Swans 2 Chatham Town 2

Saturday 17th September 2022.                                      FA Cup, 2nd Qualifying Round.

Walton & Hersham 2    Chatham Town 2.

After being 2-0 up with just a quarter of the tie played, Swans were left having to travel to Kent for a replay to try to keep their FA Cup run going. In front of a record crowd for the Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub, topping the 1,000 mark, and live on the BBC for the first time, they put on a terrific display in that opening quarter, but after the visitors pulled a goal back late in the first-half they never recaptured that form. Chatham’s equaliser, when it came with just over a quarter of an hour remaining, had looked on the cards, but within minutes Swans went desperately close to regaining the lead.

Alex Kelly was still suspended, while Max Blackmore was unavailable, and Joe Pratley-Jones had picked up an ankle injury in training.

The visitors soon threatened when former Swan Josh Ogunseye found Fabio Saraiva in space on the left, but his cross was over-hit and went behind. There was a lengthy hold-up following an injury to Chatham’s Dean Beckwith, who had to be replaced after just ten minutes by Simon Cooper. Fine covering by Swans’ skipper Joe Hicks prevented Dan Bradshaw getting through on the left.

The Chats’ Reece Butler had to head behind for a corner when Devan Tanton sent a long ball down the right, but the ball was headed clear from John Gilbert’s kick. Gilbert then cut in from the left to get in a fine strike from way out that goalkeeper Ben Bridle-Card took at his near-post.

Swans took the lead after 16 minutes. A clearance only found Arsen Ujkaj on the right, and he knocked the ball forward to Eddie Simon, who laid it back to Gilbert. Gilbert’s clever through ball found Jordan Adeyemi in the left of the box, and he dummied both Butler and Matt Bodkin, before striking a low, left foot shot into the far corner.

With a quarter of the game played Hicks sent a terrific diagonal ball to pick out Dominic Ogun on the left, and he almost got Adeyemi in. But Swans immediately doubled their lead. Taurean Roberts played the ball to Adeyemi on the left, and he got into the corner of the box before setting up Ujkaj to his right, and he passed the ball first-time just inside the left post.

It was almost 3-0 when Gilbert laid the ball back to Harry Mills on the right, and when he crossed high into the box Bridle-Card just got across to his far-post to make a fine tip-over save.

The visitors began to look threatening however, and it took a fine tackle by Ogun to stop a run in on the right by the dangerous Ogunseye. Emmanuel Oloyede then found space on the right edge of the box, but shot into the side-netting.

Swans responded with Roberts finding Mills on the right with an excellent diagonal ball, but after driving into the box he was closed out. Tanton then broke clear into the right of the box, but Bridle-Card was out to make a fine block.

Slack defending almost cost Swans a goal, Ogunseye playing Bradshaw in on the right to bring a fine save from keeper Liam Allen at his near-post. The ball spun to the left of the 6 yard-box and was just cleared away by Tanton.

As the half entered the final five minutes the Kent side got themselves back in the tie. Some clever play on the right by Ogunseye led to him laying off to Bodkin, who crossed high to the far-post. Oloyede muscled Tanton out of the way, and Jack Evans was behind them on the corner of the 6 yard-box to score with a left foot volley.

Evans tried a speculative shot from 45 yards out that flew wide of the left post, before things almost got worse for Swans. Ogunseye’s through ball sent Bradshaw clear down the middle, and Allen came out of his area to kick clear, but the ball struck the Chatham striker and rebounded wide of the right post.

In first-half stoppage-time Swans went close to regaining their two goal lead when a fine diagonal ball by Charlie Nicholas found Tanton on the right, but there was no-one in the middle to get on the end of his cross driven across the 6 yard-box.

Early in the second-half Adeyemi and Gilbert got forward with some fine interplay, but just failed to pick out Mills in space in the right of the box. Adeyemi then got forward to drive in a shot from 25 yards that took a deflection to go behind for a corner on the right. Bridle-Card was fortunate when Gilbert’s kick led to the ball being deflected towards goal in the 6 yard-box, but into the keeper’s gloves. With just over an hour played some clever play between Simon and Adeyemi on the edge of the box led to Adeyemi getting in a low shot, but Bridle-Card got behind the ball on his line.

Chatham began to dominate play, and when the ball was swung in from the left, Ogunseye headed wide at the far-post. They should have equalised when they got in on the right byline and the ball was driven across the goal-face, Oloyede somehow failing to get a touch from just a couple of feet out. The ball was crossed back in from the left for a header to go wide.

But, with just under a quarter of an hour remaining, the visitors’ pressure paid off. Some fine play by Evans led to him finding Prince Domafriyie on the left, and he drove the ball across for Saraiva to head home from the edge of the 6 yard-box.

Swans almost delivered the perfect response, going desperately close to regaining the lead. A clearance by Allen was knocked on by Simon on the halfway line to find Josh Millo in space on the right, the 18 year-old making his first appearance after coming on for Gilbert. Millo could have gone on to shoot, but he picked out Adeyemi in the left of the box with just Bridle-Card to beat, but the keeper made a fine block. The ball came back to Adeyemi on the corner of the 6 yard-box, but this time his left foot shot was superbly cleared off the line at the near-post by Cooper. Some fine play by Roberts 25 yards out gave him space to get in a low shot, but Bridle-Card was well-placed on his line.

Chatham then went close following a corner played short on the right, a shot coming in that was cleared off the line.

Mills was fouled, resulting in a booking for the visitors’ Saraiva. Nicholas’s free-kick from deep on the left found Millo in the right of the box, and he went down under a challenge, but claims for a penalty were denied. There was one last opportunity for Swans to prevent a replay when Adeyemi forced a corner on the left in the final minute of normal-time, but Mills’ kick came to nothing.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Devan Tanton, Dominic Ogun, Taurean Roberts, Charlie Nicholas, Joe Hicks, Harry Mills, Arsen Ujkaj, Eddie Simon (Ollie Twum 90+2’), John Gilbert (Josh Millo 75’), Jordan Adeyemi. Subs. not used: Jude Molloy, Reece Brewster, Will Kouadio, Flynn Bolton, Harvey Sellers. Scorers: Adeyemi (16’), Ujkaj (23’). Cautions: Adeyemi, Gilbert.   

Chatham Team: Bridle-Card, Bodkin, Beckwith (Cooper 10’), Butler, Taylor, Saraiva, Robins (Dalton 56’), Ogunseye, Oloyede, Evans, Bradshaw. Subs. not used: Orji, Cooper, Robinson, Kedwell, Domafriyie (used), Brooks. Scorers: Evans (41’), Saraiva (76’). Cautions: Saraiva (85’), Oloyede (87’). 

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