Saturday 3rd December 2022.                                Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Southall 3    Walton & Hersham 2.

Two goals conceded in a three minute spell with a quarter of an hour remaining sent Swans to defeat after they had twice led in their third meeting with Southall of the season. After they had taken a deserved lead in the final minute of the first-half they looked to be well in command, until a bizarre decision to award the home side a penalty just before the hour set them back. That penalty award came in the middle of a series of obscure decisions by the match officials that continually frustrated Swans’ attempts to see off the opposition. After Southall had equalised with the spot-kick Swans hit their best spell of the match and quickly regained the lead. They will feel disappointed that they then let in the two goals that cost them the points.

Devan Tanton returned to the starting line-up, along with Mitchal Gough, while Maliq Morris came into midfield. Jordan Adeyemi however had picked up an injury in the previous Velocity Cup match with Southall, while Dominic Ogun was serving a one match suspension, as well as recovering from injury himself. John Gilbert was still not fit enough to return.

Swans had their first opportunity ten minutes in when Morris was fouled on the right touchline giving them a free-kick, but Gough headed over from Tanton’s delivery. Taurean Roberts forced a corner on the left, but again Gough could not direct his header from Tanton’s kick. The ball came out to Morris, but he shot well over. Alex Kelly was then clearly fouled just outside the box, but the referee surprisingly saw no offence.

Swans had been well in control, and it was midway through the half before the home side posed a threat. An innocuous looking challenge by the right corner flag was penalised with a free-kick, but Tanton was able to head away and the ball was cleared. Southall had another free-kick deep on the left, but again Gough was able to head away from close to the line from Luke Heneghan’s ball into the box. Swans’ goalkeeper Liam Allen did well to cut out a cross from the right, making a high catch with a Southall player coming in behind him. Swans had to defend a run-in on the right byline, conceding a corner, but after the kick was played short the ball was crossed behind.

Swans’ best piece of attacking play so far came after 38 minutes when Kelly fed Morris, and he found Roberts on the left. Roberts drove in on the byline before sending the ball low across, but both Eddie Simon and Tanton jus failed to get a touch on the edge of the 6 yard-box. A fine diagonal pass picked out Tanton on the right, and he got in a good cross, but again Simon couldn’t get to the ball in the 6 yard-box.

Southall had their best chance of the half when they played a long ball down the right and the bounce led to Anthony O’Connor getting past Joe Hicks and into the box. Allen was able to make a partial save, but Hicks did well to get back and clear the ball.

Swans took a deserved lead in the final minute of normal-time of the half. Gough played a ball in from deep on the right to find Simon in the box, and although facing away from goal he held off both Carl Pearce and keeper Michael Edegbe to cleverly slide the ball over the line from the right corner of the 6 yard-box.

Simon unfortunately hurt himself in scoring and could not resume for the second-half, with Brian Garzon replacing him.

Straight from the resumption Morris forced a corner for Swans on the right, but Tanton’s kick was headed away at the near-post by Alex Nolan. Garzon was then fouled 30 yards out on the left, but Harry Mills’ free-kick was headed wide at the far-post by Gough.

Swans had already been on the end of some confusing decisions by the referee in the second-half when he awarded Southall a contentious free-kick out on the right touchline. Heneghan sent the ball into the box, and it deflected through for Allen to fall on at his near-post, but the referee added to the confusion by awarding Southall a corner on the right. Heneghan took the kick, and when O’Connor headed back at the far-post Hicks got his head to the ball and Allen punched it away. To everyone’s astonishment the referee then pointed to the penalty-spot. Allen just failed to keep Louis Stead’s spot-kick out of the bottom, left-corner.

Swans were stung into action and started playing some of their best football of the match, and this led to them regaining the lead. Garzon chased the ball to the right corner-flag before playing it back to Francis. Francis played it to Tanton, who neatly back-heeled it to set up Francis for a left-foot shot that brought a fine one-handed save from Edegbe, diving to his right. Swans retained possession to build up an excellent move, leading to Arsen Ujkaj finding Tanton on the right. Tanton laid the ball inside to Francis, who neatly sidestepped Chinua Cole before drilling the ball inside the right-post.

Southall’s Jack Roper sent a shot dipping over from the left, but Swans were able to maintain their pressure by winning a free-kick outside the right edge of the box when Morris was fouled.    Mills sent the ball dipping over the goal.

Swans will then feel disappointed to concede an equaliser after 73 minutes. Southall drove the ball into the 6 yard-box from the right, and Gough and Allen seemed to get in each other’s way, allowing O’Connor to dive in on the line and head home.

Just three minutes later the home side took the lead for the first time. A corner was won on the left, and Alabi Azeez Temitayo was at the far-post to head in.

With five minutes remaining Mills got into the left of the box, but his shot deflected through to keeper Edegbe at the near-post. Gough then delivered the ball from deep on the right to pick out the run of Mills into the box, but he could not set himself for the shot, and was just denied. Garzon collected by the left byline to lay back for Francis to shoot over, but the ball had already gone out.

Southall went close to extending their lead with a shot from outside the box that struck the left post.

Swans had one last opportunity to salvage a point in stoppage-time when Morris found Roberts on the right, and when he played the ball low across Pearce almost put into his own goal at the near-post, but the ball deflected over the bar.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Devan Tanton, Harry Mills, Arsen Ujkaj, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Palace Francis, Maliq Morris, Eddie Simon (Brian Garzon 46’), Alex Kelly (Jude Molloy 83’), Taurean Roberts. Subs. not used: Charlie Nicholas, Joe Pratley-Jones. Scorers: Simon (45’), Francis (61’).

Southall Team: Edegbe, Nolan, Cole, Stead (Bryan 63’), Pearce, Roper, Hope, Thompson-Brissett, O’Connor, Heneghan (Azeez Temitayo 63’), Putman (Frailing 81’). Subs. not used: Dailey, Bello-Balogun. Scorers: Stead, penalty (57’), O’Connor (73’), Azeez Temitayo (76’). Cautions: Stead (51’), O’Connor (81’).