Tuesday 15th December 2020. Cherry Red Combined Counties League, Division One.
Walton & Hersham 0 Dorking Wanderers Reserves 4.
High-flying Swans were brought down to earth with a bump following an uncharacteristically poor performance against a young, but highly competent Dorking Wanderers Reserves side. The visitors are beginning to like their visits to The Sports Hub, as last season they scored three goals in the final eight minutes to win 4-3 after being 3-0 down, and they put on another well-organised, disciplined performance in this match. Home supporters have become accustomed lately of seeing their team putting visiting sides to the sword, but a lack-lustre display, accompanied by defensive errors, put that out of the question, and the slick passing, fast attacking play that opponents have struggled to combat was only shown in patches.
Swans will certainly hope that their performance is a one-off, and that they can quickly bounce back and display the form they are capable of that has given them a run of nine straight wins in all competitions. This defeat was only their second of the season, and they conceded more than two goals for the first time, the four in this match almost doubling the total for the season in the league. On the two previous occasions they have conceded twice they have gone on to win the match after being 2-0 down, and they will have more than a little justification in claiming they were on the wrong end of refereeing decisions that denied them the opportunity of doing so again.
The likelihood of them mounting such a comeback again was also virtually negated by them having to play the whole of the second-half with depleted ranks, following the red card shown to Joe Pratley-Jones on the stroke of half-time. The opening few minutes of that second-half were in fact played with nine men, as Dan Taylor had been sin-binned five minutes before the break.
Two changes were made to the line-up that had started the previous match against Chessington & Hook United, Taylor coming back in, with Owen Coleman reverting to the bench, and hat-trick hero Dominic Ogun being rested to give a first start to new signing Josh Ogunseye.
The away side looked the sharper of the two teams from the start, and they were gifted a goal after just six minutes. They had a free-kick awarded 25 yards out that former Swan Andrew Demby sent dipping harmlessly over the crossbar. But the goal-kick led to a mix-up between goalkeeper Liam Allen and Reece Brewster, and the visitors were able to get possession, leaving Lee Dobbs the relatively simple task of finding the bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the box.
Swans had the opportunity to create something with a free-kick out by the left touchline, but Sean McCormack’s delivery went across the 6 yard-box and wide of the far-post. Taylor then put Harry Mills away down the right, and he was able to pick out Ogunseye with a low cross into the box, but his shot was blocked.
The visitors looked a threat coming forward, and Max Leitch was given far too much room on the left to get in a low shot that Allen did well to push round his near-post.
With a quarter of an hour played Swans’ Ogunseye almost capitalised on a slack back-pass, but keeper Joshua Barnett just got to the ball first. Ogunseye soon had a better opportunity when Mills nodded a high ball on to get him into the box, but his first touch was a shade heavy and he had to settle for a corner. Mills was beginning to get success down the right, and when Taylor got him away he crossed low into the box, but the ball was cleared away. Darren Simpson was next to get the ball to him, and this time he cut inside onto his left foot to drive in a low shot from the edge of the box that was just wide of the far-post.
But it was the away side who were to score again with just under half an hour played. A neat build-up led to Demby being found in the right of the box, and he drove a low shot into the far corner.
Things almost got worse for Swans straight from the restart when they gave the ball away out on the left touchline midway inside their half, leaving Leitch with a clear run in on goal, but he shot over the near, top corner.
With just over ten minutes left of the half Allen took the ball high up on his line when Dobbs got in a shot from outside the box, but Swans immediately broke and Ogunseye burst into the left of the box to drive in a low shot that keeper Barnett pushed round the near-post. This led to two corners on the left, the second of which led to a moment of high controversy. Although the visitors were looking tough opponents, Swans have shown they are well capable of overhauling a two deficit, but they were clearly denied the opportunity of beginning a potential come back. Following the second corner they got in a shot that was clearly kept out by handball on the goal-line, but despite every Swans’ player in the vicinity immediately appealing, the referee failed to see the offence. Results of matches can swing on such moments, and with the potential of trailing by just one goal and facing opponents reduced to ten men gone, so probably were Swans’ chances.
Barnett just kept the ball out from under his crossbar when McCormack crossed high from the left, but with five minutes remaining of the half Taylor was sent to the sin-bin for questioning a decision. Things soon got worse for Swans, as with the final whistle of the half having already been blown, Pratley-Jones got involved in a scuffle with an opposing player and was shown a straight red card.
Swans had to start the second-half with nine men, but despite that they were again denied the opportunity of getting a toehold back into the game just three minutes after the resumption. McCormack was played through on goal, but was pulled back just outside the box by Ben Dyson. Despite the visiting right-back clearly being the last defender and guilty of denying a goal-scoring opportunity, he was only shown a yellow card. McCormack drove the free-kick just wide of the post.
Taylor came back on for Swans, and Ogunseye was replaced by Ogun, but with an hour played their chances of salvaging a result as good as disappeared as they gave away a third goal. The ball was lost in midfield, leaving Trae Cook-Appiah a free run forward with Leitch supporting unmarked on his right, and when found he had the simple task of finding the bottom right-corner from inside the box.
Just three minutes later it was 4-0 as Cook-Appiah forced another error, leaving him with a free run on goal to score.
Ogun made a terrific run into the right of the box for Swans before laying the ball off to McCormack, whose shot was blocked.
Swans’ woes continued, as midway through the half Alex Kelly had to come off injured, to be replaced by Max Lohmeier.
James Dickson put a shot wide of the left post from the edge of the box for the visitors, before Ogun robbed Cameron Black to get clear, but it was clearly not going to be Swans’ night as the normally reliable striker drove the chance over. With a quarter of an hour remaining Mills looked to have been brought down in the right of the box, but there was an air of inevitability when penalty claims were rejected. Mills again got into the right of the box before laying inside to substitute Will Kouadio, but he failed to make good contact with his left-foot, and the ball drifted wide of the left-post.
Cook-Appiah, twice, and George Baker had further openings for the visitors as Swans began to look dejected in the latter stages, and the home supporters were relieved to hear the final whistle.
Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Dan Taylor, Joe Pratley-Jones, Reece Brewster, Joe Hicks, Stuart Baldwin, Harry Mills, Darren Simpson (Will Kouadio 75’), Josh Ogunseye (Dominic Ogun 54’), Alex Kelly (Max Lohmeier 67’), Sean McCormack. Subs. not used: Dylan Randall, Owen Coleman. Caution: Hicks, foul (27’). Sin-bin: Taylor (40’). Dismissal: Pratley-Jones, violent conduct (45’).
DWR Team: Barnett, Dyson, Leitch (Baker 77’), Dobbs (Cook-Appiah 45’), Black, Trayfoot, Dickson, Allen, Manning, Demby, Pandeni-Victor. Subs. not used: Saczek, Alder, Smith. Scorers: Dobbs (6’), Demby (29’), Leitch (60’), Cook-Appiah (63’). Cautions: Dobbs, foul (15’), Dyson, foul (48’).