3-0 down, before finally losing 5-0, and with them trailing 2-0 after less than a quarter of an hour this time round, for a while another defeat looked a distinct possibility. But they always looked capable of getting the goals to turn the match around, and they finally ran out deserved winners.
That chastening experience last season showed that the visitors were capable of punishing any slackness in their opponent’s play, and they caught Swans cold as they went ahead inside the first minute. Eva Batousol got past Stuart Baldwin on the left and cut in on the byline before driving the ball low across the goal-face, and Walid Hirsi managed to force it just over the line from close-in at the far-post.
Swans were soon pressing to get the goal back, and fine play by Alex Kelly got Sean McCormack away on the left to win a corner. Following the kick McCormack was able to get in a low shot from the left of the box that visiting goalkeeper Juan Federico kept out at his near-post. McCormack was again released down the left by Joe Hicks, and when he got the ball over to the far-post Borough’s left-back Justin Thompson could only let it run off him and behind for a corner. Swans continued to use McCormack’s left-side runs to create openings, and Reece Brewster and Kelly combined to again get him into space, but his cross dipped just wide of the far-post.
With just under a quarter of an hour played Swans were shocked as they conceded a second goal, the first time they had done that this season. The ball was given away in midfield, but the visitors were somewhat fortunate as it broke to Hirsi on the right. However, he did really well to score his second goal, getting into the right of the box before striking a left-foot shot low into the far corner, with home keeper Liam Allen getting a touch but failing to keep the ball out.
Things almost got worse immediately as Hirsi was played clear down the middle, but he was denied a fifteen minute hat-trick by a great save from Allen. Salem Masri then got in a good strike from 25 yards that flew just over.
Swans still looked dangerous going forward however, and a terrific ball by Dominic Ogun found McCormack on the left, and when he crossed the ball to the far-post Ogun was there to head it back across goal, but it had just drifted out of play. McCormack again got to the byline on the left to win a corner, and when he played a free-kick out on the left touchline short to Kelly, the midfielder made a good run into the box, but just failed to prevent the ball from running out of play.
The visitors still posed a threat, and after they won a corner on the left Adam Hamdi got in a far-post header from Hirsi’s kick that Allen took high up on his line. A handball then gave them a free-kick in a dangerous position just outside the left-corner of the box, but Jabir Laraba’s kick struck the edge of the wall and the ball deflected wide for a corner on the left.
With just over half an hour played Swans seemed to have a good claim for a penalty turned down. Owen Coleman put McCormack down the left, and when he played the ball low in Kelly looked to have been brought down in the box, but the referee waved play-on. McCormack then drove a shot over after Youcef Azzouz had got him clear into the left of the box. Swans continued to press, to try to reduce the deficit before the break, and Ogun cleverly beat Hamdi on the left, but his cross went straight to keeper Federico.
With ten minutes left of the half they got the goal they had been seeking. Most of their attacks had come down the left, with Harry Mills having little joy on the other flank, but when he had the opportunity he left his marker Thompson trailing as he burst forward to drill the ball low into the 6 yard-box, where Ogun was waiting to beat Federico.
Baldwin crossed from the right for McCormack to head the ball back at the far-post, but no-one was there to capitalise, and Kelly made space after being played into the right of the box, but had to settle for a corner. Mills was then played down the right by Baldwin to get in a good cross, but the ball went wide of the far-post.
Swans went close to equalising soon after the resumption when a terrific ball by Max Hustwick found McCormack on the left, and he got forward to cross low into the box, where Ogun was just denied in front of goal by Thompson, and the ball ran off the visitors’ left-back and just wide of the left-post for a corner. Allen got well behind a shot from 30 yards out on the left from Borough’s Yahya El-Khabouche, but Azzouz was soon playing Ogun clear on the left, and after he got into the box the ball almost went over the line for an own goal, and keeper Federico just denied McCormack from following-up to score.
A long ball threatened to get Borough’s Batousol through on goal, but he was denied by great covering from Hustwick.
An excellent long pass from Brewster found McCormack on the left, and Baldwin forced a corner on the right when the ball was played into him. From Mills’ kick the ball came to Hicks twenty yards out, but he drove his shot over. Brewster then played Mills into the right of the box, but Federico just got a touch to deflect his low drive wide of the far-post. With an hour played Swans looked to again be denied a penalty when a neat build-up got Mills into the box, and his legs were taken away from behind, but again the referee was unmoved.
Swans were grateful to Allen when they gave the visitors a rare chance. The keeper had already come out to deny Batousol, who had got in on the left, when the ball was given away, allowing Mo Belamouadden to get through on the right. Belamouadden, better known to Swans’ supporters as their former player Mo Ghailan, set up Laraba to his left for a clear chance, but Allen pulled off a superb save.
Swans capitalised on their let-off by equalising after 68 minutes. Mills and McCormack played a short corner on the left, and when Mills crossed into the box Ogun got in a glancing header that was going into the far, top corner until it was kept out by the hand of Hamdi. A penalty was awarded and the visitors’ central defender shown a red card. McCormack drilled the kick down the middle, and although Federico got a touch he could not keep the ball out.
Ogun almost capitalised when he won the ball as keeper Federico and Adil Salih failed to clear on the right edge of the box, but he was closed out. With a quarter of an hour remaining Allen got well behind the ball when Laraba got in a shot from the right, but Kelly was soon being played into the right of the box at the other end, where he went down after appearing to be elbowed under the chin, but again no penalty was forthcoming.
But Swans’ comeback was soon complete when a fine ball from Coleman played Ogun down the left, and when the visitors had no answer to his surge into the box, Mills was in the 6 yard-box to turn in his low cross.
Mills was soon making a great burst down the right to get the ball over, and when it came to substitute Darren Simpson inside the box, he drove a shot over.
If Swans were to be denied their win it would probably result from a set-piece, and as the match entered the final five minutes the visitors won two free-kicks. The first taken by Hirsi from the right was competently dealt with as Hicks powerfully headed away, and the second came from a more dangerous position just outside the left corner of the box. The ball was played to the far-post, but Barry Vinlint planted his header wide.
In the final minute of normal-time a dust-up in the middle of the pitch led to a treble of yellow cards being shown, Hicks and Kelly being cautioned for Swans, and the visitors’ Shadrach Williams looking somewhat fortunate to escape with just a booking. With Swans keeping the ball by the left corner flag to eat up the final minutes, Williams again transgressed with a petulant foul on McCormack, but the referee deemed a free-kick sufficient punishment, and it was fellow substitute Darrell Harris who picked up a booking before the final whistle blew.
Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Stuart Baldwin (Dan Taylor 79’), Owen Coleman, Reece Brewster (Josiah Bridgeman 79’), Joe Hicks, Max Hustwick, Harry Mills, Youcef Azzouz (Darren Simpson 64’), Dominic Ogun, Alex Kelly, Sean McCormack. Subs. not used: Max Lohmeier, Sonny Stiller. Scorers: Ogun (35’), McCormack, penalty (68’), Mills (78’). Cautions: Hicks (89’), Kelly (89’).
Farnham Team: Federico, Turay, Thompson (Williams), Masri (Vanlint), Hamdi, Salih, Hirsi, El-Khabouche, Laraba, Belamouadden (Harris), Batousol. Subs. not used: Mariner, Nejjary. Scorers: Hirsi (1’ & 14’). Cautions: Williams (89’), Harris (90+3’). Dismissal: Hamdi (67’).