Saturday 6th August 2022.                          FA Cup, Extra-Preliminary Round.

Walton & Hersham 2    Kennington 2.

Swans put on a disappointing performance in their first competitive game of the new season as they were held by the Southern Counties East League, Premier Division visitors, who put on a combative, battling performance to earn a home replay. Defensive errors cost Swans dear as they struggled to find the form and fluent passing game that brought them so much success last season. They can point to the fact that four players were unavailable, Alex Kelly, Dominlc Ogun, and new signings Max Blackmore and Arsen Ujkaj, but there was still enough proven quality in the side.

They created an opening with just over a minute played when Joe Hicks brought the ball forward before sending Jordan Adeyemi on a good run on the left. Adeyemi set up Eddie Simon for a run across the edge of the box, but after cutting back onto his left foot he drove over from 15 yards.

The visitors signalled they could pose a threat after eight minutes when a through ball sent Liam Middleton clear into the right of the box, but the angle was tight, and Swans’ goalkeeper Liam Allen was on the corner of his 6 yard-box to block the shot.

Swans threatened again when Taurean Roberts’ long diagonal ball to Joe Pratley-Jones on the right got him to the byline, and his low ball-in was blocked for a corner. New signing John Gilbert then found Harry Mills on the right, but his low cross into the box couldn’t pick out Adeyemi.

It was the visitors who took the lead after 17 minutes however, as they capitalised on some slack play by Swans. The ball was passed back to Allen, but his attempt to play out to Hicks only found Kennington’s Middleton instead, and he got past the Swans’ keeper and free into the right of the box to roll the ball into the far corner. Swans were fortunate not to go further behind almost immediately when their defence was opened up again, but a shot was well blocked by Allen on his line. Two corners in quick succession were then forced by Kennington.

With twenty minutes remaining of the half Swans were left frustrated when Simon was sent clear, but the referee failed to play advantage and pulled play back for a Kennington foul. They were then unfortunate when Reece Brewster sent a free-kick into the box from deep on the right for Hicks to nod back across at the far-post. Gilbert made room in the right of box to drive in a low, left foot shot that was blocked on the line at the far-post, and Hicks followed up to have a shot deflected behind for a corner on the left.  Mills played the kick short with Gilbert, and Mills cut in on byline before laying the ball back to Pratley-Jones, but he shot over. The visitors were again fortunate with just under ten minutes remaining of the half when keeper Joe Mant came to the edge of the box in an attempt to clear a long ball forward and missed his kick, but his defence was able to clear. They had another escape immediately when Roberts took a throw-in on the left to Mills, and he cut in but lost the ball. A Kennington defender cleared straight to Gilbert on the left edge of box, and he struck a terrific low shot that struck the inside of the right post, and the ball ran along the goal-line. Adeyemi collected on the left byline, but the keeper cut his cross out at the near deny Simon in middle Simon headed over from debutant left-back Jude Molloy’s cross from the left, before Swans were awarded a free-kick just outside the box on the left, but Mills’ shot took a deflection and the ball looped into keeper Mant’s gloves.

In the final minute of normal-time of the half Swans had another free-kick opportunity when Mills was brought down on the edge of the “D”, and they capitalised on this one. Mills struck a superb shot into the top, right corner, giving the keeper no chance.

Any thoughts Swans had of going into the break level and building on that were soon dashed however as Kennington regained the lead in stoppage-time. A free-quick awarded 25 yards out caught Swans out when Middleton slipped the ball to Jordan Griffin unmarked on the right. He crossed into the 6 yard box, where a point blank shot brought a terrific block by Allen. The ball looped towards goal, and Allen again did superbly to claw it away from the line, but it fell kindly for Mitchell Harman to stab in.

Swans had an opportunity just three minutes into the second-half. Hicks played a fine long ball down the left from deep in his own half that got Adeyemi to the  edge of the box, and he struck a low, first-time left-foot shot that brought a good save from Mant on his line.

Swans equalised for the second time after 53 minutes when Brewster played a terrific long pass from deep in his own half, and the ball glanced off the head of Kennington’s Ed Miller to get Adeyemi to the edge of the box. Adeyemi controlled the ball before setting-up Simon in the right of the box, and he drove a low shot past Mant.

The visitors had an opportunity with a free-kick out on the left, but Allen made a clean catch from Max Sutton’s delivery into the box.

Swans had a chance to take the lead for the first time when Simon sent a fine ball from deep on the left to pick out Mills’ run on the right. Mills was able to flick the ball over the advancing keeper before laying it back to Adeyemi, but a Kennington defender made a fine block.

The visitors continued to look threatening on the break and a clearance by Mant was collected by Ziyad Ghali on the edge of the box, and he set up Harry Linch, free on the left, but he drove over the goal.

Some fine play by Gilbert on the right for Swans led to him laying the ball in to set up Simon, but he dwelt too long. Then a good move started by Hicks, and carried on by him on the left, finally led to Mills laying the ball across the edge of the box to Roberts on his left, but he lobbed over the goal. Midway through the half Swans went desperately close to going ahead. A great ball forward by Mills picked out Adeyemi by the right corner of box, and he cleverly lobbed the ball over advancing keeper Mant, but a defender just got back to make a terrific hook off the goal-line

Kennington had another free-kick awarded out on the left touchline, and Allen was able to punch clear from Sutton’s delivery into the box.

Swans continued to push for a winner, and some fine play by Simon in the right of the box led to him shooting low across the goal-face, and just wide of the far-post. Successive corners were won, and the second, taken by Mills from the left, was punched away by the keeper. Adeyemi collected outside the box and laid the ball back to Pratley-Jones, who found Mills on the left. Mills laid the ball across to set up Simon, but Sutton got in a fine block tackle to concede another corner. Pratley-Jones had an opportunity to use his long throw from the left, and he picked out Hicks at the near-post on the edge of the 6 yard box, but his flicked header was taken under his bar by Mant. With normal-time running out, Hicks’ free-kick from deep in his own half got Simon to the left corner of the box, but Mant just got behind his low shot on the line With stoppage-time being played Mills found Pratley-Jones on the right, and his low ball in, trying to find Gilbert at the near-post, looked to strike the arm of Sutton as he went down to block, but claims for handball went unheeded.

With seven minutes of added-time played Kennington had one last opportunity to snatch a win when they won a corner on the right. As the kick came in Simon was able to scramble the ball away at the far-post, and a follow up shot was headed away by Pratley-Jones, just before the final whistle blew.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Joe Pratley-Jones, Jude Molloy, Reece Brewster (Maliq Morris 82’), Max Hustwick (Nick Burgess 75’), Joe Hicks, Harry Mills, Taurean Roberts, Eddie Simon, John Gilbert, Jordan Adeyemi. Subs. not used: Will Kouadio, Ollie Twum, Charlie Sell, Joe Grieco, Harvey Sellers. Scorers: Mills (45’), Simon (53’.). Caution: Gilbert (54’).

Kennington Team: Mant, Griffin, Sutton, Whiting (Binder 72’), Miller, Rai, Middleton (Gurung 90+4’), Scorer, Harman, Ghali, Linch. Subs. not used: Lawrence, Jennings, Fisher. Scorers: Middleton (17’), Harman (45+4’). Cautions: Scorer (74’), Griffin (88.).