Tuesday 14th February 2023.                                 Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Northwood 1     Walton & Hersham 2.

Swans picked up a massive win and three points in defeating the third placed club in a tight match on a misty evening in Northwood. With 1st placed Basingstoke Town also playing 4th placed Chertsey Town it was a big night for the top placed sides. The leaders won their match to maintain their seven point buffer, but Swans win stretched their 2nd place lead over their opponents to six points, with them having a game in hand on the other sides in the top four. The win also completed Swans’ third double of the season in the last three games. It was a fine all-round performance against a good home side, and they had to battle hard to hold on to all three points. Special mention must go to Swans’ Man of the Match, Liam Allen, who had a superb match in goal, making some crucial saves.

There were three changes to the starting line-up from the previous game, Dominic Ogun being unavailable and Harry Mills returning, and with Alex Kelly held up on route Teo Kurtaran made his first start. Mitchal Gough also returned in central defence, with Joe Pratley-Jones, who also arrived late, dropping to the bench.

Swans got off to a great start, taking the lead after just five minutes. Kurtaran was in the centre-circle to play a great ball through to get Jordan Adeyemi into the right of the box, and he cleverly clipped the ball past advancing goalkeeper Andy McCorkell and into the far corner.

Adeyemi had a great chance to make it 2-0 after ten minutes when Arsen Ujkaj played a fine ball from Swans’ own half to get him past Northwood’s James Gurteen and clear to the edge of the box, but McCorkell just managed to stick out his left leg to block the shot. John Gilbert was then fouled 25 yards out on the left to give Swans a free-kick, but Mills’ shot was comfortably saved by McCorkell down at his right post.

Northwood had a free-kick in the centre-circle, but former Swan Andy Lomas delivered the ball too long and behind. Home skipper Luke Tingey had the first opportunity to use his long throw from the right, but Swans were able to clear. Midway through the half some good play by Northwood’s Micah Jackson led to him finding Sandro Costa on the left, and when he crossed low to the far-post Teddy Stacey got a touch, but Allen showed great anticipation to grab the ball. Jackson then struck a free-kick from 30 yards out well, but Allen made another fine save down at his right post to push the ball wide.

After a dominant start Swans had been put under some pressure, and in the final minute of normal-time Sam Jenkins played the ball down the right for Stacey to cross to the far-post. Former Swans’ striker Gareth Chendlik got in a header that Gough and Darryl Siaw combined well to block behind. The corner from the left led to the ball coming off a couple of heads before Allen fell on it in the 6 yard-box.

Swans made a change for the second-half, with Pratley-Jones coming on for Mills, and they had an early free-kick out on the right touchline. Kurtaran’s kick led to a good passage of play around the home box before the ball was cleared. Adeyemi then won a corner on the right, and from Kurtaran’s kick Gough got to the edge of the 6 yard-box to send a header over. Swans had made another good start, and Gilbert played an excellent ball inside Lomas to get Adeyemi into the right of the box. Adeyemi’s attempt to find the far corner was partially blocked by Lomas, and Simon came in at the far-post, but he was stretching and shot wide.

The home side soon got to the other end, and when Riccardo Alexander-Greenaway set up Stacey 35 yards out on the right, he got in a good strike that brought a fine save from Allen down at his left post, and Gough hooked the ball away.

Northwood’s equaliser came ten minutes into the second-half. Gough dived to head behind at the near-post and concede a corner when the ball was swung in from the right. From the kick Allen made a good block to get the ball behind at his near-post. When the second corner was swung in the ball came back off the far-post and Gurteen forced it just over the goal-line.

Swans soon had a chance to regain the lead when Simon and Adeyemi combined, and Simon got forward before playing Adeyemi into the box with a great ball, but he put a left foot shot over. But with just under twenty minutes remaining they did make it 2-1. Joe Hicks won the ball on the left and played it to Siaw, who sent Roberts through into the left of the box. Roberts played the ball in low to Simon, who in preparing to shoot was judged to have been brought down on the edge of the 6 yard-box by Costa, and the referee awarded a penalty. With Mills again not available, Simon stepped up for his second penalty in two games, and again made no mistake, finding the bottom, left corner, with McCorkell diving the right way but unable to get a glove on the ball.

Northwood players had protested long and hard about the penalty award, and when their manager Ben Bukowski carried on those protests he was shown a yellow card, That card soon became red, and he was sent from the technical area.

Swans soon made a double substitution, with Kelly coming on for Kurtaran, and Palace Francis replacing Roberts.

The home side had a free-kick 30 yards out on the left, but Jackson struck the ball too long and it went behind at the near-post. Northwood continued to push for the equaliser, and with five minutes of normal-time remaining Swans had to clear a left-side corner at the near-post. The ball was then driven in low from the right, and Allen gathered at the near-post to deny Chendlik. With stoppage-time being played Tingey sent a long throw down the left, and when Gurteen nodded on to Chendlik in the box he went down as Adeyemi and Pratley-Jones came in to challenge, but he had clearly dived. Northwood had one last chance to deny Swans the win as Jackson delivered a free-kick from the left to the far-post for Gurteen to nod the ball back across, but Keagan Cole headed just over from in front of goal.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Darryl Siaw, Harry Mills (Joe Pratley-Jones 46’), Arsen Ujkaj, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Jordan Adeyemi, Teo Kurtaran (Alex Kelly 73’), Eddie Simon, John Gilbert, Taurean Roberts (Palace Francis 73’). Subs. not used: Brian Garzon, Jonathan Gjoshe. Scorers: Adeyemi (5’), Simon (71’ [pen.]). Cautions: Mills, kicked ball away (45+2’), Gough, foul (90+2’).

Northwood Team: McCorkell, Jenkins (Cole 89’), Lomas, Alexander-Greenaway, Tingey, Gurteen, Costa (Paiva 84’), Stacey, Chendlik, Jackson, Stewart (Helmore 81’). Subs. not used: Gallagher, Daggett. Scorer: Gurteen (55’). Cautions: Stacey, foul (38’), Dismissal: Bukowski (Manager), dissent (72’).