Staines’ ship runs aground at home
Vanarama South Staines Town 1 Farnborough 2
IT seems implausible that Staines Town should be second bottom just a few short weeks after setting sail towards the frontrunners on the good ship optimism, ultimate destination the play-offs, writes Clive Youlton. One minute, Swans fans are staring up at their team leaving the dock aboard a luxury ocean liner. Next they are blinking disbelievingly as they bob back into port on a tugboat with a mangled rudder. In terms of home form comparisons, it would be hard to imagine there could be a more radical downturn from 11 wins from their opening 12 matches one season to four defeats from five the next. With pretty much the same squad, barring three or four quality additions. Such is boss Marcus Gayle’s lot as he tries to fathom out just how to arrest an alarming slide from what is undoubtedly a talented group of individuals. Don’t be fooled into thinking Boro nicked this game at the death to steal the points belonging to Staines. Boro boss Spencer Day quite rightly said that had they lost this game, it would have been a travesty. No neutral in the crowd of 309 would argue with that after the visitors had grabbed their hosts by the throat, turned them upside down and emptied their pockets. Jack Turner’s defiance in the end was not enough, the Swans’ keeper pulling off a succession of saves to deny Day’s side who somehow trailed 1-0 with five minutes to play. But goals from centre- back Adam Brice and skilful midfielder Dan Bennett turned the result on its head with a two-goal blast in as many minutes. Phil Page had just hit the bar with an overhead kick and Jerel Ifil somehow blocked on the line from the same forward as the pressure mounted on the home goal. For Gayle, it was frustrating to concede so late after his team had stood firm, while Day was pulling his hair out before his team finally scored after an almost embarrassing succession of misses. Gayle admitted: “Yes the goal was coming so we thought we’d shut up shop with 20 minutes to go and make it difficult for them to go through the middle. “In the end we didn’t do enough, man to man, to prevent it happening. The game is about what you do off the ball as well as on it.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen my players hurt after a defeat, in game nine. It’s a good sign but it’s taken nine games. We are on a terrible run and we have to come out of it to get our confidence up. We are a good footballing side but potential has to materialise.” Swans, who have now lost six of their nine matches, had an early chance when Elliott Buchanan nodded over Max Worsfold’s back-post centre. But Boro had already shown their intent. Bennett curled over when he should have scored, then Page was allowed to swivel 10 yards out, Turner saving once, then preventing Bennett from turning in the rebound. Turner was inspired to block Bennett again, then Matt Ball chipped over with the keeper prostrate. Staines too easily surrendered possession in midfield but on 41 minutes they went in front after Turner’s long ball found Theophanous out wide on the left and when he cut inside, Paul Rodgers fouled him, not once, but twice, to give away a spot kick. Theophanous drove the ball past keeper Craig Ross for 1-0 with a typically unerring finish. The striker, a player every side at this level would love in their ranks, almost made it 2-0 when he brilliantly controlled a hopeful long ball from Ifil to sidestep Ross only for the keeper to recover well to block from an angle. But the second half was an uphill struggle for the hosts who gave away a glut of free kicks while Boro skipper Lewis Ferrell, enjoying a fine game at his old club, nodded over from a good position. Livewire Boro winger Fejri Okenabirhie’s pace and trickery had caused problems all afternoon and his cross on 28 minutes which flashed across the goal should have been anticipated by Bennett at the back post. The introduction of Boro subs Andrew Montugu and Sylvester Guyonnet livened up the visitors even more and had it been a boxing match, the referee would not only have stopped it but offered the home players counselling measure. Staines could not hold on, though, despite the tenacity and spirit of Erivaldo Felix in particular, preferred at right back to Sanchez Ming. In the 85th minute, a header from Ferdinand Takyi thudded off the inside of a post and Brice gleefully rammed in from close range. Bennett’s classy one-two with Okenabirhie two minutes later ended with the playmaker smashing the ball high and beyond Turner, which was cruel on the keeper but certainly deserved from the visitors’ viewpoint.
One-nil: Louie Theophanous gives Swans the lead against Farnborough but the visitors struck back.