Saturday 19th November 2022.                              Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Walton & Hersham 2    Westfield 1.

Swans had to battle hard to come out on top as third played fourth in the Surrey derby at the Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub, the win taking them above their opponents and into second spot in the table. It also ended a seven match unbeaten run, that included five wins, for the Woking based club, and gave Swans a much needed win after some recent poor results. That win looked to be slipping away from them as a good Westfield side took the lead ten minutes into the second-half of a tight encounter, but a brace of goals from Eddie Simon turned the match in their favour.

Swans were delighted to welcome back Palace Francis, who has re-joined on-loan from Welling United, offsetting to some extent the loss of John Gilbert, who had not recovered from the injury picked up at Sutton Common Rovers. A further boost was the return of Harry Mills from injury, and Alex Kelly from a one match ban. Mitchal Gough returned for a central defensive role, with Charlie Nicholas dropping to the bench.

The visitors soon had an opportunity when Bruno Tavares charged down a clearance and was able to get forward, but he shot wide of the left-post from 30 yards.

Francis was able to make his first impact when a fine diagonal ball from deep on the right by Mills picked him out on the left, and he cut inside to lay off to Taurean Roberts, who then found Mills. Mills set up Francis 25 yards out, but his low shot was wide of the left-post. There was a moment of controversy with five minutes played. What appeared to be a clear back-pass by Westfield caught out their goalkeeper Sonny Wheeler, who just managed to get back and stop the ball with his hand from going over the goal-line and inside his left post. An in-direct free-kick to Swans on the goal-line looked to be the outcome, but the referee did not concur. Some fine play between Kelly and Simon on the right got Kelly in on the byline and into the 6 yard-box, but he was just closed out. Swans then went close to taking the lead with a terrific piece of play. Arsen Ujkaj, in his own half, played a fine switch ball to find Jordan Adeyemi on the right, and he got past Luke Brophy and into the box, before cleverly slipping the ball through to Simon. Simon played a superb, instant back-heel to set up Adeyemi on the edge of the edge of the 6 yard-box, but his shot brought a great block from Wheeler.

Westfield immediately broke and a through ball got Troy Walters clear and into the right of the box, and although he was held up a shot from the right was blocked. Walters regained possession, and his shot forced a fine save from Swans’ keeper Liam Allen at the near-post.

Swans won a corner on the right, but Gough put a header over from Roberts’ kick.

Dominic Ogun was shown a yellow card for a foul that gave Westfield a free-kick wide on the right, but the ball was delivered too long and it went behind. Walters then won his side a corner on the left, but Andy Crossley’s kick was again over-hit, and the ball went behind at the far-post. Westfield had another opportunity with a free-kick 40 yards out, but Ujkaj was able to head clear when Crossley sent the ball into the box.

Kelly got Francis down the left for Swans, but after getting in on the byline he was closed out.

Francis then made a run forward before linking up with Adeyemi, who drove in a low, left-foot shot from 25 yards that Wheeler went down on his line to save.

Allen also made a comfortable save on his line when Walters turned 30 yards out to get in a shot. Swans responded with Mills setting up Francis on the right, but the angle was tight and his shot cleared the crossbar. With half an hour played Mills sent a fine pass down the right to Kelly, who neatly flicked the ball inside to Simon, and from just inside the box he tried to clip it over Wheeler, but the keeper just managed to block before getting possession. Ogun then played a fine diagonal ball from the left to find Francis on the right, and he beat Tavares to get in on the byline, but his driven cross was cleared from the 6 yard-box. Mills knocked the ball forward to pick out Simon in the box, but he was left with a difficult header, and it went straight at Wheeler. Gough then played a good knock forward, and Wheeler came to the edge of his area to punch clear. A fine build-up around the edge of the box led to Kelly getting in a shot, but it took a deflection and the ball ran through to Wheeler.

With five minutes remaining of the half Swans were grateful to their keeper Allen for preventing them from falling behind. Crossley clearly fouled Adeyemi in Westfield’s half, but he was allowed to gain possession and send a long ball through to Walters. Walters got past Gough and into the left of the box, but his shot was superbly saved by Allen. Walters followed up with another shot, but the Swans’ keeper made another terrific save, with Tavares free at the far-post.

Ujkaj tried a speculative effort from distance that was wide of the left-post, and Simon played Kelly down the left to force a corner, but Wheeler easily cut out Roberts’ kick.

There was still time for Westfield’s Didi Ndombe to play the ball low across the goal and wide from the left.

Swans started the second-half with a fine build-up that got Mills in on the left byline to win a corner, following which Adeyemi drove in a shot from 25 yards that took a deflection to loop over. Another good move led to Simon getting Francis in on the left byline to win another corner.

It was Westfield however who took the lead ten minutes into the half. They won the ball in the middle of pitch, and Ndombe found Tavares on the right, who drove the ball into the box. Walters was at the far-post to have a shot blocked, and when the ball came to Ndombe on the edge of the 6 yard-box he placed a shot inside the right-post.

Swans should have hit back immediately when Crossley fouled Mills 35 yards out on the right. Mills sent the free-kick high to the far-post to pick out Gough, but he put a free header well over. An even better chance came when Mills found Ujkaj on the right, and he crossed a terrific ball to the edge of the 6 yard-box, where Simon got between Isaac Charles and David Amate, but put his header over.

Simon was soon making amends however 17 minutes into the half as he grabbed Swans’ equaliser. Adeyemi played Mills to the byline on the right, and he cut back inside onto his left-foot to drive in a shot that brought another fine save from Wheeler at his near-post. The ball came out to Simon on the edge of the edge of the 6 yard-box, and he hooked it in.

Just a minute later Simon went close to putting Swans ahead as he was played in on the left, but shot just over the near, top corner. Adeyemi then drove the ball in from the right for Westfield’s skipper Luke Elliott to almost put it into his own net at the near-post, but it went just wide.

The visitors put a low shot across goal from the left, but Swans were now looking the likely winners. They were awarded a free-kick deep in the middle of the pitch that Ogun played out to Roberts on the left, and he laid the ball inside to Mills on the edge of the box, but his low shot was comfortably saved by Wheeler.

Then, with 13 minutes of normal-time remaining, Swans took the lead. Gough sent a good ball from deep to pick out Mills on the right, and he nodded through to Adeyemi. Elliott tried to shepherd the ball behind, but Adeyemi’s persistence won it back, and he laid it back inside.

Charles could only knock the ball out to Simon on the edge of the 6 yard-box, and he passed it into the net.

Straight from the restart Kelly combined with Simon to get him down the left, and he laid the ball across the edge of the box to Roberts, who drove in a first-time shot that was straight at Wheeler. As the game entered the final five minutes some terrific play by Swans almost led to them making it 3-1. Superb, quick interplay between several players deep on their left led to Ujkaj getting the ball in the centre-circle, and he played an excellent through ball to send Adeyemi clear and to the left corner of the 6 yard-box, but his shot was just blocked by a combination of Brophy and his keeper. From substitute Finlay Lovatt’s corner Gough headed wide at the far-post. Two minutes into stoppage-time Francis was on the left to play Lovatt through to the corner of the 6 yard-box, but after sidestepping Charles, his shot brought another great save from Wheeler.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Harry Mills, Dominic Ogun, Arsen Ujkaj, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Palace Francis, Taurean Roberts (Finlay Lovatt 83’), Eddie Simon, Alex Kelly, Jordan Adeyemi. Subs. not used: Charlie Nicholas, Maliq Morris, Jude Molloy, Joe Pratley-Jones. Scorer: Simon (62’ & 77’). Cautions: Ogun, foul (15’), Ujkaj, foul (90+3’).

Westfield Team: Wheeler, Tavares, Ndombe (J. Adebiyi 74’), Amate, Elliott, Carter (Breckon 82’), Crossley, Charles, Walters, E. Adebiyi, Brophy. Subs. not used: Glover, Knight, Sanchez. Scorer: Ndombe (55’). Cautions: Amate (34’), Tavares (72’).