Marlow 4 Swans 3

Saturday 13th August 2022.                                    Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Marlow 4    Walton & Hersham 3.

Swans first match back in the Isthmian League after a gap of six seasons ended disappointingly as the home side scored an unlikely winner six minutes into added-on time. It was a cruel way to end their proud unbeaten record that had stretched back 20 matches  After coming back three times to equalise, Swans looked the side likely to secure the three points as they laid siege to the Marlow goal, but they could not find the vital fourth goal against opponents who had played all of the second-half a man down, and were hit by a sucker punch. Swans will feel particularly disappointed that the first two Marlow goals came from long-range dead-ball kicks that left the defence time to organise, and the third from an avoidable penalty.

On a sweltering hot afternoon, with the temperature around the 35oC mark, Swans had to make a late change to their intended starting line-up when Joe Pratley-Jones picked up an injury in the warm-up and Max Hustwick came in. The only other change to the side that had won the FA Cup replay in midweek was Eddie Simon coming in for Ollie Twum.

The home side could well have taken the lead after just two minutes. Marlow’s debutant striker Dawid Rogalski came up against Joe Hicks on the right, but he was able to lay-off to Jordan Brown, who crossed to the far-post. Toby Raggett got to the ball before Nick Burgess, but headed over. Curtis Chapple then got in on the right to have a shot blocked away for a corner. Brown’s kick from the right almost led to Marlow going ahead when Junaid Bell got in a near-post header, but the ball defected behind for another kick. This time Swans were not so fortunate, as Brown’s kick found Louis Rogers unmarked at the far-post, and he headed in to give his side a tenth minute lead.

Jordan Adeyemi forced a corner on the right for Swans, and John Gilbert played a one-two from the kick with Alex Kelly before crossing to the far-post, where Hicks was stretching for the ball and it flicked off his foot and wide. Hustwick then struck a fine diagonal ball from the right to pick out Adeyemi on the left, and he got in a shot that was blocked, before Gilbert made a good run into the right of the box, only to be just closed out. Adeyemi was played into the left of the box by Kelly, but home goalkeeper Aaron Watkins was quickly out to save at his feet.

Marlow’s Bell forced another corner on the right, but this time Swans’ keeper Liam Allen made a confident catch from Brown’s kick.

Swans deservedly equalised after half an hour when Hustwick’s long ball got Kelly into the right of the box and in on goal, before he was pushed in the back by Chris Ovenden. It was difficult to see why the referee did not award the penalty immediately, but his assistant had no doubt, and after what seemed an eternity the spot-kick was awarded. It was also surprising the Marlow player was not shown a card of either colour. Harry Mills made no mistake with the penalty, finding the bottom, right corner.

Marlow regained the lead just three minutes later however, and the goal came from an almost identical source as their first goal. Hicks was harshly judged to have fouled Rogalski close to the right corner flag, and from Brown’s kick Ben Mulley got in a shot from the left of the box that was blocked, but the ball bounced kindly for Rogalski, who hooked it inside the left post.

Swans were soon attacking again, and Adeyemi was in the centre-circle to pass the ball out to Simon on the left, who cleverly flicked it inside to Max Blackmore. Blackmore held the ball up on the edge of the box before laying it off to Simon, but he drove over the far, top corner.

Marlow won a free-kick deep on the left touchline following a foul by Gilbert, but Adam Green’s delivery was headed away at the far-post by Hicks.

Swans then equalised for the second time after 39 minutes. Burgess played the ball to Gilbert on the right, and he made a good run forward before driving the ball into the 6 yard-box, where Marlow’s Alex Salmon, in trying to deny Blackmore at the near-post, could only deflect the ball into his own net.

As the half entered the final five minutes, following a corner taken by Gilbert on the right, Kelly found Simon in the left of the box, but his shot was blocked. Adeyemi then drove in a shot from outside the box on the left, but the ball took a deflection on its way through to keeper Watkins.

With stoppage-time being played at the end of the first-half Marlow’s Brown was guilty of a dangerous, lunging tackle on Maliq Morris, and again the referee seemed to take an inordinate amount of time before producing a red card. After treatment Morris could not continue, and Taurean Roberts came on.

Early in the second-half Adeyemi played Simon through on the left, and Rogers lashed the ball behind for a corner to deny him. From Gilbert’s kick Chapple headed away at the near-post. Blackmore sent a glancing header across goal when Burgess drove the ball across from the right, and he then poked a chance wide at the near-post when Kelly’s fine pass got Adeyemi into the left of the box to cross. Burgess sent a fine diagonal pass from deep on the right, and Chapple had to head behind for a Swans’ corner. Burgess was then replaced by Reece Brewster to make Swans’ second substitution. Simon got the ball to Adeyemi on the left, and he burst into the box, shimmied past a defender, but then drove a left foot shot just over the goal.

Eighteen minutes into the second-half the home side took the lead for the third time, and totally against the run of play. The ball was knocked forward to pick out Bell’s run into the box, and Allen came out to clatter into him and concede a penalty. Rogalski found the same spot in the same goal as Mills, as he successfully despatched the spot-kick.

Swans tried to respond again, and when Gilbert laid the ball back to Mills 22 yards out on the left, he sent in a strong shot that keeper Watkins beat down on his line.

A long ball down the middle almost caught Swans out as Bell nodded the ball on to get Rogalski clear to the edge of the box, but Allen just got out to deny him.

Midway through the second-half Adeyemi made a great run down the left from halfway that took him into the box to strike a low, left-foot shot that brought a fine save from Watkins, diving to his left to push the ball away. Blackmore was shown a yellow card for a foul, and was soon replaced by Twum, who immediately brought Swans level for the third time after 73 minutes. Gilbert did well on the left before driving the ball across to the far-post, where Green tried to block off Twum, but the Swans’ player just got a left toe to the ball to score.

Kelly and Simon combined to set up Gilbert outside the left edge of the box, and he drove a superb, low shot just wide of the near-post Swans were doing everything to take all three points, and when Kelly found Brewster on the right he drove the ball in, and it took a big deflection off a defender’s boot and was heading for the far, top corner, until keeper Watkins made a terrific save to claw it away. Immediately Gilbert got the ball to Adeyemi on the left, and he stepped inside Ovenden in the box and struck a low, right-foot shot that brought another excellent save from Watkins down at his near-post. Mills then got in a shot from the left of the box, and the ball took a deflection to loop behind.

With just over five minutes of normal-time remaining Swans had to face a free-kick awarded just outside their box, but Green drove the ball straight through to Allen.

Then, in the 89th minute, Adeyemi’s shot from the edge of the box was deflected for a corner on the right. Hustwick then found Gilbert on the right, and he drove the ball into the 6 yard-box, where Twum dragged the ball wide of Marlow’s Steven Sylvester-Ajudua and drove in a shot that was cleared off the goal-line.

Swans had done everything to get a winner, but six minutes into added-on time Marlow struck a long ball out of defence down the middle to find Rogalski in the centre-circle, and he got forward a few yards, spotted Allen off his line, and sent the ball dipping over the Swans’ keeper and into the net for a hat-trick goal and to snatch a most unlikely win for his side.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Max Hustwick, Harry Mills, Maliq Morris (Taurean Roberts 45+3’), Nick Burgess (Reece Brewster 58’), Joe Hicks, John Gilbert, Alex Kelly, Max Blackmore (Ollie Twum 73’), Eddie Simon, Jordan Adeyemi. Sub. not used: Jude Molloy. Scorers: Mills, penalty (30’), Own goal (Salmon) (39’), Twum (73’). Cautions: Kelly (45+4’), Allen (63’), Blackmore (72’).

Marlow Team: Watkins, Chapple (Sylvester-Ajudua 60’), Green, Ovenden, Salmon, Rogers, Mulley, Bell (Jovanovic 88’), Brown, Raggett (Campbell 46’), Rogalski. Subs. not used: Capacinskas, Ayoub. Scorers: Rogers (10’), Rogalski (33’, 64’ [pen.] & 90+6’). Dismissal: Brown (45+2’).