Saturday 6 January 2018. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Walton & Hersham 3 Godalming Town 1.
Swans completed the double over The G’s, repeating the 3-1 win they picked up at Wey Court back in September. Their opponents were however much improved from the side they met in that earlier match as they played some fine football, being a test for the whole game. As part of their recent strengthening they included in their ranks two players that started the season at Swans, defenders Shaun Smart and Lea Van Sullivan.
Chris Onoufriou was not fully fit for Swans, so was not included, but both Jim Fenlon and Jamie Thoroughgood were available to return.
Athan Smith-Joseph twice made early incursions down the right for Swans, firstly forcing a corner, and then getting the ball from Howard Newton after some terrific control by Flo Bojaj, but sending his cross over the goal.
The visitors saw a lot of the ball in the early stages however, building up moves with some good passing, but it was the home side that had the first real chance after twelve minutes. A superb through ball from Bojaj sent Abdeen Abdul racing clear, but after getting to the left edge of the box he drove wide of the near-post.
Godalming soon had their first effort on goal, but home goalkeeper Brendan Norris got well behind Tom Biss’s low shot from the edge of the box. Swans replied with Jim Fenlon hitting a fine diagonal ball from the left to pick out Smith-Joseph on the right, but his low shot lacked power and went straight to G’s keeper Dimi Kyriatzis.
With just over twenty minutes left of the half Norris denied Sullivan a goal against his former club, clutching the ball from a far-post header when Bobby Bennett took a right-side corner.
Swans immediately went close at the other end, Smith-Joseph’s strike from the right clipping the far, top corner of the goal-frame.
But it was the visitors who opened the scoring after 27 minutes. Benga Ogunseye was allowed to get free on the right, and when his low cross found Biss at the near-post, he neatly diverted the ball into the far, top corner.
Sullivan was soon just preventing Bojaj from getting in on goal, but Swans only needed two minutes to get back on level terms. Bojaj clipped the ball through to Abdul on the edge of the box, and he neatly lobbed it over the advancing keeper, with Smart just failing to get back to prevent it from going over the goal-line.
Straight from the restart Bojaj found Abdul in the right corner of the box, but Kyriatzis got well behind his low shot. Billy Jeffreys’ fine pass then found TJ Nkoma on the left, and after beating G’s right-back Lewis Lodge, he cut inside to have a shot deflected over.
The visitors continued to look a threat however, and after a patient build-up Hakim Griffiths got in a 25 yard shot that Norris was well-placed to take.
As the first-half entered the final five minutes Bojaj played Smith-Joseph through for Swans, and he struck a left-foot shot that Kyriatzis pushed wide with a diving save.
Swans then took the lead from Nkoma’s corner-kick from the left. Despite Abdul having two former team-mates in the Godalming defence who know his prowess well, he was not picked up and headed home from ten yards.
In stoppage-time Bojaj clipped a clever ball over from the left of the box that was just too high for Smith-Joseph at the far-post. Julian Hornby then played Smith-Joseph down the right, and when he drove the ball low across it was put behind for a corner to just deny Bojaj at the far-post.
Swans failed to switch on after the break and almost paid the penalty twice inside the opening two minutes of the second-half. Straight from the kick-off the ball was given away, and it took a fine tackle from Jeffreys to stop Biss from getting through. Biss was then played through a gaping hole in Swans’ middle, and only a superb save from Norris prevented Godalming from equalising.
Swans’ first attack of the half soon came when Howard Newton’s high ball picked out Abdul on the left, but his first-time, left-foot shot went wide of the near-post. Smith-Joseph then put wide at the far-post after Fenlon had found him with a good ball from the left.
Just before the hour Swans went desperately close to extending their lead and Abdul completing his hat-trick. Smith-Joseph played a fine ball down the right to send Abdul away, and after cutting inside he struck a tremendous left-foot shot that just failed to find the far, top corner as it rattled the crossbar. Nkoma followed in on the left, but his shot was straight at Kyriatzis. Nkoma was soon getting down the left to play the ball inside to Howard Newton, who was just prevented from getting in a shot.
It always looked like Swans would need another goal to make the game safe, and this was shown when Godalming attacked down the right, and when the cross came in the ball was volleyed over from in front of goal.
Swans’ third goal finally came with just over a quarter of the game remaining. They forced a corner on the right, and the referee delayed the kick for some time before showing a yellow card to Kyriatzis. The Godalming keeper’s problems continued as he failed to get to the ball when Nkoma finally took the kick, and when it ran loose it was Jeffreys who poked it home in the ensuing scramble.
Kyriatzis was in action again with just over five minutes of normal-time remaining, just getting the ball away from under his crossbar when Nkoma’s corner-kick from the left curled in.
The visitors pressed late in the game to try to get a goal back, Norris getting behind a low shot from 25 yards from Ogunseye, and substitute Ben Cotton getting forward before shooting wide from outside the box.
Swans’ Team: Brendan Norris, Julian Hornby (Cameron Gyeabour 90+5’), Jim Fenlon, Jake Newton, Billy Jeffreys, Jamie Thoroughgood, Athan Smith-Joseph (Charlie Holmes 77’), Howard Newton (Elliott Simpson 82’), Abdeen Abdul, Flo Bojaj, TJ Nkoma. Sub. not used: Sam Shaban. Scorers: Abdul (29’ & 43’), Jeffreys (66’). Cautions: Jeffreys, foul (50’), Holmes, time-wasting (83’).
Godalming Team: Kyriatzis, Lodge (Pound 82’), Smart (Trowers 89’), Betancourt, Sullivan, Boon, Everett, Griffiths (Cotton 64’), Bennett, Ogunseye, Biss. Subs. not used: Kempton, Webb. Scorer: Biss (27’). Cautions: Griffiths (54’), Kyriatzis (66’).