Saturday 8th April 2023.                            Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Guernsey 0    Walton & Hersham 0.

Swans spent a frustrating afternoon in Guernsey as their fourteen match winning sequence came to an end. Despite dominating the play from first whistle to last, they were unable to make a breakthrough as the home side got men behind the ball from the kick-off. The Channel Islanders had put together some good results lately, and they looked determined to come away with a share of the spoils to help keep them out of the relegation spots. Their goalkeeper Jason Martin was the busiest man on the pitch, having a fine game, but also enjoying more than a little good fortune. Eddie Simon’s scoring spree also came to what Swans will hope will be a temporary end, as his team pummelled away at the home defence, but could not find the killer final pass or special shot on target. The number of corner-kicks they forced, particularly in the closing minutes, were lost count of, but they could not force the ball home from any of them The result not only put an end to Swans’ long winning run, but it also meant they failed to find the net for the first time in seventeen games. The point gained did however put them back on top of the table, albeit on goal-difference.

The home side suffered an early blow when Keanu Marsh had to go off injured after just four minutes, with David Merris replacing him.

Keeper Martin had to be quickly out to kick clear when Alex Kelly almost capitalised on a slack back-pass. Joe Pratley-Jones was fouled out on the right by Matt Loaring, and was on the edge of the 6 yard-box at the near-post to get on the end of Teo Kurtaran’s free-kick, but his glancing header just cleared the bar. With ten minutes played, Kelly got into the box on the right to clip the ball high over, and it appeared to hit a Guernsey arm. Play continued however, and Jordan Adeyemi set up Simon on the left edge of the 6 yard-box to get in a shot that Jamie Dodd just kept out of the far corner with an outstretched leg, and the ball deflected behind for a corner. From Kurtaran’s right-side kick the ball was headed out to Pratley-Jones just outside the box, and he sent a shot dipping just over the top, right corner. Pratley-Jones and Adeyemi then combined well on the right, and when Pratley-Jones crossed to the far-post Simon headed wide.

Swans looked to have taken the lead when Pratley-Jones played a good long ball over the top down the right to send John Gilbert into the box, but after he neatly slipped the ball into the net past Martin the flag went up for offside.

Swans continued to pressurise the home goal, and Gilbert was fouled five yards outside the box. Harry Mills struck the free-kick on target, but Martin was able to tip the ball over his crossbar.

The rest of the first-half was played out with Swans dominating, but not creating much in the way of further chances.

Liam Allen had not been troubled in the first 45 minutes, but soon after the resumption Guernsey mounted a rare attack and won a free-kick deep on the left, but Joe Aluarez-Masterton’s ball into the box was well taken by the Swans’ keeper.

Swans then had a free-kick of their own when Kurtaran was fouled out on the right touchline, but his delivery into the box was headed clear. A fine build-up then led to Pratley-Jones sending a shot over from wide on the left.

The home side had looked more inclined to get forward in the second-half, and Dan Hale was able to get in on the left byline, but his low ball in was cleared. Allen then had to be quickly out to gather in the left of his area.

Swans were then again denied an opening goal by the referee’s assistant’s flag. Another good build-up led to Gilbert getting in a shot from the edge of the box The ball deflected off a defender and through to Simon, but after he got into the left of the 6 yard–box and squeezed a shot past the keeper and into the goal the flag again went up for offside. Adeyemi had a shot blocked behind for a corner on the right, and from Kurtaran’s kick Mitchal Gough was beyond the far-post to power a header just over.

Just past the hour Guernsey went close to taking the lead against the run of play when they were awarded a free-kick 10 yards outside the box. Hale struck the kick superbly, and the ball clipped the top of the bar before going over.

Swans were soon back on the attack however, and Kelly got into the box to have a shot deflected behind for a corner on the left. From Kurtaran’s kick Gough’s header was straight at the keeper. Gilbert got in on the left, and his low ball in forced another corner on the right. This time Joe Hicks was on the edge of the 6 yard-box to get in a header from Kurtaran’s kick, and the ball was hooked off the line with Simon ready to pounce. The ball was cleared to Pratley-Jones 30 yards out, and he controlled it on his chest before striking a terrific volley that Martin did well to tip over his crossbar.

The home side had a rare attack, and Aluarez-Masterton sent a volley over from wide on the left when the ball was crossed from the right.

With a quarter of an hour remaining Adeyemi was played in on the left to force a corner, and from Kurtaran’s kick Gough was at the far-post to get in a downward header, but again keeper Martin was in the right place to save. Taurean Roberts had come on for Arsen Ujkaj, and he forced yet another corner on the left, and following the kick Pratley-Jones had a shot blocked on the edge of the box. Swans patiently probed away for an opening, leading to Kurtaran crossing from the left, but Martin again just got to the ball. Pratley-Jones’ cross from the left led to Kurtaran beating several players on a terrific run in the right of the box before laying the ball back inside to Simon on the edge of the 6 yard-box, but more last ditch defending saw his shot blocked away. The ball was crossed back in from the left to be just headed behind at the near-post for another corner. From Kurtaran’s left-side kick Hicks was inside the 6 yard-box, but he could not guide his header on target and the ball flew over. Swans’ attacks were relentless, and another probing attack led to Mills crossing from the right and the ball being headed away to Gilbert on the left edge of the box. Gilbert struck a fine shot that was just kept out of the far corner by Martin diving down to his left to push the ball away, and Aluarez-Masterton to clear behind for yet another corner. Hicks put another header over when Pratley-Jones crossed from the left, and in the final minute of normal-time another corner from the left led to two shots being cleared off the line, and Roberts to follow up with a volley wide of the right post. Roberts’ cross from the left was headed behind for yet another corner, but Guernsey again defended Kurtaran’s kick. Mills forced another corner on the right, but again Swans could not capitalise. One last opportunity came in stoppage-time with a free-kick deep on the right, but Pratley-Jones’ delivery into the box was again dealt with by the excellent Martin.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Harry Mills, Joe Pratley-Jones, Arsen Ujkaj (Taurean Roberts 68’), Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Teo Kurtaran, Alex Kelly, Eddie Simon, John Gilbert, Jordan Adeyemi (Ollie Twum 87’). Subs. not used: Darryl Siaw, Dominic Ogun, Jacob Munting. .

Guernsey Team: Martin, Marsh (Merris 4’), Dodd, Vaudin, Dodds, K. Mahon (Vance 80’), Loaring, L. Mahon, Domaille (Murray 86’), Hale, Aluarez-Masterton. Subs. not used: Addison, Cauvin.