Ash United 1 Swans 4

Saturday 9th November 2019. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Division One.

Ash United 1 Walton & Hersham 4.

Swans moved up to third spot in the table as they completed a quick double over Ash United, following on from their 5-1 win at home four weeks ago. They could not have got off to a better start as they went 2-0 up with just four minutes played, the first goal coming in just a matter of seconds from the match kicking-off. There could not have been more than five or six seconds on the referee’s watch when Parish Muirhead found the back of the net in sensational fashion, for a goal that must surely be the quickest in the club’s history. Straight from the ball being played to him the young midfielder looked up, and spotting home goalkeeper Aaron Lucas off his line, sent it dipping into the net from inside the centre-circle for a truly remarkable goal. The home side were stunned and soon conceded again, and Swans looked likely to extend their lead at any time, but in awful conditions, and on a pitch that held up remarkably well in the persistent rain, they began to create chances of their own. When Ash cut the deficit to a single goal on the hour it had looked on the cards for some time, but tactical substitutions steadied the ship for Swans, and two late goals secured the three points for them. With Ibrahim Ugradar joining Jordan Simmons in serving a one match ban, Riccardo Di Zenzo made his debut in goal, filling a position that has been a problem for Swans this season. It was his opposite number Lucas, however, whose afternoon got off to a bad start, the Ash keeper’s first touch being to collect the ball from his net following Muirhead’s spectacular effort. He had little time to regain his composure before he was defending a corner from the right, forced by Thomas Lim’s good run down the flank. From Anderson Pinto-Nogueira’s kick a shot was blocked, but Hamzah Williams followed up to score from inside the 6 yard box. Straight from the restart a fine diagonal pass by Muirhead got Tyreke Leslie free on the left, but after tricking his way into the box he was just closed out. Another opportunity came with a free-kick just outside the box on the left, but Muirhead’s effort was well-wide. The home side began to find an outlet through Kieran Williams on the right, and he turned by the corner of the box to get in a shot that Di Zenzo had well-covered. The Swans’ keeper had more trouble getting a shot round his near-post after Ash had again broken on the right. Di Zenzo then got well behind a 25 yard shot from Jack Fitzgerald, but it Swans who continued to have the best of the play. Justin Hemmings’ fine long ball found Leslie on the left, and he cut inside to drive in a low shot that Lucas had to go down to and push wide of his right-post. From Muirhead’s corner Hemmings was at the near-post to glance a header just wide. The ball was then deflected just wide when Pinto-Nogueira drove a free-kick into the box from deep on the right. With half an hour played Mo Ghailan almost got Leslie free in the left of the box, and the ball had to be put behind for a corner. Ash responded with a header that Di Zenzo beat down when Tom Bale crossed into the box from the right. But Bale was soon being beaten on the left by Leslie, forcing a corner. From Muirhead’s kick Hemmings had a header cleared off the line, and when Muirhead followed up on the left to drive in a shot the ball was deflected behind for another corner. Following the kick the ball came to Munashe Mwatsiya 22 yards out, and he drove in a shot that took a deflection to go just over the crossbar. The home side continued to look dangerous on the break however, and they drove a shot wide after getting forward to the edge of the box. Di Zenzo then went down to take a low shot from Stan Staines. Inside the final five minutes of the half a header was put wide at the far-post from Williams’ right-side corner, but Swans had the last say of the first period when Leslie forced a corner on the right. Ash started the second-half on the front foot, and Di Zenzo was relieved to have the ball deflected into his grasp as it was driven in from the right. Hemmings was then belatedly shown a yellow card following a controversial moment when the Swans’ skipper appeared to prevent a home player breaking clear, and the referee letting play continue despite his assistant flagging. The ball was then deflected through to Di Zenzo when a free-kick was driven into the box from the right. Conditions had become increasingly more difficult, with the ball holding up as the pitch became more wet, and Di Zenzo had to beat the ball down at his near-post when Fitzgerald got to the byline on the left. Ash’s left-back Lewis Old was booked for a crude foul 25 yards out, and his keeper Lucas had to beat the ball down when Pinto-Nogueira drove in the free-kick. Swans were grateful to Di Zenzo for preserving their two goal lead following some slack play in midfield, their new keeper making a superb block from Luke Cairns, who had been played clear into the box. Swans went close to extending their lead when Muirhead found Pinto-Nogueira on the right, and he drove forward before laying the ball inside to Muirhead, who shot just wide from 25 yards. But it was the home side that scored on the hour. Cairns found a lot of space on the left edge of the box to drive the ball low past Di Zenzo. Swans brought Alvin Sarmiento on for Lim, and they soon went close when Hemmings’ fine ball found Leslie in the right of the box to have a shot saved for a corner on the right. From Pinto-Nogueira’s kick a header came in from the left of the box that was blocked at the near-post. Mwatsiya then cut into the right of the box to put a low shot wide of the near-post. Seb Osei-Obengo then came on for Leslie. Swans’ slender lead was again threatened when Cairns put a header over when Fitzgerald crossed from the left. Sarmiento could have clinched it for Swans with just over ten minutes remaining when he was set up in the box, but he shot over under pressure. He was soon getting the ball in the net, but was frustrated by an offside flag, and he then sent a free-kick from outside the left of the box dipping onto the roof of the net. Swans needed a third goal to kill off the home side’s challenge, and it came with seven minutes of normal-time remaining. Ghailan was played into the box before being brought down, the referee awarding a penalty. Before the kick could be taken Ash’s Jack McCormack was sent to the sin-bin, leaving his side to play out the rest of the match with ten men. Osei-Obengo was unerring from the spot. The home side had a chance to threaten Swans’ lead when they were awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the box, but Staines could only drive the ball into the wall. But Swans extended that lead in the final minute following some fine play by Osei-Obengo on the left. He got past his marker before laying the ball inside to Muirhead on the edge of the box. Muirhead drove in a shot that Sarmiento got a touch on to deflect the ball past keeper Lucas. The opportunity should have been there to make it 5-1 deep into stoppage-time when Sarmiento got clear in the box before being brought down, but the referee waved play-on before blowing the final whistle.

Swans’ Team: Riccardo Di Zenzo, Hamzah Williams, Miguel Lopes de Matos, Munashe Mwatsiya, Sam Marfo, Justin Hemmings (Michael Winnister 72’), Thomas Lim (Alvin Sarmiento 63’), Parish Muirhead, Mo Ghailan, Anderson Pinto-Nogueira, Tyreke Leslie (Seb Osei-Obengo 67’). Subs. not used: Paul Chalobah, Sam Osei. Scorers: Muirhead (1’), H. Williams (4’), Osei-Obengo, penalty (83’), Sarmiento (90’). Caution: Hemmings, foul (48’).

Ash United Team: Lucas, Bale, Old, McCormack, Devanney, Kipping, Williams, Staines, Cairns, Wyatt, Fitzgerald. Subs. used: Samad (69’), Pearse (76’), Subs. not used: Lally, Whitehouse, Pantony. Scorer: Cairns (60’). Caution: Old, foul (56’). Sin-bin: McCormack (82’).