Saturday 17th December 2022.                              Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Basingstoke Town 0    Walton & Hersham 1.

Swans took advantage of their game being one of the few to survive the freezing weather to put on a great performance, and pick up a win that took them to just one point behind leaders Northwood in the table. Basingstoke had won their last seven matches, with five in the league, but they could not break Swans down after Taurean Roberts’ terrific 32nd minute goal had given the visitors a deserved half-time lead. Swans played some superb attacking football in the first-half, taking the game to the home side, but clear-cut chances were few, and it took Roberts’ fine strike to break the deadlock. The second-half saw Basingstoke push higher up the pitch, putting Swans under pressure, but goalkeeper Liam Allen, playing his 100th game for the club, did not have to make a serious save as he was protected by excellent defending.

For their first meeting with the Hampshire club for over 22 years Swans were able to field a line-up unchanged from that which had beaten Guernsey 6-0.

Swans dominated the early exchanges, and had a chance to go ahead after just seven minutes. A great passage of play started by Dominic Ogun in his own-half finished with him exchanging passes with Jordan Adeyemi on the edge of the home box to open up a chance, but he shot well-wide of the right post. Roberts won a corner on the left, and Mitchal Gough just failed to get his head on the ball from Maliq Morris’s kick.

The first 17 minutes belonged totally to Swans, but the home side then had an opportunity to create something from a free-kick deep on the left, but Ben Cook struck the ball too long and it went wide of the far-post.

Roberts forced another corner for Swans on the left, and Joe Hicks got in a header from Morris’s kick, but the ball bounced through into the gloves of home keeper Paul Strudley.

Basingstoke won a corner when Hicks headed the ball behind at the near-post from George Reid’s low cross from the left, but Gough was at the far-post to head clear from the kick. Midway through the half a fine build-up by Basingstoke led to Michael Atkinson finding Bradley Wilson on the edge of the box, and he turned Harry Mills and Hicks to get in a shot that brought an excellent save from Allen down to his left, and Mills got across to tidy up. The home side were immediately awarded a free-kick out by the right corner-flag, leading to a weak header that Allen claimed comfortably. Basingstoke continued to have a good spell, and the referee played advantage following a foul by Francis 25 yards out, leading to Sam Argent setting up Wilson on the left edge of the box, but he drove a shot over the far, top corner.

Swans still looked comfortable in possession, and some tricky play by Roberts on the left led to Alex Kelly setting up Morris 35 yards out, but his shot lacked power, and Strudley got behind the ball on his line.

Wilson continued to look the home side’s main threat, and a cross-field ball by Reid found him on the left, and he got into the box, but shot straight at Allen at his near-post.

Swans then took the lead after 32 minutes with Roberts’ excellent goal. A move started on the right between Mills and Francis led to Morris and Adeyemi working the ball to Roberts outside the left corner of the box, and he struck it first-time into the far, top corner.

Swans had a chance to make it 2-0 three minutes before the break. Morris found Francis on the right, and he made a fine run in on the byline before laying the ball back to Morris inside the box, but he drove the ball over the goal.

The first quarter of an hour of the second-half saw the home side pressing higher, but Swans dealing comfortably with their attacks. Basingstoke had a free-kick out on the right touchline, and Reid delivered a fine ball into the box, but Gough was at the far-post to head behind. Reid then took a corner from the left, but it was struck too long and the ball went wide of the far-post. With a quarter of an hour remaining the home side built up a good move on the right, and James Clark was in the box to get in a shot, but Allen again took the ball comfortably at the near-post.

Swans went close to doubling their lead with ten minutes of normal-time left. Basingstoke keeper Strudley kicked clear, but Gough was able to nod the ball down to Arsen Ujkaj in the centre-circle, and he played a fine pass through to Morris 35 yards out. The midfielder has struck some fine shots from outside the box since his return to the side, and he drove in another that rattled the inside of the right post.

Basingstoke broke to the other end, and Hicks was forced into a foul just outside the box that earned the Swans’ skipper a yellow card and conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position. Wilson however struck the ball over the bar.

Swans made a break from the centre-circle and Francis went down under a tackle on the left edge of the box, but the referee saw no offence.

As the match entered the final five minutes Wilson made a good break forward down the left for Basingstoke, but Mills showed him wide, and he crossed straight into the gloves of Allen.

The Swans’ keeper immediately threw the ball out to Kelly, and he played a fine ball through to send Francis clear. Francis drove into the box and in on the left byline, but shot just wide of the near-post.

Basingstoke forced a corner on the left, and Hicks headed away to the edge of the box for Clark to put a shot well over. In the 90th minute Ujkaj was booked for a foul deep on Swans’ right giving the home side a free-kick, but from Callum Winchcombe’s delivery the ball went out for a throw-in. The throw led to the ball pinging around in Swans’ box before it was cleared. Deep into stoppage-time Gough was also shown a yellow card for a foul, giving Basingstoke a final opportunity with a free-kick on the left, but the ball was sent straight into the gloves of Allen.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Harry Mills, Dominic Ogun, Arsen Ujkaj, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Palace Francis (Brian Garzon 89’), Maliq Morris, Jordan Adeyemi (Eddie Simon 67’), Alex Kelly, Taurean Roberts. Subs. not used: Charlie Nicholas, Jude Molloy, Joe Pratley-Jones. Scorer: Roberts (32’). Cautions: Hicks, foul (80’), Ujkaj, foul (90’), Gough, foul (90+4’).  

Basingstoke Team: Strudley, Johnson-Schuster, Winchcombe, Atkinson, Smart, Upton, Wilson, Dunn, Cook (Magalmaes-Nevez 67’), Reid (Peart 87’), Argent (Clark 56’). Subs. not used: Howarth, Halliday. Cautions: Clark, foul (60’), Upton, foul (90+3’).