Saturday 5 August 2017. FA Cup, Extra-Preliminary Round.
Walton & Hersham 7 Mile Oak 0.
Swans marked their earliest ever start to a season by putting on an excellent performance in crushing their visitors from West Sussex. Four excellent goals shared between Malachi Thomas and new signing Sanchez Benali had blown away the The Southern Combination League, Division One side by the 35th minute and sealed Swans an away trip to Carshalton Athletic in the next round. The second-half looked like being goalless until a three goal burst in the final five minutes. One of those late goals saw Thomas complete his hat-trick, the first for the club since Louis Glace-Palmer’s treble against Walton Casuals in March 2014. This was also Swans’ first seven goal tally since October 2004, when Banstead Athletic were beaten 7-1 in a league cup tie. You have to go back to the great Allen Batsford side of 1969-70 to find a score to match or better it in an FA Cup tie, Huntley & Palmers being put to the sword to the tune of 9-0 on their own patch.
As well as former Colliers Wood United player Benali, three other debutants made the starting line-up, Canadian goalkeeper Brendan Norris, former AFC Wimbledon and Ross County defender Jim Fenlon and left-back Julian Hornby. Howard Newton was unavailable however, while his brother Jake and last season’s top scorer Jamil Okai started, but were carrying injuries.
It was Okai who almost helped Swans to a lead inside the first minute with a fine, surging run down the left, but his low ball across the six-yard box was just ahead of Benali at the far-post.
The visitors mounted a couple of attacks, Eric Wedge-Bull shooting wide from 30 yards, and Joe Benn getting in a strike from just outside the box that Norris got well behind.
But Swans immediately broke to take the lead after five minutes. Mile Oak right-back Lee Early was no match for TJ Nkoma on the left, and a typical, tricky run ended with a cross that Thomas turned in at the far-post.
The visitors had shown some early promise however, and after ten minutes went close to equalising, Callum Wells putting the ball over from close-in following a break down the left.
Swans responded with Hornby making a good run forward before finding Nkoma on the left, but after being found in space outside the box Okai drove the ball over. With just under a quarter of an hour played Okai broke into the right of the box to get in a strong shot that goalkeeper Kurtis Clarke turned round his near-post.
Swans doubled their lead on 21 minutes after they won a corner on the right. Jamie Thoroughgood got in a good header from Benali’s kick and the ball was only cleared to the right of the box, where Benali made room before sending a terrific left-foot shot into the far-corner.
After half an hour it was 3-0, Nkoma making another run on the left before crossing to beyond the far-post, where Thomas drove a fine shot inside the far-post.
Minutes later Swans went close again as keeper Clarke made a rash excursion outside his box, only for Nkoma to get possession out by the left touchline. Spotting Clarke off his line Nkoma cleverly sent the ball towards goal, but the keeper just managed to get back to tip it over his crossbar with a fine save.
But the reprieve was short-lived however, as in the 35th minute Benali struck another superb shot into the far-corner from the right of the box.
Enzo Benn hooked a shot wide from the edge of the box for the visitors, who then had a fine chance to reduce the deficit.
Hornby made amends for an initial error by getting across and doing well to pressurise Wedge-Bull to put the chance over.
Swans made a double change for the second-half with Okai and Jake Newton being rested, Cameron Gyeabour and another new signing, Jamel Johnson, coming on.
Mile Oak soon had a couple of chances to capitalise on some complacency by the home side. Joe Benn completely missed the target with just Norris to beat, and then an attempted back- header by Fenlon sent the ball over a stranded keeper, but the visitors could not force the ball home.
Gyeabour soon had a chance to open his account for Swans when Clarke cleared straight to him, but the Mile Oak keeper recovered to block the shot.With an hour played a superb throw-out by Norris sent Thomas away down the left to drive the ball in.Clarke fumbled the ball, but just recovered in time to deny Gyeabour. A fine diagonal ball by Benali picked out Nkoma on the right, and he made a superb run before crossing low to the left of the box, where Thomas drove in a low shot that was well taken by Clarke.
The visitors had another chance when Wedge-Bull was allowed to get free into the left of the box, but Norris blocked his shot to the near-post.
Thomas had a chance to complete his hat-trick for Swans when Benali swung over a corner from the left, but his far-post header was planted wide.
Mile Oak’s Joe Benn tested Norris with a low shot after making room on the edge of the box, before Swans started their late goal burst with five minutes of normal-time remaining. Clarke could only push away Thomas’s shot from the left and Gyeabour followed in to clip the ball past him, and although Nkoma made sure after the ball was cleared the initial shot was judged to have crossed the line.
Then in the 90th minute Johnson made a fine burst forward before Thomas completed his personal treble by rolling the ball into the net from the left.
The visitors now looked well beaten, and in stoppage-time a defensive mix-up allowed Thomas to play Gyeabour in on the right, and he stroked the ball just inside the near-post.
Swans’ Team: Brendan Norris, Jim Fenlon (Shaun Smart 49’), Julian Hornby, Jake Newton (Jamel Johnson 45’), Lea Van Sullivan, Jamie Thoroughgood, Malachi Thomas, Elliott Simpson, Jamil Okai (Cameron Gyeabour 45’), Sanchez Benali, TJ Nkoma. Subs. not used: Sean White, Harrison Livingstone, Mourad Jarraz, Billy Witham. Scorers: Thomas (5’, 30’ & 90’), Benali (21’ & 35’), Gyeabour (85’ & 90+1’). Caution: Simpson, foul (33’).
Mile Oak Team: Clarke, Early, Stevens, J. Pollard, D. Pollard, E. Benn, Stenning (Austin-Slade 68’), Wedge-Bull (French 77’), J. Benn, Wells, Coates (Arnold 80’). Subs. not used: Khan, Gillingham, Hall.