Tuesday 12th September 2023.                               Southern League, Premier Division South.

Walton & Hersham 2    Hayes & Yeading United 0.

This may not have been the goal-fest Swans have provided in their previous home league matches this season, but their performance was no less impressive as they bounced back from two successive defeats. For the first time at home they did not have to come back from behind as they kept their first clean sheet of the season, with the visitors given few opportunities.

They were pleased to welcome back Alex Kelly for his first game of the season, while Anis Nuur retained his place after an impressive first start at Salisbury. John Gilbert and Trae Cook-Appiah also came back in after not starting in Wiltshire.

With Harry Mills still not fit, the responsibility for taking the two penalties Swans were awarded fell on Gilbert, and he was equally clinical from the spot.

Swans soon went close when Nuur got down the left before releasing Cook-Appiah on a run to the byeline. When the ball came back to Gilbert on the edge of the box he sent a shot just wide of the far-post.

The visitors posed their first threat when Luke Warner-Eley tried a strike from 35 yards that home goalkeeper Liam Allen took comfortably on his line.

The best chance so far came with a quarter if an hour played when Nuur made a lovely turn by the centre-circle before playing Gilbert to the edge of the box, but after opening up the chance, his low, left foot shot was well  blocked by United keeper Jacob Adams. Gilbert immediately got in on the right byeline, but his low cross was cut out at the near-post by Adams.

United almost created a chance with a deep cross from the right, but it was too high for a player to get to in the box. Warner-Eley then drove the ball in from the left, and it took a deflection through to Allen at his near-post.

Swans again went close with 33 minutes played when Nuur knocked the ball high down the middle from inside his own half to pick out Cook-Appiah, who got past a couple of defenders and into the right of the box, but his first-time shot was straight at Adams. As the half entered the final five minutes a good build-up led to Eddie Simon getting possession in the box, and when he found Cook-Appiah to his right, he had a shot blocked behind for a corner. Kelly then made a fine run into the left of the box before laying back to Gilbert, who got in a good strike that brought a save from keeper Adams.

Swans had another great chance just three minutes after the resumption when Nuur won the ball on the left for Cook-Appiah to link up with Gilbert. Gilbert played a terrific through ball to send Cook-Appiah clear to the edge of the box, but Adams came out to make a good block. Another chance soon came when Stan Flaherty got forward before playing Cook-Appiah into the right corner of the box, but he shot low just wide of the far-post. Swans continued to dominate, and Cook-Appiah made a fine run to the byeline on the right, but his layback could not pick out a teammate. Gilbert was then just over with a shot from the left of the box. Nuur made an excellent run on the left, but with Cook-Appiah unmarked to his right he could not find the pass.

Swans were almost punished for their missed opportunities midway through the half whenJoe Pratley-Jones was harshly penalised, giving the visitors a free-kick ten yards outside the edge of the box on the right. Omar Rowe chipped the ball to the far-post, where Mitchal Gough headed away, but Sam Ashton knocked back across from the left. The ball took a deflection, and Sanmi Odelusi just failed to get to it at the far-post as it went behind for a corner. United then put a shot over from the right of the box.

Swans finally made the breakthrough with a quarter of an hour remaining. Arsen Ujkaj found Kelly on the right, and he got Cook-Appiah into the corner of the box, where he was brought down by Jerry Wiltshire and a penalty awarded. Gilbert made no mistake with the spot-kick, finding the bottom, left corner.

Swans had a chance to make it 2-0 with just over five minutes remaining when Gough brought the ball forward to the centre-circle from deep in his own half before playing Cook-Appiah through to the edge of the box. Cole Brown got in a tackle and the ball ran to Gilbert inside the ‘D’, but his low shot was    saved down at his left post by Adams.

As the match entered stoppage-time Swans were awarded their second penalty of the evening. Ujkaj chipped the ball forward to pick out the run of Cook-Appiah, and he cleverly flicked the ball inside from the right corner of the 6 yard-box. Adams pushed the ball away, but Stefan Ilic, who had just come on for Simon, got possession. In trying to retrieve the ball the keeper brought Ilic down. Gilbert again drove home the spot-kick, this time straight down the middle.

The visitors had one last opportunity to get some reward deep into added-on time, but a far-post header was wide from a right-side corner, the final whistle then immediately following.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Alex Kelly (Sam Tutt 80’), Joe Pratley-Jones, Arsen Ujkaj, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Stan Flaherty (Rylee Wright 90+2’), Anis Nuur, Eddie Simon (Stefan Ilic 88’), John Gilbert, Trae Cook-Appiah. Subs. not used: Jake Frailing, Ollie Allen. Scorer: Gilbert 2 penalties (75’ & 90+1’). Cautions: Gilbert (7’), Pratley-Jones (16’), Flaherty (51’), Ujkaj (90+7’).  

Hayes & Yeading Team: Adams, Brown, Odelusi, Wiltshire, Rowe (Faniyan 87’), Ashton, O’Brien (Ngunga 60’), Vilhete, Field, Nasha (Hanlon 75’), Warner-Eley. Subs. not used: Grant, Burden. Cautions: Wiltshire, foul (50’), Odelusi, dissent (74’).