Saturday 28th October 2023.                                                               FA Trophy, 1st Round.

Hendon 2    Walton & Hersham 1.

A late siege on the home goal could well have salvaged at least a penalty shoot-out for Swans as they strove to come back from a 2-0 deficit, but after Eddie Simon finally got the ball in the net they ran out of time and exited the competition. Although not fully on their game in the first-half they seldom looked in trouble, and it was against the run of play when Hendon scored in the final minute. They still looked well capable of coming back, but were then hit by an excellent strike that put them 2-0 down after 65 minutes. It was then pretty much one way traffic as the Hendon goal bore a charmed life. Substitute Stan Flaherty twice rattled the goal-frame with superbly struck free-kicks, and several efforts were cleared off the line, until Simon’s goal came too late.

Flaherty did not start for the first time, with Stefan Ilic coming in, while Alex Kelly made just his second start of the season. Mitchal Gough and John Gilbert both returned after missing the Hanwell game, with Sam Tutt also coming back in.

The home side made a bright start, soon winning a corner on the left, Kai Brosnan’s kick being cleared at the far-post. Joe White then got in on the left byline to have a cross cleared, before a build-up around the box led to Luca Allinson crossing from the right, but the ball was hit too long.

Swans came into the game, and they had an opportunity when Kelly robbed a defender in the box, but he was forced wide to the right byline, and his high cross was claimed by home goalkeeper Matt Kerbey in his 6 yard-box. With twenty minutes played Jake Frailing almost got Gilbert in, but Kerbey was quickly out to the edge of his box to deny him. Swans then strung multi-passes together, but could not open up the home defence. Another fine build-up led to Anis Nuur finding Ilic on the right, but his cross was headed away at the far-post by Dave Diedhiou. Swans were unfortunate when Gilbert got down the left before laying off to Simon, whose low ball in was tucked home by Kelly on the edge of the 6 yard-box at the near-post. The assistant referee however flagged for offside, presumably against Simon, which seemed somewhat doubtful. With five minutes left of the half Gilbert almost got in on the left, bur again Kerbey was out to block. Ilic then crossed high from the right, and when Kerbey failed to cut the ball out he was fortunate to see it drop just wide of the far-post.

Swans were given a warning when Brosnan did well on the left before laying the ball across to White 25 yards out, and he drove in a low shot that keeper Tyla Dickinson saved down by his left post.

Then, in the final minute of normal-time, Kerbey sent a goal-kick down the middle, and the ball glanced off the head of Gough. Brosnan was the grateful recipient as the ball ran through to him in the box, and he drove it into the bottom, left corner.

Swans should have equalised six minutes into the second-half. Gough played a high ball down the middle to Kelly, who threaded a clever pass through to get Simon in with a one-on-one with Kerbey, but he failed to beat the Hendon keeper, who just prevented the ball from going through his legs.

Swans were almost punished for the miss when Niko Muir found Brosnan in space on the left, and he drove in a low, left foot shot that Dickinson saved down at his near-post. Brosnan had another opportunity when Ethan Light’s long ball from deep on the right picked him out on the left, and he cut inside to send a shot just wide of the far post. Hamza Semakula had just come on for Hendon when he shot wide of the near-post from the right.

Kerbey had to make a good take in his 6 yard-box at the other end when Tutt drove the ball over from the left. A good move then led to Gilbert playing the ball in low from the right for Ilic to be just denied at the near-post and force a corner.  That was Ilic’s last involvement, as he was immediately replaced by Flaherty.

Midway through the half Swans were stung by a second goal. A volleyed pass from Blaise Riley-Snow from deep in the home half picked out Sam Adenola on the left, and he cut inside before sending a great, right foot shot into the far, top corner.

Swans immediately brought on Trae Cook-Appiah for Kelly as they sought to get back into the tie, and with twenty minutes remaining they went close to doing so. A free-kick was won when Gilbert was fouled 30 yards out on the right, and Flaherty sent a terrific, left foot shot dipping against the crossbar and over.

Swans then made their third and final substitution, with Rylee Wright coming on for Harry Mills, and they again went desperately close to getting a goal back. Flaherty was fouled outside the right corner of the box, to win a free-kick a bit closer in than the previous one. Flaherty again struck the ball superbly with his left foot, and this time it thumped against the far-post. Another free-kick was soon won, this time outside the left of the box, but Nuur drove the ball into the wall. Swans continued to do everything but score, Flaherty playing Gilbert in on the right to drive the ball low into the 6 yard-box, where Simon just failed to get to it.

They were almost caught out when Hendon’s Adam Laaref had a shooting opportunity on the left, but Dickinson got behind the ball at his near-post.

As the tie entered the final five minutes of normal-time Gough sent Flaherty on a run down the right, and Cook-Appiah took over to drive to the byline. When he drove the ball low across Kerbey could only push it away to Simon on the edge of the 6 yard-box, and his shot was just blocked by the leg of Light. Wright followed up on the left, but his shot was just kept out at the near-post by Kerbey. Gilbert and Flaherty then combined on the right, and when Gilbert drove the ball in it struck Kerbey at the near-post, and somehow failed to go in as it rebounded off Simon on the goal-line. Five minutes into stoppage-time a corner was won on the right, and from Flaherty’s kick Joe Hicks was on the edge of the 6 yard-box to glance a header just over.

Gilbert then sent Flaherty down the right, and he crossed low into the 6 yard-box, where Simon superbly dummied Light, switching the ball onto his left foot and driving it past Kerbey, but it was too little, too late.

Swans’ Team: Tyla Dickinson, Harry Mills (Rylee Wright 73’), Sam Tutt, Jake Frailing, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Stefan Ilic (Stan Flaherty 62’), Anis Nuur, Eddie Simon, Alex Kelly (Trae Cook-Appiah 66’), John Gilbert. Subs. not used: Arsen Ujkaj, Joe Pratley-Jones. Scorer: Simon (90+7’).

Hendon Team: Kerbey, Diedhiou, Adenola, Riley-Snow, Matsuzuka, Light, Allinson (Semakula 60’), Leonard (Envoudoa 90+1’), White, Muir, Brosnan (Laaref 80’). Sub. not used: Olarerin. Scorer: Brosnan (45’), Adenola (65’). Caution: Riley-Snow, kicked ball away (90+4’).