Monday 28th November 2022.                                                               Velocity Cup, 3rd Round.

Walton & Hersham 1    Southall 1.  (5-3 on pens.).

Swans once again proved that you can never rule them out of the game, as they looked to be heading out of the Velocity Cup, until a superb strike from substitute Maliq Morris in the 90th   minute took the tie into a penalty shoot-out. A fine save by goalkeeper Liam Allen from the visitors‘ first spot-kick then meant a perfect set of five from Swans would seal their progression, and they duly obliged in faultless fashion. A visit to Carshalton Athletic in the round of the last sixteen was their reward.

Southall had taken the lead against the run of play after 33 minutes following an opening half hour dominated by Swans, but the goal lifted them and they settled down to play well for the rest of the match,. Swans struggled to create much in the way of clear chances, but their hopes were boosted when Southall were reduced to ten men with twenty minutes remaining following a red card, and late pressure finally paid off.

The final win, albeit through spot-kicks, was all the more commendable as a Swans’ squad that has been beset by illness and injury was playing its third match in the space of five days, whereas their opponents had not played for nine. Captain Joe Hicks was able to return to the side following illness, while Harry Mills also started, having come off early the previous Saturday feeling unwell. Mitchal Gough however was still not well enough to be considered for selection, while the scorer of the winner against Thatcham Town on his debut, Brian Garzon, was the latest player to report sick. Dominic Ogun had not recovered from the side injury sustained in that game, so joined John Gilbert on the side-lines, with Jude Molloy coming in at left-back.

On a cold, damp evening Swans made a bright start, and Eddie Simon soon got close in on the right, but he could not get in a clean shot, and Southall keeper Koju Abayomi made a good block at his near-post. Abayomi then cleared when Mills’ free-kick from deep on the right almost got Simon in. Southall had to head clear from their 6 yard-box when Mills played Jordan Adeyemi in on the right byline to cross the ball in. Swans then won a free-kick ten yards outside the box on the left, and Abayomi made a good save down to his left as Mills got in a fine strike.

It was just over a quarter of an hour played when the visitors posed their first threat, Allen making a good save when Steven Sylla shot from the edge of the box.

Swans continued to make most of the running however, and with half an hour played Mills drove forward and just into the box, but put a left foot shot over.

Southall then took the lead with their first attack of note. The ball was driven in low from the right byline to the near-post, where Joe Otudeko tucked it in.

Southall soon won a corner on the left, and when they played it short to get a cross in, Sylla glanced a header across goal and wide. The visitors continued to make a strong finish to the half, forcing two more corners.

Swans almost had the last say however, but Joe Pratley-Jones’ header from Mills’ right-side corner looped just over.

Six minutes after the resumption Swans looked to be denied a clear penalty as Adeyemi was brought down in the box after being played in by a fine ball from Arsen Ujkaj. Southall almost capitalised as Lenny Farhall got clear, but he shot well over.

Swans had a great chance to equalise following some fine play between Molloy and Palace Francis on the left that got Simon into the box, but he could not find a clear opening, and his shot was blocked. Francis was immediately played in, but Abayomi just got to the ball in the 6 yard-box.

Swans made a double change twenty minutes into the half, with Taurean Roberts replacing Francis and Morris coming on for Ujkaj.

Morris was soon getting into the right of the box to have shot blocked for a corner, and from Mills’ kick Simon put a header over from the edge of the 6 yard-box.

The visitors looked comfortable in possession however, restricting Swans’ openings, but they were dealt a blow with twenty minutes remaining when left-back Frankie Taylor made a poor challenge on Adeyemi, and having already been booked earlier was sent-off.

Swans soon went close again to equalising as Roberts played a neat one-two with Simon just outside the box and drove in a low shot that Abayomi saved down at his right post.

Southall’s Jaden Thompson-Brissett tried a shot from 30 yards that was straight at Allen, but his keeper was soon almost caught out by some quick thinking by Charlie Nicholas. The Swans’ central defender was in the centre-circle, and spotting Abayomi off his line sent the ball dipping just wide of the right post. Swans continued to press for the equaliser, and Simon was on the left to play Roberts through to the edge of the box, but his shot took a deflection to go wide of the right post. From Mills’ corner Hicks was just wide with a downward header. Another corner was forced when Pratley-Jones’ cross from the right was put behind. Keeper Abayomi just got to the ball as Mills took the kick from the right, and Adeyemi got in a shot that was blocked.

Adeyemi then had to come off, and was replaced by U18 player Joe Grieco with eight minutes of normal time remaining.

Hicks nodded the ball on to get Simon into the box, but the bounce was awkward and he could not get in a clean hit and Abayomi was able to collect. Swans’ last opportunity to stay in the competition seemed to have gone when, with one minute remaining, Mills’ cross from the right passed across the goal-face. But there was still time for Roberts to lay the ball across from the left to Morris just outside the box, and he sent a terrific, first-time shot into the top, right corner.

And so it went to a penalty decider. Swans went first with Mills, and he was his usual reliable self, making no mistake. Alex Nolan stepped up for the visitors, and Allen made a fine save diving to his left. Pratley-Jones, Simon and Roberts all converted for Swans, with Ryan Hope, Thompson-Brissett and Sylla all successful for Southall. It was then left to Molloy to put Swans through, and he did so unerringly.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Joe Pratley-Jones, Jude Molloy, Arsen Ujkaj (Maliq Morris 65’), Charlie Nicholas, Joe Hicks, Palace Francis (Taurean Roberts 65’), Harry Mills, Eddie Simon, Alex Kelly, Jordan Adeyemi (Joe Grieco 82’). Subs. not used: Flynn Bolton, Charlie Sell. Scorer: Morris (90’). Cautions: Pratley-Jones, foul (24’), Simon, foul (86’).  

Southall Team: Abayomi, Nolan, Taylor, Frailing, Dailey, Roper, Hope, Sylla, Thompson-Brissett, Otudeko (O’Connor 74’), Farhall. Subs. not used: Pearce, Stead, Heneghan, Edegbe. Scorer: Otudeko (33’). Cautions: Roper, foul (18’), Hope, foul (59’). Dismissal (2 cautions): Taylor, time wasting (64’), foul (70’).

Swans’ penalty-kicks: Mills, scored (1-0), Pratley-Jones, scored (2-0), Simon, scored (3-1), Roberts, scored (4-2), Molloy, scored (5-3).                          

Southall penalty-kicks: Nolan, saved (1-0), Hope, scored (2-1), Thompson-Brissett, scored (3-2), Sylla, scored (4-3).