Tuesday 24th October 2023.                       Southern League, Premier Division South.

Hanwell Town 1    Walton & Hersham 2.

Swans picked up just their second away win of the season, as they had to battle hard to see off the challenge of a home side that put on a performance that belied their recent record. On their first visit to The Powerday Stadium they had to see off spells of considerable pressure, but after taking the lead with 13 minutes of normal-time remaining, having trailed 1-0 at half-time, they held on for a fine win. Credit should go to Hanwell for going all out for a win, and not sitting back.

Swans had to make a couple of enforced changes to their starting line-up. John Gilbert was unavailable, and with Mitchal Gough a late omission with a neck injury, Arsen Ujkaj came in as replacement. The midfielder had deputised for Gough for most of the recent match at Tiverton when the central-defender had retired unwell, and he put on another excellent performance in a less accustomed position.

Swans went close to taking the lead with just a minute on the watch. Stan Flaherty picked the ball up deep on the right, and sent Trae Cook-Appiah into the corner of the box to drive a low shot just wide of the far-post.

The home side put a header over from a right-side cross as they began to apply pressure, and they went close to taking the lead after a quarter of an hour. A free-kick was awarded on the left for a foul by Joe Hicks, who was then at the far-post to head away when William Dupray delivered the ball in. Dan Carr got possession on the right to cross, and this time Ujkaj was at the far-post to get his head to the ball. Dupray again crossed from the left, and Dwayne Duncan got in a downward header at the far-post that Tyla Dickinson did superbly to keep out with his legs, the Swans’ goalkeeper then hooking the ball away. Dickinson was soon in action again, doing well to tip the ball away from his line when it was driven in from the left.

Eddie Simon found Cook-Appiah on the left for Swans, and he made a fine run in on the byline to force a corner.

Dickinson continued to be kept busy, claiming the ball at his near-post following a long throw from the right, the Swans’ keeper then making a good catch from a right-side corner after the ball had been driven in from the right for Harry Mills to clear behind. The home side continued to have the best of the openings, and when Swans were guilty of losing the ball, Sam Evans turned on the edge of the box to drive a low shot just wide of the left post. Evans then laid the ball back to Mat MacKenzie outside the left corner of the box, and he sent a shot just over.

Swans were still having promising moments however, and a build-up on the right led to Cook-Appiah clipping the ball to Simon on the left, and he drove in a low shot that forced home keeper Sam Beasant to save down at his near-post. With five minutes of normal-time left of the half Jake Frailing’s excellent ball found Flaherty on the right, and he cut inside onto his left foot to get in a shot that Beasant could only push away, the Hanwell keeper then just denying Simon, who had followed in.

It was the home side however who soon broke the deadlock. A long kick out by Beasant led to the ball being given away cheaply outside the box, and MacKenzie was allowed to get in on the left and drive in a strong, left foot shot that was too hot for Dickinson to keep out.

Swans brought on Alex Kelly for Olly Allen for the second-half, and straight after the resumption they equalised. Anis Nuur hooked the ball down the middle to pick out the run of Cook-Appiah, and he showed great strength to barge past Duncan and then drive past the challenge of Isaac Olorunfemi and get into the right of the box. When the ball was driven low to the far-post Simon was there to tap home.

Hanwell soon responded, getting in on the right, and the ball was blocked three times as it was driven in, before being put behind for a corner. Two more corners soon followed, and Mackenzie then delivered a long throw from the right. MacKenzie followed in to set up Bernie Tanner on the edge of the box, and his attempt to pass the ball into the bottom, left corner was kept out by Dickinson.

Swans built up a typical multi-pass move around the box, probing for an opening, and Nuur got in on the left to send a shot just over the near, top corner. Simon then found Flaherty on the right, and he cut in to get in a low, left foot shot that Beasant went down to save. Frailing got Simon in on the left to drive in on the byline, but his cross was easily cut out by Beasant at his near-post.

Hanwell again went close when Sam Oguntayo found Carr on the right, and he did well before crossing to the near-post for Elliot Beynon to glance a header onto the top of the net.

Cook-Appiah won a corner on the left for Swans, and Flaherty laid the ball back to Frailing, but his lob into the box was easily cut out by Beasant.

With just over a quarter of an hour remaining Swans brought on Stefan Ilic for Flaherty, and this brought almost instant reward. Dickinson threw out to Mills on the left, and he found Simon in the centre-circle. Simon played an excellent ball to Ilic on the right edge of the box, and he took one touch before stepping inside Tanner and placing a left foot shot low into the right corner.

Ilic threatened again when Simon played him into the left of the box, but he was just denied at the near-post.

Sam Tutt came on for Simon, who had picked up a knock, as Swans prepared to see out the remaining time.

With the final five minutes approaching the home side built up a move on the right, culminating in Carr driving a shot just wide of the near-post from outside the corner of the box. Oguntayo then crossed high from the left to the far-post, where a header was sent across goal and wide.

Swans had to see out five minutes of stoppage-time, which they did without any further scares. In the final of those five minutes they had the opportunity to extend their lead. Ilic sent Mills down the right, and he played Cook-Appiah clear into the right of the box to get in a shot that Beasant blocked at his near-post.

Swans’ Team: Tyla Dickinson, Harry Mills, Joe Pratley-Jones, Jake Frailing, Arsen Ujkaj, Joe Hicks, Stan Flaherty (Stefan Ilic 74’), Anis Nuur, Eddie Simon (Sam Tutt 81’), Olly Allen (Alex Kelly 46’), Trae Cook-Appiah. Subs. not used: Gough, Wright. Scorers: Simon (46’), Ilic (77’). Cautions: Cook-Appiah, foul (35’), Nuur, foul (75’).

Hanwell Team: Beasant, Carr, Oguntayo, Olorunfemi, Duncan, Tanner, Dupray (Bancroft 90+2’), MacKenzie (Sole 60’), Evans, Beynon, Hutchinson (Duffy 87’). Subs. not used: Woodcock, Alves. Scorer: MacKenzie (41’). Caution: Hutchinson, foul (68’)