Tuesday 12 September 2017. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Knaphill 1 Walton & Hersham 5.
A terrific first-half performance by Swans, that saw them arguably play their best football so far in the Combined Counties League, put them 4-0 up at the break and on course for the three points. By then Abdeen Abdul had notched his second hat-trick in successive games, following on from his four goals scored against Little Common in the FA Vase. Although their play in the second-half failed to quite match that of the first, and the home side came more into the game, they still created chances to add to their goal tally.
Not surprisingly the starting line-up was unchanged from that which had won 7-1 three days before.
On an excellent playing surface at Redding Way Swans settled quickly, and Julian Hornby’s low cross from the left just failed to find TJ Nkoma at the far-post. But the lead soon came with just five minutes played. Nkoma got inside from the right before unleashing a terrific left-foot shot from outside the box. Knappers’ goalkeeper Richard Shelley did well to get to the ball, but he could only deflect it onto the right angle of bar and post. Abdul was in the right of the box to follow up and calmly finish with a low shot inside the near-post.
It was 2-0 to Swans after 13 minutes when Nkoma was found on the right by Sanchez Benali to hit a fine cross to the far-post. With the home defence slow to react Abdul fired home on the half-volley.
Sanchez Benali then sent a shot dipping just over from 35 yards out on the left.
Knaphill’s first chance came after 20 minutes following a free-kick. Connor Close found space in the right of the box to strike a strong shot that Swans’ keeper Brendan Norris saved well at his near-post.
Another excellent build-up by Swans ended with Elliott Simpson driving a shot just over from 35 yards.
With half an hour played Swans went 3-0 up with a superb goal. A fine break down the left released Abdul, who made a clever run into the box that got him to the byline before picking out Nkoma, who clipped the ball past an exposed keeper.
Some slack play in midfield by Swans gave the home side a half chance, but Jimmy Norman drove the ball over from 30 yards.
Sanchez Benali was almost played in by Nkoma’s diagonal ball from deep on the right, but Shelley was quickly out to claim. But, with 37 minutes played, Abdul was sent clear on the left, and after getting to the corner of the box he slotted the ball into the far corner to nail his hat-trick and Swans’ fourth goal of the night.
In the final minute of the half Sanchez Benali sent in a free-kick from the right to the far-post, where the ball was just scrambled clear.
Knaphill made a double substitution for the second-half and looked determined to get something back, but it was Swans who scored again just five minutes in. Indecision in the home defence allowed Sanchez Benali to make room on the edge of the box, and he struck a low, left-foot shot past Shelley.
Just past the hour Swans made a double substitution, with Howard Newton and Jamil Okai coming on for Chris Onoufriou and Sanchez Benali.
Knaphill continued to see more of the play in the second-half, and with 20 minutes remaining Norris had to save a far-post header from Ross Cheek as a cross came in from the left.
But Swans went close to extending their lead when Okai’s long ball sent Hornby clear into the right of the box. Shelley came out, but Hornby took the ball around him, only for the home keeper to just deny him and deflect the ball behind for a corner.
Rob Kersley drove a shot wide of the near-post from the right for Knaphill, but Swans had a double chance to add to their lead. Abdul was played clear, but was just denied, and when the ball came to Okai he ran through on the left, but was forced into shooting wide.
Swans’ hopes of keeping a clean sheet were dashed with six minutes of normal-time remaining when the home side were awarded a free-kick 35 yards out. Norman struck the ball well, and it beat Norris inside his left-post.
Bilal Benali had replaced Nkoma for Swans, and he cut across the edge of the box to get in a fine shot that Shelley did well to beat away, with Okai just failing to get to the loose ball. Howard Newton then got into the left of the box to get in a shot that Shelley turned round his near-post.
It was left to Knaphill to have the last effort, but Harry Rapley drove over from 35 yards.
Swans’ Team: Brendan Norris, Shaun Smart, Jim Fenlon, Chris Onoufriou (Howard Newton 61’), Jake Newton, Jamie Thoroughgood, TJ Nkoma (Bilal Benali 78’), Elliott Simpson, Abdeen Abdul, Sanchez Benali (Jamil Okai 61’), Julian Hornby. Subs. not used: Jamel Johnson, Lea Van Sullivan. Scorers: Abdul (5’, 13’ & 37’), Nkoma (30’), S. Benali (51’).
Knaphill Team: Shelley, Cheek, T. Taylor, Close (Kersley 45’), Roberts, Collins, D. Taylor, Whiddett (Frith 45’), Turner, Norman, Muir (Rapley 59’). Subs. not used: McKinlay, Roffey. Scorer: Norman (84’). Caution: Cheek, dissent (27’).