Fleet Spurs 0 Swans 0

Saturday 12th September 2020.        Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Division One.

Fleet Spurs 0    Walton & Hersham 0.

Back in February Swans put on arguably their worst performance of last season in this fixture, as they were caught out on a dreadfully bobbly surface, failed to adapt their game, and were subsequently well-beaten 4-0. Seven months on, the new Swans’ side found little had changed, apart from the pitch now being dry and dusty, rather than wet. With close control difficult, they too struggled to get any fluidity to their game as they came up against a home side who utilise a direct, no-nonsense style of play more suited to their pitch. This time however, despite having no recognised central defender to call on, they offered up few chances, and kept their third clean sheet in their three matches played so far. Alex Kelly dropped back into a defensive role, and had a fine game, but his influence and creativity in midfield was missed. There were few chances for Swans to break the deadlock and to add to their ten goals scored so far, but they began to dominate and create opportunities late in the game that went close to giving them the win.

Tom Henzi was added to the list of injured players, with Jamie Byatt coming back in the only change to the starting line-up from midweek.

Straight from the kick-off Kelly did well to track-back and cut off the run of Fleet’s Jacob Bellmaine to the edge of the box.

The home side’s Andy Rider was the first of the goalkeepers to be tested after ten minutes. Yucef Azzouz did well in the right of the box before laying the ball inside to Dominic Ogun, who turned to strike a low shot that Rider saved on his line. Rider then had to punch clear when Darren Simpson sent a free-kick into the box, but was fouled in the process, and Byatt sent a header looping over the goal when Azzouz took a corner from the left.

At the other end Stuart Baldwin had to clear behind at the far-post when Fleet sent in a free-kick from deep on the right. Jacob Bellmaine then sent an instinctive header flying over Swans’ bar from the edge of the box when the ball was driven in from the left. Liam Allen had not been seriously tested in his first two games, but just before the half-hour Fleet’s Robert Parrott met a right-side cross with a terrific, first-time volley from the edge of the box that was matched by the tip-over save of the Swans’ keeper. Following the corner-kick the home side made concerted claims for a penalty for handball, but the referee waved play on.

Swans had struggled to create opportunities themselves, but as the half entered the final five minutes they had a free-kick thirty yards out, but Sean McCormack’s shot went straight through to the keeper.

A quickly taken throw on the right almost caught Swans out, but after getting to the right of the box Adam Bellmaine could only find the side-netting.

The home side continued with their long-ball tactics after the resumption, trying to force a slip in the Swans’ defence, and Jacob Bellmaine shot well over after being picked-out on the right. Allen then did well to come across and clear when the same player again broke down the right. Midway through the half a rare piece of slack play in midfield allowed Adam Bellmaine to get clear on the left, but he shot over from the corner of the box.

Swans immediately went close to breaking the deadlock when McCormack cut inside from the left to drive in a low shot that Rider just pushed wide of his far-post. Just a minute later the Fleet keeper was fortunate to see Baldwin’s shot fly just wide of the left-post after the ball had run loose in the box. McCormack was then again doing well on the left, but there was no-one in the middle to get on the end of his driven cross. McCormack then switched to the right, and with just under ten minutes remaining more fine play ended with a low cross that Fleet’s defender Parrott had to put behind for a corner.

Swans continued to press for the winner, and with two minutes of normal-time remaining they almost got it. Simpson played a fine through ball to send McCormack away, but his powerful shot from just inside the box was superbly tipped over his crossbar by keeper Rider. With stoppage-time being played McCormack’s free-kick from 30 yards out could only find the gloves of Rider. McCormack then made a great burst on the right, but his cross just failed to find the head of Ogun in the 6 yard-box.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Dan Taylor, Owen Coleman (Michael Cayford 75’), Alex Kelly, Reece Brewster, Stuart Baldwin, Yucef Azzouz (Max Lohmeier 72’), Jamie Byatt (Will Kouadio 69’), Dominic Ogun, Darren Simpson, Sean McCormack. Subs. not used: Joe Sewell, Sonny Stiller.    

Fleet Spurs Team: Rider, Mudonhi, McAleese, Noble, Parrott, Cleevely (Saleh 82’), A. Bellmaine, Hayler, Church, Cheek (Nago 87’), J. Bellmaine (Nsimbi 74’). Subs. not used: Knowles, Appleby.