Swans 2 Ramsgate 1

Saturday 7 March 2015.                           Ryman League, Division One South.

Walton & Hersham 2   Ramsgate 1.

Although not quite the proverbial ‘six-pointer’, a win was crucial for either side. Swans needed to pick up three points from this match, with more difficult ones, on paper, to come, and to prevent them from being dragged into a relegation struggle, while their visitors need wins if they are to climb out of the bottom three. A goal early in each half proved enough to give Swans their first double of the season, but after having their two goal lead quickly halved, it was to prove another tight affair before they secured a much-needed win.

With Jahmahl King suffering from a foot injury and Sacha Mbaye seemingly on his way out of the club Swans again had to reshuffle their back four, Martin Beard and Harry Mills forming the central defensive pairing, and 18 year-old Ed Mason making his full debut at left-back.

The visitors could well have taken the lead inside the first two minutes when Tom Chapman played the ball in from the left and Tom Hickman stole in to get a touch inside the six-yard box, but the ball went straight to home goalkeeper Gary Ross.

But it was Swans who opened the scoring after eight minutes. Jack Battie sent a free-kick into the box, and when Andrew Mensah got the ball across from the right James Cottee was at the near-post, and he scored with a neat back-heel past Rams’ keeper Adam Highsted.

Highsted just got to the ball before Shawn Lyle when Anthony Oaks got in a good cross from the right, and when Mensah and Cottee combined to set up Lyle on the left he had a shot blocked. Battie was tripped just outside the box, and his free-kick was deflected wide for a corner, and from Mason’s kick on the right Mills flicked the ball on at the near-post for Cottee to get in a header that Highsted took.

With just over half an hour played Ramsgate’s Chapman got into the box on the right, but he put a weak shot wide of the near-post.

Mensah looked lively for Swans, and when Cottee played him down the right he cut inside to drive a good shot just wide of the far-post. As the half entered the last five minute Mason’s long ball down the left put Cottee into the box, but Highsted was quickly out to deny him. Cottee then did well on the right before playing the ball into the box to Mensah, who went down under a tackle, but the referee ignored appeals for a penalty. In stoppage-time Lyle struck a powerful low shot from the left that found the side-netting, and at the other end Ramsgate’s Chapman was almost played in, but Ross was out to the edge of the box to take.

Swans looked well on the way to a win just twenty seconds after the resumption when Cottee ran onto Lyle’s through ball to slot the ball past the advancing keeper and double the lead.

But any thoughts they had that the three points were in the bag were immediately dispelled when the visitors halved the deficit. A corner was won on the right, and following Chris Elliott’s kick the ball came to Chapman on the edge of the box, and although his shot carried little power it was out of Ross’s reach and found the top, left corner.

This gave the Rams fresh impetus and they soon had another shot deflected over. The visitors’ had put a lot of reliance on the long throw-ins of both Elliott and Curtis Robinson, and when the latter took one from the right Ross had to tip the ball over his crossbar.

Cottee almost capitalised on a poor back-pass by Ramsgate, but Highsted spotted the danger and came out to clear. With an hour played Vernon Francis worked the ball to Nathan Daly in good space on the right, but his cross was hit too long.

Ramsgate’s main threat continued to be from dead-ball situations, and when Robinson got in a header from Elliott’s right-side corner Ross made a routine catch.

With twenty minutes remaining Cottee played Lyle through into the box, but he was just denied by a good tackle from Elliott. Highsted then took the ball low down at his near-post when Mills drove in a free-kick from the left. When Mason got the ball in from the left to Cottee, he quickly turned inside the left of the six-yard box to get off a shot that Highsted took at the near-post.

Ramsgate sensed they could still get something from the game, and Scott Punton put a header just wide from another Robinson long throw from the right. Simon Pettit also headed wide when Elliott took a free-kick from the left.

Swans almost restored their two goal lead two minutes into stoppage-time when Josh Cover got into the right of the box before setting up fellow substitute Tarome Hemmings to his left, but his close range effort was cleared off the line.

Swans’ Team: Gary Ross, Nathan Daly, Ed Mason, Anthony Oaks (Tarome Hemmings 88’), Martin Beard, Harry Mills, Jack Battie (André Scarlett 68’), Vernon Francis, Andrew Mensah, James Cottee, Shawn Lyle (Joshua Cover 73’). Subs. not used: Gareth Chendlik, Dylan Cascoe. Scorer: Cottee (8’ & 46’). Caution: Daly, foul (80’).

Ramsgate Team: Highsted, Butcher, Elliott, Robinson, McGeehan, Wheatley, Chapman, Hickman, Punton, Pettit (Vings 88’), Adams (James 75’). Subs. not used: Rogers, Fedor, Shaw. Scorer: Chapman (47’). Caution: Wheatley (57’).