Swans 0 Horsham 1

Saturday 11 January 2014.                                               Ryman League, Division One South.

Walton & Hersham 0    Horsham 1.

Both teams got back into action following the bad weather enforced lay-off, playing their first matches of 2014, and it was the Sussex visitors who narrowly secured the win as Swans failed to score for the second match running. It was a vastly improved performance on the previous home defeat by Sittingbourne, with the defence looking much tighter and assured, but Horsham goalkeeper Michael Hunter seldom looked like being beaten as neither side created much in the way of clear chances.

Changes had to be made to Swans’ strike-force with top-scorer Will Turl seemingly the latest player unable to resist the constant courtship of another Surrey club, and likely to move in the near future. Also leaving Stompond Lane are central defenders Chris Grayland and Greg Ngeno, who are being released by manager James Cameron to free up places in the squad for new signings.

One of the positives to come out of the match was the impressive debut of central defender Alan Bray, who has joined on a loan arrangement from Hampton & Richmond Borough. To accommodate Bray to partner the returning Jon Boswell, Dan Dean moved to the right-back spot. Jake Baxter also came into the side to play up front with Greg Andrews.

Swans won a corner on the right with just a minute played, and from Juan Onieva’s kick Mu Maan stabbed the ball wide of the near-post.

There were still fewer than five minutes on the referee’s watch when he showed his first yellow card as Andrews’ run was halted by the Hornets’ big central defender Jahamal King’s crude tackle.

Swans should have had the boost of an early lead, as with seven minutes played Andrews played Samad Kazi clear on a run down the left, but after getting the goal in his sights he drove his shot disappointingly over the bar. Kazi soon had another opportunity as Onieva played him in on the left, but although he hit the target this time, Hunter was able to save at his near-post.

Swans had started well, but the visitors gradually began to dominate the play, and they had an opportunity when they were awarded a free-kick on the right. Although the clear blue sky was a welcome rare sight, home keeper Mo Maan was not appreciative of the bright sun, dipping behind the opposite goal, but he got well behind Ross Morley’s kick.

Maan could do little as Tony Nwachukwu got past Andy Lomas on the right to drive the ball low across the six-yard box, but fortunately Dean’s presence was enough to deter former Swan Junior Kaffo from getting on the end of the cross.

With the half hour approaching Onieva’s neat back-heel set up André Scarlett on the edge of the Horsham box, but he shot over the bar.

Swans were conceding too many free-kicks in dangerous positions, and when Billy Dunn drove one in from 30 yards the ball fortunately clipped a head in the wall and looped over the goal. But as the half entered the final ten minutes the ball found its’ way to Dunn on the left with Swans appealing for handball, and when he crossed the ball in Kaffo was not picked up and scored with a simple nod past Maan.

An opportunity quickly presented itself at the other end when Dean crossed from the right and Mu Maan got in a powerful header at the far-post, but Hunter dived to take the ball on his line.

Then with a minute of normal-time remaining of the half Dean again crossed from the right for Baxter to volley wide of the near-post. But in first-half stoppage-time Horsham’s Billy-Joe King sent a good volley just over from the left edge of the box.

Swans’ play improved considerably in the second-half as they enjoyed good spells of possession, but still found it difficult to carve out opportunities. They put together their best move of the match 25 minutes into the half, culminating in Onieva crossing from the left to the near-post, where Horsham’s Jahamal King was forced to head behind. More good pressure soon set up a chance for substitute Ashley Thompson on the edge of the box, but his shot was well off-target. Andrews was then found on the edge of the box, and he turned well to make space and drive in a shot that was on target, but unfortunately took a deflection off a defender to go wide.

But the nearest Swans were to come to scoring was with nine minutes remaining. Lomas swung in a free-kick from the right to pick out Dean at the far-post, and his header looped over Hunter, only for Tom Graves to head off the goal-line,

Horsham had a chance to make the points safe however when Dunn laid the ball back to Morley on the edge of the box on the left, but he drove his shot wide.

Swans’ afternoon got worse in the final minute of normal-time when substitute John Clark, who had been on for less than a quarter of an hour, picked up a second yellow card for a lunging tackle and was sent-off.

Swans’ Team: Mo Maan, Dan Dean, Andy Lomas (Sonny Ayres 86’), André Scarlett, Jon Boswell, Alan Bray, Samad Kazi (John Clark 75’), Mu Maan, Greg Andrews, Juan Onieva, Jake Baxter (Ashley Thompson 64’). Subs. not used: Dane Buss, Dylan Cascoe. Caution: Boswell, foul (88’). Dismissal: Clark, 2 cautions for fouls (76’ & 89’).                           

Horsham Team: Hunter, Hamilton, B-J. King, Harris, J. King, Woodburn (Graves 52’), Napper, Morley, Kaffo (Cade 75’), Nwachukwu, Dunn. Subs. not used: Fobi-Edusei, Charman, Thorp. Scorer: Kaffo (36’). Caution: J. King, foul (4’).