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

Uxbridge 1    Walton & Hersham 3.

With Hanworth Villa doing them a massive favour by winning at Basingstoke Town, Swans moved to just one point behind the Hampshire side at the top of the table by recording their thirteenth win in a row,. The results set up nicely the upcoming clash between the top two. Eddie Simon broke all sorts of records by scoring a hat-trick for the fourth match in succession, a remarkable achievement at any level of the game. Unless proved otherwise, Simon remarkably becomes the first player in the top 8 divisions of English football to score four successive league hat-tricks. Simon’s fifth treble of the season made it 21 goals for him in the last 11 matches, and took his total to 33, and 36 in all competitions. Swans and their striker also took some recompense for their earlier 1-0 defeat at Uxbridge in the FA Trophy, a performance that was arguably their poorest of the season. Simon was one of three players substituted at half-time in that match, an indication of how fickle football can be and how fortunes can change. Swans, unchanged for the fourth match in succession, went into the break at 0-0, with both sides having had opportunities to break the deadlock. They stepped up the intensity after the resumption and took the lead just three minutes in, and the win was effectively sealed when Simon competed his hat-trick with twenty minutes remaining. The home side reduced the deficit with a quarter of an hour remaining, but Swans withstood some late pressure to see out another win.

Swans soon built up a good move on the right, and home goalkeeper Tyler Tobin was able to cut out John Gilbert’s cross. Joe Jackson was then pulled up for handball on Swans’ left to concede a free-kick, and Teo Kurtaran’s ball into the box was put behind at the far-post for a corner.

Uxbridge had the first opening however when a move started by a long ball down the middle led to Jackson laying in from the left for Anthony Mendy to make room just outside the box and send a low shot wide of the right post.

Swans broke and Alex Kelly looked to be brought down just outside the box, but play continued and Kelly recovered to get down the right and play the ball in low to force a corner.

The home side soon went close again however when they broke down the right, and Alex Witham laid the ball in for Aaron Minhas to drive a shot just over from the edge of the box. Joe Pratley-Jones then had to head away at the far-post when Jordan Ireland crossed from the left.

Harry Mills almost got Kelly in on the right for Swans, but the ball ran behind, and the ball was just touched back to keeper Tobin when Kelly again threatened to get through.  Swans went close to going ahead after 21 minutes when Arsen Ujkaj and Mills combined around the edge of the box and Kurtaran cleverly clipped the ball to Jordan Adeyemi on the right. Adeyemi drove to the byline to cross to the near-post and pick out Kelly, whose shot was just blocked by Andy Hedley and the ball went wide for a corner on the right. Adeyemi again got to the right byline when a fine ball from Ujkaj picked him out, but his ball in was cleared.

Uxbridge continued to look impressive however, and a fine build-up led to Witham finding Mendy on the left. Mendy got to the byline to cross to the far-post, where Witham got in a header that Swans’ keeper Liam Allen went down to save.

Mills’ through ball got Pratley-Jones into the box and he went down as he was closed out by the keeper and a defender. With just under half an hour played Swans should have taken the lead when Allen spotted Mills signalling for the ball on the right and picked him out with his kick. Mills cleverly brought the ball down and played a terrific pass down the right to send Adeyemi on a clear run into the box, but he shot high over the near, top corner with Simon   unmarked to his left. Simon then got Mills down the right to get in a low cross that Josh Andrews had to head behind at the near-post. From Kurtaran’s corner Mitchal Gough got in a strong near-post header that Tobin did well to go down and push away on the line. The ball was cleared out of play on the right, and from Pratley-Jones’ long throw Tobin just managed to scramble it behind at his near-post. Mills crossed in high from the right, but Simon couldn’t pull the ball down in the box as Swans continued to apply pressure on the home goal.

They were grateful to their keeper Allen however with just over five minutes left of the half when the ball was not cleared deep on their right. Minhas found David Sota on the left, and he got to the byline before cutting the ball back to Minhas on the edge of the 6 yard-box, but his shot was superbly clawed away by Allen. Kensley Maloney followed in on the right, but could only find the side-netting. Mendy then got through and Allen came out, and after first failing to get to the ball the Swans’ keeper recovered well to get back and fall on it.

A move on the left by Swans led to Pratley-Jones swinging the ball over to the right, where Joe Hicks did well to head it back inside to Kurtaran. Kurtaran cut inside across the edge of the box to send in a low, left foot shot that Tobin just managed to keep out down at his left post. In the final minute of normal-time of the half Hicks played a fine ball to pick out Simon free on the left. Tobin came out to close him down, but Simon seemed in two minds whether to lob or shoot, but he chose the latter and the keeper just managed to get his hands on the ball.

Swans made a great start to the second-half, with Gilbert making a superb run in on the left byline, tricking his way past Andrews and playing the ball low into the 6 yard-box, where it was just cleared behind for a corner.

Just three minutes into the half the deadlock was broken with a super goal. Kurtaran stuck a fine diagonal ball from close to the centre-circle to Gilbert on the right, and he got to the byline before laying back to Pratley-Jones. Pratley-Jones delivered the ball first time into the box, where Simon got in front of Hedley to guide a header into the far, bottom corner.

Another excellent build-up led to Adeyemi playing a fine ball through to get Kelly into the right of the box, but he drove his shot into the side-netting. Swans continued to press, and Simon was again found in the box, but he couldn’t quite work the space to get a shot away.

Then fine play by Gilbert in the left of the box led to Mills’ cross from the right being deflected wide of the far-post.

Swans doubled their lead after 58 minutes. The move actually started with an Uxbridge free-kick out on the left touchline that Pratley-Jones headed away at the far-post for Simon to bring the ball clear. Several passes later Kurtaran played a fine ball through to get Adeyemi into the left of the box, where he interplayed with Simon, who looked up before curling a superb shot just inside the far-post.

With an hour played a clever free-kick down the left sent Pratley-Jones clear, and when he played the ball low into the box Simon put it wide of the near-post. Gilbert then played an excellent ball from the centre-circle to pick out Mills on the right, who did well to keep it in play. Mills laid the ball back to Gilbert, who clipped it into the near-post, where Simon glanced a header over.

The home side had a rare opportunity when Witham was played in on the right, but he shot    wide of the far-post.

Swans made it 3-0 with just over twenty minutes remaining. Pratley-Jones got down the left before playing the ball inside to Kelly just inside the home half, and a great through pass picked out the run of Simon down the middle. With Hedley stumbling over, Simon got into the box before placing the ball through the legs of the advancing keeper Tobin and into the net to register his record breaking hat-trick.

It should have been 4-0 when Adeyemi was in his own box to clear an Uxbridge shot and Simon was on the left to drive forward deep into the home half before laying the ball back to Kurtaran. Kurtaran knocked the ball into the box for Adeyemi to flick it across to Kelly close in at the left post. Kelly laid the ball back across to Adeyemi at the far-post, but he stabbed it wide with the goal beckoning.

Simon had done his job and was replaced by Ollie Twum. Twum was soon being found in the left of the box by Gilbert, but after opening up the chance his shot lacked the power to bear Tobin.

Uxbridge made a double substitution, and it soon paid off as one of the replacements, Mark Bitmead, got his side on the scoresheet after 76 minutes. A move built up around Swans’ box, and this led to Minhas crossing from the left to the far-post, where Bitmead got in front of Pratley-Jones to place a first-time shot into the far corner. The ball was then driven low across Swans’ box from the left, with a player going down and claims for a penalty being rejected.

Swans responded with Gilbert playing a terrific ball in low from the right that had to be put behind at the near-post for a corner.

With five minutes of normal-time remaining Swans had keeper Allen to thank for avoiding a tense finish to the match. A clever build-up around the edge of the box led to Mendy turning and striking a fine left foot shot that Allen kept out superbly by diving to his right and turning the ball wide.

Darryl Siaw came on for Adeyemi, and almost immediately went close to helping Swans restore their three goal lead, Kurtaran’s ball over the top from deep in his own half picked out Siaw’s run down the middle. With Tobin rushing out of his area, Siaw got his head to the ball first, and when it ran loose Twum got in a shot that Hedley appeared to block with his arm, but appeals foe a penalty were rejected.

Swans were then able to see out the match and seal another vital three points.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Harry Mills, Joe Pratley-Jones, Arsen Ujkaj, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Teo Kurtaran, Alex Kelly, Eddie Simon (Ollie Twum 72’), John Gilbert (Jacob Munting 89’), Jordan Adeyemi (Darryl Siaw 87’). Subs. not used: Dominic Ogun, Taurean Roberts. Scorer: Simon (49’, 58’ & 69’).

Uxbridge: Tobin, Andrew, Sota, Hedley. O’Brien (Patrick 76’), Jackson, Maloney (Evans 87’), Minhas, Witham, Mendy, Ireland (Bitmead 76’). Subs. not used: Fleary, Legg. Scorer: Bitmead (78’).