Sizzling. skilled. salubrious. Not words usually associated with the 3rd tier of the south Central league, and today was no exception.
The Swans men's 1s welcomed Haslemere to the Purbeck Fortress. An unenviable, indeleble task for the 11 who travelled, knowing that many come to Purbeck, but few leave with points.
Interviewed before the game, Jack Thompson highlighted how Swan's season had been "derailed, and momentum lost". This game was about more than 3 points, it was about pride in both performance and results, and struck at the very essence of the Swans identity under the stewardship of coach Emma Royce.
Swans fielded a disrupted team, with notable absences of Ed Ellwood ("leisure trip" to central America), Dave Green (Slurry incident), and Pete R still in the physio's room nursing a back injury. Defender Cam Findler passing a late fitness test when his flight was cancelled.
Early pressure for the Swans culminated in Pete Phillips gratefully deflecting in a reverse hit into the D from Benji Lightfoot. The score was doubled very soon after when Josh Lightfoot expertly found an angled pass into the D which Jack Thompson deflected in. The solid Swans defence refused to allow Haslemere to get a foothold in the game, with Cam Findler and Oli Britt, at the heart of the defence, disrupting any promising possession that Haslemere had.
Although very comfortable in the game, the 2-0 scoreline at half time left Swans all too aware that the next goal in the game would be crucial. After surviving a couple of defensive penalty corners, Swans were able to benefit from a short corner of their own. Jack Thompson executed a fine, finessed finish from the top of the D, likes of which are usually only seen on the training field.
Pressure continued, some great link-up play between Arthur Brooke and Josh Lightfoot resulted in Pete Phillips having time in the D to find the bottom corner of the goal.
At times the game was lethargic, lacklustre, loose, but the Swans midfield kept driving forward. Stu Grenville-Cleave unfortunate not to see some reverse stick shots find the net. Eventually, Pete Phillips found some time in the D and was able to find Steve Turnock at the back post who calmly found the net with consummate ease.
Swans were awarded a penalty flick after the keeper lay on the ball, preventing a certain goal. Regular penalty flick taker Jack Thompson was off the pitch, causing vice-captain Josh Lightfoot and captain Pete Phillips to enter serious negotiations about who should take it. Eventually, Pete Phillips selfishly grasped the ball and calmly, if only marginally, found the net.
A late consolation for Haslemere was a disappointing end for goalkeeper Paul Selby who was after a rare, precious clean sheet.
A job well done by the Swans. 6-1. They are back. Man of the match was rightly awarded the Arthur Brooke, playing up from the 2s, whose decision-making in attack was a shining beacon.