Saturday 18th March 2023.                        Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Walton & Hersham 5    Binfield 1.

Swans kept up their pressure on leaders Basingstoke Town as they made it twelve wins in a row with another superb performance, the points gained also securing them a place in the play-offs. Eddie Simon sealed a place in club history by making it a hat-trick of hat-tricks, scoring his third treble in successive matches and his fourth of the season, making it eighteen goals in the last ten matches for the Swans’ top scorer. No other Swans’ player has scored a hat-trick in three league matches in a row. Swans have now scored eighteen goals in their last four matches, with Simon being responsible for eleven of them as he made it thirty goals in the League for the season and thirty three in all competitions. Simon’s first goal after just six minutes gave Swans the perfect start, and when Jordan Adeyemi made it 2-0 they looked well on the way to the three points, but the visitors had posed moments of threat, and they soon pulled a goal back to leave the match still in the balance at half-time. However, once Simon completed his hat-trick with two superb strikes in the first twenty minutes of the second-half Swans took total control. On another day, on top of the five goals scored, they could well have been awarded four penalties, but the referee in his wisdom failed to award any of them.

For the third match running Swans were able to name an unchanged starting line-up.

The opening goal came after a neat pass down the left by Joe Pratley-Jones got Alex Kelly clear, and he played a clever reverse ball to get Simon in to the left corner of the 6 yard-box. Simon drove in a shot that brought a fine save from Binfield goalkeeper Harvey Rackley-Hayes at his near-post. From Teo Kurtaran’s left-side corner Mitchal Gough was at the far-post to head the ball back across for the unmarked Simon to tap over the line.

The visitors created an opportunity when some clever play by Steve Ngunga on the right saw him cut inside past Kelly, but his low, left shot was wide of the far-past.

With twenty minutes played Adeyemi was fouled out on the right touchline, giving Swans a free-kick and leading to them going close to doubling their lead. Kurtaran delivered the ball to the near-post for Simon to get in a volley that brought a fine save from Rackley-Hayes.

Binfield cleared by sending a long ball down the right to pick out Conor Lynch, and when he got past Kelly he was brought down by the Swans’ midfielder, who was shown a yellow card. The free-kick, awarded just outside the right corner of the box, was delivered by Jonathan Denton to the far-post, where Pratley-Jones headed away. The ball was picked up on the left and crossed back in, for Liam Gavin to head over from the edge of the 6 yard-box. After an uncertain start the visitors had settled, and they went close to equalising. Swans’ keeper Liam Allen kicked out down his right, where Harry Mills’ back-header only found Bradley Pagliaroli, who got into the left corner of the box, but his low shot went across goal and just wide of the far-post, with Harrison Bayley just failing to get a touch in the middle.

However, Swans soon went close to making it 2-0. Massimo Giamattei was guilty of a poor foul on Kelly on the right touchline that surprisingly did not result in the Binfield left-back being shown a yellow card. From Kurtaran’s free-kick into the box the ball was headed back out to him, and he made room before chipping it to the far-post, where Joe Hicks headed across goal and just wide under pressure from Gavin.

Pagliaroli got in a good left foot strike for Binfield from 30 yards out that Allen saved on his line.

Mills made a terrific run down the line after a fine pass picked him out on the right, but his low ball in just failed to find John Gilbert in the box, but a corner was won on the left. From Kurtaran’s kick Mills was beyond the far-post to send a header looping just over the far, top corner and onto the top of the net. With ten minutes left to the break a terrific diagonal ball from the left by Pratley-Jones picked out Adeyemi clear on the right, but he dwelt on the ball too long and was closed out.

However, he was quickly to make amends. Gilbert was found in the centre-circle, and he played a great ball through to Adeyemi, who got to the edge of the box, only to be denied again by Giamattei. However, this time he won the ball back, before moving to his right and drilling a superb right foot shot into the bottom left-corner to put Swans 2-0 up.

It only took two minutes foe Binfield to hit back. Keeper Rackley-Hayes’ long kick down the right went over the head of Pratley-Jones, allowing Pagliaroli to get possession and cut inside to the right corner of the box, before driving in a left foot shot that deflected off the back of Hicks and beat Allen in his top, left corner. Lynch did well to force a corner on the left for Binfield, but after the kick was played short to Ngunga, Kurtaran was able to clear.

With a minute left of the half Swans were denied a penalty when great play by Gilbert led to him being brought down just inside the left edge of the box, the referee however seeing no offence.

Swans started the second-half with Mills’ fine pass getting Adeyemi down the right, but after doing well to just keep the ball in on the byline and get in a cross he could not find anyone in the box.

Five minutes into the second-half the two goal lead was restored. Pratley-Jones, from deep on the left, slid a great ball down the line to Simon, who drove into the box. The outcome seemed almost predictable as Simon opened up his body before picking out the far, bottom corner.

Connor Holland cut in from the right for Binfield to get in a shot that Allen took down at his near-post.

Mills again got Adeyemi down the right, and this time his low ball in forced Binfield to clear over their own goal for a corner, Gough putting a header over from Kurtaran’s kick from the right.

The visitors’ attacks were sporadic, but Allen had to catch the ball at his near-post when Ngunga got down the left to get in a cross that took a deflection, and a ball driven in low from the right was put behind for a corner.

Swans however made it 4-1 after 64 minutes. Hicks, Arsen Ujkaj and Kelly combined around the centre-circle, and Kelly found Simon on the left. Simon drove just inside the box, before cutting back past Kai Hobbs, and striking a tremendous shot in-off the far-post and into the top corner, to notch another hat-trick and his 50th goal for Swans.

Swans were now in total control, and Gilbert was played through to have a shot deflected for a corner, immediately followed by another. Ollie Twum then came on for Adeyemi, and he was immediately being put down the right by Kurtaran to have a low cross cleared. With twenty minutes remaining Kelly was cynically brought down by Brandon Curtis 25 yards out, but the referee played on and Gilbert put Kurtaran into the left of the box to get in a left foot shot that Rackley-Hayes did well to deflect over at his near-post. Kelly received treatment and was replaced by Darryl Siaw before the corner was taken, and surprisingly no retrospective action was taken against the Binfield substitute.

Mills was soon being fouled in a similar position 25 yards out, giving Swans a free-kick in an ideal position. Mills himself took the kick, and struck the ball superbly inside the right post to make it 5-1.

The visitors began to lose their discipline, and substitute Taylor Morgan was fortunate to only be shown a yellow card for an out of control tackle.

Gough then played a fine ball over the top to send Twum driving down the right, past George Winser and into the box. After Twum had got to the byline Rackley-Hayes came across to bring him down, with no contact on the ball. With his assistant flagging for a penalty the referee decided to ignore him and awarded a goal-kick instead.

Just a minute later Gilbert got free on the right to play the ball low across and find Simon free in the left of the box, where he was dragged down by the last defender, but again the referee saw no offence.

As the match entered the final five minutes the visitors created an opening when Bayley set up Morgan in the left of the box, but Allen stuck out a strong, right hand to deflect a shot round his near-post.

In the final minute of normal-time a great ball by Gilbert sent Twum down the right to play the ball in low to Kurtaran, who was again clearly brought down in the box, but again the referee waved play on.

Binfield’s Curtis got forward from the centre-circle to 25 yards out and drove in a shot, but it was straight down the middle, and Allen was able to beat the ball down comfortably in his 6 yard-box.

There was still time for Winser to pick up a second booking for the visitors.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Harry Mills, Joe Pratley-Jones (Jonathan Gjoshe 76’), Arsen Ujkaj, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Teo Kurtaran, Alex Kelly (Darryl Siaw 71’), Eddie Simon, John Gilbert, Jordan Adeyemi (Ollie Twum 67’). Subs. not used: Daryl Coleman, Taurean Roberts. Scorers: Simon (6’, 50’ & 64’), Adeyemi (37’), Mills (73’). Cautions: Kelly, foul (19’), Ujkaj, foul (56’).

Binfield Team: Rackley-Hayes, Hobbs, Giamattei, Denton (Curtis 58’), Gavin, Winser, Ngunga (Morgan 58’), Bayley, Lynch (Harry 75’), Holland, Pagliaroli. Subs. not used: Brophy, Mabukwa. Scorer: Pagliaroli (39’). Cautions: Morgan (78’), Winser (90’).