Tuesday 1st November 2022.                                  Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Walton & Hersham 1   Hanworth Villa 2.

Swans’ unbeaten home record that had stretched back nine months to February, when they lost to Beckenham Town, cane to a disappointing end against visitors Hanworth Villa. They took an early lead against a side under the charge of their former management team of Simon Haughney and Paul Thomas, but two goals conceded in a ten minute spell in the second-half sent them to defeat.

Their squad was severely hit due to injury and unavailability, with Liam Allen, Jordan Adeyemi, Max Blackmore, Dominic Ogun, Joe Pratley-Jones, Ollie Twum and Devan Tanton all not available for selection. Jude Molloy was originally selected, but was unwell and could not start, resulting in Harry Mills switching to left-back, and Arsen Ujkaj starting on the right. Mills had to come off injured after just five minutes however, and he was replaced by Nick Burgess, who had not played for the team since late August. Allen missed his first game since early February, a run of 38 matches, and Harvey Sellers came in to make his debut in goal

Straight from the kick-off Mills struck a fine long ball from deep on the left that forced the visitors to concede a corner on the right, but Maliq Morris’s kick went behind. Mills was soon receiving treatment before going off and Burgess coming on.

Swans took the lead with seven minutes played following a flowing move. Villa goalkeeper Terry Buss took a free-kick in his own half, and Taurean Roberts headed away on the edge of Swans’ box. Alex Kelly nodded the ball on to Josh Millo, and he laid off to Eddie Simon on his left. Simon cut inside across the edge of the box before finding John Gilbert on the right. Gilbert played the ball inside to Roberts in the ‘D’, and he set himself before driving a fine shot past Buss.

Excellent play by Kelly got him into the box, but the ball just ran away from him. The visitors’ Jordan Ellis drove a dangerous ball over from the right that went just wide of the far-post. A long ball down the middle by Joe Hicks got Kelly into the box, but Buss was out to deny him. Another long ball then got Simon into the right of the box, but he was just closed out. Millo was also crowded out when he got into the box after a great flick over Villa right-back, and former Swan Bruno Tingle, on the left. Simon then got in on the right byline, but drove the ball across goal.

Swans should have doubled their lead after 36 minutes when they broke up a Villa attack. Charlie Nicholas delivered a fine long ball from deep on the left for Millo to pick up and find Gilbert in space on the right. Gilbert drove in a shot from the edge of the box that brought a fine save from keeper Buss. The ball came out to Simon just inside the box, but he volleyed wide of the left-post.

The visitors played a long ball down the middle that sent Jonathon Hippolyte clear, and Sellers dashed 20 yards out of his area to block. With Swans’ goal open, Villa had an opportunity to take advantage, but failed to gather the ball cleanly in the centre-circle. Burgess was shown a yellow card for a foul on Hippolyte, who had got clear, giving Villa a free-kick just outside the box, but the ball was sent across goal. The visitors won another free-kick 30 yards out in the final minute of normal-time of the half, but the delivery into the box was headed clear. Villa continued to have a strong end to the half, and Simon also picked up a yellow card for a foul. In stoppage-time Tom Bender got in a good strike from well out on the left that flew wide of the far-post, the referee’s whistle immediately ending the half.

Swans made a good start to the second-half, and when Nicholas’s cross from the left was headed away at the far-post, Gilbert turned on the edge of the box to send a shot just over. Clever play by Roberts on the left led to him driving the ball in, and Buss saved on his line Millo was then in the left of the box to get Simon on a run past Guy Ansah-Palmer and in on the byline, but he could only find the side-netting.

Swans then went desperately close to doubling their lead. Simon and Millo again combined on the left, and Millo cleverly played Simon through to the corner of the 6 yard-box. Simon clipped the ball past Buss, but former Swan Louis Taylor did superbly to hook it off the goal-line and over the bar.

Instead of being 2-0 down the visitors went close to equalising. The ball was played through to Hippolyte on the edge of the box, and he turned to send a terrific shot against the left-post. The ball ran off Nicholas for a corner on the right, and from Sam Merson’s kick Bender headed wide at the near-post. Merson then found Meshach Williams on the left, and he hooked the ball first-time into the 6 yard-box, where Hippolyte somehow failed to get his head to the ball. James Federico followed up with a shot from the right that Sellers kept out at his near-post.

The visitors had really come into the game, with Swans beginning to run out of ideas, and they equalised with just over twenty minutes remaining. Keeper Buss took a free-kick deep in his own half on the right, and the ball was nodded through to Hippolyte in the left of the box, and he got in front of Ujkaj before side-footing past Sellers.

Swans continued to make errors, and when Burgess’s clearance only found Williams on the left he got in a shot from 25 yards, but it lacked power, and Sellers made a comfortable save on his line

Swans then brought on Finlay Lovatt, who has joined on-loan from Bromley, to replace Morris.

Villa had a free-kick on the right touchline following a foul by Kelly, but it was hit too long. They took the lead however with just over ten minutes left. A long throw from the left was sent into the box, and when the ball came out to Hippolyte 20 yards from goal he struck a fine, left-foot half volley inside the left-post.

Swans were desperately unlucky not to equalise just two minutes later. Lovatt played the ball inside to Gilbert deep on the left, and he made a good run forward before neatly playing Simon in on the left, and he curled a right-foot shot against the far-post.

Hippolyte was almost gifted his hat-trick when Swans gave the ball away in the centre-circle, but after driving forward to the edge of the box his low shot was saved by Sellers down on his line.

Swans continued to press for an equaliser, and when Ujkaj put Millo down the right he did well before slipping the ball through to get Simon into the box, but his shot was blocked by Luke Ruddick and behind for a corner. Two minutes into stoppage-time a fine diagonal ball from Kelly deep on the right picked out Simon by the left corner of the box, and he nodded down to Lovatt, who found Nicholas on the left. Nicholas played the ball back inside to Simon, who was tripped just inches outside the box by Shane Dunne. Gilbert drove the free-kick in, but the ball struck the wall before looping over the goal for a corner. The kick from the left found the head of Hicks, but the ball glanced off the head of a defender before going behind for another corner on the right, and Gilbert’s kick was tipped away by Buss. Yet another corner was won on the left, and when the kick came in the ball ran loose, but Nicholas poked it over the bar from the edge of the 6 yard-box. There was one last opportunity for Swans to conjure up an equaliser when Ujkaj found space on the right, but his cross went straight into the gloves of keeper Buss.

Swans’ Team: Harvey Sellers, Arsen Ujka, Harry Mills (Nick Burgess 5’), Maliq Morris (Finlay Lovatt 73’), Charlie Nicholas, Joe Hicks, Josh Millo, Taurean Roberts, Eddie Simon, Alex Kelly, John Gilbert. Subs. not used: Flynn Bolton, Jude Molloy. Scorer: Roberts (7’). Cautions: Burgess, Simon, Kelly.  

Hanworth Villa Team: Buss, Tingle (Ansah-Palmer 46’)), Bender, Samra, Ruddick, Taylor, Ellis (Federico 53’), Dunne, Hippolyte, Merson (Hines 85’), Williams. Subs. not used: Nunn, Federico, Simpson. Scorer: Hippolyte (69’ & 79’). Cautions: Bender, Dunne.