Beckenham Town 0 Swans 0

Saturday 16th October 2021.   Cherry Red Combined Counties League Premier Division South.

Beckenham Town 0    Walton & Hersham 0.

Swans came away with a hard won point from their first meeting with Beckenham Town, their seventh consecutive clean sheet in the league ensuring they were the first to do so at the Kent club’s Eden Park Avenue ground this season. In retrospect they will probably look on a draw as a good outcome from a game against strong opponents sitting just below them in third spot in the table, but they will also feel the chances were there to make the result even better. Once again the defence was rock-solid against a big, powerful side, but they will be somewhat disappointed a lot of fine build-up play did not result in the home club’s goalkeeper being tested more, although on several occasions a goal was just a final touch away. That should not detract however from what was overall a fine performance by Swans that only served to underline their credentials as one of the league’s top sides.

On another fine playing surface, a side showing just the one change, Zach Dainkeh starting in place of Darryl Siaw, almost got off to a bad start. With just two minutes played Beckenham’s Alfie Bloomfied found Bertie Valler in space on the left, and he drove a fine shot against the crossbar.

Swans responded with some clever play by Palace Francis on the left that resulted in him getting a dangerous cross in to the edge of the 6 yard-box that Callum Henry managed to get clear with a glancing header. The ball came to Jacob Munting five yards outside the box, and he sent a shot wide of the right post. A poor challenge by home right-back Harvey Hanifan on Alex Kelly gave Swans a free-kick deep on the right, keeper Nick Blue making a good punch clear when Reece Brewster delivered the ball into the box.

With just under a quarter of an hour played Beckenham had a free-kick of their own deep on the left, Archie Johnson sending the ball to the far-post, where Bloomfield put a header just over the top corner. The home side continued to look to try to unsettle Swans in the early stages, and Mudiaga Wanogho put a good strike over the far, top corner from 35 yards out on the right. Shameer Farrell then drove a low ball into the box from the right, and Max Hustwick made a fine interception to get it clear and deny Bloomfield. Midway through the half Joe Pratley-Jones had to receive treatment and was still waiting to be signalled back onto the pitch, allowing Beckenham’s Steve Townsend to get forward into the vacated space down the left and drive in a shot that Hustwick did well to clear off the line at the near-post.

Swans enjoyed a good spell of possession, and a fine build-up ended with Louis Collins getting down the left to get in a cross that was just too deep. Some typical, clever play by Francis outside the left corner of the box resulted in him cutting inside and driving in a low shot that Kelly was just inches away from getting a touch on at the far-post, and the ball went wide.

With a number of big, strong players in their line-up the home side were always going to be a threat from set-pieces and they had an opportunity with a free-kick deep on the left, and Danny Waldren’s  delivery into the box was put behind for a corner that was cleared at the far-post.

Francis had moved to the right for Swans, and another fine build-up got him into the box, but after going down under a tackle penalty claims seemed optimistic. He then got past Johnson to open up a chance, but drove low into the side-netting.

Swans’ back-line of Pratley-Jones, Hustwick, Joe Hicks and Collins, aided by Brewster, had provided superb protection in front of keeper Liam Allen, and it was coming up to the last five minutes of the half before the keeper had to make a couple of saves, both of them relatively comfortable. Townsend got in a low drive from the left that Allen got well behind on his line, and he did the same when Farrell ran at the defence to shoot from outside the box.

Swans soon went close to breaking the deadlock after being awarded a free-kick on the right that Brewster sent into the box. Fine play by Francis and Harry Mills in the left of the box almost opened up chances for both, and when the ball came out to Kelly, he drove in a low shot that keeper Blue blocked away from his line. Swans continued to end the half strongly, and Brewster’s fine pass got Pratley-Jones down the right to drive the ball in low to the near-post, where it was judged to have gone behind off a teammate. Mills then found Francis on the left and some fine play took him into the box to drive the ball low across the edge of the 6 yard-box, and both Munting and Kelly were just inches away from getting a decisive touch at the far-post.

Swans started the second-half as they finished the first, and straight after the resumption Pratley-Jones’ clever chip down the right to Kelly allowed him to get Mills away to drive the ball low across the box, and this time it was Francis who just failed to get a touch in front of goal. Eight minutes into the half Swans had their best opportunity to take the lead, and the chance fell to top-scorer Francis. A terrific move ended with Mills again getting away on the right, and he looked up before laying the ball in to Francis by the corner of the 6 yard-box, but after setting himself he drove his shot wide of the near-post.

Beckenham had an opportunity with a free-kick awarded ten yards outside the box, but Waldren drove over the goal. Johnson was then somewhat fortunate to escape with just a booking as he followed through with an out- of-control tackle that caught Pratley-Jones in the face. The home left-back continued to stretch his luck as he was soon bringing down Mills to prevent him getting into the right corner of the box, a free-kick to Swans being the only outcome. Brewster delivered a great kick across the 6 yard-box, but again Kelly just failed to make contact in front of goal. Swans continued to boss the second-half, and a fine move down the left ended with Francis just failing to set up a chance for Dainkeh in the box.

Beckenham had a free-kick awarded out by the right corner-flag, and when Johnson laid the ball back to Farrell he crossed it to the far-post, where it was well gathered by Allen. The home side soon had another free-kick opportunity, this time in a much more dangerous position just outside the box. This had resulted from Townsend driving forward before being fouled by Hicks, earning the Swans’ skipper a yellow card. Waldren drove the kick strongly through, but Allen was well-placed for a good take on his line to make his most difficult save of the game so far.

After a relatively quiet first-half by his own high standards Mills had really come into the game in the second, posing a constant threat to the home defence, and with a quarter of the game remaining he drove to the right byline to draw a foul from Henry, but Brewster’s free-kick into the box was cleared away. Swans were again unfortunate when Kelly played Dainkeh into the right of the box and Francis was just denied in front of goal. The ball came to Mills on the right, and when he drove it back in it took a deflection to end up in the gloves of a grateful Beckenham keeper Blue.

Joe Healy, who played several games for Swans in the 2005-06 season, came on for the home side, and he was soon driving a low shot just wide of the far-post from the left corner of the box. Johnson then got in a dangerous cross from the left to the far-post, but Collins was there to clear the threat with a fine header away under pressure.

Dainkeh had to be helped off injured, and Darren Simpson came on to replace him for Swans. The home side had now made a couple of substitutions of their own, and this seemed to give them fresh impetus, although Healy’s shot from way out was speculative at best and comfortably taken by Allen. Hustwick became Swans’ second player to pick up a booking for a foul just outside the left edge of the box, giving Beckenham a free-kick in a dangerous position. Townsend drove the ball in to the near-post, but Allen made a fine save to turn it behind for a corner.

In the final minute of normal-time Swans had one last opportunity to settle the game in their favour when Mills again got the better of Johnson on the right to win a corner as his low cross was turned behind, but his own kick was headed clear.

There were five minutes of stoppage-time for the deadlock to be broken, with the onus on the home side to go for a winner. Healy got down the left to drive the ball low across, and it deflected off Brewster into the safe hands of Allen at the near-post. The Swans’ keeper then made a fine cut-out at his near-post when Freddie Nyhus drilled the ball low across from the right, securing a hard-fought point for his team.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Joe Pratley-Jones, Louis Collins, Reece Brewster, Max Hustwick, Joe Hicks, Harry Mills, Zqch Dainkeh (Darren Simpson 78’), Alex Kelly, Jacob Munting (Darryl Siaw 73’), Palace Francis. Subs. not used: Jordayne Henry, Onur Bakici, Harry Pointing. Cautions: Hicks, foul (66’), Hustwick, foul (82’).

Beckenham Team: Blue, Hanifan (Healy 72’), Johnson, Valler, Wanogho, Henry, Farrell (Pinto 87’), Waldren, Bloomfield, Curran (Nyhus 77’), Townsend. Subs. not used: Kaffo, Humphris. Caution: Johnson, foul (56’).