Tuesday 16th August 2022.                          Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Walton & Hersham 3    Chipstead 1.

After a fine end to end game Swans came out 3-1 winners against a Chipstead side who, like themselves, were determined to bounce back from an opening day 3-4 defeat. In their first Isthmian League fixture at home for six seasons, and their first at The Sports Hub, they also ended a winless run in that League going back to early January 2016.

Having picked up some early season injuries, Swans again had to reshuffle the side from that which had started at Marlow. Maliq Morris and Joe Pratley-Jones had picked up injuries at Marlow, the latter in the pre-match warm-up, while Harry Mills was only named amongst the substitutes, to rest an injury. Jude Molloy returned to fill the left-back spot, while Alex Kelly dropped back to join Joe Hicks and Nick Burgess in a more defensive role. After a magnificent career in the non-league game, having made his initial Swans debut in 2000, Max Hustwick has made the decision to retire after playing a significant role on the club’s success over the last two seasons.

Almost straight from the kick-off John Gilbert sent Molloy on a good run on the left to cross into the box, but the ball was just cleared away from Eddie Simon. A fine chance came for the home side when Kelly won the ball on the halfway line and put Max Blackmore clear into the right of the box, but he drove a low shot just wide of the far-post, with Jordan Adeyemi close to getting a touch.

Chipstead quickly created an equally good chance at the other end when Lewis Pearch crossed from the right to the far-post, where Andy Kabuiko-Somo planted a free-header wide.

In a really open first ten minutes Blackmore had a second chance similar to his first when he played a one-two with Adeyemi, who laid a fine ball through to again get him into the right of the box, but this time his shot just cleared the bar.

Gilbert picked up the evening’s first yellow card for a foul on Moyawa Adaje 30 yards out to concede a free-kick that Chipstead’s Jonathan Gjoshe drove wide of the left post. The visitors then had two more good, far-post heading chances in quick succession, both set up by crosses from the right by Gjoshe. Adaje should have scored, but was wide with the first, while Kabuiko-Somo’s chance was more difficult and he looped his header well wide of the left post. Another opportunity for Chipstead to pose a threat came with a quarter of an hour played when Taurean Roberts conceded a free-kick out on the left touchline. Gjoshe’s kick picked out Jensen Grant, but his header was safely taken by Swans’ goalkeeper Liam Allen.

Simon’s through ball from halfway almost got Adeyemi through for Swans, but visiting keeper Matt Kerbey was quickly out of his box to kick clear.

Allen had to act similarly when a long pass down the middle got Chipstead’s Kabuiko-Somo clear, the Swans’ keeper coming out of his area to chest the ball away.

Swans took the lead after 24 minutes with a goal that was untypical of their normal mode of play. Allen kicked clear, and Blackmore nodded the ball through from the centre-circle for Adeyemi to get into the box, shrug off the attention of Syed Irtiza-Ali, and get in a shot that was partially blocked, but still had enough power to get the ball over the line.

Swans went close to doubling their lead just two minutes later with a very similar opportunity. A long ball from deep saw Blackmore again nod through from the centre-circle to Adeyemi, who got the better of Michak Stanic-Stewart, but this time he shot low just wide of the left post from the edge of the box. Ollie Twum then burst past Charlie Kennett after being played down the right by Gilbert to get in a cross that was headed away.

Swans made it 2-0 with ten minutes remaining of the half. Blackmore stole the ball off Chipstead’s Irtiza-Ali, who had received the ball from Kerbey just outside the right-corner of the box, to get through and pass the ball with his left foot past the exposed keeper and inside the near-post.

Hicks’ fine ball found Molloy on the left, and he got forward before getting in a cross for Simon to have a header blocked on the edge of the 6 yard-box.

With the last five minutes of the half being played Chipstead’s Pearch got outside Molloy and through into the right of the box to force a good save from Allen at his near-post.

Swans responded with some terrific play by Adeyemi on the left byline that almost led to an own goal. After receiving from Molloy he ghosted past Pearch and Tyreese Heslop, who had only just come on for Grant, and Kerbey just kept the ball from crossing the line as the cross struck one of his defenders.

With stoppage-time being played a long ball from Gjoshi got Kabuiko-Somo into the right of the box for the visitors, but he dragged his shot well wide of the far-post.

Straight after the resumption Kelly conceded a free-kick out on the left, but Gjoshi’s delivery into the box was headed away at the far-post by Burgess. Chipstead immediately had another free-kick opportunity out on the right touchline, and this time Kelly headed away as Gjoshi sent the ball in. The visitors had a great chance to halve Swans’ lead when a long ball from halfway into the right of the box was not dealt with and Kabuiko-Somo was set up with just Allen to beat, but the keeper made a great block, and Kelly was able to bring the ball clear.

Swans went desperately close to extending their lead seven minutes into the second-half. Keeper Kerbey failed to control a back pass in the right of his box, and was quickly closed down by Blackmore. The ball came out to the edge of box for Adeyemi to lay back to Twum, and he played Simon through.  Terrific footwork by Simon, including a clever drag-back, got him past three defenders to open up the chance, but he side-footed the ball just over the top, left corner. Twum’s run on the right was crudely halted by Kennett, who picked up Chipstead’s first yellow card of the match. Gilbert drove the free-kick to the far-post, where Burgess slid in to put the ball inches wide. With an hour played Gilbert did well to hook the ball over from the right byline, but Blackmore volleyed it into the pitch and straight at the keeper. Swans thought they had scored their third goal when a fine build up led to neat play by Simon in the left of the box, and when the ball was played in by Molloy, Adeyemi was on the edge of the 6 yard-box to head home, but he was surprisingly judged to have been offside.

Heslop was played into the right of the box for Chipstead, but Allen was alert to smother the ball on the corner of his 6 yard-box. Swans were fortunate when the visitors substitute, and their former player, Peter Wedgeworth tried his luck from 35 yards, only for his terrific, left-foot shot to rattle the left-post. But after 66 minutes Chipstead got a toehold in the game. Burgess tried to hook clear a long ball from halfway on the edge of Swans’ box, but it flew off his boot and over Allen, who had advanced from his goal, and into an open net.

It didn’t take long for Swans to go close again as Wedgeworth slipped in trying to clear the ball on Chipstead’s left, and Blackmore got past him to lay the ball across the edge of box to Gilbert, whose shot was goal-bound until Stanic-Stewart just managed to stick out a leg and deflect it wide of the right post. Gilbert’s corner reached Burgess at the far-post, but he headed over.

Roberts was somewhat fortunate to only be shown a yellow for a lunging tackle on Chipstead’s Kabuiko-Somo. 

Swans went close again when Allen’s long clearance down the middle deceived a defender, and both Adeyemi and Simon got through to the edge of box. Adeyemi left the ball to Simon, but after getting into the box he put the chance over.

Burgess picked up Swans’ third yellow card for a tug on Gabriel Odunaike 25 yard out. Wedgeworth’s free-kick into the box was headed away from close to the penalty-spot by Kelly.

Swans finally got the buffer they needed with just under a quarter of an hour remaining. Twum’s long ball down the right found Blackmore, and he played a neat one-two with Adeyemi to get to the byline. Blackmore played the ball in low to find Adeyemi, who had got forward to the 6 yard-box, but his point-blank shot struck Kerbey in the face. Twum had also got forward however, and he drove the loose ball into the net.

With seven minutes of normal-time remaining a superb through ball by Gilbert sent Twum racing to the right byline. Twum hooked the ball over to the far-post, where Seb Karczewski, who had just come on for his Swans’ debut, just failed to make clean contact with an attempted volley. The final minutes were then safely played out to secure Swans’ first points of the season.  

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Alex Kelly, Jude Molloy, Taurean Roberts, Joe Hicks, Nick Burgess, Ollie Twum, John Gilbert (Will Kouadio 88’), Max Blackmore (Seb Karczewski 81’), Eddie Simon, Jordan Adeyemi (Reece Brewster 83’). Sub. not used: Harry Mills. Scorers: Adeyemi (24’), Blackmore (35’), Twum (76’). Cautions: Gilbert (11’), Roberts (70’), Burgess (73’).

Chipstead Team: Kerbey, Gjoshe, Kennett, Stanic-Stewart, Irtiza-Ali (Wedgeworth 62’), Grant (Heslop 43’), Pearch (Colman 81’), Anokye-Boadi, Kabuiko-Somo, Odunaike, Adaje. Sub. not used: Wilkinson. Scorer: Own goal (Burgess) (66’). Caution: Kennett (58’).