Tuesday 26th September 2023.                               Southern League, Premier Division South.

Walton & Hersham 2    Chesham United 2.

Swans’ fans should have learnt not to leave early, as for the second time in three days their team were facing defeat deep into stoppage-time, only for them to mount a remarkable comeback to snatch a draw. At Basingstoke they had gone behind after 97 minutes, only to equalise three minutes later. This time their task was even more difficult as a Chesham penalty two minutes into stoppage-time had put them 2-0 down, but they still came back to salvage a point. Both their goals came from set-pieces, with Eddie Simon getting the final touch from a Joe Pratley-Jones’ long throw, and substitute Sam Tutt heading in his first goal for Swans from a John Gilbert corner to equalise.

Chesham had come to The Hub just weeks earlier in the FA Cup, and had won 3-1, so until those late goals they looked on course to inflict a rare couple of home defeats on Swans. It came as no surprise that the goals had not come from open play, as Swans had struggled to create clear openings against a well-marshalled visiting defence that made it difficult to play through.

One change was made to the side that had started at Basingstoke, with Simon returning andTrae Cook-Appiah dropping to the bench.

Swans have made it an unfortunate habit of going behind early in home matches, and they did so again. The visitors did not get a touch for the opening 2-3 minutes as they watched Swans pass the ball around amongst themselves, but when they did get possession they scored immediately. The ball was lobbed down the right, catching Swans totally exposed and leaving Ricardo German to run clear before squaring to Bruno Andrade for a simple tap-in from the edge of the 6 yard-box.

Swans threatened with Simon getting to the left byline, but his low cross couldn’t find a teammate.

The visitors again went close however after forcing a corner on the left. The ball was deflected behind for another kick on the right, and when it was driven low across to Andrade on the edge of the box he got in a low shot that Swans’ goalkeeper Liam Allen got behind on his line. Chesham had a free-kick close to the centre-circle, and when it was delivered to the right of the box a header was put wide.

John Gilbert made a good run on the right for Swans, but Chesham packed their box to clear.

Midway through the half the visitors almost got through as a long ball was played down the middle, but Allen blocked for a corner on the right. The kick reached Callum Adebiyi in the left of the box, and he sent a header looping against the far angle of bar and post.

A fine build up by Swans led to Stan Flaherty going down in the right corner of the box, but the referee ignored claims for a penalty. Swans best chance came with half an hour played following another patient build up that led to Pratley-Jones crossing high from the left. Adebiyi cleared the ball straight to Simon on the left corner of the 6 yard-box, but after chesting it down he clipped it well over the goal.

Chesham had an opportunity to double their lead eight minutes into the second-half when they had a free-kick right on the edge of the box, but the wall did its job by blocking the shot.

Swans went close to equalising with an hour played with what would have been a superb goal. Pratley-Jones sent in a long throw from the right, and when the ball came to Anis Nuur 35 yards out he struck a terrific, first-time half-volley that was just inches away from finding the top, right corner.

Midway through the second-half Chesham again had a chance to add to their lead. Flaherty had been fouled on the right giving Swans a free-kick, but after Nuur’s delivery into the box was cleared Chesham broke down the left. The cross picked out German unmarked by the right corner of the 6 yard-box, but he sent his shot wide of the far-post.

Flaherty was again fouled out on the right, leading to Adebiyi being shown a yellow card, and from Gilbert’s free-kick, Stefan Ilic, who had come on for Jake Frailing, glanced a header over. Swans continued to have a good spell, and a fine move on the right led to Pratley-Jones crossing in low, but there was no-one there to capitalise, and .a Pratley-Jones’ long throw from the right led to Adebiyi heading behind at the near-post for a right-side corner. Cook-Appiah had come on for Arsen Ujkaj, and he was at the near-post when Flaherty got to the right byline to cross low in, but he could not get a touch. Mitchal Gough just failed to get on the end of a right-side corner-kick, and Chesham keeper Zaki Oualah eventually punched away. With just over ten minutes remaining Simon looked to have been fouled in the left corner of the box, but again the referee saw no offence.

Swans lost the ball in their own half, and this led to Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick getting down the left and driving in unchallenged to the corner of the 6 yard-box, but Allen was there to make a fine block.

Swans built up another good move, but this time Nuur drove well over from 25 yards. With two minutes of normal-time remaining more fine play led to Gilbert driving in a low shot from 25 yards that was put behind for a corner on the left.

Swans’ hopes of getting something from the game seemed to have ended in the final minute when Hippolyte-Patrick got German into the right corner of the box. Gough stretched to clearly win the ball, and there seemed to be minimal contact as the Chesham player went over his outstretched leg, the referee awarding a penalty amid lengthy protests. German sent the spot-kick into the bottom right corner to make it 2-0 and seemingly secure the three points for his team.

Five minutes of added-on time had been played when Pratley-Jones launched another long throw from the right, and when Oualah failed to get to the ball Simon was on the goal-line to get in front of Chesham’s Connor Roberts and touch it in.

It looked to be a mere consolation for Swans, but Pratley-Jones was given another opportunity to deliver a long throw from the right, and this time the ball was cleared behind at the near-post for a corner. From the kick the ball was headed behind for another corner on the left. Tutt had come on for Harry Mills, and when Gilbert sent the kick to the far-post he was there to head home and make it 2-2.

There was one last threat from the visitors when they sent a long ball down the middle and Oliver McCoy headed on, but Allen was there to gather, and the final whistle blew to mark another amazing comeback by Swans.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Harry Mills (Sam Tutt 67’), Joe Pratley-Jones, Arsen Ujkaj (Trae Cook-Appiah 74’), Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Stan Flaherty, Jake Frailing (Stefan Ilic 56’), Eddie Simon, John Gilbert, Anis Nuur. Subs. not used: Ollie Allen, Mitchell Parker. Scorers: Simon (90+5’), Tutt (90+9’). Cautions: Pratley-Jones, foul (36’), Hicks, foul (53’), Gilbert, foul (76’), Nuur, dissent (90+1’), Gough, dissent (90+1’).  

Chesham United Team: Oualah, Roberts, Duru, Rolfe, Murphy, Adebiyi, Gallimore, Rush, Gibbons (Hippolyte-Patrick 56’), German (Kennedy-Sinclair 90+4’), Andrade (McCoy 71’). Subs. not used: Edwards, Jones. Scorers: Andrade (4’), German, penalty (90+2’). Cautions: Gibbons, simulation (43’), Adebiyi, foul (69’).