Saturday 18 March 2017. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Sutton Common Rovers 0 Walton & Hersham 1.
Swans took their unbeaten run to eight matches, with six wins and five clean sheets, as they completed their third win over Sutton Common Rovers this season. For a long time however it looked like they would have to settle for yet another draw as they were constantly denied by home goalkeeper Craig Bradshaw, until Jamil Okai scored his 20th goal of the season with just five minutes remaining.
Lea Van Sullivan missed his first league match of the season due to suspension and Louis Taylor was not fully recovered from his side strain, so was named on the bench. Craig Tanner came into central defence, while a debut was given to new signing Stiven Rivic, the Croatian having an impressive game in midfield. Howard Newton dropped to right-back, while Francois Gabbidon was available to return against his former club.
Swans made a good start on the 3G pitch at Gander Green Lane, and after just two minutes Elliott Simpson’s shot from 25 yards out on the right dipped just past the far-post. Newton then got the ball to Rivic on the right, and after getting to the byline he did well to cross into the box, where Simpson had a shot that was blocked for a corner. Simpson’s corner from the right picked out TJ Nkoma, unmarked at the near-post, but he headed a good chance over.
After five minutes some slack play gave the home side a clear chance, but Swans’ keeper Liam Beach did well to block the shot.
With just over ten minutes played Simpson got the ball to Nkoma 30 yards out, and he turned before striking a terrific shot that looked destined for the top, left corner, but Bradshaw leapt to tip the ball over his crossbar. From Simpson’s left-side corner Jamie Thoroughgood played the ball back at the far-post to find Rivic in the right of the six-yard box, but he could not hit his shot cleanly and Bradshaw was able to save. Okai then cleared the bar with an overhead kick when Rivic took a corner from the right.
Rivic was soon being shown a yellow card for a foul as the home side broke on the left, and from the resultant free-kick Tanner had to head the ball behind.
Swans continued to have the best of the play however, and Simpson’s free-kick from the left touchline was just inches away from finding the head of Thoroughgood at the far-post.
The home side had created little, but with just over half an hour played Josh Greenleaf sent a free-kick into the box, and when the ball broke to Keano Robinson on the right he struck a shot against the near-post.
Nkoma made room 40 yards out before striking a strong shot wide of the home goal, and with five minutes left to the break Newton made a fine run forward before getting in a shot from the edge of the box that Bradshaw again did well to tip over. Malachi Thomas then made a good run on the right before playing the ball low into the box, where Nkoma looked to be brought down, but the referee saw no offence.
Swans continued to press as the second-half began, and Simpson brought the ball forward well before finding Nkoma 25 yards out on the left, from where he drove a shot over. The ball was then cleared off the goal-line when Simpson drove in a free-kick from close to the left corner-flag.
Although mainly on the back-foot the home side still posed a threat however, and just past the hour they twice went close. Swans were guilty of losing the ball 35 yards out, and Greenleaf struck a good shot that took a slight deflection before clipping the top of the crossbar. Beach then had to make a fine save when a shot came in following a break on the right.
Swans were soon getting forward with Nkoma down the right, and he almost set up a chance for Gabbidon. Gabbidon was able to regain possession on the right, and he drove in a shot that Bradshaw did well to push away. The home keeper was soon making another fine save, blocking a strong shot from Thomas, who had been played in on the right by Rivic. The ball ran loose and was cleared off the goal-line with Okai waiting to pounce. Bradshaw was quickly out to deny Gabbidon, who had got in on the left, and he then got well behind a shot from the same player, who had turned on the edge of the box.
Swans continued to push for a winner, and with ten minutes remaining Nkoma made a terrific run on the right before cutting inside and driving in a shot. The ball took a deflection and was looping into the top, left corner until Bradshaw made a great leap to claw it away.
Simpson had a shot deflected for a corner following some good play from Thomas on the right, and it began to look as if Swans would be frustrated and have to settle for another draw, but with just five minutes of normal-time remaining they finally made the breakthrough. Sean White had just come on for Gabbidon, and when he got the ball into the box from the left Okai immediately brought it down before striking a left-foot, half-volley past Bradshaw.
The home side had one last chance to deny Swans a well-deserved win when they were awarded a free-kick on the left. Substitute Liam Holden sent the ball into the box, but Tanner dived to head it clear.
Swans’ Team: Liam Beach, Howard Newton, Nathan Gordon, Elliott Simpson, Craig Tanner, Jamie Thoroughgood, Malachi Thomas, Stiven Rivic, Francois Gabbidon (Sean White 83’), Jamil Okai, TJ Nkoma. Subs. not used: Istvan Szucs, Seb Castello, Louis Taylor, Alex Filipe. Scorer: Okai (85’). Caution: Rivic, foul (17’).
SCR Team: Bradshaw, Robinson, Cousins, Davies, Addo-Dankwa, Mead (Emery 82’), Kinsaba, Allen (Blowers 64’), Greenleaf, Fernandez (Holden 64’), Auletta. Subs. not used: Burton, Ellaway. Cautions: Robinson, Bradshaw, Fernandez.