Tuesday 14 February 2017. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Walton & Hersham 1 AFC Hayes 1.
Swans had to settle for yet another draw, sharing two goals with a side they had beaten convincingly away. After conceding an early goal they had enough chances to win the match, but could not add to their equaliser scored just before half-time.
They were hit with several key player absences, Howard Newton and Jamie Thoroughgood both being unavailable, and Nathan Gordon and Elliott Simpson both having not recovered from recent injuries. Debuts were given however to new signing from Sutton Common Rovers, striker Francois Gabbidon, and former Tooting & Mitcham United manager Craig Tanner, who came in at left-back.
Swans got off to the worst possible start, going behind after just five minutes. They had just built-up a promising attack when TJ Nkoma made a good run down the left, but the visitors immediately broke and Rhys Rabess got clear on the right, and when he crossed to the near-post Seb Castello, in trying to clear, could only slice the ball into his own net.
Swans soon had a chance when they got the ball in from the left, but Jamil Okai sent a half-volley just wide of the near-post. Gabbidon then crossed from the left and the ball was sliced behind for a corner. From Billy Marshall’s kick from the left Lea Van Sullivan got in a far-post header that clipped the bar and went over. Sullivan was again unlucky with just under twenty minutes played when he again got his head to the ball close-in at the far-post when Marshall took a free-kick from the left, this time visiting goalkeeper Cameron Kennedy blocking for a corner.
Nkoma made a run into the left of the box before going down, but claims for a penalty were denied. Marshall then sent a free-kick from the left into the box, and when the ball came to Castello 25 yards out, he drove in a low shot that Kennedy could only push away, but no-one followed in to capitalise. Marshall sent a free-kick from 30 yards dipping just over, and Kennedy got well behind the ball when Gabbidon hit a snap-shot from the edge of the box.
Swans’ pressure finally paid off with three minutes left of the half when Gabbidon got his foot to the ball when it came into the box from the left, and it looped into the right, top corner.
There was a great chance to take the lead three minutes into the second-half when Castello took a free-kick from the right and the ball was knocked back from the far-post, but Nkoma shot straight at Kennedy from the right of the six-yard box.
Marshall then made a good run forward before playing Saidou Khan into the right of the box, and after cutting inside his left-foot shot was blocked by Kennedy, and Okai followed up to shoot over. Kennedy saved at his near-post when Gabbidon got in on the left to drive the ball in low, and Nkoma hooked the ball wide when a free-kick was sent into the box from deep on the right.
Swans continued to be frustrated, but they should have taken the lead with eight minutes remaining. Nkoma made a clever run forward before setting Gabbidon free in the right of the box, but he could not beat keeper Kennedy, who then just managed to fall on the ball as Gabbidon followed up.
As the match entered the final five minutes Gabbidon had a low shot from the edge of the box deflected wide.
The visitors had a rare opportunity when they were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out, but Jordan Berry sent the ball wide.
Swans immediately went close to winning the match when Nkoma struck a terrific shot from 25 yards, but the young AFC Hayes’ keeper made a fine save to tip the ball over his crossbar. Castello’s corner from the right was met with a far-post header, and Kennedy again kept the ball out.
In stoppage-time the visitors’ Nathaniel Mensah sent in a long-range effort that home keeper Liam Beach got well behind, but Swans soon went close again. Substitute Sean White turned in the box to strike a low, left-foot shot that looked destined for the bottom, left corner, until Kennedy dived across to push the ball away, and then denied White following in.
Swans’ Team: Liam Beach, Corey Haywood-Roye, Craig Tanner, Seb Castello, Lea Van Sullivan, Louis Taylor, Jamil Okai (Malachi Thomas 74’), Saidou Khan, Francois Gabbidon, Billy Marshall (Sean White 85’), TJ Nkoma. Subs. not used: Cameron Gyeabour, Alex Filipe. Scorer: Gabbidon (42’). Caution: Okai (71’).
AFC Hayes Team: Kennedy, Dearden, Philips, Schofield, Artic, Findlay (Sillah 76’), Rabess, Berry, McCalman, Mensah, Bishop (Ahmadi 45’). Sub. not used: Bosu-Acquah. Scorer: Castello, own goal (5’).