Swans held at Sittingbourne

Saturday 3 December 2011.                                           Ryman League, Division One South.  

Sittingbourne 0    Walton & Hersham 0.

Swans’ goal-scoring problems, that they were hoping were a thing of the past after a run of wins, have reappeared in recent matches, and they have now gone over four and a half hours without a goal, albeit three of those hours have been played against two of the top teams in their division. A young Sittingbourne side provided considerably less tough opposition, but despite having the bulk of the attacking play Swans failed to seriously trouble home goalkeeper Matt Reed. They will need to go some way to solving the problem quickly if they are to get anything from   their next match against high-fliers Bognor Regis Town.

Paul Olima came in to partner Dan Morris up front, with Graeme Purdy dropping to the bench, while both Victor Kiri and Stuart Derry were fit to return. Liam Collins made a welcome return to the side, playing his first competitive match since March following his bad knee injury, and although understandably lacking match fitness he showed enough to indicate he will be a welcome re-addition to Swans’ midfield.

Swans made all the early running, and a good move started by Morris on the left ended with Michael Gordon sending in a high cross from the right that Reed had to tip over his crossbar. Another corner was won when a fine pass got Kiri through to the byline inside the right of the six-yard box, and following Matt Pattison’s kick from the right Collins had a shot deflected over off the head of a home defender. Pattison again took the corner from the right, and this time Collins sent a shot dipping over. There was still less than ten minutes played when Olima cut inside from the right to drive in a low, left-foot shot from outside the box that Reed went down to save on his line.

Sittingbourne posed a threat for the first time after a quarter of an hour when Hicham Akhazzan played Cedric Abraham into the left of the box, but Dan Sintim was quickly across to cover. The home side continued to come more into the game as the half progressed, and when Swans’ keeper Rodney Chiweshe could not hold a cross from the right, the ball had to be scrambled clear. Chiweshe then did well to get the ball round his near-post when Josh West got in on the right to drive in a shot.

With half an hour played Swans had a great chance to take the lead when Olima played Pattison into the box on the right, but after doing superbly to create the opening, instead of shooting he tried to pick out Olima in the middle, but the pass was poor and could only find a home defender. Gordon was then set up by Collins for a run on the right, and he sent in a fine ball that was scrambled behind for a corner at the near-post. Gordon continued to be a threat on the right, and when Olima got the ball to him he skipped past his marker before driving a shot over. In the final minute of the half a terrific pass by Collins got Gordon to the byline on the right to get in a low cross, but again a corner-kick was the only reward.

Early in the second-half Pattison made a clever run inside from the right before laying the ball off to Shaun Elliott, who put in a good strike from 25 yards that flew wide of the left-post.

Swans should have been comfortably ahead on the balance of play, but they were almost made to pay when Sittingbourne made inroads on the left, and the ball passed across the goal-face.

The match developed into something of a stalemate, and there was just under twenty minutes remaining when Pattison drove in a good, left-foot shot from the right-corner of the box that Reed did well to just deflect round his near-post. Phil Williams had replaced Morris, and Pattison broke forward before finding him in space on the left, but after making a typical run into the box Williams drove a shot over the bar, when a pass inside looked the better option. Swans continued to push forward in search of the extra two points, and in the final minute of normal play a good build-up got Kiri free on the left to get in a low cross that Williams just failed to get to in front of goal. Two minutes into stoppage-time a superb ball by Pattison found Williams in space on the left, but his attempt to lay the ball back to set up a scoring chance failed to find a teammate.

Swans’ Team: Rodney Chiweshe, Josh Webb, Shaun Elliott, Victor Kiri, Dan Sintim, Stuart Derry, Matt Pattison, Liam Collins (Jerome Maledon 77’), Paul Olima, Dan Morris (Phil Williams 72’), Michael Gordon (Adriano Moraes 86’). Subs. not used: Graeme Purdy, Sheikh Ceesay. Caution: Collins, foul (74’).                      

Sittingbourne Team: Reed, Cooper, Palfrey, Glover, Nnamani, J. Hogg, Girt, Goldsmith, Abraham (Golding 72’), West (Cullen 90+3’), Akhazzan. Subs. not used: Nuttall, Spice, Dowley. Cautions: Abraham, foul (63’), Glover, foul (76’).