Super Swans shock leaders.

Saturday 21 April 2012.                                     Ryman League, Division One South.  

Bognor Regis Town 1    Walton & Hersham 1.

Another superb performance by Swans saw them inflict a severe blow to the Sussex club’s automatic promotion hopes, the result knocking them off top spot in the division. It could well have been worse for the home side however, as they were extremely fortunate to go in at the break 1-0 up rather than at least two goals down. Swans had made light of the two clubs’ relative positions in the table by dominating their hosts in the first-half, and although Bognor posed a much greater threat in the second-half, Swans deservedly equalised with a quarter of an hour remaining. The end of the season is now coming too quickly for a Walton side that has hit a rich vein of form and performance.

With Graeme Purdy serving the second of his two match suspension Swans fielded an unchanged line-up.

The home side looked determined to impose themselves early, and with just under ten minutes played Ben Johnson did well inside the left of the penalty area before driving the ball across the six-yard box, where it took a deflection to go wide. Following Kane Wills’ right-side corner the ball looped up and James Crane got in a close-range header that Swans’ goalkeeper Rodney Chiweshe did superbly to push away.

Phil Williams was to be a thorn in the side of the Bognor defence all match, and he first threatened by combining on the left with Shaun Elliott and getting to the line in the box before being closed out. Swans had a great opportunity to take the lead just before the quarter of an hour. Williams collected the ball in the centre-circle before making a terrific burst down the middle that took him clear to the edge of the box with just home keeper Craig Stoner to beat. With Harry Smart unmarked to his left and Jason Henry unmarked to his right Williams tried to slip the ball past Stoner, but the keeper was able to come out and block.

A long ball down the left by Bognor was too high for Josh Webb to cut out and Johnson found space behind him before getting the ball over, and when it came to Ashley Robinson just outside the box he drove a shot well over.

Swans won a free-kick deep on the left, and Liam Collins’ kick was just too high to pick out James Nicholls at the far-post. Swans continued to look the better of the two sides, and midway through the half Smart played Henry into the right of the box, and he was just denied by Johnson’s tackle at the expense of a corner-kick. Josh Bonnett played the kick short to Collins, and his ball to the far-post was headed wide by Dan Sintim.

Bognor tried to fashion an opening by building up an attack around the edge of Swans’ penalty area, but Wills finally sent a shot wide of the right-post.

Victor Kiri and Bonnett combined to set up Elliott on the left to get in a dangerous cross that forced a home defender to head the ball over his own goal. Bonnett’s corner from the right picked out Nicholls at the far-post, but his strong, downward header was superbly deflected over by keeper Stoner. Swans were desperately unlucky not to take a deserved lead after 28 minutes when Bognor were panicked into conceding a needless corner on the left.  Webb played the kick short to Bonnett, and he laid the ball inside to Collins just outside the box for the Swans’ midfielder to strike a tremendous, low shot that thumped against the left-post.

The lively Johnson was looking the home side’s main threat, and he tried a snap shot from the edge of the box that Chiweshe got well behind to take on his line.

Swans won another corner on the left, and following Webb’s kick Collins knocked the ball forward into the box to Williams, who just failed to find the space for a shot. With 37 minutes played Swans again went close to making the breakthrough when Henry burst down the right to send in a high cross that Stoner could not get to. Williams was unmarked at the far-post, but just failed to get his head to the ball, that then went on to rebound away off the upright.

With five minutes left to the break Bognor had an opportunity when they were somewhat fortunate to be awarded a free-kick just outside the box on the right, but Swans’ defensive wall did its job as Johnson twice drove the ball into it. Swans’ defence had coped well with a Bognor attack that had already notched up a century of league goals, but they had to thank Chiweshe for a terrific save that kept them level. Webb was unfortunate to slip over, and this allowed James Crane to get possession on the left, and he hit a fine shot from outside the box that looked destined for the far, top corner, but Chiweshe dived to his left to push the ball wide in superb fashion. Chiweshe then had to be quickly out to deny Crane after Johnson had knocked the ball forward into the box. Bognor had begun too look more threatening, but on the run of play in the first-half they were fortunate to have reached the final minute still level, so when they scored it was an injustice to Swans, particularly as the goal had a fair element of good fortune about it. Nicholls looked to have no problem in cutting out a hopeful ball down the left, but he was caught out by the bounce off the pitch, and Crane was allowed to get past him. Swans’ defence was caught open, and Crane crossed the ball into the six-yard box to the unmarked Terry Dodd, who had the simple task of beating the exposed Chiweshe.

Bognor were quickest out of the blocks in the second-half and Sintim had to head over his own bar when Johnson crossed from the left. Swans’ first attack of the second-half saw Henry do well on the right before whipping in a low cross to the near-post, where Williams was just prevented from turning the ball in. Their determination to equalise almost proved Swans’ undoing ten minutes into the half when an attack broke down. They were caught on the break with just Sintim back to deal with four home players, but fortunately the attack ended with Wills volleying over the bar.

Swans continued to find it more difficult to build up attacks in the second-half, but Bognor still could not handle the runs of Williams, and Ben Andrews had to resort to pulling him back after being shown a clean pair of heels, and was duly booked.

28 minutes into the second-half Chiweshe got well behind a first-time shot from Dodd after Nicholls’ attempt to head clear had only sent the ball as far as the Bognor striker. But three minutes later the 600 plus home support were stunned into silence when Swans equalised. Williams left Jon Marzetti trailing in his wake as he surged into the box on the left before sending the ball across the six-yard box. Substitute Ashlee Quashie helped the ball on to Henry, who swept it into the roof of the net.

The home side looked shell shocked, and Williams was soon getting forward to the left edge of the box before striking a fine, right-foot shot just over the far, top corner of the goal. Bognor right-back Marzetti had no answer to Williams, and he was again left trailing by the Swans’ player, who made a terrific burst into the left of the box before delivering a low cross to the near-post that just failed to pick out a colleague.

The play had become stretched, and with ten minutes left Swans were again thankful to Chiweshe, who pulled off a stunning save to push the ball round the post when Bognor substitute Steve Harper thumped in a close-range volley at the far-post following a cross from the left.

Williams set off on another terrific run that took him from halfway and into the left of the box, but Stoner was able to cut out the cross. Bognor immediately broke, and Chiweshe had to go down to save a shot.

The hapless Marzetti was taken off to save him from any more torment by Williams, but Crane’s attempt to end another burst by the Swans’ speedster by bringing him down earned the Bognor player a yellow card.

In the final minute of normal-time Swans almost snatched all three points. An attempted back-pass sent the ball straight to Quashie inside the right of the box, and he got in a first-time shot, but Stoner had spotted the danger and was out to block.

Bognor knew that they would require nothing less than a win to ensure automatic promotion, and two minutes into stoppage-time keeper Stoner went up the other end for a corner-kick. The ball was cleared up the field to send Henry bursting clear, but with the goalkeeper absent it was deemed there was only one player between Henry and the goal, although there was some doubt about that, and he was flagged offside.

Swans’ Team: Rodney Chiweshe, Josh Webb, Shaun Elliott, Victor Kiri, James Nicholls, Dan Sintim, Liam Collins (Ashlee Quashie 63’), Josh Bonnett, Phil Williams, Harry Smart (Jerome Maledon 68’), Jason Henry. Subs. not used: Damian Matthews, Stuart Derry, Sheikh Ceesay. Scorer: Henry (76’). Cautions: Webb, handball (70’), Henry, dissent (90+2’).                         

Bognor Team: Stoner, Marzetti (Cobbs 82’), Wollers, Crane, Sherriff, Andrews, Beck (Whyte 63’), Wills, Robinson (Harper 72’), Dodd, Johnson. Subs. not used: Gonnella, Boyle. Scorer: Dodd (45’). Cautions: Andrews, foul (64’), Crane, foul (85’).