Whyteleafe 1 Swans 1

Saturday 10 January 2015.                             Ryman League, Division One South.

Whyteleafe 1   Walton & Hersham 1.

Following a fortnight’s weather enforced lay-off Swans got back into action with a match on Whyteleafe’s 3G artificial surface. Having lost 5-0 at home to the play-off contenders back in September, this had the makings of a big challenge to a Swans’ side whose form has been up and down of late. When they fell behind after less than four minutes against a lively home side things looked bleak. But they quickly settled and began to impress themselves on the game, and after equalising on the half hour they had the best chances and looked the more likely of the two sides to go on and take all three points.

With Andrew Mensah suspended Swans’ striking options were strictly limited, and Kwabena Osei, normally a midfielder, was moved up front to partner Gareth Chendlik. Kadeem Ajeon was given a start in place of Tarome Hemmings, and the slightly built 18 year-old seized his opportunity with a fine display, full of clever passing, in midfield. After a lengthy, enforced lay-off Louis Clark returned for his first game for over three months, with Harry Mills dropping to the bench. Dylan Cascoe also returned to the starting line-up, while André Scarlett was sitting-out the last match of his suspension.

Swans will feel disappointed, not only in going behind after less than four minutes, but in the manner in which the goal was conceded. Whyteleafe won a corner on the left, and from Ryan Fowler’s inswinging kick Jensen Grant got in a glancing header at the near-post and the ball flew across goal and just inside the far-post, that was left unguarded.

Swans had to withstand a tricky period, but after eight minutes they created their first opening. Nathan Daly sent over a high cross from the right and the ball came to Anthony Oaks in space inside the left of the box, but his low shot was wide of the near-post. Oaks then crossed from the left and the ball was knocked down to Cascoe on the edge of the box, but his first time shot was sliced badly and went well wide. With a quarter of an hour played Ajeon sent over a superb cross from the right and home goalkeeper Sheikh Ceesay just managed to punch the ball off the head of Chendlik. Cascoe then made a jinking run into the box and was only denied at the last moment by Leafe skipper Dylan Merchant’s tackle. Swans’ continued to pressurise the home defence, and when Osei found Chendlik on the left, he struck a low shot that Ceesay just diverted round his near-post.

The equaliser deservedly came after half an hour. Dominic Ogun sent a free-kick into the box from ten yards in from the touchline on the right, and Chendlik leapt to flick a header over Ceesay and just inside the far-post for the striker’s fourth goal in three games.

Soon after the restart Chendlik was sent tumbling in the box, but his claims for a penalty always looked optimistic.

The tricky Roscoe Dsane always looked threatening for the home side, and with three minutes of normal-time left of the half he sped past Clark on the right to drive in a low cross, and the ball was just cleared behind for a corner.

A minute later Swans had a great chance that could have sent them into the break in the lead. The ball was played in from the left and Osei cleverly knocked it down to Chendlik, but he drove his effort over the bar.

Four minutes after the resumption Swans seemed to be denied a clear penalty. Osei was played through, and just inside the box he was clearly pushed in the back, but the referee saw no offence.

Ogun sent in a terrific shot from 30 yards, and when Ceesay could only parry the ball he just recovered in time to prevent a follow-up. On the hour Osei was replaced by Swans’ youth team player Jake Bedford, who came on for his second substitute appearance. Bedford was soon laying the ball in from the right to Cascoe, who struck a great shot from 25 yards that Ceesay beat down.

The home side’s Sam Clayton made an opening for himself 30 yards out, but his shot flew over.

At the other end Ceesay went down on his line to save when Cascoe made room 25 yards out to strike a low shot. Midway through the half Ogun sent in a high free-kick from deep on the right, and Ceesay had to tip the ball over his crossbar.

Swans continued to create chances, and with less than a quarter of an hour remaining Ajeon played Chendlik through, but Ceesay was out to block and the ball went behind for a corner. The Leafe keeper had to tip the ball over from Ogun’s kick from the right, and substitute Jack Battie headed over the bar when Ajeon took the second corner from the left.

The home side were fortunate to be on level terms, but with the final ten minutes being played they started to threaten Swans again as they went for the win. Clayton got in a shot from outside the box, but Swans’ keeper Gary Ross was well placed to take the ball.

Having conceded decisive late goals in their last two matches, the fear was there that Swans would do so again, and with six minutes of normal-time left they had to thank Ross for keeping them level. Dsane had always looked Whyteleafe’s main threat, and when the ball fell to him in the box he struck a first-time, left foot shot that Ross kept out with a superb block with his outstretched leg.

But there was still the opportunity for Swans to win the game three minutes into stoppage-time as Chendlik got through on the right, but he had to settle for a corner-kick with Bedford waiting in front of goal.

 Swans’ Team: Gary Ross, Nathan Daly, Dominic Ogun, Anthony Oaks, Jahmahl King, Louis Clark, Kadeem Ajeon, Vernon Francis (Harry Mills 86’), Gareth Chendlik, Kwabena Osei (Jake Bedford 60’), Dylan Cascoe (Jack Battie 75’). Subs. not used: Tarome Hemmings, Daniel Ranger. Scorer: Chendlik (30’).

Whyteleafe Team: Ceesay, Kember (Smith 45’), Bird, Patterson-Bohner, Merchant, Graham, Fowler (Henry 69’), Grant, Dsane, Andrews (Lyle 75’), Clayton. Subs. not used: Thompson, Pratt. Scorer: Grant (4’).