Saturday 27th August 2022.                                    Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Walton & Hersham 3    Uxbridge 1.

Swans put on a fine first-half performance to pick up their third win in a row, and their second in the league. They were already 2-0 up with just over half an hour played when the visitors had their goalkeeper red-carded, and they went on to make it 3-0 before the break. Although they had further chances to extend their lead in the second-half, they never quite hit the form of the first, and it was Uxbridge who scored a late consolation.

Harry Mills and Taurean Roberts were both unavailable, but Joe Pratley-Jones was fit to return, while Ollie Twum had recovered from the shoulder injury he picked up against Littlehampton, although he again had to be substituted after scoring Swans’ opening goal. Making his debut in central defence was 18 year-old Charlie Nicholas, who has joined on a one months’ loan from National League Bromley, and he had a fine game, picking up the Man of the Match award.

On another hot afternoon Swans could have taken the lead straight from the kick-off when Alex Kelly won the ball and Max Blackmore played an excellent through ball inside Uxbridge’s Elliott Poley to get Jordan Adeyemi clear into the left of the box, but keeper Tyler Tobin was quickly off his line to stick out his left leg and block the shot.. Tobin was again tested when Kelly intercepted the ball and played it through to Blackmore five yards outside the box, but after opening up the chance, his low shot was taken by the keeper on his line. Swans had made a great start, and when Blackmore crossed a fine ball from the right Uxbridge’s Baboucarr Jarra had to dive in the 6 yard-box to head behind for a corner.

The visitors forced a corner that was comfortably cleared, but it was mainly Swans dominating play, and they almost capitalised on some uncertainty in the Uxbridge defence. Keeper Tobin came several yards outside of his area to try to close down Adeyemi, but the ball ran loose, and it was finally just scrambled away from Blackmore. Kelly then made a tricky run that took him into the right of the box, and he drove in a shot that was deflected over for a corner.

With twenty minutes played Swans almost gave a goal away. Liam Allen’s pass out could only find Uxbridge’s Victor Osobu outside the box, but the Swans’ keeper redeemed himself by making a terrific save down at his right post when the Uxbridge player drove in a low  shot.

Twum made a fine run on the right touchline for Swans before being brought down by the visitors’ left-back David Sota. John Gilbert drove the free-kick into the box, and the ball finally deflected into the gloves of Tobin.

Swans took the lead after 24 minutes following a move started by Nicholas’s ball out to Blackmore. Blackmore played the ball forward to Eddie Simon, who then found Gilbert. Gilbert played Twum in on the right, and when he was closed down by the corner of the 6 yard-box he managed to knock the ball over Tobin and into the goal.

Twum was clattered into as he scored, and after several minutes of treatment had to come off early for the second match running. Arsen Ujkaj came on as replacement for his first appearance of the season.

With half an hour played Swans went close to doubling their lead. Blackmore was put clear to the edge of the box by Ujkaj and tried to place a left-foot shot low past Tobin, but the keeper just got in a block and the ball went inches wide of the left post and behind for a corner. A second corner was won on the left, and when Gilbert took the kick, Joe Hicks was at the far-post to power in a header that brought a fine save from Tobin, diving to his right on his line. Simon followed up on the left to get in a shot, but the keeper again made an excellent save, diving to his left to claw the ball away from the line.

Swans’ second goal soon came however as the match took a significant step. Kelly forced a corner on the right, and following Gilbert’s kick the ball came to Simon on the edge of the 6 yard-box, and his second touch was to drive it into the net. For some reason keeper Tobin lashed out at Blackmore as the Swans’ striker ran past him, and was shown a straight red card. With no substitute keeper on the Uxbridge bench, outfield player Jarra took over the jersey and gloves.

The visitors did not sit back however, and when Joe Jackson drove the ball in from the right it went across Swans’ 6 yard-box. They then had a free-kick deep on the left, but when the ball was delivered in Hicks was in the 6 yard-box to head clear. Kelly then lost the ball to Oluwajuwon Akintunde on the halfway line, and he played Osobu clear in on the left, but Allen was out to make a terrific block.

With just over five minutes of normal-time left of the half the match took another major step. Uxbridge continued to make light of their player deficit, and when a corner taken by Lonit Talla from the right was headed away at the near-post by Kelly, Jackson got into the right of the box before being caught by Blackmore, and a penalty was awarded. Akintunde took the kick, but could not beat the legs of Allen, diving to his left, and the ball rebounded clear.

Instead of being back in the match Uxbridge immediately found themselves 3-0 down. Ujkaj found Simon on the right, and he cleverly played the ball to Gilbert in the right of the box, and from an angle that seemed too tight, he drove the ball with the inside of his right-foot past stand-in keeper Jarra.

Simon had a chance to increase Swans’ lead before half-time when he was played clear into the right of the box by Kelly, but Jarra did well to come out and block.

Straight after the resumption Uxbridge’s Jack Beadle got in a snap-shot from 35 yards out that Allen had to push wide of his right-post. From Osobu’s corner-kick Andrew O’Brien got in a close-range header, but Allen was well placed on his line to save.

Just before the hour Kelly made a fine run forward for Swans, but after getting to the front edge of the centre-circle he was brought down by a late tackle from Maurice Nugent. The referee played advantage and Simon seemed surprised play had continued, but with a clear chance by the right corner of the box he drove the ball wide of the near-post. The Uxbridge substitute was then shown a yellow card for the foul on Kelly. Swans then went desperately close to scoring again. A fine ball by Kelly sent Dominic Ogun on a run down the left, and he laid the ball across to Simon, unmarked in the right of the 6 yard-box, but his shot was deflected against the post by Nugent and the ball rebounded into the gloves of Jarr on the line. Uxbridge could well have found themselves down to nine men when Nugent was guilty of another late challenge on Kelly, but the referee showed a fair degree of leniency by only giving the offender a lengthy talking-to.

The second-half had become somewhat sterile, but with a quarter of an hour remaining Gilbert’s terrific through ball sent Blackmore clear. Nugent’s challenge on the edge of the box almost brought Blackmore down, but the Swans’ striker stayed on his feet, only for Jarra to make a good block.

Uxbridge then had a shot blocked after building-up an attack on the edge of the box, and they went even closer when Akintunde tried his luck from 22 yards, but the ball struck the crossbar.

Swans responded with Simon combining with Ujkaj and laying the ball across the edge of the box from the right to Ogun, who moved the ball to his left foot and drove in a low shot, but Jarra was able to save on his line.

With just under ten minutes of normal-time remaining Uxbridge scored a consolation goal. Osobu had always looked their most dangerous player, and he tricked his way in on the left past Pratley-Jones and Hicks to the near-post before slotting a shot under Allen and into the far corner.

The last five minutes was eventful only for the referee showing an appetite for dishing out yellow cards, as he booked three Swans’ players, Gilbert, Kelly and Pratley-Jones, in quick succession.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Joe Pratley-Jones, Dominic Ogun, Alex Kelly, Charlie Nicholas, Joe Hicks (Nick Burgess 82’), Ollie Twum (Arsen Ujkaj 28’), John Gilbert, Max Blackmore, Eddie Simon, Jordan Adeyemi (Jude Molloy 54’). Sub. not used: Will Kouadio. Scorers: Twum (24’), Simon (32’), Gilbert (40’). Cautions: Ujkaj (48’), Gilbert (85’), Kelly (87’), Pratley-Jones (90’).

Uxbridge Team: Tobin, Poley, Sota (Nugent 46’), Jarra, O’Brien, Jackson, Talla (Andrew 46’), Maloney, Akintunde, Osobu, Beadle (Witham 73’). Subs. not used: Evans, Farhall. Scorer: Osobu (81’). Caution: Nugent (59’). Dismissal: Tobin (33’).