Saturday 4th February 2023.                                 Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Westfield 1    Walton & Hersham 2.

Swans repeated the score of the earlier home fixture, registering their first double of the season with a hard-fought win over their fellow Surrey side to stay second place in the table.

It was a thoroughly professional and disciplined performance, as they stuck to their game and did not allow some frustrating moments and decisions to affect them. After taking a deserved lead after 35 minutes, they were denied the chance of doubling it as a clear-cut penalty was not awarded, the home side then equalising immediately. Eddie Simon then scored with just under a quarter of an hour remaining to seal the three points, and add to his two goals that won Swans the corresponding home game.

There was just one change to the starting line-up from a week earlier, Harry Mills dropping out with an injury, and Dominic Ogun returning.

Swans immediately started with a good build-up, and Westfield goalkeeper Sonny Wheeler had to take the ball under his crossbar when Arsen Ujkaj sent in a high cross from deep on the right. Another neat move led to John Gilbert forcing a corner on the left after being put through by Ogun. Mitchal Gough got to the near-post to meet Gilbert’s kick, and his glancing header took a deflection to go over for another corner. This time Gilbert’s kick from the right was met by Joe Hicks beyond the far-post, but his header was cleared away. Alex Kelly played a fine ball over the top from halfway on the right to pick out Simon in the right of the box, and he held off Luke Elliott to turn and acrobatically hook a right foot shot just over.

Westfield had sat back, with Swans having most of the possession, but they finally posed a threat when they drove the ball in low from the left and John Adebiyi put it wide at the far-post.

With a quarter of an hour played another fine build-up by Swans led to Darryl Siaw crossing into the box from the right for Taurean Roberts to nod the ball on to Gilbert to his left, but after sidestepping David Amate he drove a left-foot shot just over. Swans continued to create openings, and Gough won the ball just inside his own half on the right before playing a defence spitting pass to get Roberts into the left of the box, and he forced a good save from Wheeler, coming out to the corner of the 6 yard-box. Gilbert got possession on the left to cut across the edge of box and get in a low shot that was straight at Wheeler on his line. Ogun then played a fine ball from halfway on the left to pick out the run of Simon. Simon got in front of Ali Mansaray in the left of the box, but again was just too high with a left-foot half-volley.

The home side almost took the lead against the run of play when Swans lost the ball on their right, and Jude Mason drove it low into the 6 yard-box. Florian Envoudou Ada just failed to get a touch in front of goal and Ogun did well to clear behind at the far-post to deny John Adebiyi. Another chance came for Westfield when Wheeler’s long kick-out found Didi Ndombe on the left, and he got into the box to get in a shot that Swans’ keeper Liam Allen saved comfortably at his near-post.

Swans finally took the lead their play deserved with ten minutes left of the half, and the goal came in unlikely, but excellent fashion. Gough got forward on the right, and spotting the run of fellow centre-back Hicks into the box chipped a lofted pass through to him. The Swans’ skipper had his back to goal as he cleverly guided a header over the advancing keeper and into the net, to register his first goal since September of last season.

Swans should have had the opportunity of doubling their lead with three minutes of normal-time left of the half when Palace Francis and Siaw combined on the right, and clever play by Francis took him to the byline. Francis laid the ball back to Siaw, who cut into the box before clearly being brought down by Emmanuel Adebiyi, but instead of awarding a penalty the referee showed a yellow card to the Swans’ player for simulation and awarded a free-kick to the home side.

Instead of possibly being 2-0 up Swans immediately found themselves pulled level. The free-kick was sent down the pitch by keeper Wheeler, leading to Gough and Hicks colliding with each other and the ball running to Westfield’s Andy Crossley 25 yards from goal. Crossley drove in a low shot that was just inches outside the right hand of the diving Allen as it found the bottom, left corner.

There was still time left of the half for Swans to have an opportunity to hit back when Roberts was fouled deep on the left, but Kelly’s free-kick into the box was well taken by Wheeler.

Swans went close to restoring their lead early in the second-half when Kelly and Gilbert worked the ball to Roberts on the left, and he sidestepped a couple of defenders before striking a terrific left foot shot that brought a fine save from Wheeler, who got the ball round his near-post. From Gilbert’s left-side corner Hicks was at the far-post to get in a downward header that brought another great save from the Westfield keeper, who just managed to claw the ball off the goal-line. Wheeler then just managed to claim the ball following some fine play between Gilbert and Simon in the left of the box. Swans then built up a multi-pass move probing for an opening, but it ended with Roberts’ cross from the left being hit too long and Wheeler claiming the ball at his far post.

Both Gough and Francis then received treatment for injury, and a double substitution was made, with Joe Pratley-Jones and Jordan Adeyemi coming on.

Swans continued to dominate play, but the home side went close when Ndombe got down the right and drove the ball just wide of the far-post.

Adeyemi made a clever run in the left of the box before laying the ball back to Simon, whose shot was blocked, just before Swans regained the lead with just under a quarter of an hour remaining. A free-kick had been awarded on the right, and before it could be taken Brian Garzon came on for Roberts. Gilbert then delivered the ball to the far-post, and it bounced in the 6 yard-box before reaching Pratley-Jones, who did superbly well to just keep it in play and hook it back to Hicks. Hicks’ shot was blocked but the ball ran to Simon, who worked it onto his left foot to avoid the challenge of John Adebiyi before driving it past Wheeler.

Adeyemi almost got through when his run was picked out by Kelly’s excellent ball down the middle.

There was more controversy with eight minutes of normal-time left. With a free-kick seemingly awarded to Westfield close to their right corner flag, Gilbert picked the ball up, and when he would not hand it over a home player appeared to throw a punch at the Swans’ midfielder before pushing him over. Several players then got involved in a pushing and shoving match, with the eventual outcome being the referee showing yellow cards to Gilbert and Westfield’s Niran Butler, with the main culprit going completely unpunished.

The home side pushed for an equaliser, and with three minutes left of the ninety Swans failed to get the ball clear, and when John Adebiyi found Ndombe in the left of the box he sent a low shot across the 6 yard-box and wide of the far-post. Westfield’s Elliott had to head clear from a left-side cross following a fine ball from Gilbert as Swans responded. With the match entering stoppage-time, following a throw-in on the left, Westfield drove in on the left byline, and Allen combined with his defenders to clear the cross at the near-post. Gilbert was soon getting in on the left byline at the other end to force a corner. In the 6th and final minute of added-on time the ball was nodded on to Westfield’s Ndombe on the left, and when he laid it back to Emmanuel Adebiyi his shot was blocked. The ball ran to Gilbert, and he hooked it away to pick out Simon on the halfway line on the right. Simon made a great run down the line past Butler before laying the ball across to Garzon, unmarked by the penalty-spot, but he could not get it under control and Wheeler just blocked it away with his legs. The keeper threw out to Crossley, who played a fine long ball to find Ndombe on the left. His cross was blocked at the near-post by Pratley-Jones, and a good tackle by Garzon enabled the ball to be cleared and the final whistle to be blown.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Darryl Siaw, Dominic Ogun, Arsen Ujkaj, Mitchal Gough (Joe Pratley-Jones 65’), Joe Hicks, Palace Francis (Jordan Adeyemi 65’), Alex Kelly, Eddie Simon, John Gilbert, Taurean Roberts (Brian Garzon 76’). Sub. not used: Jonathan Gjoshe. Scorers: Hicks (35’), Simon (76’). Cautions: Siaw (42’), Hicks (71’), Gilbert (82’).

Westfield Team: Wheeler, Butler, Mason, Envoudou Ada (Walters 71’), Elliott, J. Adebiyi, Ndombe, E. Adebiyi, Amate (Obeng 65’), Crossley, Mansaray (Herschel 82’). Subs. not used: Abideen-Goodridge, Charles. Scorer: Crossley (43’). Cautions: Crossley (44’), Butler (82’).