Saturday 16th December 2023.                              Southern League, Premier Division South.

Dorchester Town 1    Walton & Hersham 2.

Following a run of losses Swans made it two wins on the spin as they completed their first Southern League double, having beaten the Dorset side 6-3 at home in August. The Magpies have mounted a bit of a mini recovery since then, and they created several opportunities that could have swung the game their way, but Eddie Simon’s superb second-half strike settled it in Swans’ favour. This came after Arsen Ujkaj’s stoppage-time equaliser had tied up a first-half that saw the home side content to get men behind the ball and surrender possession to Swans, denying them clear-cut chances. Dorchester relied on hitting Swans with swift counter-attacks, and this policy paid off as they took a 21st minute lead.

Stan Flaherty and Joe Hicks both returned for Swans, having served one match bans, and it proved a bitter-sweet return for Flaherty as he was shown a straight red card in the dying minutes. Harry Pointing dropped to the bench after feeling unwell, joining Joe Pratley-Jones, who has still not recovered sufficiently from his injury to start. Harry Mills and Trae Cook-Appiah are also still recovering from injury.

The home side had the first chance with just over ten minutes played when Ollie Haste won the ball on halfway on the left and drove forward to Swans’ box before finding Jordan Ngalo in the middle. Ngalo set up Olaf Kozela in space in the right of the box, but he drove the ball high and wide.

Alex Kelly’s run for Swans almost got him into the box, but he was just denied on the edge. Dorchester continued to defend in numbers, but they gave Swans a chance by fouling Kelly 25 yards out to concede a free-kick in a dangerous position to the right of centre. It was an ideal set-up for Flaherty, but home goalkeeper Adam Forster was well positioned to gather a left-foot shot.

The Magpies took the lead when Jack Dickson was allowed to make a run forward from his own half and into the right of the box. The ball broke to Koszela on the right, and his shot brought a fine save at his near-post from Swans’ keeper Tyla Dickinson. From the right-side corner taken by Corby Moore the ball came to Ngalo just inside the box, and he drove it through a crowd of players and past Dickinson.

 Flaherty got forward on the left for Swans, but sent a low shot wide of the far-post from the corner of the box. With half an hour played a patient build-up outside the box led to Anis Nuur striking a half-volley from 22 yards wide of the left post.

The home side responded with Koszela getting in a low shot from the edge of the box that Dickinson got behind on his line.

Dorchester were content to allow Swans patient build-ups, and following one Mitchal Gough crossed high into the box from the right, but Forster made a confident catch. Another on the left led to Ibrahim Olutade turning 22 yards out to shoot wide of the left post.

With five minutes left of the half Dorchester had a chance to double their lead when Ngalo found Shaquille Gwengwe on the left, and his cross picked out Will Fletcher in space at the far-post, but he headed tamely straight at Dickinson.

In the final minute of normal-time the ball came to Gough 35 yards out, and he got in a shot that took a big deflection, and the ball looped over for a corner to Swans.

A minute of added-on time was announced, and as that came to an end Swans equalised. John Gilbert was clearly fouled just outside the box on the left, but play continued, and Jake Frailing crossed a terrific first-time ball to the far-post, where Ujkaj headed firmly past Forster for his first goal of the season.

Swans made a change for the second-half, with Simon coming on for Nuur.

The home side had another chance straight after the resumption as they had a free-kick just inside their own half on the right. The kick led to Haste getting possession on the left, and his cross picked out Fletcher on the edge of the 6 yard-box, but his header cleared the bar.

Dorchester’s Dickson was booked for fouling Kelly out on the left touchline, and the free-kick sent Simon away to send an angled shot just over.

The home side had shown more inclination to get forward in the second-half, and after winning a corner on the right a header was glanced wide of the far-post.

Swans were now getting more space, and fine play by Gilbert on the right led to him driving the ball across the 6 yard-box, and it just failed to pick out Simon and Olutade as it took a slight deflection to go behind for a corner. Flaherty’s through ball then almost got Kelly in, but Forster was quickly out to deny him. With an hour played Hicks sent a high ball long down the middle to pick out the run of Olutade, but after getting clear to the edge of the box his attempt to lob Forster and find the top, right corner was kept out by the home keeper.

Fletcher had another chance for Dorchester when loose play by Swans gave him an opening outside the left corner of the box, but he drove the ball over.

Flaherty was fouled 35 yards out, and following the free-kick taken by Frailing he got to the left edge of the box to drive in a shot that Forster beat down.

With 20 minutes remaining Swans took the lead with a terrific goal. The move started deep in their own half and led to Gilbert finding Kelly in the centre-circle, and he worked the ball to Simon on the left. Simon cut inside, and from 25 yards out struck a right foot shot that gave Forster no chance as it found the top, left corner.

Swans tried to seal the win, and Gilbert cut into the box from the right to have a shot blocked for a corner.

The home side built up a good move that led to Drew Eccott-Young crossing high from the right to the far-post, where Pedro Borges headed another fine chance wide. Swans continued to be put under pressure, and following another good build-up by Dorchester, Fletcher had a chance on the right edge of the box, but he shot wide of the near-post. A corner was then won on the right, and the ball was bundled in at the near-post, but the referee blew for a foul on Dickinson.

Swans went close to making it 3-1 with some great play by Gilbert. He battled to win the ball deep in his own half on the left, and substitute Olly Allen sent him on a run that took him clear  into the left of the home box, but he just failed to slip the ball past keeper Forster. Olutade was fouled outside the edge of the box on the left, but Gilbert’s free-kick went straight to Forster.

With a minute of normal-time remaining the referee blew for a foul on Simon on the halfway line, but as play continued Flaherty was judged to have caught Moore with a high boot and was shown a red card.

Swans had to see out five minutes of added-on time a player short, and in the fourth of them Dorchester won a corner on the right, and from the kick Will Spetch got in a far-post header that was superbly claimed by Dickinson.

Swans’ Team: Tyla Dickinson, Arsen Ujkaj, Eoin Bolger, Jake Frailing (Olly Allen 78’), Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Stan Flaherty, Alex Kelly, Ibrahim Olutade, John Gilbert, Anis Nuur (Eddie Simon 46’). Subs. not used: Harry Pointing, Aundé Todd, Joe Pratley-Jones. Scorers: Ujkaj (45+1’), Simon (70’). Cautions: Kelly, foul (65’), Frailing, did not retire (73’). Dismissal: Flaherty, foul (89’).

Dorchester Team: Forster, Dickson (Eccott-Young 71’), Haste, Spetch, Ngalo (Borges 71’), Turner, Waterfield (Thomas 89’), Moore, Fletcher, Gwengwe, Koszela. Subs. not used: Slough, Toms. Scorer: Ngalo (21’). Caution: Dickson, foul (47’).