Tuesday 21st November 2023.                                Southern League, Premier Division South.

Walton & Hersham 1    Hendon 3.

Swans went down to their fourth defeat on the spin, albeit one by a penalty shoot-out, the first time they have suffered such a losing run since the 2018-19 season, when they were in the Combined Counties League Premier Division. They were also beaten for the second time by Hendon in just over a fortnight, having lost 2-1 away to them in the Isuzu FA Trophy. The visitors certainly looked a much improved side from that earlier meeting, when Swans were unfortunate to lose, having dominated most of the game and having numerous chances. Hendon looked as if their extended run in The FA Trophy had given them extra impetus. Early on it looked as if Swans would exact revenge as they took the lead inside the first-minute and immediately went desperately close to making it 2-0, but after that the visitors came more and more into the game, and punished a poor second-half by the home side with three goals. Swans could not raise their game in that second-half, struggling to make inroads into the final third and create opportunities as Hendon utilised a high pressing game.

Following the injury sustained by Joe Pratley-Jones in the Chertsey Town game Harry Pointing came in for his second appearance of the season, while Jake Frailing returned after recovering from a knee problem.

The early lead came without a Hendon player having touched the ball. Swans passed the ball around following the kick-off before Mitchal Gough crossed from deep on the right to pick out Harry Mills coming in at the far-post, and he scored with a neat, first-time, left-foot finish.

With just three minutes played it was close to being 2-0 when Alex Kelly got forward after winning the ball, and set up Eddie Simon on the edge of the box to get in a strong shot that was just inches wide of the right-post. A high ball down the middle got Simon through to the edge of the box, but under pressure from a Hendon defender he sent a lob over.

At that early stage it looked like Swans would dominate their opponents, but the visitors began to settle and come into the game. They got down the right to force a corner, Gough heading away at the far-post from the kick. A build-up of play led to a low shot coming in from 25 yards that home goalkeeper Liam Allen got behind. The ball was then lost on Swans’ left, and Kai Brosnan made room on the edge of box, but dragged his shot just wide of the left post.

Simon immediately forced a corner on the right for Swans, but Stan Flaherty’s kick was punched clear by Hendon keeper Matt Kerbey.

Hendon continued to look threatening, and the ball had to be headed away from Swans’ 6 yard-box following a run in on the right byeline.

With the visitors pressing high up the pitch Swans were finding it difficult to play through them, but a long clearance got Simon through, only for the ball to run away from him.

With five minutes of normal-time left of the half Hendon got in a shot from outside the box on the right that took a deflection to go wide of the far-post for a corner. Brosnan then played Niko Muir in on the left, and Allen had to save a shot to his near-post. Following a free-kick deep on the right in their own half Hendon launched a long ball into Swans’ box that Allen came out to punch away. Billy Leonard followed in to drive in a shot that brought a fine save from the Swans’ keeper.

Deep into added-on time Allen had to fall on the ball when Hendon got into the box, and this almost led to Swans doubling their lead as they at last opened up the visitors’ defence. Following Allen’s throw out for Mills to drive down the left, Anis Nuur won the ball and combined with Simon to set up John Gilbert in the left corner of the box, but he shot just wide of the far-post.

Hendon started the second-half by immediately forcing a corner on the right, and the kick went across goal and wide. Swans then failed to get the ball clear and Joe White set up Florian Envoudou in clear space in the right of the box, but he shot into the side-netting.

Swans finally got behind the visitors’ defence when Gilbert drove in on the left byeline, but there was no one there to get on the end of his high cross. Simon immediately got possession in the 6 yard-box, but he could not bring the ball under control.

Swans accustomed second-half display had not materialised, and it came as no surprise when Hendon equalised after 56 minutes. They again forced Swans into not getting the ball clear, and Envoudou crossed from the right for White to get in a low shot from the edge of the box that was blocked by Pointing, but Muir was allowed to turn on the penalty-spot before hooking the ball into the top, left corner.

Swans brought on Trae Cook-Appiah for Nuur, and then Sam Tutt for Pointing, but they fell behind after 65 minutes. Mills appeared to be fouled high on Swans’ right, and was out of the game as the referee allowed play to continue and Hendon to drive forward. The ball was laid in to Muir on the left edge of the box, and he set up Leonard to his left to drill a low shot inside Allen’s near-post.

With just under ten minutes remaining Mills hooked the ball clear and Hendon’s Sam Adenola clearly brought it under control with his right arm in the centre-circle.in full view of the referee. Play was allowed to continue however, and when the ball was crossed from the left Dave Diedhiou was at the far-post to head the ball across goal and wide.

Swans had a chance when Flaherty got forward and space opened up 25 yards out, but he drove a left-foot shot well over. With ten minutes of normal-time remaining Tutt and Flaherty combined on the left, and Tutt got to the byeline to cross, but the ball was cleared at the near-post. Minutes later Swans went desperately close to equalising when a clever ball by Simon found Kelly on the edge of the box. Kelly sidestepped Leonard to curl a great shot against the base of the right-post.

Allen was soon having to make a fine save at his near-post when Hendon shot from the right of the box.

The visitors’ keeper Kerbey was again fortunate when his attempt to kick clear was blocked close in at the right post, and the ball rebounded straight back to him.

Swans’ defeat was immediately confirmed however when a stray pass out of defence was intercepted by Leonard and Hendon were left 3 on 2. The ball was laid across from the left to leave Muir with a simple tap-in from the right edge of the 6 yard-box.

Swans tried to come back and Tutt drove the ball low into the box from the left, but there was no-one there to capitalise. In stoppage-time Cook-Appiah sent in a long throw from the right, and when the ball was nodded out to Flaherty just inside the box he sent a left-foot volley wide of the right-post.

Swans’ Team: Liam Allen, Harry Mills, Harry Pointing (Sam Tutt 64’), Jake Frailing, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Stan Flaherty, Alex Kelly, Eddie Simon, John Gilbert, Anis Nuur (Trae Cook-Appiah 61’). Subs. not used: Arsen Ujkaj, Olly Allen, Rylee Wright. Scorer: Mills (1’). Cautions: Hicks, foul (70’), Gough, dissent (72’), Gilbert, foul (79’).

Hendon Team: Kerbey, Adenola, Perry, Riley-Snow, Matsuzaka, Light, Envoudou, Leonard, White, Muir, Broshan. Subs. used: Diedhiou (64’), Brown (82’). Sub. not used: Lucien. Scorers: Muir (56’ & 87’), Leonard (65’). Caution: Muir, foul (72’).