Spelthorne Sports 1 Swans 3

Tuesday 6 February 2018.     Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup, Quarter-Final.

Spelthorne Sports 1   Walton & Hersham 3.

Swans won through to the semi-finals of the Cherry Red Records Premier Challenge Cup on a bitterly cold evening with their first win over Spelthorne Sports in four attempts. They will now play either Sutton Common Rovers, Knaphill, or Division One side Worcester Park for a place in the Final. After going behind early they hit back to take the lead with two goals just before the break, before clinching their passage with a late third goal.

Flo Bojaj was unavailable, so Cameron Gyeabour was given a rare start up front, while Jake Newton was starting a suspension. Swans also welcomed back Adam Thompson for his first game for the club in just over twelve years. The popular Thompson played over 160 senior games for Swans after coming through from their youth team.

Swans had the first effort on goal after six minutes when Gyeabour drove in a low shot from the right edge of the box, but it lacked power and home goalkeeper Jake Taylor got well behind it. Gyeabour almost got through when Howard Newton knocked a clever ball forward to him, and when keeper Brendan Norris’s kick-out sent TJ Nkoma away down the left, he could only find the side-netting after getting into the box.

Swans had dominated the early play, and the home side’s first attack after 13 minutes got them to the left corner-flag to get in a high cross that was headed away at the far-post.

Spelthorne were then gifted the lead after 16 minutes. The ball glanced off Billy Jeffreys’ head as he got under it, and when it ran through to Norris he attempted to kick it away, but sliced it straight to Spelthorne’s Tommy Mooney, who accepted the simple chance. Norris was soon having to save a far-post header when the home side took a corner from the right.

Midway through the half Swans’ Nkoma was found on the left by Jesse Kewley-Graham, but shot over after cutting inside, and when Jim Fenlon laid the ball inside from the left to Athan Smith-Joseph, he struck a left-foot shot just over from the edge of the box. With half an hour played a fine ball by Fenlon got Nkoma to the goal-line on the left, but no-one could get on the end of his low cross.

Spelthorne won a corner when a shot from the left took a deflection, but when the kick was cleared Nkoma was sent away down the middle, but put a low shot wide from 25 yards.

As the half entered the final five minutes Norris dived to save a far-post header from Oliver Davidson when Lewis Flatman took a Spelthorne corner from the right, but Swans equalised after 43 minutes. Smith-Joseph drove the ball in low from the right, and when the home defenders tried to clear it from close-in, they only succeeded in helping it just over the line.

Two minutes later Swans had secured a half-time lead with a fine goal. A neat pass found Smith-Joseph in the right of the box, and he cleverly chipped the ball past Taylor and into the far-corner.

Just two minutes into the second-half a fine pass by Thompson got Smith-Joseph clear into the right of the box, but keeper Taylor blocked his shot.

The home side quickly got to the other end, and when Lewis Flatman drove the ball in from the left Norris took it high up at his near-post.

Swans had started the second-half well however, and Thompson struck a terrific, dipping half-volley from 30 yards that looked like finding the top, left corner, but Taylor made a fine tip-over save. Kewley-Graham then got Smith-Joseph to the goal-line on the right, and his cross hit the outside of the near-post.

Spelthorne responded with the ball being played out to Jake Flatman on the right, and his low cross went across goal and wide of the far-post.

But Swans continued to press, and Smith-Joseph made another fine run to the goal-line on the right to cross to the far-post, where Nkoma got in a volley that was blocked on the line. Thompson’s fine pass then put Smith-Joseph clear on the right, but no-one was there to get on the end of his low cross.

But Swans still only led by the single goal, and with twenty minutes remaining they had to head away from the line when a header came in following a cross from the left.

Gyeabour did well to get down the right, but his cross was just too high for Sam Shaban, who had come on for Kewley-Graham.

Swans got the third goal they needed with eight minutes of normal-time remaining. Smith-Joseph had looked their best player, and he made another fine run on the right. His low cross found Nkoma at the far-post, but when he could not get a shot away Shaban took over, and he finally forced the ball over the line.

Swans’ Team: Brendan Norris, Howard Newton, Jim Fenlon, Leon Solomon, Billy Jeffreys, Jamie Thoroughgood, Athan Smith-Joseph, Adam Thompson (Charlie Holmes 85’), Cameron Gyeabour (Ali Fofanah 90+1’), Jesse Kewley-Graham (Sam Shaban 68’), TJ Nkoma. Sub. not used: Chris Onoufriou. Scorers: Own goal (43’), Smith-Joseph (45’), Shaban (82’). Caution: Solomon, foul (33’). .

Spelthorne Team: Taylor, Richards, Davidson, Dyett, Horsfall, Tuck, Remedios, J. Flatman, Lockhart-Adams, Mooney, L. Flatman. Subs. used: Balogun, Ewing, Staples. Scorer: Mooney (16’).