Walton Casuals 2 Swans 2

Monday 1 April 2013.                                                      Ryman League, Division One South.


Walton Casuals 2    Walton & Hersham 2.

Two minutes into stoppage-time Swans looked to have secured a win that would have put them five points clear of their Walton neighbours in the relegation dogfight, but then a penalty harshly awarded for handball snatched victory from their grasp. The pill was even bitterer to swallow as they had led 2-0 at half-time, having scored two goals for the first time in 14 matches.

Since the two clubs started playing fixtures competitively the town’s derby matches have seldom produced encounters that will live long in the memory, but whether it was the strong wind that made control difficult or the burden of getting a result weighing on both sides, this was extremely poor fare to serve up before those who had braved the cold Easter Monday weather.

With Chris Wales and Matt Holliday adding to Swans’ injury list Courtney Warren and Steve Betancourt both returned, while Will Turl came in to partner Tony Reid upfront.

Home goalkeeper Luke Bartlett was brought into action after ten minutes as he had to tip the ball behind when Mark McLeod sent in a free-kick from the left. Clark took the corner-kick from the right but the wind took the ball behind and onto the top of the net.

Casuals’ skipper Craig Lewington was soon going into the referee’s notebook for a crude challenge on McLeod.

The first real chance of the match came after 18 minutes when Casuals’ Mario Quiassaca was played in on the right to drive in a low shot, but Swans’ keeper Chris Manderson stuck out his right leg to deflect the ball away.

A free-kick awarded 35 yards out presented an opportunity for Swans, but Harry Wise drove his effort well over.

Swans took the lead just past the half hour. Turl worked the ball to Aaron Watson on the right, and he cut in before getting in a low cross that was deflected behind for a corner. Clark swung in the kick from the right, and although Bartlett got his hands to the ball he could not prevent it going inside the near-post, with the referee’s assistant flagging that the ball had gone over the line.

Casuals had a chance when they awarded a free-kick 30 yards out, but Mu Mann struck the ball at least ten yards wide of the left-post.

Swans doubled their lead with two minutes left to the break when Turl knocked the ball forward to Reid inside the box, and he pulled the ball down superbly before sending a first-time, left-foot shot past Bartlett.

Clark went close to making it 3-0 when Turl nodded the ball on to him on the left and he drove a low shot just wide of the far-post. As the half entered stoppage-time Watson played the ball in from the right for Clark to get in a volley from the edge of the box, but Bartlett saved without difficulty.

McLeod could not resume for the second-half as he was suffering from impaired vision, and new signing Josh Otudeko replaced him.

Now facing the wind Swans needed to retain their two goal lead for as long as possible, but it was halved just seven minutes into the second-half. Casuals won a corner on the right and Quiassaca’s kick went across the goal-face and inside the far-post.

The home side’s Wayne Grant was soon being shown a yellow card for needlessly clattering into Manderson. A minute later his teammate Joe Dolan was joining him in the referee’s notebook as he pulled back Reid, who was bursting clear, a seemingly lenient punishment for the former Swans’ on-loan centre-half.

Not surprisingly Casuals were now looking more dangerous with the wind in their favour, and when a free-kick was whipped in from deep on the right Manderson did well to deflect the ball wide. The Swans’ keeper had to deal with two more free-kicks from the right, tipping the first over and then getting down at his near-post to just keep out the second. With a quarter of an hour remaining Manderson got well behind a strongly hit shot from 25 yards out. Manderson again did well to take a good effort from 22 yards by James McShane after Casuals had broken away from a Swans’ attack, and a header was put over when McShane took a corner from the left.

Swans looked to have weathered Casuals’ dominant spell, and as the match entered the final five minutes of the allotted ninety they built up a move on the right, and when Warren crossed in low Bartlett spilled the ball at his near-post, but recovered in time to deny Reid.

The three points seemed to be going to Swans, but two minutes into stoppage-time Casuals got the ball forward, and when a shot was driven in the referee adjudged a point-blank block had resulted in a deliberate handball by Wise and awarded a penalty. Maan kept his cool and drove the spot-kick past Manderson.

Swans’ Team: Chris Manderson, Courtney Warren, Harry Wise, Steve Betancourt, Chris Grayland, Mark McLeod (Josh Otudeko 45’ [Tom Hayden 84’]), Aaron Watson (Junior Appiah 58’), Victor Kiri, Tony Reid, Will Turl, John Clark. Subs. not used: James Awofisan, Audie Matheson-Light. Scorers: Clark (31’), Reid (43’).    

Casuals’ Team: Bartlett, Oberstellar, Elliott, Lewington, Dolan, Tyrell, McShane, Richards, Maan, Quiassaca, Ouani. Subs. used: Grant (26’), Hudson (89’), Cascoe (90+5’). Subs. not used: Witham, Williams. Scorers: Quiassaca (52’), Maan, penalty (90+3’). Cautions: Lewington, foul (12’), Grant, foul (55’), Dolan, foul (56’), Ouani, foul (90’).