Saturday 30 December 2017. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Epsom & Ewell 0 Walton & Hersham 2.
Following a frustrating first-half, during which they failed to convert several good openings into goals, Swans finally made the breakthrough in the second, two goals in a six minute spell seeing them home against the Division’s basement side. They seem to have lost, hopefully only temporarily, the clinical finishing that saw them rack up a feast of goals just a short time ago. Again moves too often fizzled out in the last third, the final pass was lacking, or the wrong decision made. Having taken a two-goal lead the opportunities were there for Swans to go on to a more convincing win, but in the end banking three valuable points was the achieved goal. There will certainly be tougher opponents ahead than an Epsom & Ewell side that showed good spirit, but was obviously lacking in confidence as a result of a dreadful season.
With Jamie Thoroughgood unavailable, Billy Jeffreys was fortunately able to return to the side after missing the previous seven games. Swans were also able to call on Leon Solomon again, the experienced midfielder having played one game for the club previously this season.
The former Hampton & Richmond Borough player had two opportunities to set up chances from set pieces inside the first two minutes. Athan Smith-Joseph’s good run on the right forced a corner-kick, and a free-kick was won when Jake Newton was fouled out by the left touchline, but neither kick came to anything.
Swans were almost caught out when the home side’s Germaine Jeannoel got to the goal-line on the right, but his low, driven cross was cut out at his near-post by goalkeeper Brendan Norris.
There was a chance immediately at the other end when Abdeen Abdul was found just inside the box, but his left-foot shot was wild and the ball flew over by some distance. Chris Onoufriou then had a half-volley from inside the box blocked after the ball had been played in from the left.
With just over ten minutes played The Salts’ Lloyd Connelly got in a good strike from 35 yards out, but Norris saw the ball all the way and got well behind it.
Swans gradually began to build up some momentum, and midway through the half had three promising attacks on the home goal in quick succession. Abdul won a corner on the left after TJ Nkoma had laid the ball into him from the left, and Howard Newton struck a low shot from 25 yards, but it did not have the power to beat home keeper Mohammed Mohammed. The best of the chances fell to Abdul as he was played clear into the left of the box, but with Flo Bojaj unmarked in the middle he chose to shoot, and Mohammed blocked the ball for a corner.
Bojaj was soon laying the ball in from the left to Nkoma, but his well-struck shot from 25 yards flew wide. Another good chance came just past the half hour when the home defence failed to clear a bouncing ball and Bojaj got free into the right of the box, but he drove his shot over. Two successive corners were then won on the right, but neither of Solomon’s kicks bore fruit. Bojaj then almost got Abdul in on goal, but he was just denied by Adam Heagney’s timely tackle.
Swans were almost made to pay for their missed opportunities when their former player Sean White sent a long ball through the middle, and when Norris failed to cut it out a chance was put wide.
Swans pressed hard in the final five minutes of the half to try to secure a lead at the break. Nkoma and Solomon played a corner short on the right, and the ball was just got clear as it was played in, and Solomon then got the ball over from the right and it went just wide of the far-post. Then, in stoppage-time, Bojaj was found in room just outside the box, but with space to move forward into he opted for an ambitious first-time shot and the ball went over the bar.
Swans started the second-half as they ended the first, and when Abdul got the ball over from the right Bojaj got his head to it, but it looped gently into the gloves of keeper Mohammed. Abdul then made a strong run into the right of the box, but his shot went wide of the far-post. An even better chance soon fell to Abdul when Solomon played the ball through to him on the edge of the box, but he drove it over.
Howard Newton then broke down the left to get the ball across, and when it broke to Solomon just inside the box he put a shot wide. But straight after, Swans’ pressure paid off nine minutes into the half with a fine goal. Smith-Joseph burst forward to the edge of the box before driving the ball into the bottom, left corner.
The lead was almost short-lived as the home side broke on the right and the ball hit the post before being put wide.
Swans immediately responded with Bojaj breaking into the box, but he was just prevented from getting a shot away, and just before the hour the points were virtually sewn up when Swans doubled their lead. Solomon took a corner from the left, and when Jeffreys had a shot blocked the ball ran to Abdul at the far-post, and he drove it in.
Onoufriou went close to making it 3-0 with a low shot from 25 yards that flew just wide of the left-post. With a quarter of an hour remaining Nkoma cut across the edge of the box from the left to fire in a shot that Mohammed kept out with a good save, diving to his left. A minute later Nkoma did the same again, but this time his shot flew over.
Swans’ Team: Brendan Norris, Howard Newton (Charlie Holmes 72’), Julian Hornby, Chris Onoufriou (Elliott Simpson 70’), Jake Newton, Billy Jeffreys, Athan Smith-Joseph, Leon Solomon, Abdeen Abdul, Flo Bojaj (Sam Shaban 78’), TJ Nkoma. Sub. not used: Cameron Gyeabour. Scorers: Smith-Joseph (54’), Abdul (60’). Cautions: H. Newton, Solomon, Jeffreys, Abdul.
Epsom & Ewell Team: Mohammed, Stew-Lewis, Franklin (Masterson 58’), Heagney, McKay, Grandison, White, Rose, Jeannoel, Connelly (Mullings 58′), Dyson. Sub. not used: Kennedy. Cautions: Stew-Lewis, Grandison.