Croydon Athletic 2 Swans 3

Saturday 12 November 2011.                                      Ryman League, Division One South.  

Croydon Athletic 2    Walton & Hersham 3.

The edge was somewhat taken off a super Swans’ performance by them conceding two second-half goals that made the result unnecessarily close. They should have won far more convincingly as they totally outplayed the home side for the bulk of the match, and the final score-line bore no indication of the balance of play. On first-half chances alone Swans should have been out of sight, but the home goal bore something of a charmed life, helped by some last-ditch defending and some profligate finishing by Chuck Martini’s side. After Croydon had pulled a goal back in the second-half they showed greater belief and improved play, and for a while looked like they could possibly salvage an unlikely draw.

Swans wasted little time in making inroads into the home defence and Graeme Purdy just failed to get to the ball when Michael Gordon made a good run on the right and drove in a low cross. The ball was then just cleared away from the line when Matt Pattison took a corner-kick from the left, one of several forced by his side in the opening stages. Pattison then struck a fine diagonal pass to pick out Shaun Elliott on the left, and his cross was just too high for Purdy. Swans’ best opportunity so far came when a good build-up on the left resulted in Elliott again getting the ball over, and when it was glanced on to Gordon in front of goal, he headed a clear chance over.

It was a quarter of an hour before Croydon threatened, when they forced a corner. A diagonal ball in from the right by Michael Corbett was then too far in front of Connor French.

Swans’ breakthrough came after eighteen minutes. Gordon made a terrific run across the box from the right before exchanging a quick one-two with Pattison and driving a left-foot shot past home goalkeeper Charlie Mann.

The Rams’ attacks were spasmodic, but French ran onto a good ball down the left, forcing Stuart Derry to concede a corner on the left, and from Jamie England’s kick former Swan Jordan Cheadle put a far-post header over.

Swans soon mounted another attack down the right when Pattison got the ball to Josh Webb, and his low ball in to Purdy inside the right of the box led to the striker just being denied an opening.

It should have been 2-0 after 26 minutes when the ball was nodded through to put Dan Morris clear into the box on the left, but he shot wide of the near-post. Morris then put a header wide at the far-post when Webb sent in a free-kick from the right. A run by Pattison was ended by Croydon right-back Colin Hartburn’s foul on the edge of the box, but Pattison drove the free-kick into the wall.

With ten minutes remaining of the half the home goal had an amazing series of escapes. Purdy’s clever flick put Pattison in for a first-time shot from close-in that keeper Mann did well to block. Pattison got possession inside the right of the box to drive in a shot that a home defender headed against the crossbar, and when Gordon followed in with another shot a defender just got his head to the ball to deflect it over.

Swans’ attacks were incessant, and when Webb found Gordon on the right his fine ball in to the near-post was just cleared behind for a corner. Webb then made a clever run into the right of the box and Mann just got the ball away from Purdy at the near-post.

With Victor Kiri having taken a knock on the head he was replaced for the second-half by Dorian Smith.

Only a minute of the second-half had been played when Swans doubled their lead. Purdy played Gordon down the right, and when he got the ball across Pattison volleyed home from in front of goal. It was almost 3-0 two minutes later when Jerome Maledon drove a fine shot just wide of the far-post from the right. Just a minute later Gordon played Purdy into a similar position on the right, and the result was the same, a low shot that passed just outside the far-post. There were still only six minutes played in the second-half when Purdy made room for himself outside the box to drive a shot wide of the left-post.

Amazingly the Rams were still in the game with a shout and Swans’ keeper Rodney Chiweshe was troubled for the first time when he parried the ball away after George Landais had been played into the right of the box to get in a shot. Swans immediately broke away with Gordon getting down the right to drive the ball in low to the near-post, where Morris put another fine chance wide.

Croydon’s Justin Hemmings became his side’s third player to be booked when he cynically prevented Purdy from bursting clear. With an hour played there was a warning for Swans when French just failed to get his head to Rob Carter’s cross from the right. Swans quickly responded with a terrific piece of play down the right that allowed Webb to play the ball inside to Phil Williams, who had just replaced Morris, and he drove a low shot just wide from the edge of the box. Purdy then played Williams into the right of the box, and his shot to the near-post brought a fine save from keeper Mann.

Instead of already being on the end of a heavy beating Croydon immediately got themselves back into the match with 63 minutes played. Landais got away from Elliott on the right and beat Chiweshe with a fine shot just inside the far-post. Two minutes later they went close to equalising when some fine play by James Fray on the right enabled him to cross to the near-post, where French headed a good chance over.

Swans soon won a corner on the right, and following Pattison’s kick the ball ricocheted around the home box before being scrambled away. Some terrific play by Williams immediately got him into the left of the box to have a shot blocked. Purdy showed great determination inside the right of the box to retain possession before fashioning an opening for a shot that looked suspiciously like it had been blocked by the hand of a defender. Dorian Smith then drove in good, low shot from 25 yards that Mann fumbled, but he recovered in time to deny any follow-up.

Swans looked to have made the points safe when they restored their two goal lead with thirteen minutes remaining. Purdy’s superb pass played Williams into the right of the box, and he took the ball wide of Mann before driving an angled shot into the far-corner.

But there was still a sting in the tail when a good ball again put Fray down the right, and his low ball in to the near-post was tucked in by Landais. There was still one last scare for Swans, who remarkably found themselves just one goal ahead. With seven minutes left Carter made a good run down the right and French got on the end of his cross, but put his header wide.

Swans’ Team: Rodney Chiweshe, Josh Webb, Shaun Elliott, Victor Kiri (Dorian Smith 45’), Dan Sintim, Stuart Derry, Matt Pattison (Adriano Moraes 76’), Jerome Maledon, Graeme Purdy, Dan Morris (Phil Williams 57’), Michael Gordon. Subs. not used: Kenny Ojukwu, Sheikh Ceesay. Scorers: Gordon (18’), Pattison (46’), P. Williams (77’). Caution: Smith, foul (81’).                    

Croydon Athletic Team: Mann, Hartburn, Wedgeworth, Cheadle, Hemmings, Corbett (Kedze 68’), Carter, England (Jones 30’), French, Landais, Fray. Subs. not used: Afolyan, Marshall, N’Gokomu. Scorer: Landais (63’ & 81’). Cautions: French, dissent (32’), Landais, foul (51’), Hemmings, foul (56’).