Saturday 15th January 2022. Cherry Red Combined Counties League Premier Division South.
Frimley Green 0 Walton & Hersham 2.
Swans maintained their lead at the top of the table, putting on another dominant performance as they beat a Frimley Green side that looked determined to bounce back from a 6-1 home defeat in their previous match. They also made it four clean sheets in a row, although a large deal of credit is due to Liam Allen for that. The Swans’ keeper had not had much opportunity to show his undoubted prowess in recent matches, but he pulled off two exceptional saves in this match, including keeping out a penalty, to preserve the blank in the goals against column. Those were however the only two real moments of threat the home side posed for Swans, who created enough chances to have won by a larger margin.
Ollie Twum was unfit, but other recent signing, Dean Rule, came back in for his second appearance, and he gradually settled to have fine game, capping it with an excellent first goal for his new club. Jacob Munting was rested, while Joe Pratley-Jones returned after missing three games.
On a pitch with a considerable slope from one touchline to the other, Swans soon settled into their close-passing, possession game, and Rule set up Eddie Simon to play Alex Kelly into the left of the box to have a shot blocked away for a corner. Reece Brewster’s kick from the left was cleared away. With ten minutes played home keeper Chris Harris sent a clearance straight to Rule on the edge of the box, and Bradley Pegg just got back to get a tackle in and get his No.1 out of trouble.
One of the referee’s assistants immediately had to retire injured, resulting in a three minute hold-up as he was replaced by a volunteer. Before the interruption the ball had been played out for a throw-in to Swans on the left, and this led to them taking the lead. Louis Collins threw the ball to Dominic Ogun, and he sent a fine cross into the box, where Harry Mills ran in to power a header into the net.
Pratley-Jones sent in a long throw from the right, and Rule got possession in the box, leading to both Ogun and Simon having shots blocked. Rule then made a fine run at the home defence before driving a shot from 25 yards that flew just inches wide of the right post.
Midway through the half Swans were denied a clear penalty. Brewster sent a long ball forward, looking to pick out Mills’ run into the box. Harris came out to claim the ball, but let it slip from his grasp, allowing Simon to get possession and go round him. The home keeper then clearly grasped Simon’s ankle to bring him down, but the referee saw no offence.
Frimley Green threatened for the first time when the ball fell to Jordan Carter in space on the right, but his first-time, left-foot shot looped wide of the far-post. Archie Johnson then sent a long throw down the left to pick out Jamie Hoppitt, but his nod-on went straight through to Allen.
Just before the half hour Rule got into the box for Swans, but was blocked out, and when the ball fell to Mills on the right, he struck a first-time, low shot that forced Harris to go down and save.
The home side immediately got to the other end, and Pratley-Jones was judged to have brought down Hoppitt in the left of the box, the referee awarding a penalty. Swans will feel aggrieved, as compared to the spot-kick they had been denied, there appeared to be little or no contact by their right-back to justify the award. There was a degree of justice when Allen made a fine save from Carter’s kick, getting his body behind the ball and deflecting it over the crossbar. Carter took the corner from the right, and Hoppitt got in a header that Allen took high up on his line.
Swans immediately won a corner of their own on the left, and this led to them going close to doubling their lead. Following Brewster’s kick the ball came to Simon in the right of the box, and he drove a shot against the near angle of bar and post. Mills was fouled by Cameron Miller out on the right touchline, and when Brewster sent the free-kick into the box Ogun glanced a header wide.
With five minutes left to the break Johnson got in on the left byline for the home side, but his cross went over.
Mills then went off injured for Swans, with Darryl Siaw coming on.
Hoppitt tricked his was past Pratley-Jones out by the left corner flag to get the ball over, but Allen claimed at his near-post. Swans responded with Max Hustwick’s good long ball getting Simon on a run into the box, but after opening up the chance he shot straight at keeper Harris. As the first-half entered added-on time Kelly made a run forward, and the ball fell to Rule in the right of the box, but his low shot passed just wide of the far-post. Matt Bunyan got in a speculative shot from 25 yards for the home side that lacked any power and was straight at Allen. Brewster was fouled by Marcus Cousins deep on the right, and Pratley-Jones laid the free-kick through to Ogun in the right of the box, but after he tried to work an opening the ball came to Siaw, who was then closed out.
Swans will feel a 1-0 lead to take into the break to be scant reward for their first-half dominance, leaving Frimley Green an opportunity to get back into the game. A possible chance came soon after the resumption with the award of a free-kick, but Adam Sewell headed over when Pegg delivered the ball into the box.
Swans immediately had a free-kick opportunity of their own in a more promising position just outside the left corner of the box, following a handball. Rule drove the kick just the wrong side of the near, top corner. Swans continued to press for a second goal, and Ogun was found in the left of the box, but shot straight at Harris. Rule then made a good run into the left of the box to get in a low, left foot shot that Harris kept out at his near-post. Kelly was fouled five yards outside the box to give Swans a free-kick in a promising position. After some debate Collins took the kick and his well-struck effort was spilled by Harris, the ball being put out for a corner on the left. Ogun then turned in the left of the box to clip a left foot cross-come-shot over the goal.
Hustwick and skipper Joe Hicks had been their usually assured selves at the back for Swans, but Hoppitt did get to the byline after being played into the right of the box by Frimley Green, only for his low ball across to be cut out well by Allen.
Midway through the second-half the home side were grateful to Allen’s opposite number Harris for keeping them in the game. Collins got the ball in from the left for Rule to set up Ogun in the box, and he drove in a shot that was superbly turned round his left post by the keeper. Rule then went down in the box after some fine play by Collins on the left had played him in.
Swans’ pressure finally paid off with their second goal with just under a quarter of an hour remaining. Brewster made a fine run into the right of the box, and the ball came to Rule on the left. Rule cut inside before curling a terrific shot into the far, top corner.
Harris just managed to get out and claim the ball to deny Ogun, who had been played into the right of the box by Siaw.
With ten minutes remaining the home side looked to be fortunate to be awarded a corner on the right, with Munting and Stuart Baldwin coming on for Simon and Pratley-Jones before the kick could be taken. When Sam Hutchings took the kick, Allen made a superb save to keep out a point-blank header. A long throw from Johnson won another corner on the right, but this time Hicks was able to bring the ball clear following Hutchings’ kick.
The Swans’ skipper was then in the opponents’ box to get in a glancing header from Collins’ free-kick taken from out on the left touchline, keeper Harris making a comfortable save. Harris then took the ball low down on his line when Collins cut in to drive in a shot after being found on the left by Brewster. Swans then comfortably saw out stoppage-time to secure another three points.
Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Joe Pratley-Jones (Stuart Baldwin 80’), Louis Collins, Reece Brewster, Max Hustwick, Joe Hicks, Harry Mills (Darryl Siaw 41’), Eddie Simon (Jacob Munting 80’), Dominic Ogun, Alex Kelly, Dean Rule. Subs. not used: Will Kouadio, Harry Pointing. Scorers: Mills (13’), Rule (76’).
Frimley Green Team: Harris, S. Hutchings, Johnson, Miller, Sewell, Pegg, Carter (Keenan 80’), Bello-Balogun (Ewen 57’), Bunyan, Cousins, Hoppitt. Subs. not used: Rogers, Averiss, Andrews. Caution: Miller, foul (52’).