Fleet Town 0 Swans 4

Saturday 30th October 2021.   Cherry Red Combined Counties League Premier Division South.

Fleet Town 0    Walton & Hersham 4.

Swans put on another impressive performance on their first visit to Calthorpe Park in over ten years, maintaining their excellent record on the ground and their top spot in the table. They did so in keeping a tenth clean sheet in their thirteen league matches, and even had the luxury of failing for the fourth time in a row from the penalty spot. The home side had a few opportunities to put a dent in Swans’ excellent defensive record, but they had little answer to the passing, movement and incisive attacking that carved out the goals and other chances.

Goalkeeper Liam Allen was unavailable, breaking a run of 36 consecutive appearances, and with his likely replacement, U18 keeper Sonny Stiller, injured, Leighton Fanshawe was drafted in. The former Fulham and Millwall U23 keeper impressed when he was put under pressure, particularly in the first-half, but was relatively untroubled in the second. Fanshawe was joined as a debutant by Eddie Simon, and the former British Airways’ striker could not have wished for a better first appearance, scoring twice and assisting in the other two goals. It was an attacking starting line-up that Swans put out. Reece Brewster was still out with a back problem and part of an injury list containing Darryl Siaw, Onur Bakici, Stuart Baldwin and Dominic Ogun, who is close to a return, the players unavailable indicative of the strength of Swans’ current squad.

The home side had the first effort on target after just two minutes when Dan Bone got in a snap shot from the right edge of the box that Fanshawe held high up on his line. Swans, kicking down the pronounced slope, immediately broke and Alec Fiddes fed Harry Mills in space on the right, but his strong shot flew over the goal. Fiddes then did well to beat Fleet’s James Dinsdale on the right and get the ball over, but he just failed to pick out Alex Kelly in the middle and a corner was won. Following the kick from the right the ball came to Joe Hicks just outside the box, and he got in a strike that home keeper Lee Allen beat down on his line.

Fleet’s James Beauchamp was put clear to the right edge of the box by Bone, bur Fanshawe was out to make a good save, and two successive corners were won on the right. The second, taken by Kofi Halliday, was cleared by a good punch away by Fanshawe.

With ten minutes played Louis Collins made a run on the left and forced a handball from Halliday, giving Swans a free-kick in a promising position. Mills’ delivery was excellent and the ball finally fell to Hicks inside the right of the 6 yard-box, and his shot brought a good block from Allen at his near-post.

The home side had a long throw expert in Shemar Pettet, and when he launched one from the right a corner was forced. Collins headed away from Halliday’s kick, but the Fleet player crossed back into the box from the right before Fanshawe was able to clear.

Swans then took the lead after 13 minutes with an excellently worked goal. Some fine play by Jacob Munting in the middle of the pitch ended with him threading a superb ball through to Simon. Simon burst clear into the right of the box and could have shot, but seeing Palace Francis making a similarly pacey run on his left, he laid the ball across to Swans’ leading scorer, who swept it into the net with his left foot via the keeper’s hands.

Max Hustwick’s long pass threatened to get Fiddes clear on goal, but he was denied by Dinsdale’s deliberate handball, the offence earning the Fleet left-back the game’s first yellow card. Mills sent the resultant free-kick from the right into the box, but the ball was cleared away.

The home side had a free-kick of their own out on the right touchline, but Halliday delivered the ball straight through to Fanshawe, who was able to fall on it. Beauchamp forced the ball off Collins to win a corner on the right for Fleet, but Halliday’s kick was cleared at the near-post by Fiddes. Halliday had another set-piece opportunity with a free-kick deep on the left, but again the ball went straight through to Fanshawe.

Just before the half hour Francis made a terrific run in on the left byline for Swans before laying the ball across to Simon, who tried to open up the chance, but he was finally closed out.

The home side put together their best move of the match so far as they played the ball around inside Swans’ half, but it finished with Halliday sending a shot well over from 35 yards.

A terrific long, diagonal pass from Hustwick picked out Francis on the left, and he ghosted past Pettet to drive into the box, but after cutting across his shot was blocked behind for a corner. Swans went close to doubling their lead with just under ten minutes left of the half. Some fine play by Mills took him in on the right byline before laying the ball back to Simon in the 6 yard-box, but his first-time, clipped shot went across goal and just wide of the far-post. Another fine chance came when Hicks’ excellent through pass sent Mills racing clear with Simon in close support, but after unselfishly setting-up his teammate, the shot was blocked and the ball cleared. A fine build-up soon followed leading to Fiddes crossing from the right and the ball being just cleared off the head of Mills.

The lead was doubled however with four minutes remaining of the half. Simon did well in the left of the box before finding Francis, who cut across to the right. The chance seemed to have gone as his run took him beyond the right post, but he was able to swivel and thump the ball past Allen.

The home side tried to get back into the game before the break and Halliday got clear into the left of the box, but could only find the side-netting. Pettet then sent a free-kick into the box from the right, and a far-post header brought a good save from Fanshawe, diving low to his right.

Soon after the resumption a fine, patient build-up by Swans ended with Francis being set up on the edge of the box, but he drove his shot wide.

The home side’s best opportunities continued to come from set-pieces, and the persistent Halliday delivered another free-kick into the box from the right, but the ball was finally cleared. Pettet tried another long throw from the left, but Mills was able to bring the ball away.

Kelly started another fine move by Swans, and when Fiddes sent over a high, hanging cross from the right, keeper Allen had to stretch to push the ball away at the far-post. Fiddes was then almost put through on goal when Joe Pratley-Jones brought the ball out of defence and played it through to him.

Swans made it 3-0 on the hour mark. Francis was brought down on the edge of the box, but play continued and Kelly waited for Collins’ run on the left before slipping a superb pass through to him, and he laid the ball across the 6 yard-box for Simon to tap in.

Dan Taylor immediately came on to replace Hicks, before Swans had the opportunity to make it 4-0 with twenty minutes of the second-half played. Mills made a great run on the left that took him past several players and into the box before he was brought down by Brad Passfield, who was duly booked. Francis stepped up as Swans’ latest penalty taker with the chance to complete his hat-trick, but his effort lacked power and Allen made a comfortable save. The match was effectively won however, and Zach Dainkeh came on to replace Francis.

Fleet still had the weapon of Pettet’s long throws, and another from the right into the box caused problems, with several shots being blocked before the ball was cleared.

But with twenty minutes remaining Swans made it 4-0. Mills made another powerful run that took him into the box with Simon following in support, and an outrageous flick-back with the inside of his right foot set up his team-mate for the finish.

Mills however injured himself in making the pass and was immediately replaced by Jordayne Henry, with Harry Pointing and Darren Simpson soon coming on for Hustwick and Kelly to complete Swans’ five substitutions. Pointing had an eventful introduction, being yellow-carded for a foul and then making a good clearance off the line after Fleet’s Beauchamp had got in on the left. A stray pass in midfield by Swans gave Fleet substitute Billy Oram the opportunity to get in a shot from the edge of the box, but Fanshawe got fingertips to the ball to help it over his crossbar, a rare piece of action for the debutant keeper in the second-half.

Swans continued to look for a fifth goal however, and Taylor’s fine pass to Simon enabled him to get Collins away on the left, and Fiddes was just denied in the middle as the ball was played in.

Substitute Tom Wensley had taken over Pettet’s long throw duties for the home side, and two in the dying minutes threatened to spoil Swans’ latest clean sheet, but Pratley-Jones headed behind at the near-post from the first, and a shot was blocked following the second.

Swans’ Team: Leighton Fanshawe, Joe Pratley-Jones, Louis Collins, Jacob Munting, Max Hustwick (Harry Pointing 72’), Joe Hicks (Dan Taylor 61’), Harry Mills (Jordayne Henry 71’), Alec Fiddes, Eddie Simon, Alex Kelly (Darren Simpson 72’), Palace Francis (Zach Dainkeh 66’). Scorers: Francis (13’ & 41’), Simon (61’ & 70’). Caution: Pointing, foul (74’).

Fleet Team: Allen, Pettet (Framp 81’), Dinsdale (Wensley 65’), Sharratt (Oram 62’), Derry, Passfield, Beauchamp, Maunders, Bone (Amadieu 78’), McLean, Halliday. Sub. not used: Zend. Cautions: Dinsdale, handball (18’), Passfield, foul (64’).

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