Wednesday 23rd November 2022.                       Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Bedfont Sports 3    Walton & Hersham 2.

Swans lost the opportunity to use their game in hand to reinforce their second spot in the table with a disappointing loss at Bedfont Sports, who registered only their second win of the season, and their first at home. The change in goal difference also saw them drop to third, with Marlow moving above them. Having taken an early lead with an excellent Harry Mills goal they dominated the early play, and missed a great chance to make it 2-0. They were then pulled back with a good goal by the home side’s fine young striker Sam Evans, who then went on to capitalise on poor defending to complete a hat-trick and put Bedfont 3-1 up twelve minutes into the second-half. Swans’ late siege on the home goal gave them hopes of salvaging a result when Eddie Simon scored with just under twenty minutes remaining. Indeed, a Simon header in the fifth minute of stoppage-time looked to have rescued a draw, but the ‘goal’ was controversially ruled offside.

Alex Kelly was unwell and Taurean Roberts unavailable, so along with the still not fit John Gilbert Swans were missing three key midfielders. Harry Mills moved into midfield, with Joe Pratley-Jones returning at right-back.

Swans made a good start, and took the lead after seven minutes with a fine goal A long ball from deep on the left was flicked on by Simon to get Mills to the corner of the box, and he sent a delightful left-foot lob over home goalkeeper Cairo Richards.

It should have been 2-0 after ten minutes when some great play by Mills in the right of the box led to him driving the ball low to the far-post, where Finlay Lovatt poked it wide from almost on the goal-line. Then, following a build-up on the left, Lovatt laid the ball back to Palace Francis 35yards out, and he got in a good, low strike that flew wide of the left-post. Pratley-Jones took a long throw from the left, and the ball was just scrambled clear in the box, with claims for handball when a shot was blocked.

The home side posed their first threat when Evans found space on the right, and his ball driven into the 6 yard-box was just cleared away.

Francis was just closed out when he made a clever run into the box, nutmegging a defender, but Bedfont equalised after 21 minutes. Evans was played down the right, and he cut inside across the edge of box, before passing a left-foot shot low inside the right-post.

Just three minutes later it was 2-1 to the home side. A long ball down the left seemed to lead to indecision between Joe Hicks and Liam Allen, and Evans was able to cleverly flick the ball over the Swans’ keeper and into the goal.

Swans had a free-kick 40 yards out on the right, but Mills’ ball to the far-post was headed over by Pratley-Jones.

With ten minutes left of the half Evans had a chance to notch his hat-trick and put Bedfont 3-1 up as he was found with another long ball down the left and got inside Hicks, but his shot was well saved by Allen. Dominic Ogun was shown a yellow card for a foul out by the corner flag on Bedfont’s right, but the free-kick was safely headed away at the far-post. Another free-kick immediately followed however outside the left corner of the box, but Steve Ngunga drove the ball over.

Swans went close to equalising in the final minute of the half. Pratley-Jones took another long throw from the left that forced Bedfont to head behind for a corner on the right, and from Mills’ kick he was at the far-post to get in a downward header, and the ball bounced just over the bar.

Early in the second-half another mistake at the back by Swans allowed Bedfont to drive the ball into the box, and when it was blocked Allen just got to it. At the other end Pratley-Jones crossed a fine ball in from the right, and keeper Richards dived to punch away.

Swans hopes of getting a result took another blow after 57 minutes when the home side scored again. Bedfont cleared a long ball down the middle from their own box, and Evans was left with a one on one with Charlie Nicholas, and he sidestepped the Swans’ defender before driving past Allen to complete his hat-trick.

A long pass down the left for Swans found Lovatt, and he got past the keeper and to the byline before laying the ball back to Jordan Adeyemi. Adeyemi laid the ball inside to Mills, who set up Francis to his right, but he shot high and wide.

Swans got back into the game with just under twenty minutes remaining. Arsen Ujkaj played a fine through ball to get Adeyemi free on the left, and when he drove low across the 6 yard-box, Simon followed up to score.

Swans continued to try to find a way through a resolute home defence, and when Pratley-Jones crossed high into the box from the right Simon missed his kick when the ball was cleared to him. With three minutes of normal-time remaining an excellent move around the box led to Adeyemi playing a fine through ball to set up Simon in the left of the box, but he drove the chance over. Another opportunity came with a free-kick deep on the right, but Mills’ delivery into the box was too long. With two minutes of stoppage-time played a build-up on the right led to Pratley-Jones crossing into the 6 yard-box and Simon putting a difficult volley over. Swans’ pressure looked to have finally paid off when substitute Maliq Morris found Hicks on the left, and he crossed to the far-post for Simon to leap and head in, but the flag went up for offside.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Joe Pratley-Jones, Dominic Ogun (Jude Molloy 76’), Arsen Ujkaj, Charlie Nicholas (Mitchal Gough 61’), Joe Hicks, Palace Francis, Finlay Lovatt (Maliq Morris 79’), Eddie Simon, Harry Mills, Jordan Adeyemi. Sub. not used: Flynn Bolton. Scorers: Mills (7’), Simon (71’). Cautions: Ogun, foul (40’), Francis, foul (58’), Ujkaj, foul (80’).

Bedfont Sports Team: Richards, Kambamba (Stewart 68’), Silvera, Stoop, Agwu, Morrison, Ngunga, Wright, Evans, Ditu (Eakin 79’), Kennedy. Subs. not used: Dymott, Lewis, Beck-Nardoni. Scorer: Evans (21’, 24’ & 57’). Caution: Silvera, time-wasting (90+3’).