Saturday 29th October 2022.                                 Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Ashford Town (Mx.) 0    Walton & Hersham 5.

Playing their third away match in a row, Swans shrugged off the defeat at South Park Reigate in midweek to score five goals without reply, a goal tally that on chances created could well have been at least doubled. This was with a bare minimum squad, with only three substitutes named, but they performed superbly, completely outplaying the home side throughout the match. Jordan Adeyemi, Max Blackmore, Dominic Ogun, Joe Pratley-Jones and Ollie Twum were all unavailable for selection for various reasons, but it is testament to the quality of the squad that all the players selected had fine games. Eddie Simon was restored to the No.9 spot in place of Blackmore, who has decided to take a break from the game, and he responded with a fine hat trick. Devan Tanton returned at right-back, having missed four matches, with Harry Mills also coming back in and filling the left-back spot.Maliq Morris also returned to the starting line-up.

Playing their north of the Thames neighbours for the first time in 15 years, Swans were put under early pressure, and Tanton soon conceded a free-kick by the left corner-flag, but Danyaal Iqbal’s ball in was put behind at the far-post. Ben Peden brought the ball forward on the right before laying it across to Prince M’Bengui on the left edge of the box, but Swans’ goalkeeper Liam Allen got behind his low, left foot shot on the line. The home side then forced a couple of corners, the second of which on the right was played short by Iqbal. Iqbal then swung the ball in to the far-post where Joe Hicks made a fine header away. Ashford kept possession on the left, and a shot came in that Allen saved comfortably at his near-post.

Swans soon settled, and a fine diagonal ball by Alex Kelly picked out John Gilbert on the right, and his cross was just a matter of inches too high to find the head of Simon in the 6 yard-box. Tanton and Simon then combined well on the right, and set up Gilbert to whip in a first time cross that picked out Josh Millo at the far-post, but he was stretching and could only poke the ball wide. With just under a quarter of an hour played, a fine build-up started by Kelly intercepting a clearance from Ashford keeper Callum Coulter in the centre-circle, led to Morris finding Mills by the left corner of the box. Mills sent an excellent cross to the far-post, but Simon headed a good chance over. The home side’s Peden then just headed away from the 6 yard-box when some fine play by Tanton on the right byline led to him getting in a cross.

With seventeen minutes played the home side’s Luke Maguire had a shot blocked, and this led to Swans breaking and taking the lead. Kelly played the ball to Simon on the left, and he cut inside past both Peden and Dale Burnham, before driving a low, right-foot shot in-off the far-post.

Mills played the ball through to Millo on the left, and he cut into the box to have a shot blocked. A fine diagonal ball by Mills then found Gilbert on the right, and he got into the box to drive in a low shot that Coulter blocked at his near-post. Swans continued to cut through the home defence at will, and Gilbert made a fine run on the left before laying off to Millo, who forced a save from Coulter with a low, right-foot shot. A terrific move started by Taurean Roberts in his own half led to Millo being found on the left, and he cut into the box before laying the ball across to Simon. Simon set up Roberts to his left, and he sent a right-foot shot dipping just over. Roberts immediately went close again when Kelly got forward before finding Millo on the left. Millo played the ball in to Gilbert, who made a fine run to the byline before laying back to Roberts, who put a left-foot volley just wide of the left post.

Ashford had a rare opportunity to relieve the pressure when they had a free-kick on halfway, and keeper Coulter’s delivery into the box forced a corner on the left, but from Iqbal’s kick Razy Nadeem put the ball behind.

Swans’ pressure paid off with their second goal just before the half hour, and it was worth waiting for. Allen rolled the ball out to Charlie Nicholas, and he played it to Hicks deep on the right. The Swans’ skipper then sent an excellent long ball down the right to pick out Simon, and from just outside the edge of the box he sent a superb, first-time lob over the keeper and into the net.

Swans soon almost made it 3-0 with a terrific piece of play. Ashford’s Chad Goulter was beaten by some clever play by Simon on the left touchline just inside Swans’ half, and he passed the ball down the line to Millo Millo played the ball through the legs of Burnham to pick out Simon’s run to the corner of the 6 yard-box, and when he just failed to dink the ball past Coulter, it stuck between the legs of M’Bengui, who was able to clear. Another fine diagonal ball by Mills found Gilbert on the right, and he got into the box to drive a left-foot shot over the far, top corner. As the half entered the final five minutes Nicholas’s long ball picked out Millo on the left, but Coulter came well out of his area to kick into touch.

The home side posed a rare threat when they got in on the right byline, but Morris was at the near-post to tidy up.

Swans soon went close again however. Allen’s kick-out was cleverly nodded on by Simon on halfway to send Kelly driving down the right and into the box, but his shot struck Burnham and the ball looped over for a corner. Swans forced another corner when a fine move in the left of the box led to Gilbert’s low cross being put behind. Morris’s kick from the left led to another corner on the right, but this time Morris sent the ball behind.

Straight after the resumption for the second-half Millo was fouled ten yards outside the left corner of the box, giving Swans’ a free-kick opportunity ideally suited to Mills, but this time he sent the ball straight through to the keeper. Tanton was soon playing a good ball down the right for Kelly and Gilbert to combine and Tanton to clip the ball over from the byline. Simon was on the edge of the 6 yard-box, but his attempt at a scissors kick sent the ball over the bar. The home goal continued to bear a charmed life, as Morris was soon knocking the ball down the left to find Simon, who got into the box to have a shot to the near-post well saved by Coulter. Millo followed up with a shot, but the home keeper just managed to deflect the ball wide.

Eight minutes into the second-half Swans finally made it 3-0. Mills sent another fine diagonal ball from deep on the left to find Tanton on the right. Tanton knocked the ball first-time inside to Gilbert, and he cut across the edge of box  avoiding the challenge of Nadeem, before sending a left-foot shot into the bottom, right corner, with Coulter getting a touch, but unable to keep the ball out.

Gilbert made a fine run forward to the edge of the box before setting up Millo clear on the left, but he sent the ball dipping over the far, top corner. Gilbert then won the ball just outside the box to set up a chance for Roberts, but again the shot cleared the bar.

The home side made a double change to try to stem the wave of Swans’ attacks, but it had little effect as Roberts set up Millo close in at the left post, where he was just closed out, the ball coming to Simon in front of goal, but he was also just denied. Morris’s diagonal pass picked out the run of Millo on the left, and he was only denied by Peden handling the ball, with the home right-back fortunate to escape a yellow card. Mills’ free-kick from outside the edge of the box was headed clear.

Home keeper Coulter was in constant action as Swans created chance after chance. He followed up a block at the near-post when Gilbert got Simon in on the right, with a fine save on his line from Roberts’ half-volley from the edge of the 6 yard-box after Simon drove the ball in from the right. Gilbert followed up, but again the shot was blocked. Tanton got in on the right to lay the ball back to Simon, but he was again denied his hat-trick as his shot was deflected behind. Coulter continued to deny Swans, making his best save so far when Morris rook a corner from the left. Hicks was at the far-post to thump in a header that looked destined for the net, but the Ashford keeper somehow managed to deflect the ball onto his crossbar and over.

Coulter’s opposite number Allen had seen little action, but he had to be alert when Pemi Yakubu was found on the left, and he cut inside Kelly and Tanton to drive in a shot that the Swans’ keeper did well to push wide down at his near-post. Wayne Ridgely’s corner from the left was safely headed clear at the far-post by Nicholas. This seemed to lift the home side however, and former Swan Ridgely got in a good left-foot strike from 25 yards, but Allen was well placed on his line to save comfortably.

Coulter was soon in action again however, doing well to push the ball away after clever play by Roberts had got Tanton in on the right byline to drive in a low cross.

Swans finally made it 4-0 with ten minutes of normal-time remaining. Nicholas struck a fine pass from deep to pick out Tanton on the right edge of the box, and he lobbed the ball over to the far-post, where Simon headed home to complete his hat-trick.

Hicks played the ball down the right to Tanton, and he laid it inside to Flynn Bolton, who had come on for Simon, and Coulter went down to keep out his first-time attempt to find the bottom right corner. The home keeper continued to stand between Swans and further goals, blocking at his near-post after Gilbert had got in on the left to drive in a low shot. Gilbert played an excellent ball down the left to Millo, and he laid the ball across to Arsen Ujkaj, who had come on for Kelly, but he drove the ball wide of the left-post from just inside the box.

It was Ujkaj who was to make it 5-0 to Swans however with three minutes of normal-time remaining. Another fine cross ball from deep on the left by Nicholas found Tanton on the right, and he laid inside to Millo. Millo set up Ujkaj on his left, close to the penalty-spot, and he dummied Burnham before thumping a left-foot shot into the top of the net.

There was still time left for Swans to have another shot blocked following a terrific bout of passing inside the box.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Devan Tanton, Harry Mills (Jude Molloy 70’), Maliq Morris, Charlie Nicholas, Joe Hicks, Josh Millo, Taurean Roberts, Eddie Simon (Flynn Bolton 81’), Alex Kelly (Arsen Ujkaj 75’), John Gilbert. Scorers: Simon (17’, 29’ & 80’), Gilbert (53’), Ujkaj (87’).

Ashford Town (Mx.) Team: Coulter, Peden, Rumble, Goulter, Burnham, Nadeem, Iqbal (Ridgeley 57’), M’Bengui, Brown (Doukoure 87’), Maguire, Stewart (Yakubu 57’). Subs. not used: Kellett-Smith, Nzelo. Cautions: Burnham, Maguire.