Redhill 0 Swans 2

Saturday 14th August 2021.   Cherry Red Combined Counties League Premier Division South.

Redhill 0    Walton & Hersham 2.

Swans maintained their 100% start to the season after four games, with what was finally a deserved win in their first away match, against a Redhill side that had also made a fine start. After taking an early lead with a superb goal, they then struggled to settle for the remainder of the first-half, and it was the home side that had the better of the chances. As they experienced a grass pitch for the first time this season, Swans’ close passing game was not helped by the lengthy cut, and moves often broke down, leading to pressure on their goal. The second-half was totally different however, and straight from the restart they attacked the home goal and soon doubled their lead. Their whole game continued to be sharper, with fewer errors as their play became more organised, and with the chances created the win could well have been even more convincing.

Swans were again hit by the absence of key players, with Shaun Joash resuming his studies in the USA, and both Dominic Ogun and Darryl Siaw unavailable. The loss of Joash and Ogun meant Swans had to line up without a recognised central striker, but Alex Kelly returned for his first game of the season to fill a more forward role. Harry Mills also returned after missing the FA Cup tie a week earlier, while Joe Hicks moved into a more midfield position.

Although Swans dominated possession in the opening minutes, it was Redhill who first threatened, with Noe Vendrells forcing a corner on the right, and a second kick resulted from Nathan Hogan’s delivery. Hogan then sent a free-kick into the box that Tom Drinkwater just failed to turn in, and Sam King drove a low shot wide of the right post following Nathan Upton’s long throw from the right.

But it was Swans who took the lead after eleven minutes with a terrific goal. Kelly got down the left before playing the ball inside to Palace Francis, who powered into the box, skipped past a couple of defenders and calmly placed a left-foot shot low past home goalkeeper Jack Minchin from ten yards.

The goal had come somewhat against the run of play, and Redhill’s Derick Hayford was allowed to get forward to drive in a low shot that Swans’ keeper Liam Allen got well behind. Hogan then broke through the middle, but his attempt to send the ball over Allen from the edge of the box was taken high up by the keeper.

Following their goal Swans had struggled to create openings, but with 25 minutes played Jordayne Henry’s cross from the left almost got Kelly in on goal, but he was just denied by Minchin and a couple of his defenders.

Allen was soon having to make a good save at the other end, diving to push the ball round his left-post from a close-in header following Hogan’s right-side corner.Hogan was then given far too much space as he was picked out on the left, and after his shot took a deflection the ball fell to Aidan Brown in the right of the box, but he drove over the goal. Redhill continued to dominate, and after Allen made a good catch from another Upton long throw, they had an opportunity with a free-kick out on the right touchline, but Hogan’s delivery went harmlessly wide of the far-post.With the half entering the final five minutes Hogan was again found in space on the left, and he drove in a right-foot shot that Allen parried, before just falling on the ball to deny a follow-up.Swans were fortunate when Allen dashed out in an attempt to kick clear, but the ball was blocked and went back over his head and towards goal. Hogan was just prevented from putting the ball over the line as it was cleared behind for a corner. Max Hustwick then did well to head the ball behind from under his own crossbar, and prevent Hogan getting on the end of Vendrells’ cross from the right. Hogan’s free-kick from the left that went over the bar was Redhill’s final opportunity to get something from a first-half they had the better of, and Swans went off with a narrow lead and a chance to regroup.

Swans made a good start to the second-half, attacking from the off, and Francis was played into the box to make room and have a shot blocked, the ball coming out to Kelly, whose follow-up attempt was also blocked away.

The fine start bore fruit after just five minutes as Swans doubled their lead. Mills played Kelly down the right, and he drove to the byline before laying the ball across to Francis, whose shot took a deflection to beat keeper Minchin.

Redhill could not handle the runs of Francis, and when Zach Dainkeh’s good ball found him on the left, he drove into the box before just being denied at the near-post by Minchin. Stuart Baldwin then put Mills into the right of the box, and he shifted the ball onto his left-foot to strike a shot that cannoned away off the head of Redhill’s Drinkwater.

With less than an hour played the home side made a triple substitution to try to get a grip back on the game, but Francis immediately left Upton trailing on the left to get into the box and win a corner. A fine build-up led to Baldwin sending Kelly to the right byline, but his cross was cut out by keeper Minchin, and a free-kick 30 yards out was driven over the goal by Francis.

The home side had rarely threatened in the second-half with Swans looking solid and organised, but they did force a corner when Ryan Bywater’s cross from the right had to be put behind.

Midway through the half another fine build-up by Swans on the right got Baldwin into the box to have a shot blocked.

Redhill had an opportunity with a free-kick wide on the left, but King sent the ball straight into the gloves of Allen.

Swans went close to extending their lead when Harry Pointing’s good long ball sent Kelly away on the left, and he played the ball inside to Dainkeh, who had a shot blocked. The ball was again worked to Dainkeh, and he drove a left-foot shot against the bar, a follow-up effort clearing the goal.

A rare piece of slack play by Swans in the second-half gave away a needless corner on the right, and from Danyaal Iqbal’s kick the ball came out to the edge of the box, for a deflected shot to be superbly tipped over by Allen. Iqbal’s free-kick from the left was then confidently cut-out by the Swans’ keeper. With ten minutes of normal-time remaining Redhill went close to halving the deficit, as a header struck the bar following Iqbal’s free-kick from wide on the left, and a follow-up shot was blocked. Iqbal had looked lively for Redhill after coming on as a substitute, and following a build-up on the left he cut inside to drive a shot over from the edge of the box. There was one last opportunity for the home side in stoppage-time, but good covering by Hustwick snuffed out the threat as the ball was played through into the box.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Stuart Baldwin, Jordayne Henry (Louis Collins 72’), Reece Brewster (Darren Simpson 85’), Max Hustwick, Harry Pointing, Harry Mills (Will Kouadio 69’), Joe Hicks, Alex Kelly, Zach Dainkeh (Youcef Azzouz 82’), Palace Francis. Sub. not used: Sonny Stiller. Scorer: Francis (11’ & 50’). Caution: Hicks, foul (79’).  

Redhill Team: Minchin, Upton, Edwards, Wadmore (Bywater 57’), Drinkwater, Dyett, Vendrells, King, Brown, Hayford (Iqbal 57’), Hogan (Jarrett 57’). Sub. not used: Wyatt.