Tuesday 28th February 2023.                                 Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Tooting & Mitcham United 1    Walton & Hersham 4.

Swans completed their run of three away matches, and again used their game in hand to cut the lead of table toppers Basingstoke Town to four points, at the same time making it nine wins on the spin. The home side, though bottom of the table, had shown improved form of late, and they made it a tense affair before the win was sealed. They had taken the lead from a free-kick after twelve minutes, and despite having their goalkeeper sent-off five minutes before half-time for handling Jordan Adeyemi’s goal-bound shot outside his area, their ten men withstood intense pressure until Joe Hicks bundled in the equaliser with a quarter of an hour remaining. The ever-reliable Eddie Simon then put Swans ahead with just seven minutes left, before Adeyemi, and Simon with his second, completed the scoring, three goals having come in the space of seven minutes.

The home side had an early chance when Enoch Ako-Adjei got into the right of the box, but shot over. Elijas Bagdonavicius then forced a corner on the left off Harry Mills, and this led to Tooting taking the lead. Several attempts were made to head clear from the kick, but when Hicks was challenged by Dillon Gordon he had his back turned as the ball appeared to hit him on the shoulder, and a free-kick was harshly awarded for handball in the ‘D’ just outside the box. Tooting placed two men in the wall, and Raees Bangura-Williams dove the ball through it and into the right, bottom corner.

Swans looked to have a valid claim for a penalty turned down when they got into the left of the box and the ball was handled, but they had to settle for a corner on the left. From the kick there appeared to be a foul on a Swans’ player, but again the referee saw no offence. Darryl Siaw was then harshly shown a yellow card for an innocuous looking foul.

Mills was judged to have fouled Ryan Lopes, giving Tooting a free-kick out on the left touchline. Bangura-Williams’ delivery into the box was claimed by Swans’ keeper Liam Allen, and he threw the ball out to Taurean Roberts inside his own half on the left. Roberts made a fine run forward that took him into the box, but he finished with a low shot into the side-netting. Swans should have equalised after 24 minutes when John Gilbert was fouled after being played down the right by Mills. Gilbert delivered the free-kick to the far-post, but Simon sent a free header high and wide.

Swans’ manager Scott Harris ran out of patience over some obscure refereeing decisions, and he was shown a yellow card for something said.

With five minutes of normal-time remaining of the half the incident came that was to have a major bearing on the game. Alex Kelly played a terrific ball over the top to pick out Adeyemi’s run into clear space on the right. Home keeper Sami Nabbad came out of his box to close Adeyemi down, but stuck up his right arm to deflect the ball away as the Swans’ striker’s attempted lob looked destined to find the goal. Amazingly the referee did not appear to see the offence, but fortunately his assistant had, and after some discussion there could be no argument against the red card being shown to the keeper. Outfield player Ako-Adjei took over between the sticks, and his first task was to face the free-kick awarded just outside the right edge of the box. Fortunately for him Mills sent the ball dipping just over the bar.

Adeyemi made a run in on the right byline and the ball was cleared away. In the final minute of normal-time Gilbert played the ball in low from the left. The ball came off Simon and Adeyemi knocked it back to him, but his first-time shot lacked power and Ako-Adjei went down to his left to push away. Gilbert then sent a shot from 35 yards out on the left wide of the near-post. Deep into stoppage-time Teo Kurtaran played a clever ball into the box, and when Bagdonavicius could only clear to Gilbert on the edge, he chested it down to strike a half- volley that deflected off Jayden Hutchings and went wide of the left post. Ako-Adjei did well to claw the ball away from the line under pressure from Hicks and Simon as the corner was delivered from the left.

Tooting decided on a change of keeper for the second-half, with Malachi Hudson replacing Ako-Adjei.

Straight from the resumption Mitchal Gough slid a fine ball down the right to send Adeyemi clear, and his cross reached Roberts in the left of the box. Roberts laid the ball across to Gilbert by the penalty-spot, and his shot took a couple of deflections to go over. Swans then had a free-kick out on the left touchline, and Kurtaran delivered a terrific ball to the far-post, where Simon put a close-in chance over. Gough sent a speculative effort from 40 yards out on the right wide of the far-post as Swans continued to press for an equaliser. Roberts played the ball in from the left to Simon in the box, but his shot was deflected for a corner on the right, and Roberts himself forced a corner after getting in on the right to have a shot deflected behind.

Swans again went desperately close to equalising when Kelly found Mills on the left, and he played a great ball in to the penalty-spot. Kynan Kerlew-Wright failed to clear, and Simon spun in the left of the 6 yard-box to send a left foot shot against the far-post, with Roberts free to his right.

Gough struck another low shot from 40 yards out on the right, and Hudson just managed to keep the ball out. Kelly then just failed to get his head on the ball when Adeyemi made another fine run on the right to cross into the box.

Swans’ pressure finally paid off with a quarter of an hour remaining when Palace Francis, who had replaced Roberts, was fouled out on the left by Lopes. Kurtaran delivered the free-kick to the near-post, and although Gough failed to get a touch, Hicks came in to make contact, and both Hudson and Hutchings could not stop the ball crossing the line.

Swans continued to press for a winner and Kurtaran played the ball down the right to Arsen Ujkaj, who had come on for Siaw. Ujkaj laid the ball back to Simon by the penalty-spot, and he drove in a shot that brought a good tip-over save from the stand-in keeper. Adeyemi then made another run on the right, but his low ball in was just cleared away, and Francis and Kurtaran both forced corners on the left, the second taken by Kurtaran going across the goal-face.

The pressure on the home defence had been relentless, and with seven minutes of normal-time remaining it was breached again as Swans took the lead. Gough and Kelly worked the ball down the right to Gilbert, and he played a superb pass through to Simon on the right edge of the 6 yard-box, and he had one touch before driving a shot low into the far corner.

It was almost 3-1 immediately as Kelly played a great ball to put Simon into the right of the box, but his shot hit the near-post. The ball came off the back of Hudson for Nathan Daly to hook clear, only for Gilbert to win it back and find Ujkaj. Ujkaj played the ball through to Adeyemi on the right edge of the box, and he drove a terrific shot low into the far-corner.

In the final minute of normal-time Kurtaran played the ball from deep on the right to Ujkaj on the edge of the box, and he set up Simon on his right to make it 4-1 with a low shot into the far-corner.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Harry Mills (Joe Pratley-Jones 87’), Darryl Siaw (Arsen Ujkaj 70’), Alex Kelly, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Jordan Adeyemi, Teo Kurtaran, Eddie Simon, John Gilbert, Taurean Roberts (Palace Francis 69’). Sub. not used: Jonathan Gjoshe. Scorers: Hicks (75’), Simon (84’ & 90’), Adeyemi (87’). Caution: Siaw, foul (19’).

Tooting & Mitcham Team: Nabbad, Daly, Bagdonavicius, Kirlew-Wright, Krokhin, Hutchings, Gordon, Lopes, Clarke (Sesay 55’), Bangura-Williams (Ceesay 70’), Ako-Adjei (Hudson 46’). Subs. not used: Oke-William, Chang. Scorer: Bangura-Williams (12’). Caution: Daly, foul (49’). Dismissal: Nabbad, deliberate handball (40’).