Monday 10th April 2023.                            Isthmian League, South-Central Division.

Walton & Hersham 6    Merstham 0.

Just two days after their trip to the Channel Islands, Swans put the disappointing Guernsey result behind them by putting on another terrific display in front of a bumper Easter Monday crowd, the win keeping them top of the table on goal difference. Visitors Merstham had held Swans to a 3-3 draw in the away fixture, but they were destroyed inside the first 38 minutes as they trailed 4-0. All four of those goals came from Eddie Simon, who then went on to make it 5-0 early in the second-half. Simon’s five goal haul made it an amazing five hat-tricks for him in seven games, and six in all for the season, an incredible feat at any level of the game. The fifth goal was his 42nd of the season, with no fewer than 27 coming in the last 14 matches. Swans’ team as a whole has also given visitors to The Sports Hub the entertainment of them scoring 24 goals in the last 5 home games.

With a blustery wind against them, a Swans’ side unchanged for the seventh match in a row kept the ball straight from the kick-off, passing the ball around as the visitors sat back, and a goal almost resulted. The move finally ended with John Gilbert finding Joe Pratley-Jones on the left, and he crossed an excellent ball to the far-post, where Harry Mills leapt to have a header just deflected wide by goalkeeper Filip Chalupniczak.

Swans continued to dominate, and took the lead after twelve minutes when Pratley-Jones launched a long throw from the right into the box. Merstham player/manager Peter Adeniyi seemed to duck under the ball, and when it was allowed to bounce, Simon was first to react on the edge of the 6 yard-box, and he hooked it over the keeper and into the net.

Pratley-Jones took another long throw, this time from the left, and when the ball came back to him wide on the left he drove in a low shot that was blocked in the 6 yard-box. Another fine build-up led to Gilbert winning a corner on the left, and when he played the kick short with Teo Kurtaran, he crossed into the box and Chalupniczak made a good punch away. Mills immediately played a neat one-two with Jordan Adeyemi, who was just closed out in the box.

Swans made it 2-0 after nineteen minutes with a super goal. Pratley-Jones made a good run on the left before crossing into the 6 yard-box, where Chalupniczak punched the ball away off the head of Adeyemi. The ball reached Simon on the edge of the box, and he took one touch before striking a tremendous half-volley that took a slight deflection off a defender before finding the top, right corner.

It only took another two minutes for Simon to complete another hat-trick. Pratley-Jones took a throw-in on the left to Gilbert, who quickly sent a high ball over into the box. Chalupniczak again punched away on the edge of the 6 yard-box under pressure from Simon. The ball only reached Adeyemi, who laid it back to Alex Kelly in the ‘D’. Kelly sent in a first-time shot that the Merstham keeper did well to push away, diving high to his left, but Simon was ready to pounce in the right of the box, and he sent a volley inside the near-post, with Chalupniczak and a defender only able to help the ball on its way into the net.

Swans continued to put the Merstham defence under pressure, creating openings, but with ten minutes remaining of the half the visitors should have reduced the deficit. They broke from a Swans’ attack, and Ore Bello made a great run forward to the edge of the box, but with only keeper Liam Allen to beat he shot wide of the right post.

Swans however soon went close to increasing their lead. Adeyemi picked the ball up on the halfway line on the right, and after cleverly tricking his way past Luke Read, he went on a terrific run, driving past former Swan Aaron Goode and into the right of the box, but his low shot was just wide of the far-post.

Swans soon made it 4-0 however with a superb team goal. There seemed to be a good case for a penalty when Gilbert and Adeyemi combined on the edge of the box, and Gilbert struck the ball against the left arm of Read just inside the area. Play continued however, and Gilbert, Mills, Kelly and Arsen Ujkaj all played their part in the build-up on the right, before a clever reverse pass from Kurtaran got Mills in on the byline, and when he pulled the ball back to the edge of the 6 yard-box Simon was at the near-post to tuck home for his fourth goal.

Kurtaran went down after being played into the left of the box by Simon, but the referee saw no offence, and another excellent move on the right saw Kelly just denied. With three minutes of normal-time remaining of the half Merstham’s Ayman Gharbaoui picked up the first yellow card of the afternoon for a poor tackle on Pratley-Jones outside the left corner of the box. Kurtaran struck the free-kick well, and Chalupniczak made a good save down at his near-post.

Just three minutes into the second-half Mills played Gilbert down the right, and he drilled an inch-perfect low ball across the 6 yard-box for Simon at the far-post to convert his and Swans’ fifth goal of the afternoon. Swans’ top scorer had remarkably taken just a 35 minute spell to score his five goals.

Merstham won a corner on the right, and when Mitchal Gough headed away Adeyemi picked the ball up just outside his own box before driving down the left, leaving Bello trailing. Adeyemi then played a clever ball to get Simon into the left of the box, and he neatly slotted past Chalupniczak and into the far corner, but he was denied a double hat-trick by what looked an extremely tight offside decision. Another excellent build-up on the left involving half a dozen players led to Gilbert setting up Kelly just outside the box, and he drove in a low shot that Chalupniczak went down to save. With an hour played Pratley-Jones’ low ball in from the left was put behind at the near-post for a corner, and Chalupniczak had to punch away from under his crossbar when Kurtaran swung the kick in. Simon’s afternoon was done, and he was replaced by Ollie Twum, followed by Taurean Roberts coming on for Kelly.

Merstham created a rare chance when Jordan Wilson won the ball in the centre-circle and Mario Quiassaca was sent down the right. Quiassaca laid the ball back to Wilson on the edge of the box, but he sent his shot well over.

A patient build-up led to Pratley-Jones and Roberts playing a neat one-two just outside the box, and Pratley-Jones curling in a low shot that Chalupniczak dived full length to keep out of the far corner. That was Pratley-Jones’ last contribution, as he was replaced by Darryl Siaw. Chalupniczak again had to go down and save when Twum and Roberts combined, and Roberts drove in a low shot from 30 yards out on the left. Mills and Roberts then combined, allowing Mills to cut inside from the left to the right edge of the box before driving a low shot just wide of the far-post. A long ball over the top picked out the run of Twum down the middle, but he was brought down by a poor tackle that surprisingly did not result in a yellow card.

Merstham created an opportunity after winning a corner on the left. Roberts headed away following the kick, and Bello was 10 yards outside the box to sidestep Adeyemi and strike a left foot shot just over the top, left corner.

Chalupniczak was again brought into action when Twum laid the ball back from the left to Gilbert, but the Merstham keeper saved his shot comfortably.

The visitors, to their credit, still looked for a consolation, and with five minutes remaining they won a free-kick out by the left corner-flag, but Allen made a good catch when the ball was crossed in.

Merstham went close to conceding an own goal when Allen sent a long kick down the pitch. The ball glanced off the head of Goode, and with Chalupniczak out on the edge of his area, it passed wide of the goal and behind for a corner. From Kurtaran’s right-side kick Roberts got his head to the ball, and Hicks set up Siaw close in on the right to have a shot blocked on the line. Kurtaran then played a great ball down the left to Twum, who had a shot blocked for another corner.

With the final minute of normal-time being played Swans again probed away for an opening, and when Twum set up Mills just outside the box on the left, he took a couple of steps to his right before curling a shot inside the far-post to make it 6-0.

It was close to being 7-0 with the last kick of the match when Swans had a free-kick just inside the Merstham half and on the right edge of the centre-circle. Gough spotted Chalupniczak off his line, and sent an audacious lob just inches over the goal.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Harry Mills, Joe Pratley-Jones (Darryl Siaw 71’), Arsen Ujkaj, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Teo Kurtaran, Alex Kelly (Taurean Roberts 65’), Eddie Simon (Ollie Twum 62’), John Gilbert, Jordan Adeyemi. Subs. not used: Dominic Ogun, Jacob Munting. Scorers: Simon (13’, 19’, 21’, 38’ & 48’), Mills (90’). Caution: Hicks, foul (80’).

Merstham Team: Chalupniczak, Read, Lewis-Brown (Goode 28’), Sankoh, Alexiou, Gharbaoui (Kamara 49’), Wilson, Adeniyi (Bangurah 88’), Bello, Quiassaca, Allen. Subs. not used: Deakin, Adam. Caution: Gharbaoui, foul (42’).