Saturday 16th April 2022. Cherry Red Combined Counties League Premier Division South.
Cobham 0 Walton & Hersham 2.
Having already secured a promotion spot Swans fielded a side showing several changes, some by choice and some by necessity, but it is testament to the strength of their squad that they still put on a dominant performance at their neighbours, to pick up another three points. On the warmest day of the year so far they stepped up the pressure on the home side in the second-half after being held 0-0 at the break, taking full advantage of their opponents being reduced to ten men.
Max Hustwick and Louis Collins were both suspended, while Jordan Adeyemi was unavailable, Ben Krauhaus was recovering from concussion, and Eddie Simon was rested. Will Kouadio and Maliq Morris came in for their first starts, while Darryl Siaw and Harry Pointing both returned to the starting line-up.
Swans made an uncertain start and could have gone behind after just a minute. Will Hellestoe got clear to the left edge of the box and rolled the ball past advancing goalkeeper Liam Allen, but Joe Pratley-Jones did well to get back and clear off the goal-line. Jacob Desa then broke forward before being brought down 40 yards from goal, leading to Pointing being shown a yellow card, and Ben Senior’s free-kick to the right of the box was cleared. A chance then opened up for former Swan Reis Stanislaus as he broke down the middle, evading the challenge of Pointing, but his shot from 25 yards out cleared the crossbar.
Swans’ first opportunity came when a good build-up ended with Morris being fouled by Jack Sims just outside the box, but Harry Mills drove the free-kick over. Dean Rule was then brought down by Miquel Scarlett out on the left touchline, the Cobham right-back being shown a yellow card. Alex Kelly’s free-kick into the box was headed away by Mike Dart. Midway through the half Mills picked out Ollie Twum in space in the left of the box, but he had to settle for a corner on the left, with Morris’s kick being cleared by Stanislaus. Morris then cleared the bar with his shot when a fine build-up led to Mills laying the ball across the edge of the box to him from the right.
The home side twice had opportunities in quick succession to send free-kicks into the right of the box from deep, but each time Joe Hicks was there to head away when Senior delivered the ball in.
Swans should have taken the led just past the half hour when some clever play by Twum in the left of the box led to him picking out Kouadio in space at the far-post, but he put a first-time, left-foot volley over the goal.
Cobham soon had a chance at the other end when Desa got into the left of the box and forced Pointing to concede a corner on the left. Senior’s kick led to Allen and Siaw combining to block a shot, and James King’s follow-up was taken by the Swans’ keeper under his crossbar. Senior then became the second Cobham player to be shown a yellow card when he ended a clever run by Mills on the right by fouling him. As the half entered the final five minutes the home side went close to taking the lead. Stanislaus was played into the right of the box by Hellestoe to force a corner, and from Senior’s kick Stanislaus got in a close-in shot that Allen tipped onto his crossbar.
Straight after the resumption King fouled Mills just outside the edge of the box on the right, but Morris’s driven free-kick failed to clear the first man. Rule then did well on the left and delivered a cross that took a deflection to go behind for a corner on the right. Pointing got his head to the ball at the far-post from Morris’s kick but it went wide.
Swans had looked much sharper and positive since the break, and seven minutes into the second-half the match took a turn in their favour. Twum left Scarlett trailing on the left and was cynically brought down by the Cobham right-back. The referee had little option but to show Scarlett his second yellow card of the match and send him off.
King was soon fouling Siaw on the right to concede another free-kick. Morris played the ball to Mills to get him to the byline, but when he laid the ball back to Morris he shot well over. Cobham continued to concede free-kicks, and another came when Senior fouled Siaw just outside the edge of the box on the right. Before the kick could be taken Reece Brewster came on for Morris to make his first appearance in a Swans’ shirt since the end of February. Mills drove the free-kick low across but the ball was cleared away.
Just past the hour Swans went close to taking a deserved lead. Hicks knocked the ball forward to pick out Mills’ run to the edge of the box, but his superb lob over Cobham keeper Lee Norman dipped just wide of the right post.
It didn’t take long for Swans to go ahead however. A fine build-up led to Siaw being played down the right, and he cut the ball back onto his left foot before clipping an inch perfect pass into the 6 yard-box for Twum to nod home.
Swans continued to be well in command, and they doubled their lead after 78 minutes, with Siaw again providing the assist. He played an excellent pass forward to pick out the run of Mills, who got into the box, and although he was under pressure from a couple of defenders he controlled the bounce of the ball superbly to clip it with his left foot past Norman.
With the win effectively sealed Swans were able to make their final three substitutions, one being assistant manager Billy Rowley coming on to a great reception for his debut.
With five minute of normal-time remaining Swans had a chance to make it 3-0. Flynn Bolton was played clear into the left of the box, but the young substitute chose not to shoot and laid the ball across to Pratley-Jones, who drove it wide of the right post.
The home side almost halved the deficit when Prince Otto sent in a long throw from the left and a header came in at the far-post, but Rule was positioned on the goal-line to head superbly away. Six minutes of stoppage-time followed before Swans could celebrate another win.
Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Darryl Siaw, Harry Pointing, Alex Kelly (Billy Rowley 79’), Joe Pratley-Jones, Joe Hicks, Ollie Twum (Taurean Roberts 74’), Maliq Morris (Reece Brewster 57’), Harry Mills (Isy Nzelo 81’), Will Kouadio (Flynn Bolton 79’), Dean Rule. Scorers: Twum (65’), Mills (78’). Caution: Pointing (7’).
Cobham Team: Norman, Scarlett, Senior, Stillwell (Otto 81’), King, Dart, Hellestoe (Nazareth 61’), Walker, Stanislaus, Sims (Lewington 45’), Desa (Colman 66’). Caution: Senior, foul (37’). Dismissal: Scarlett, 2 cautions for fouls (19’ & 52’).