Tuesday 14 November 2017. Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup, 3rd Round.
Bedfont Sports 0 Walton & Hersham 1.
This was a proverbial game of two halves, as for the first 45 minutes Swans were a distinct second best to a Bedfont Sports side that were allowed to pass the ball around and boss the play. The home side went close on several occasions, and could consider themselves somewhat unfortunate not to go in at the break with a lead. But the second-half belonged almost totally to Swans, as a change of tactics and formation saw them play a higher line, dominate the midfield and apply consistent pressure on the home defence. They looked a different side straight from the resumption, whereas their hosts, who had looked a good, confident side in the first-half, struggled to keep them out. Swans had the chances in the second-half to have won the game by more than the single goal that finally saw them through.
Simbo Mbonkwi was soon sending a low shot wide of the left post for Bedfont, and Swans’ goalkeeper Brendan Norris did well go down and save at his right post when Jake Hicks struck a half-volley from the edge of the box.
Swans’ first threat came when Bilal Benali found TJ Nkoma on the right, and his ball driven across the 6-yard box just failed to pick out Flo Bojaj at the far-post.
With just under a quarter of an hour played Bedfont’s Kyle Lemon did well on the right before crossing for Scott Harris to glance a header just wide. Lemon was soon getting free on the right again, and Matt Riggs got in a shot that was deflected over. From the corner on the left Harris was at the far-post, but his header went across goal and just wide. The home side continued to get too much space, and Lemon cut across the edge of the box from the right to drive in a low shot that went straight though to Norris.
Swans began to put some attacks together, and a good run by Nkoma on the left got him past his marker, but his cross was too long. They then forced a couple of corner-kicks following good build-ups.
With just under ten minutes left to the break Jim Fenlon was booked for pulling back a Bedfont player who had broken through to the edge of the box on the right. Riggs took the free-kick, forcing Norris to tip the ball over his crossbar. From Kinsella’s corner on the right Harris was again just wide with a glancing header.
As the half entered the final five minutes Kinsella was fortunate to escape with just a booking for a lunging tackle on Elliott Simpson 25 yards out. Simpson took the free-kick, but sent the ball dipping over. Nkoma then got in a shot from outside the box, but home goalkeeper Rourke Pickford was well placed to take the ball as it took a slight deflection off the head of his teammate Joe Jackson.
Swans changed their formation for the second-half with Shaun Smart replacing Bilal Benali, slotting in at right-back and allowing Athan Smith-Joseph to revert to a more accustomed position further forward. The change almost paid dividends just four minutes into the half when Nkoma struck a terrific shot from outside the left corner of the box, and Pickford did well to get a touch on the ball to divert it onto the near-post. Swans had made a really good start to the second-half, and Pickford got behind the ball when Fenlon drove in a shot from 25 yards. Malachi Thomas then had a great chance in the right of the box after Nkoma had made a fine, surging run down the left to get the ball over to him, but he failed to get his shot away.
But the lead came after an hour, and it followed some awful defending by the home side. Hicks was 22 yards out when he passed the ball square straight to Nkoma, who made no mistake in driving the ball low past keeper Pickford.
Bedfont got in a couple of shots from distance by Mbonkwi and Riggs, that Norris dealt with comfortably, but Swans continued to dominate play, and they looked unfortunate not to get a penalty when Nkoma seemed to be fouled from behind after Bojaj had played him into the box.
Twenty minutes into the half it should have been 2-0 when Bojaj’s clever pass from the right found Smith-Joseph ten yards out in the middle of the box, but with just Pickford to beat he allowed the keeper to block the ball. Pickford then made a terrific save on his line when Bojaj got in a shot after the ball had fallen to him following Nkoma’s cross from the left. Bedfont’s Edward Wagner had to clear the ball behind when Nkoma crossed from the right, and Smith-Joseph sent a shot wide after making space on the edge of the box.
The home side had one last opportunity to send the tie into extra-time when they had a free-kick deep on the right two minutes into stoppage-time, but the ball into the box was cleared safely away.
Swans’ Team: Brendan Norris, Athan Smith-Joseph, Jim Fenlon, Elliott Simpson, Billy Jeffreys (Lea Van Sullivan 66’), Jamie Thoroughgood, Malachi Thomas (Cameron Gyeabour 69’), Howard Newton, Flo Bojaj, Bilal Benali (Shaun Smart 45’), TJ Nkoma. Scorer: Nkoma (60’). Cautions: Fenlon (37’), Thomas (45+’), Bojaj (84’), H. Newton (90+1’).
Bedfont Sports Team: Pickford, Lemon, M’Ngadi (Welch-Turner), Jackson, Kinsella (Wagner), Mbonkwi, Spencer, Hicks, Lambe (Wilson), Harris, Riggs. Subs. not used: Hibbert, Johnson. Caution: Kinsella (41’).