Tooting & Mitcham United 2 Swans 1

Saturday 23 November 2013.                                           Ryman League, Division One South.


Tooting & Mitcham United 2    Walton & Hersham 1.

The momentum of this match swung towards the hosts in a ten minute spell of play an hour into the game. Swans went close to going 2-0 up when the ball came back off the crossbar, the home side equalised from a highly contentious penalty, and then scored what was to prove the winning goal. Swans had looked reasonably comfortable up to the point of the penalty award, but they then lost their composure and shape for a spell and struggled to get back into the match. The previous Wednesday at Herne Bay Swans had had a poor first-half followed by a dominant second, whereas in this match the reverse was largely the case.

With John Clark unavailable, back in the north-east for his child’s christening, Ashley Thompson reverted to right-back and Chris Grayland came back into central defence.

Swans were almost caught out inside the first minute when Tooting’s Bashiru Alimi struck a low shot from the edge of the box and goalkeeper Dane Buss had to dive to his left to push the ball wide.

Swans soon won a corner of their own, and Will Turl just failed to a good head on the ball when Juan Onieva took the kick from the right. Turl then drove a chance well over the bar from the right of the box after Louis Glace-Palmer had laid the ball off to him.

The home side responded with Max Noble and Peter Wedgeworth combining well, the latter shooting wide as he was played into the box.

With ten minutes played Swans’ Samad Kazi made a good run forward before playing Turl through into the left of the box, but the ball just ran away from him.

Tooting had another chance when they were awarded a free-kick and Harry Knock played the ball down the left to get Noble away, but Colin Hartburn headed wide from the cross.

Midway through the half Swans’ Thompson was sent down the right by a good ball from Merrick James-Lewis, but Kazi couldn’t control the ball at the far-post when Thompson sent over a fine cross. Swans had always looked the more likely to open the scoring, and they took the lead after 25 minutes. Some good play by Onieva culminated in him playing Turl into the right of the box, and he drove a low shot through the legs of former Swans’ keeper Gareth Williams and just inside the far-post. Kazi was soon driving the ball over the bar after he was found on the left following a good build-up.

With ten minutes left to the break some slack play by Swans almost gave Tooting the equaliser. A stray pass in midfield allowed Sol Pinnock to be played down the left to send over a low cross, but Alimi just failed to get a touch at the far-post. Then a patient build-up by the home side got Noble into the left of the box, but his shot went straight to Buss. Tooting continued to have a good spell and Noble got past Thompson on the left, but Buss was well placed at his near-post to cut out the cross. Pinnock then got forward but shot over the bar.

Swans had a chance to go in at the break 2-0 up as the half entered stoppage-time. Glace-Palmer stole the ball from former Swan Jordan Cheadle on the right and laid it inside to Onieva, who drove a shot just over. Although the home side had threatened on occasion, Swans had played well and were good value for their half-time lead.

Pinnock put a good strike over from the edge of the box when Tooting had got forward after Buss had failed to get good distance on his kick out. But just before the hour Swans went close to doubling their lead. Turl played Kazi in on the left to have a shot deflected for a corner, and when Onieva sent over a dangerous kick from the left the ball came off a head and struck the angle of bar and near-post.

Six minutes later Tooting got into the left of the box and the referee suddenly blew his whistle and pointed to the penalty-spot, apparently for some offence by Thompson, despite no appeals coming from the home side. Cheadle gave Buss no chance from the spot.

Tooting then made a double substitution, with Frankie Sawyer coming on for Pinnock and Elliott Simpson replacing Wedgeworth. The penalty award had knocked Swans out of their composure and the two new players added to the home side’s momentum. Tooting won a corner on the left, and Andy Lomas had to head off the line at the far-post as the ball was swung in.

But just four minutes after they had equalised Tooting took the lead. The ball was crossed from the left and Alimi found space at the far-post to drive the ball past Buss. Tooting were now winning the ball back far too easily as Swans had lost their pattern, and the lively Sawyer did well on the left before having a shot deflected for a corner.

Swans gradually began to regain their composure however and pushed for the equaliser. André Scarlett, who had had a fine first-half, pulling the strings for Swans, made a good run into the left of the box, but his cross was just too high to set up a chance. With ten minutes remaining two successive free-kicks gave Swans opportunities, but Lomas’s kick from the right and Onieva’s from the left both came to nothing. The best, and last, chance to salvage a draw came three minutes into stoppage-time when Buss pumped a free-kick into the box and the ball ran to substitute Kieran Lunn, but he drove the ball over.

Swans’ Team: Dane Buss, Ashley Thompson, Andy Lomas, André Scarlett, Chris Grayland, Jon Boswell, Samad Kazi, Merrick James-Lewis (Ashley Watson 75’), Will Turl, Louis Glace-Palmer (Sonny Ayres 63’), Juan Onieva. Subs. not used: Jake Baxter, Greg Ngeno. Scorer: Turl (25’). Cautions: Scarlett, foul (32’), Boswell, foul (53’), Thompson, foul (65’).                        

Tooting Team: G. Williams, Turner, Gordon, Alimi, J. Cheadle, Hartburn, Wedgeworth (Simpson 67’), Knock, Pinnock (Sawyer 67’), Jee, Noble. Subs. not used: Nkoma, T. Williams, H. Cheadle. Scorer: J. Cheadle, penalty (65’), Alimi (69’). Cautions: Pinnock, foul (43’), J. Cheadle, foul (90+2’).