Swans 2 Frimley Green 1

Tuesday 15th February 2022.   Cherry Red Combined Counties League Premier Division South.

Walton & Hersham 2    Frimley Green 1.

Despite their almost total dominance in an attacking sense, it took an own goal and a superb save by goalkeeper Liam Allen in the final minute to secure the win and the three points for Swans. Frimley Green were certainly not the first side, and probably won’t be the last, to come to The Hub this season and defend in depth, relying on the quick counter attack. To their credit the visitors applied both those facets of the game very effectively, with striker Ross Murdoch, returning after several weeks absence, an ideal front-man for the out-ball, and who was always the main threat to the home side. However, the tactics of defending in the box, blocking shots and building up a high corner-kick count come with a high degree of risk, with always the possibility of a stray deflection. And so it proved, as after equalising from the penalty-spot with just under twenty minutes remaining, to cancel out Harry Mills’ superb free-kick opener for Swans in the final minute of the first-half, they were undone by a deflection into their own goal.

Swans, lacking the services of the unavailable Eddie Simon, following his hat-trick in the previous match, soon forced what was to prove the first of numerous corners for them on the night, but Ben Krauhaus’s right-side kick was headed clear. The visitors soon won a corner of their own on the left, but Sam Hutchings’ kick was also cleared. Taurean Roberts cut into the right of the Frimley Green box to have a shot blocked, but the visitors struggled to clear and Swans’ attack continued, with Louis Collins finally forcing another corner on the left. The kick was played short, and Dean Rule struck a strong, low shot from out on the left that flew wide of the near-post. Mills then got into the box, and after going down he was able to recover his footing and get in a shot, but it was straight at keeper James Ferguson. Krauhaus got forward to drive a left-foot shot over from just outside the box, and picked up a knock in the process. Following treatment Krauhaus got into the box following a fine move on the left, but a powerful shot was just wide. Another good move on the left started by Alex Kelly led to Mills driving to the byline, but he just failed to get the ball over. The first quarter of the match had seen Swans’ dominate, without finding the final ball to open up the visitors’ defence. Some fine, persistent play by Roberts led to him having a shot blocked, and Rule followed up on the left to do likewise, with Swans’ corner-kick count continuing to rise.

Just before the half-hour Swans were reminded of the threat of a breakaway when Frimley Green’s left-back Louie Rogers got clear to the left of the box, but when a pass from the right picked him out he failed to control the ball and the chance was lost. Roberts made room 30 yards out to get in a low shot for Swans that was straight at keeper Ferguson, before the visitors again almost went close to breaking the deadlock. Murdoch struck a fine, left-foot snap-shot from 25 yards, and Allen showed he was fully alert by making a fine tip-over save. Frimley Green soon had another opportunity with a free-kick awarded outside the left of the box, but Hutchings sent the ball harmlessly wide of the far-post. The visitors continued to show more ambition to get forward, and as the first-half entered the final five minutes Matt Bunyan was played into the left of the box to get in a low shot that Allen went down to push away.

Collins was played through to the line on the left for Swans, but there was no-one in the middle to get on the end of his fine ball across the 6 yard-box. But in the final minute of normal-time of the half Swans’ pressure finally paid-off. Mills was brought down just outside the box by Dylan Averiss, who was shown a yellow card. After some discussion Mills was elected to take the free-kick, and he duly struck a superb shot into the top, right corner.

Swans attacked the visitors’ goal straight after the resumption for the second-half, winning three successive corners. Collins’ fine ball in from the left was cleared over their goal by Frimley Green, who then had to put behind at the near-post from Krauhaus’s corner for another kick. Mills immediately won another corner on the right, and when he played it short, Krauhaus got into the box, but shot straight at the keeper. Jamie Hoppitt had to clear behind at the near-post when Rule played the ball in low from the left, and when Roberts played the corner short to Rule, play built-up to win yet another kick on the right. Reece Brewster got Mills through to the byline on the right to cut the ball back to Rule, who made room to get in a shot that was blocked. Kelly then got into the left of the box to get in a shot that was deflected just wide of the far-post.

Swans’ attacks on the visitors’ goal were relentless, and Mills shot from the left of the box was deflected over to win their seventh corner in the first eight minutes of the second-half. Mills was soon surging down the right to drive in a cross that again took a deflection, and this time the ball went out for a throw on the left. Kelly went desperately close to doubling Swans’ lead with a terrific shot from the left edge of the box that looked destined for the far-corner, but keeper Ferguson was able to go down and make a fine save, deflecting the ball wide of his far-post. Successive corners followed, and Swans’ kick count for the first quarter of an hour of the second-half reached double figures when a fine move got Krauhaus in on the right to force another. Another patient build-up led to Roberts striking a low volley from 30 yards, but it was straight at the keeper. Kelly was brought down just outside the box to the right of the ‘D’, giving Swans a free-kick in a promising position. Mills and Roberts played a quick one-two, and the shot was blocked. Another free-kick soon followed deep on the left when Daniel Ezeigwe fouled Mills, but again nothing resulted as the kick was played short. With twenty minutes remaining yet another corner was won on the left when Joe Hicks found Rule in the left of the box, and Max Hustwick put a header wide at the far-post from Roberts’ kick.

Swans had peppered the away goal with no reward, and they were hit with a sucker punch when a long ball got Murdoch into the left of the box, where he went down under a challenge from Darryl Siaw. A penalty was awarded, which Murdoch made no mistake with, beating Allen to his right.

Mills put a low shot straight at the keeper when Rule got to the byline on the left to cut the ball back to him as Swans tried to regain the lead, and with ten minutes remaining they got success in an unexpected manner. Krauhaus made a good run into the right of the box, and when he drove the ball across it struck Frimley Green’s Hoppitt on the edge of the 6 yard-box and deflected into the far corner of the goal. With five minutes remaining Krauhaus played Siaw through into the right of the box, where he went down under a challenge, but penalty claims were rejected.

Then in the final minute of normal-time the visitors went close to snatching an unlikely draw for the second-time in the match. They were awarded a free-kick just inside their own half, which their keeper Ferguson delivered into the box. The ball ran to Murdoch close-in at the left post, and Allen pulled off a brilliant point-blank save. A corner-kick from the left was safely defended, but two minutes into added-on time Mills committed a foul deep on the right and was shown a yellow card. For the second time Ferguson had the opportunity to launch a free-kick into Swans’ box, and when he did Allen just got to the ball, to preserve a deserved win for his team.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Darryl Siaw (Joe Pratley-Jones 85’), Louis Collins, Reece Brewster (Will Kouadio 88’), Max Hustwick, Joe Hicks, Ben Krauhaus, Taurean Roberts, Harry Mills, Alex Kelly, Dean Rule (Ollie Twum 78’). Subs. not used: Harry Pointing, Billy Rowley. Scorers: Mills (45’), Hoppitt, own goal (80’). Cautions: Siaw, foul (71’), Mills, foul (90+2’).

Frimley Green Team: Ferguson, Ewan, Rogers, Hoppitt, Ezeigwe, Sewell, S. Hutchings, Averiss (Johnson 56’), Murdoch, Bunyan, Cousins (Smith 81’). Subs. not used: Jones, Hawker, Brown. Scorer: Murdoch, penalty (71’). Caution: Averiss, foul (45’).