Kent visitors end Swans’ run.

Tuesday 27 March 2012.                                               Ryman League, Division One South.

Walton & Hersham 0   HytheTown 3.

Swans’ recent run of good results came to a shuddering end against a Hythe Town side that showed why they have made a good start to life in the Ryman League following their promotion from the Kent League at the end of last season. With both their main strikers, who have played such a large part in their recent success, missing, it was always likely Swans’ early season goal-scoring problems would return. Things might have panned out differently if, after having given away a soft second-goal just before the break, they had not missed from the penalty-spot soon after the resumption.

With Greg Andrews having been recalled by Leatherhead and Graeme Purdy unavailable, Swans had to play an untested attacking formation, with Josh Webb moving up front from right-back to play an unaccustomed forward role. Although they did go close to scoring several times, Swans patently missed Purdy’s ability to hold the ball up to bring others into the game, and Andrews’ lethal striking, and the attack looked distinctly lightweight. Victor Kiri was also missed, the combative midfielder resting his persistent injury on the bench.

The visitors took the game to Swans from the first whistle, and they had a chance after eight minutes when a neat back-heel by Craig Thompson got Brendon Cass in on the left, but he drove a shot into the side-netting. Then a high cross from the right picked out James Dryden on the left-edge of the box, and he got in a strong header that went over. Aaron Lacy’s long throw-ins were to prove a dangerous weapon for Hythe all match, and when he launched one from the right, a shot was driven over from the edge of the box.

Swans posed their first real threat after 17 minutes when Phil Williams made a clever run into the right of the box before driving the ball low across the six-yard box, where it came off the foot of a Hythe defender and fortuitously into the arms of goalkeeper Kieron Mann, amid claims of a deliberate back-pass. Midway through the half Jason Henry put over a fine ball from the left that was just too high for Webb as it took a deflection to go behind for a corner.

But it was the visitors who took the lead after 32 minutes with a terrific goal. Ronnie Dolan knocked a ball forward, and it was only headed away to the edge of the box for Dave Cook to strike a superb half-volley into the top of the net past a helpless Rodney Chiweshe in the home goal.

As the first-half entered the final five minutes Swans won a corner on the right, and from Josh Bonnett’s kick Dan Sintim’s header took a deflection to go just over. Four more corner-kicks followed in quick succession as Swans tried to grab an equaliser before the break, but they could not capitalise. Chris Wales also got in an overhead kick from Henry’s right-side cross that cleared the crossbar.

It was Hythe however who doubled their lead in the final minute of the half with a poor goal from Swans’ viewpoint. Lacy sent in another long throw from the left to the near-post for Nick Reeves to get in a downward header that should have been cleared, but crept over the line.

Swans needed to hit back early in the second-half, and just three minutes in they had the opportunity. Webb was at the near-post to get in a back header to a cross from the right, and the ball was just kept from going into the far corner and turned behind. Following Webb’s corner from the left the ball was clearly handled by a Hythe defender, and a penalty awarded. With both regular penalty takers, Andrews and Purdy, absent, Henry opted to take the kick, but put his effort well wide of the right-post.

Hythe’s Cass put a volley over from the edge of the box when the ball was knocked forward to him, before his side put the match out of Swans’ reach with twenty minutes remaining. Dolan put over a cross from the right to the far-post, where Cook was adjudged to have been pushed by Wales, and a penalty was awarded. Cook elected to take the kick himself, and he powered the ball past Chiweshe.

Straight from the restart Swans went close to getting a goal back. A cross from the right picked out Williams at the far-post, and he got in a point-blank header that Mann kept out with a superb, instinctive save.

With ten minutes remaining Chiweshe prevented the visitors from stretching their lead when Thompson got in on the left to drive in a shot that the Swans’ keeper turned away with a super save.

Swans went close to getting a consolation with five minutes left when some fine work by Williams on the left enabled him to get the ball inside to Jerome Maledon, and he played a good ball through to Liam Collins inside the box on the right. Collins struck a terrific, low shot that fizzed just wide of the far-post.

Swans’ Team: Rodney Chiweshe, Chris Wales, Shaun Elliott, Jerome Maledon, Stuart Derry (Victor Kiri 72’), Dan Sintim, Liam Collins, Josh Bonnett (Ashlee Quashie 62’), Phil Williams, Josh Webb, Jason Henry. Subs. not used: Harry Smart, Damian Matthews, Sheikh Ceesay. Cautions: Collins, dissent (69’), Wales, foul (69’).                           

Hythe Team: Mann, Lacy (Parkinson 84’), Walker (Porter 89’), Kingwell, Reeves, Dolan, Cook, Barnes, Thompson (Byrne 81’), Cass, Dryden. Subs. not used: Winfield, Chandler. Scorers: Cook (32’ & 70’ [pen.]), Reeves (44’). Caution: Dolan, foul (55’).