Saturday 10 February 2018. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.
Walton & Hersham 3 Redhill 2.
It looked like Swans would add to their list of frustrating home results since moving from Stompond Lane until Flo Bojaj scored in the 89th minute to secure a valuable three points. They had twice been pulled level after taking the lead by another side that seem to lift their game on the 3G pitch at their new ground. But they showed great determination in the final quarter of the game to grind out the win that kept their promotion hopes alive.
Their cause was not helped by the absence of no fewer than eight players who would normally be considered for a place in the squad. Abdeen Abdul, Billy Jeffreys, Chris Onoufriou, Leon Solomon, and Jesse Kewley-Graham were all unavailable for selection for various reasons, while both Jake Newton and Elliott Simpson continue to serve suspensions, and Julian Hornby is injured. After several appearances as a substitute, young defender Charlie Holmes came in at right-back for his first start, while debuts were given to Bruno Tingle from Swans’ reserve side, and new signing from Guildford City, Nathaniel Williams. Fortunately Bojaj was able to return after missing the game in midweek.
On a cold, drizzly afternoon the visitors made a good start with a blustery wind blowing in their favour, and Kery Kedze was soon making a run on the left before driving the ball low across to the near-post, where it was cleared behind for a corner. A second corner was soon won, and Kedze’s kick from the left led to a shot from the edge of the box going over.
Swans responded with an attack that almost led to them taking the lead. Howard Newton played Athan Smith-Joseph down the right, and he got into the box to open up a chance, but his attempt to chip the ball into the far-corner was just cleared away. Bojaj then sent Williams down the left, and when the ball was driven across, Bojaj was there to put a first-time shot over the bar.
But Swans did take the lead after eleven minutes. Redhill goalkeeper Liam Sallis appeared to slip as he tried to clear the ball, and it finally came to TJ Nkoma on the left edge of the box. The Swans’ player still had work to do, but he did well to make room before drilling a left-foot shot into the net.
Redhill soon had an opportunity to equalise when Holmes was judged to have fouled Kedze on the left, but Ashley Snadden’s free-kick was hit too strongly and went wide of the far-post.
There was no-one to capitalise on Smith-Joseph’s low cross after he had made another good run to the goal-line on the right, and keeper Sallis got well behind a 30 yard shot from Tingle as Swans tried to add to their lead.
Kedze, who made just one appearance as a substitute for Swans in a brief stay at the club over seven years ago, continued to pose a threat for the visitors, and he beat Holmes on the left to get in a low cross that had to be put behind for a corner at the near-post. Redhill’s first effort on target came with half an hour played when Mohammed Diakite took a step inside from the left to drive in a good shot from 25 yards that home keeper Brendan Norris did well to push wide, diving down to his right.
Swans responded with Bojaj playing a fine pass to Nkoma in space on the left, but his cross was driven straight at keeper Sallis. Smith-Joseph then made another fine run to the goal-line on the right, but his cross was cut out by the keeper.
But it was Redhill who were to score with three minutes left of the half. It could be argued that Swans should have denied the visitors the time and space to build up a move from deep in their own half, but they could do little about the final outcome. The ball came to Gary Abisogun wide on the right, and he struck a tremendous, right-foot shot that flew into the far, top corner past a helpless Norris.
Swans tried to hit back before the break and Bojaj was set up in the left of the box, but his shot took a deflection to go wide. Sallis failed to gather Nkoma’s corner from the left, and a foul finally resulted after attempts to force the loose ball in.
Redhill were soon attacking after the resumption, and Abisogun got to the goal-line on the right to have a low cross cleared.
Swans had a chance when Tingle knocked the ball forward to Bojaj, who turned to drive a low shot just wide from 25 yards. But they took the lead for the second-time just before the hour after Nkoma had been brought down just outside the right corner of the box. Bojaj’s firmly driven free-kick was too hot for keeper Sallis to hold, and following a scramble in the six-yard box Jamie Thoroughgood hooked the ball over the line.
The lead was only to last five minutes however as Redhill equalised for the second time. A misunderstanding in Swans’ central defence allowed Kedze to break clear down the middle, and after getting into the box he was brought down by Jim Fenlon. Fortunately for the home left-back he was not judged to be the final defender and was only shown a yellow card, but a penalty was awarded that Abisogun duly converted.
Sam Shaban had come on for Williams, and he set up a chance for Swans to regain the lead when he put Howard Newton clear into the left of the box, but the ball was on his less favoured left-foot, and he could only find the side-netting. Nkoma sent a left-side corner flashing across the goal-face and Howard Newton put a low shot just wide from the edge of the box as Swans pushed for a winner. With a quarter of an hour remaining Bojaj laid the ball off to Shaban 30 yards out, and he got in a strong shot that was beaten down by Sallis. Bojaj then got the ball to Smith-Joseph on the left, and he cut in to have a shot headed over for a corner. Shaban had done well after coming on, and he made a clever run into the box on the left before laying the ball across to Howard Newton, who had a shot blocked.
Then, with just a minute of normal-time remaining, Swans got the goal that was to win them the three points. Redhill had pushed forward looking for a winner of their own, and when an attack was snuffed out a clearance caught them short at the back. Shaban was put away to the edge of the box, and although he had a chance to shoot he laid the ball off to Bojaj on his left, and he took it on his left-foot to slide a first-time shot across keeper Sallis and into the far-corner.
The win was not yet secured however as the visitors pushed for a third equaliser, and in stoppage-time they got in a shot from the left that took a deflection, and Norris did well to dive and push the ball wide of his near-post.
Swans’ Team: Brendan Norris, Charlie Holmes, Jim Fenlon, Bruno Tingle, Adam Thompson, Jamie Thoroughgood, TJ Nkoma, Howard Newton, Flo Bojaj, Athan Smith-Joseph, Nathaniel Williams (Sam Shaban 59’). Sub. not used: Cameron Gyeabour. Scorers: Nkoma (11’), Thoroughgood (58’), Bojaj (89’). Caution: Fenlon, foul (63’).
Redhill Team: Sallis, Ahurlo, Hill, Bolagi, Stow, Trotter, Abisogun, Snadden, Diakite, Long, Kedze. Subs. used: Westney, Idiong, Burford. Subs. not used: Alyo, Jones. Scorer: Abisogun (42’ & 63’ [pen.]).