Saturday 25th February 2023.                               Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Hanworth Villa 0    Walton & Hersham 2.

Swans stretched their winning run to eight games with a dominant second-half performance to avenge their earlier home defeat at the hands of their north Thames neighbours. A rather scrappy first-half had seen them spurn a couple of good scoring opportunities, taking the match into the break goal-less, but two excellent goals capped a much improved second-half performance.

Darryl Siaw, Palace Francis and Taurean Roberts all returned to the starting line-up, with Jordan Adeyemi and Teo Kurtaran dropping to the bench and Joe Pratley-Jones being unavailable. Dominic Ogun was also absent, leading to only three substitutes being named.

The home side immediately had a free-kick deep on the right, and the ball was cleared at the far-post when George Wells delivered it into the box.

Swans had a free-kick of their own when Harry Mills was fouled out on the right, but his ball in was safely cleared back to goalkeeper Gary Ross at the far-post. Alex Kelly forced a corner following some clever play by Siaw out by the right corner-flag, but the first quarter of an hour had seen neither side really settle on a tricky pitch. Another of several free-kicks came in Swans’ favour when Roberts drew a foul on the right following a fine diagonal ball from Mills on the left, but Mills’ kick was cleared.

The ball ran safely through to Swans’ keeper Liam Allen when it was driven in low from deep on the left as the home side began to threaten. Another ball from deep on the left to the edge of the box was not cleared, and Finlay McNab was allowed to make room to get in a low shot, but Allen made a comfortable take on his line. The ball was then lost on the halfway line, and Jordan Ellis got away to the right of the box to put a low shot wide of the far-post, when a pass inside may have been a better option.

Swans posed their best threat so far when Mills found Siaw high on the right, and he laid the ball back to John Gilbert. Gilbert volleyed the ball in with his left foot to the near corner of the 6 yard-box, where Eddie Simon just failed to get a touch and Ross was able to gather.

Mills was then fouled just outside the box when Arsen Ujkaj played the ball through to him, and this almost led to Swans taking the lead. The free-kick just to the left of the ‘D’ was driven into the wall by Mills, but it came back to him. He then slipped it through to find Kelly on the right corner of the 6 yard-box, but after beating Ross he was flagged offside.

Roberts was fouled deep on the right by Theo Crawford, giving Swans another free-kick, but Ross was in his 6 yard-box to collect Mitchal Gough’s ball in.

Gough was immediately having to make a fine tackle when Kyen Nicholas threatened to get in for Villa.

With 33 minutes played Swans had a great chance to break the deadlock. The home side’s Ben Geraghty forced Joe Hicks into conceding a corner on the right, but when Leon Solomon delivered the kick too long Mills did well to just keep the ball from running over the touchline on Swans’ right. Mills played the ball down the line to Francis on halfway, and he laid it inside to Gilbert, who burst forward into clear space. The midfielder outstripped a couple of home defenders to get free into the left of the box, but he was unable to beat Ross, the former Swans’ keeper coming out to block away for a corner.

Swans were ending the half well, and a third corner was won in a matter of minutes when Mills drove in on the left byline to get in a shot Another great chance to take the lead came when Gough got forward on the right to play a fine ball and pick out Simon in space in the box, but after one touch to control he sent a half-volley over.

Swans were almost made to pay for missed opportunities when Nicholas was found on the halfway line on the left, and he burst clear. He was tracked all the way to the edge of the box by both Mills and Gough, but it was Mills who got in a superb tackle, and the ball ran through to the gloves of Allen.

Francis forced a corner on the left for Swans that was headed clear, but in the final minute of normal-time Villa won one on their left. Tom Bender was at the near-post to get his head to Solomon’s kick, but could only find the side-netting. McNab then got free on the right before finding Geraghty, but he sent the ball straight through to Allen.

Swans made a change for the second-half, with Kurtaran coming on for Siaw, and the substitution almost bore fruit after just five minutes. Mills took a throw-in on the left to Kurtaran, and he made a terrific run in on the left byline to have the ball blocked away at the near-post. Roberts was able to set up Ujkaj on the edge of the box, and his low shot was well saved by Ross down to his right. The ball ran loose for Simon to net, but he was ruled offside.

Swans continued to dominate, with the home side sitting deep and getting players behind the ball. Midway through the half a dink over the top got Ujkaj clear to the left byline, but he put the ball behind.

Swans’ pressure finally paid off with just under twenty minutes remaining. A Villa clearance was picked up by Kelly on halfway, and he made a great run forward before playing a terrific ball inside both Solomon and Bender to Simon in the right of the box, and he drove the ball low into the far corner. Swans wasted no time in making a second change, with Adeyemi coming on for Francis.

The home side posed a rare threat, getting into the right of the box, but the ball ran harmlessly through to Allen.

Swans had a free-kick in a good position outside the left corner of the box following a foul by Wells, and Ross had to dive down to his left to push the ball away when Kurtaran drove it in. Simon followed up on the right to drive the ball against the near-post from a tight angle. Ukaj was able to retain possession and play Adeyemi to the right byline and force Solomon to block behind for a corner. Gilbert’s kick was met at the far-post by Gough, and his header brought another fine save from Ross, diving to force the ball wide. From the corner Kurtaran headed over.

With just under ten minutes renaming Swans doubled their lead with a terrific individual goal from Gilbert. Mills found the midfielder with a ball down the left touchline, and he left Wells standing with an audacious spin past him, before bursting inside to the left corner of the box and driving a low shot into the far corner.

Villa tried to respond, and Bender got forward to have a shot deflected for a corner on the left.

As the match entered the final five minutes of normal-time Gagandeep Samra played the ball over the top to get Geraghty to the right byline and get in a cross. Gough headed away, and McNab was outside the box to send a first-time volley over. A corner was then forced on the right, and when Ujkaj headed the ball away Geraghty struck it on the volley from 40 yards out, but it flew well wide of the left post. Villa had one last opportunity before stoppage-time kicked in with a free-kick 40 yards out. Solomon’s kick was nodded back across at the left post by Bender, and Emmanuel Erskine’s   header from the edge of the 6 yard-box was headed over his own bar by Ujkaj.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Darryl Siaw (Teo Kurtaran 46’), Harry Mills (Jonathan Gjoshe 86’), Arsen Ujkaj, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Palace Francis (Jordan Adeyemi 73’), Alex Kelly, Eddie Simon, John Gilbert, Taurean Roberts. Scorers: Simon (71’), Gilbert (81’). Cautions: Ujkaj, foul (56’), Kurtaran, foul (63’). 

Hanworth Villa Team: Ross, Geraghty, Nunn, Wells, Solomon, Bender, Crawford (Erskine 81’), McNab, Nicholas (Samra 73’), Ellis, Whittaker (Folkes 68’). Subs. not used: Ansah-Palmer, Bijarra. Caution: Crawford, foul (31’).