Burgess Hill Town 3 Swans 2

Saturday 14 December 2013.                                           Ryman League, Division One South.


Burgess Hill Town 3    Walton & Hersham 2.

Three superbly struck goals from the home side inside the opening half an hour left Swans with an uphill task to get anything from their visit to Leylands Park. They reduced the deficit to a single goal with seven minutes remaining, but it was too little too late as the Sussex club thwarted their determined attempts to equalise by breaking up the play by whatever means available to run the clock down.

Two new signings made their debuts for Swans, right-back Matt Pooley who has signed from Essex club Burnham Ramblers, and midfielder Mu Maan, who has moved across town from Walton Casuals. With André Scarlett serving a one match suspension Merrick James-Lewis came into the side, while both Jake Baxter and Sonny Ayres were out injured.

The home side had the first shot on target after just three minutes when Pooley failed to get distance on a clearance and Graham Martin got in a strike from outside the box that Swans’ goalkeeper Dane Buss got well behind. But it was Martin who put the Hillians ahead after ten minutes with a contentious goal. Greg Luer looked to have failed to stop the ball going out of play on the left, but he was allowed to play on, and with Jon Boswell drawn out of the middle and hesitating, expecting a referee’s whistle, Luer was able to get in a cross. The ball was only cleared to five yards outside the box, and Martin struck a fine, low shot past Buss.

The home side had another chance when Boswell slipped over and Luer was able to get in on the left, but he shot wide of the near-post.

Swans equalised with seventeen minutes played when James-Lewis played a fine through ball for Samad Kazi to beat the offside trap and get clear on the right. Kazi took the ball wide of advancing home keeper Alan Mansfield before rolling it into the goal from outside the right corner of the box.

Swans were then guilty of switching-off, as straight from the restart they went behind again, Pat Harding being allowed space on the right to score with a fine shot into the far, top corner.

Burgess Hill continued to look dangerous, and with 28 minutes played Swans were opened up on the left, giving Scott Kirkwood a chance in front of goal, but he missed his kick. The ball ran to Curtis Gayler inside the right of the box and Buss saved his shot to the near-post. But Luer was immediately found in space on the left, and he struck a terrific, left-foot half-volley into the top, left corner to give the home side a 3-1 lead. It could have been worse for Swans as Gayler found space outside the box on the left to send a shot dipping over the far, top corner.

With two minutes of normal-time left of the half Swans went close to halving the deficit. Pooley sent over a high cross from the right to the far-post, where Will Turl got in a clever, back-heel flick and the ball was cleared off the goal-line.

The home side immediately forced two corners on the right, and from Gayler’s second kick Joe Keehan put a header wide at the near-post.

Straight from the resumption of the second-half Swans went close to reducing the Hillians’ lead in a highly debatable incident. Kazi was played clear through the middle, only to be tripped by a home defender as he got to the edge of the box. With the referee preparing to blow his whistle for the foul Kazi just managed to keep his feet and the official decided to play advantage as the Swans’ player still had a chance to score. But although Kazi took the ball round keeper Mansfield and into the left of the box, his shot was blocked behind at the near-post. Astonishingly the referee awarded the corner-kick and took no sanction against the Burgess Hill player for the original foul, although he was clearly the last defender.

Gayler continued to look dangerous for the home side, getting forward to put a strong shot wide of the right post, and then getting into the right of the box to have a shot blocked behind by Boswell. From Gayler’s resultant right-side corner Martin powered a header over.

Swans were not creating much in the way of chances, but with an hour played Turl almost played Kazi in, but he was just denied the opening.

At the other end Luer’s dangerous cross from the right sent the ball dropping just wide of Buss’s far-post.

Swans then made the first of their substitutions, John Clark coming on for James-Lewis and Greg Ngeno replacing Chris Grayland.

A long ball forward soon sent Luer getting round Ngeno on the right to have a shot blocked by the legs of Buss, who then had to make a good take at his near-post when Luer turned cleverly in the right of the six-yard box to get in a shot. Buss then had to collect at the second attempt when Gayler sent in a free-kick from the left touchline, and Keehan put a glancing header wide from Gayler’s left-side corner.

Swans had managed to keep their goal intact since the first half-hour goal burst, and they at last began to dominate the final quarter of an hour. Kazi was just denied when Turl nodded the ball on from Juan Onieva’s cross from the right, and with seven minutes of normal-time remaining they gave themselves a chance of salvaging a draw. They made a good break, committing men forward, and when Onieva crossed from the right Turl sent a fine header looping just under the crossbar from the edge of the box. But despite continuing to pressure the home defence, they could not create the chance to rescue a point.

Swans’ Team: Dane Buss, Matt Pooley, Andy Lomas, Ashley Thompson (James Page 77’), Chris Grayland (Greg Ngeno 63’), Jon Boswell, Mu Maan, Merrick James-Lewis (John Clark 63’), Will Turl, Juan Onieva, Samad Kazi. Sub. not used: Ryan Marklew. Scorers: Kazi (17’), Turl (83’). Cautions: Onieva, dissent (90+3’), Boswell, retaliation (90+5’).                          

Burgess Hill Team: Mansfield, Watts, Slaughter, Budd, Keehan, Curd, Harding, Kirkwood, Luer (Miller 87’), Martin, Gayler (Howell 89’). Subs. not used: Armstrong, Sidwell, Tuck. Scorers: Martin (10’), Harding (18’), Luer (28’). Cautions: Martin, foul (42’), Miller, foul (90+5’).