Horsham 0 Swans 0

Saturday 16 February 2013.                                             Ryman League, Division One South.


Horsham 0    Walton & Hersham 0.

It was a tribute to both sides that they were able to put on an entertaining match on a gluepot of a pitch that only marginally passed a morning pitch inspection. Swans were certainly good value for the point they picked up in their second goalless away draw of the week.

With Kyle Merson having been recalled in an emergency by parent clubStainesTown, Chris Manderson returned in goal. Both Chris Wales and Graeme Purdy passed pre-match fitness tests, so Wales was able to drop into central defence to replace the suspended Adriano Moraes, while Purdy returned up front, playing through the pain barrier with his long-standing groin injury.

Swans settled the better of the two sides, building-up several probing attacks, but it was Horsham that went closest to taking the lead after twelve minutes. Following a move down the right the ball came to Scott Harris on the edge of the box, and when his shot took a big deflection the ball looped towards goal, and Manderson did well to get back and tip it over. Swans then struggled to clear their lines and Adam Hutchings’ shot from outside the box clipped the top of the bar before going over. The home side continued to have a good spell, and when Harris took a free-kick from deep on the right Gary Charman headed the ball back towards the right, top corner, but Manderson got across to take it safely. Aaron Scott then burst clear, but John Clark, who was to have a fine match at left-back for Swans, did superbly to get back and make a last-ditch tackle.

Swans had a chance with twenty minutes played when Liam Flanighan made a good run on the left before playing a long ball forward to Purdy. Purdy did well to create the opening, but the ball stuck under his feet and his final shot lacked the power to beat home keeper Michael Hunter.

Swans were again thankful to Clark for tracking back and making another fine tackle to deny Jamie Ampleford, who had shrugged off the challenge of Chris Grayland to get clear.

Liam Collins almost capitalised on some hesitancy in the Horsham defence as he charged down an attempted clearance to get into the box, but he could not get his shot away. Swans immediately won a corner on the right, and from Mark McLeod’s kick Purdy flicked the ball on for Connor French at the far-post to get in an overhead kick, and Hunter just managed to claw the ball round the post. From Flanighan’s corner from the left Grayland planted a header wide. Swans had come back into the game well, and from another right-side corner taken by McLeod Wales got in a strong header at the far-post, but it went straight into the gloves of keeper Hunter. French immediately made a fine run inside the right of the box to get past his marker and drive the ball low across, but Purdy was just denied an opening.

Having lost one former Swan, the veteran Charman, to injury midway through the half, Horsham had to replace another, Billy Joe King, five minutes before the break, the left-back having sustained a badly gashed head.

There was a further opportunity for Swans to take a lead into half-time when McLeod took another corner from the right, but when the ball came to Collins in space on the edge of the box he mishit his shot and the ball went well wide.

Soon after the resumption Steve Betancourt sent over a fine high cross from out on the right touchline to pick out Flanighan coming in unmarked at the far-post, but he had to stretch for the ball and his volley could only find the side-netting. Swans then had a great chance to take the lead when Wales made a terrific surging run forward down the middle before setting up French, clear inside the right of the box, but his shot went disappointingly both high and wide.

Horsham soon almost punished the miss when Swans did not clear their lines and Scott got possession inside the left of the box to turn and shoot across the goal, the ball being cleared behind for a corner.

Swans won a free-kick on the left, and when Flanighan swung the ball in French got in a glancing header, but it went straight into keeper Hunter’s hands. With just over a quarter of an hour left Victor Kiri laid the ball off to Flanighan in space inside the left of the box, but he could only find the side-netting.

Despite the difficult conditions, with the pitch having cut up badly, both sides continued to play some good football, and Horsham built-up a neat move that got substitute Wayne Clarke into the left of the six-yard box, but he drove the ball wide of the near-post. As the match entered the final five minutes another home substitute, Charlie Farmer, put a header wide of the far-post after Harris had sent a free-kick forward.

In the final minute of normal-time Michael Gordon, who had earlier replaced Flanighan for Swans, got into the right of the box to send in a cross that Hunter just prevented from gong in, the home keeper tipping the ball over his crossbar. McLeod took the corner from the right for Grayland to get in a header, but again the ball went wide. Swans looked determined to grab a win, and as the match entered stoppage-time Purdy was found in the box on the right, but no-one was able to capitalise as he drove the ball low across the goal-face. The final chance came when Gordon made a clever run into the box on the right before crossing to Wales, whose shot was blocked away.

Swans’ Team: Chris Manderson, Steve Betancourt, John Clark, Chris Wales, Chris Grayland, Mark McLeod, Connor French (Jaymo Ellis 85’), Victor Kiri, Graeme Purdy, Liam Collins, Liam Flanighan (Michael Gordon 73’). Subs. not used: Ross Nunn, Courtney Warren, Audie Matheson -Light. Caution: French, retaliation (72’).  

Horsham Team: Hunter, Simpson, King (Farmer 40’), Charman (Gilbert 22’), Woodburn, Hutchings, Kaboah (Clarke 73’), Harris, Ampleford, Scott, Marriott. Subs. not used: Brockhurst, Bolaji. Cautions: Harris, foul (72’), Simpson, foul (80’).