Swans 4 Knaphill 2

Monday 2 January 2017.     Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Premier Division.

Walton & Hersham 4   Knaphill 2.

After being 2-0 up with just over half an hour played Swans looked to be cruising to three points, as they had also gone close on several other occasions. But after conceding a soft goal that halved their lead at the break, they had it all to do again soon after the resumption as the visitors scored a shock equaliser. However, two goals scored in the space of two minutes just past the hour put them in command again.

For the morning kick-off Swans were faced with making changes, as both Scott Todd and Nathan Gordon were suspended, and Billy Marshall was unavailable. Joe Grant was also not available for selection, but Olade Yusuf returned, with Alex Filipe filling the other full-back spot. Sean White, newly signed from Colliers Wood United, came in, and he marked his debut by scoring after just five minutes and then restoring Swans’ lead in the second-half.

Swans went close to taking the lead after just two minutes when TJ Nkoma crossed from the left, and when the ball was played back from the far-post Jamil Okai had a low shot deflected wide.

But the visitors soon went closer when Charlie Postance got in on the left to drive the ball against the near-post.

Swans immediately broke, and this led to them taking a fifth minute lead after a scramble in the Knaphill box resulted in a corner-kick on the left. Elliott Simpson sent the kick to the far-post, and when the ball was knocked back across White was there to score. Soon after the restart Yusuf got in on the right to have a shot cleared off the goal-line.

Knaphill were forced into an early substitution when Josh Watkins could not continue and was replaced by Chris Patterson.

Yusuf was soon making another good run on the right for Swans, and his low ball across the six-yard box just failed to find Okai in front of goal.

The visitors had another good chance just before the quarter of an hour when Scott Costello was sent clear, but he finished with a weak shot that was easily taken by home goalkeeper Liam Beach.

Swans replied with Nkoma racing past Ross Cheek on the left to get the ball across, and when it came to Simpson on the edge of the box he sent a terrific volley just over. A fine pass down the left touchline by Okai then put Nkoma away again, and when he played the ball inside Simpson had a first-time shot saved by Knaphill keeper Alex Harris.

The visitors had a chance when they were awarded a free-kick 30 yards out, but Jimmy Norman shot well over.

Just before the half hour Louis Taylor sent Okai racing clear for Swans, but he was just denied the chance to beat Harris and the ball went behind for a corner on the left. Simpson’s kick brought a far-post header that was cleared off the line, but the referee ordered a retake as the ball had been outside the corner quadrant. The second kick by Simpson led to a scramble in the box and Okai having a shot saved by Harris.

Swans then went close to doubling their lead with what would have been a superb goal. Howard Newton made a tremendous surge forward before cutting to his right and driving in a low shot that was just turned round his right-post by Harris. Simpson’s corner from the left had to be headed behind at the far-post for another kick.

Swans’ pressure finally paid off after 33 minutes when the ball was driven in low from the right for Okai to slot in at the far-post and make it 2-0.

Swans had been so much in command there looked to be no way back for the visitors, but just three minutes after going two goals behind they were given a lifeline. Timmy Taylor sent a free-kick into the box, and Swans’ defence were guilty of ball-watching as Patterson drove the loose ball past Beach.

This boosted Knaphill, and only a fine, covering tackle by Jamie Thoroughgood prevented Postance from getting in a shot. From Taylor’s corner on the right Costello sent a glancing header wide.

White went close to restoring Swans’ two goal lead three minutes before the break, but he drove just over at the near-post after Yusuf had made a fine run on the right.

As the first-half entered stoppage-time Knaphill’s Brad Thomas drove a strong shot wide from 25 yards.

Swans were left ruing they had not capitalised fully on their first-half opportunities, as just three minutes after the resumption their two goal lead had been wiped out by a somewhat fortuitous goal. Postance was allowed to break down the left to get in what appeared to be a cross, but the ball dipped over Beach and just under the crossbar.

Straight from the restart Swans had a great chance to regain the lead when Simpson sent Okai clear into the right of the box, but his shot to the near-post was pushed round by Harris. Yusuf then made a good run to the byline on the right to win a corner.

Swans continued to look impressive in their build-ups and going forward, but their defence was having some uncharacteristically unsure moments, and just under ten minutes into the half Knaphill could have gone ahead. Postance had looked the visitors’ main threat, and when he played the ball in low from the right Norman put a chance over from close-in.

That proved to be Knaphill’s last opportunity however, and two minutes past the hour Swans went ahead again. Simpson had had an excellent game, and when he sent over another fine cross from the right White was at the far-post to send a downward header past Harris.

Simpson was again the provider two minutes later when he set up the goal that effectively settled the game for Swans. The midfielder sent Nkoma into the right of the box, and he dummied his marker before drilling in a low shot that Harris got behind but found too strong to keep out.

It should have been 5-2 to Swans three minutes later when Nkoma got to the byline on the right to send over a fine cross, only for Okai to head over an open goal at the far-post. Simpson then got in on the left to drive in a shot that Harris could only half-save before just denying the lurking Nkoma.

With three minutes of normal-time remaining there was a clash of heads between Swans’ Lea Van Sullivan and Knaphill’s Costello, which led to a lengthy delay as both players were treated and patched up. But despite this leading to ten minutes of added-on time, there were to be none of the late dramatics, as in Swans’ last match against Westfield.

Swans’ Team: Liam Beach, Olade Yusuf, Alex Filipe, Louis Taylor, Lea Van Sullivan, Jamie Thoroughgood, Sean White (Sam Bates 73’), Elliott Simpson, Jamil Okai (Cameron Gyeabour 85’), Howard Newton (Seb Castello 77’), TJ Nkoma. Subs. not used: Shaun Smart, George Peterkin. Scorers: White (5’ & 62’), Okai (33’), Nkoma (64’). Caution: Gyeabour, foul (90+6’).                   

Knaphill Team: Harris, Cheek, Taylor, Doble, Watkins (Patterson 9’), Close, Costello, Collins, Postance, Norman, Thomas. Subs, not used: Kersley, Shelley. Scorers: Patterson (36’), Postance (48’). Caution: Taylor, foul (90+9’).