Tuesday 3 October 2017. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Walton & Hersham 0 Guildford City 3.
A fortnight previously Swans had signed off at Stompond Lane, their home for over 8 decades, with a memorable performance, but unfortunately their first match at their new ground will want to be quickly forgotten by their supporters. In truth their performance overall was not that poor, and a 3-0 defeat was somewhat harsh, but after conceding early against a well organised visiting side, who looked determined to spoil Swans’ opening night, they were always susceptible to being caught on the break as they became more and more anxious to get back into the game. It remains to be seen whether the move to a new ground, and its 3G playing surface, will negate home advantage to some extent, but Swans will need to acclimatise quickly to their new environment if they are to regain their recent excellent form.
Their problems started before kick-off with several changes having to be made to the regular starting line-up. Elliott Simpson and Abdeen Abdul were both suspended, while Jake Newton was away on international duty and ended his ever-present record. Sanchez Benali, who would have started the match, was late arriving and was replaced by Cameron Gyeabour, who made his first start of the season.
Swans had a chance straight from the kick-off when Jamil Okai got in a low shot from 25 yards, but it was straight at City goalkeeper Luke Badiali.
The visitors took the lead after just four minutes when the ball was driven into the six-yard box from the left and Kieran Campbell drove it past home keeper Brendan Norris.
Swans soon went close when Gyeabour got the ball to Julian Hornby on the right, but after cutting inside he put a low, left-foot shot just wide of the near-post. Norris got well behind a well-struck effort from Miguel Anderson following Dan Stewart’s free-kick from deep on the left, before Swans had a great chance to equalise after ten minutes. A patient build-up ended with TJ Nkoma getting in a fine cross from the left to pick out Howard Newton in front of goal, but his strong, close-in header was straight at Badiali and was blocked by the former Swans’ keeper. The ball ran to Nkoma in the left of the 6-yard box, but his shot to the near-post was again saved by Badiali.
Swans continued to press and Nkoma cut across from the left to drive a shot over from 25 yards. Nkoma then had a cross from the left blocked, and when the ball came to Gyeabour, he turned to shoot wide. With just over half an hour played Nkoma was set up in the box, but he dwelt too long on the ball and was closed out.
The visitors continued to look a threat however, and following a short corner on the right Jordan Gallagher drove the ball just over the top, right corner from outside the box.
Swans won a corner on the left, and from Nkoma’s kick Jamie Thoroughgood had a header blocked on the line. Nkoma continued to be Swans’ main threat, and with two minutes remaining of the half he was fouled just outside the left corner of the box, but the free-kick came to nothing. Then, in stoppage-time, Gyeabour found Nkoma on the left, and he cleverly made room to drive in a shot that went just over.
Sanchex Benali came on for Gyeabour for the second-half, and he was soon taking a corner from the right for Lea Van Sullivan to head wide. Okai then did well on the left before laying the ball back to Nkoma, whose cross was deflected over.
But, just before the hour, City doubled their lead when they were awarded a free-kick 35 yards out. The kick was powerfully struck and the ball rattled the right-post with Norris beaten, and Gallagher followed in to score.
Swans now faced an uphill task, and with a quarter of an hour remaining Thoroughgood headed wide from Sanchez Benali’s left-side free-kick. Okai seemed to have a good claim for a penalty rejected as he went down in the box, and Sanchex Benali shot just over from the left of the box.
Swans were then caught on the break with eight minutes remaining to go 3-0 down Substitute Bilal Benali had just made a fine run in on the right to sting the hands of Badiali with a powerful shot when City broke on the left, and although Norris did well to save the first shot Darryl Siaw followed up to find the far corner.
Bilal Benali drove just over from 22 yards out, and in the final minute Swans’ luck was again out. A fine build-up got the ball to Okai on the right, but after cutting inside he drove a left-foot shot against the near-post.
It was then left to Norris to make a fine save when City again broke away.
Swans’ Team: Brendan Norris, Shaun Smart, Jim Fenlon (Bilal Benali 63’), Chris Onoufriou, Lea Van Sullivan, Jamie Thoroughgood, Julian Hornby, Howard Newton, (Dave Musendo 56’), Jamil Okai, Cameron Gyeabour (Sanchez Benali 45’), TJ Nkoma. Subs. not used: Louis Taylor, Dwade James. Cautions: Sullivan, Smart.
Guildford Team: Badiali, Tancock, Booth, Beale (Burton 70’), Adams, Stewart (Williams 77’), Siaw, Anderson (Downey 53’), Campbell, Gallagher, Mundow. Subs. not used: Marks, Nicholas. Scorers: Campbell (4’), Gallagher (58’), Siaw (78’). Cautions: Anderson, Siaw.