Saturday 24th February 2024.                               Southern League, Premier Division South.

Beaconsfield Town 2    Walton & Hersham 1.

Swans were left frustrated after coming away from Holloways Park pointless, having dominated from first whistle to last. They were undone by two headers from free-kicks at the end of each half that gave the home side goals from two of their only three efforts on target. Apart from those two blemishes, the only other criticism that could possibly be pointed Swans’ way was the failure to translate their excellent approach play into attempts on goal. The transition from defence to attack could not be faulted, but most build-ups broke down around or inside the home box without the goalkeeper being seriously tested. The Rams, after initially employing a high back line, were happy to sit back and attempt to hit Swans on the break They did that on a few occasions, but it was the threat of their big defenders from set-pieces that was to bring them the win. When Swans finally converted an attack into a goal it proved too be too little too late, coming with the last kick of the match.

Three changes were made to the starting line-up, with Josh Tobin and Nana Owsu returning, along with Fulham loanee Caelan Avenell coming in for his second appearance.

Swans had an early chance when Joe Pratley-Jones’ header inside from the right found Owusu, and he neatly clipped the ball into the box to find Eddie Simon, but Jacques Kpohomouh blocked him at the expense of a corner on the right. Pratley-Jones followed up with a long throw from the right, and Owusu glanced a header on to the top of the net.

Swans had had all the early possession, but with eight minutes played Anis Nuur looked to have been fouled on the halfway line on the home right, but Beaconsfield were allowed to get forward and Joel Rollinson was found just outside the box, and he struck a low, left foot shot wide of the right post. An excellent cross-field pass then picked out Kamaron English in space on the left, and he delivered the ball into the penalty-spot for Rollinson to send a volley over the goal.

Stan Flaherty was soon making a run on the right for Swans that forced a corner. Flaherty and Owusu played the kick short, and Nuur was able to cross to the far-post for Pratley-Jones to have a header cleared. Flaherty then delivered a free-kick into the home box from out on the touchline, and goalkeeper Matt Rowley finally gained possession. Swans continued to dominate, and a fine move on the left led to Eoin Bolger playing the ball low into the box, where Rowley just denied Johl Powell. Alex Kelly was soon picking the ball up in the centre-circle, before getting forward and sending a shot dipping over from 25 yards. Powell then broke down the right before being brought down just outside the edge of the box close to the byline. Flaherty laid the free-kick across to the edge of the ‘D’ for Nuur to have a shot blocked. The ball ran loose for Pratley-Jones to set up Flaherty in the right of the box, but his low, left foot shot was comfortably saved by Rowley down at his near-post. With just over half an hour played another fine move led to Flaherty swinging the ball into the box from the right touchline, but Rowley came off his line to take.

Beaconsfield soon had a free-kick deep on the right, and when James Dobson sent the ball in Avenell headed away to the edge of the box, where Kelly blocked an attempted shot by Rollinson. The ball was delivered back in from the halfway line for Asher Yearwood to get in a header from the edge of the 6 yard-box that was straight into the gloves of Swans’ keeper Tyla Dickinson.

With ten minutes of normal-time of the half remaining, good play by Powell on the right set up Flaherty outside the corner of the box to send a left-foot shot over the far top corner. As the half entered the final five minutes a sweeping move led to Powell on the edge of the box laying off to Flaherty to his right, but after cutting inside he put a tame, left foot shot straight at keeper Rowley. Another fine build-up enabled Owusu to get in a shot from outside the box, but again the effort was weak and straight at the keeper.

The home side immediately got to the other end to have a shot blocked. Swans looked like going into the break level, but two minutes into added-on time they were made to pay for not making their dominance pay. Beaconsfield were awarded a free-kick 35 yards out on the right, and when the ball was swung in by Dobson no-one picked out the run of Luke Neville to the edge of the 6 yard-box, and he dived to head home.

The home side made an immediate right-side break in the second-half, but the cross was headed clear.

Owusu however was soon being played clear to the left byline for Swans, but his low cross was cut out by the keeper in the 6 yard-box to just deny Simon.

Beaconsfield had a couple of openings, Yearwood shooting over from inside the ‘D’, and a break from a Swans’ attack allowing English to get free on the left to drive a shot over.

Swans responded with another excellent passage of play, leading to Nuur and Simon combining to play Powell to the right corner of the 6 yard-box, but his shot was blocked by the legs of Rowley at his near-post. The ball was cleared for a throw-in on the right, taken by Pratley-Jones, and this led to another fine build-up and Owusu laying the ball in from the left to Kelly on the edge of the box, but his low shot lacked power, and Rowley made a comfortable take on his line.

The home side soon had another free-kick deep on the right touchline, but this time Dobson struck the ball too long.

Swans then brought on John Gilbert for Nuur. Gilbert was soon being played to the left byline by Owusu following another fine build-up to force a corner. Swans continued to probe for an opening, and just past the hour Flaherty and Kelly linked up for a one-two on the right, and Flaherty cut into the corner of the box to drive a left foot shot just over the far, top corner.

Midway through the second-half Swans thought they had at last equalised. Pratley-Jones launched a long throw from the left, leading to Powell setting-up Simon in the right of the box. Simon sidestepped Sam Togwell to drive in a shot, and Avenell was at the far-post to touch the ball over the line, but he had strayed offside.

Swans immediately made another change, with Jake Frailing coming on for Flaherty. Frailing was soon setting up Gilbert on the left edge of the box, but Rowley got behind his low shot. Frailing had made an impact after coming on, and following another great build-up by Swans he linked up with Owusu on the left to get through to the byline, but his driven cross was cut out by Rowley at his near-post.

Swans continued to press for the equaliser, with Beaconsfield packing their defence, but they were almost undone with ten minutes remaining. Dickinson had seen little action, but his throw out to the right was intercepted, and English was able to get forward and drive a shot just over from the edge of the box.

Owusu tricked his way past Dan Bradshaw on the left to drive to the byline and cross, but Powell could not get in a clean header and the ball glanced wide of the far-post.

Swans’ hopes of getting at least a deserved share of the points were effectively dashed with a minute of normal-time remaining when Pratley-Jones was shown a yellow card for a foul deep on the left and another free-kick awarded to the home side. The kick was from the other side, but the outcome was the same, as Dobson’s delivery was met by Neville unmarked at the far-post, and he headed across Dickinson and into the far corner for his second goal of the afternoon.

With the prospect of lengthy added-on time however, Swans had not given up, Bolger forcing a corner on the left, and Gilbert’s cross from the right being just too high for Simon in the 6 yard-box. Pratley-Jones then delivered a long throw from the right for Powell to have a shot close-in at the near-post blocked behind for a corner.

Swans finally got some reward six minutes into the added-on time, and it came with a really excellent goal that deserved to win a game rather than be a mere consolation. The move started with the ball being won by the corner flag deep on their own left, and Owusu driving up the pitch. Several passes later it finished with Bolger laying off to Frailing on the left edge of the box, and he stepped inside Bradshaw to curl a great shot into the far-corner for his first Swans’ goal. The final whistle then blew immediately the game restarted.

Swans’ Team: Tyla Dickinson, Caelan Avenell, Eoin Bolger, Alex Kelly, Joe Pratley-Jones, Josh Tobin, Stan Flaherty (Jake Frailing 68’), Johl Powell, Eddie Simon, Anis Nuur (John Gilbert 57’), Nana Owusu. Subs. not used: Arsen Ujkaj, Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks. Scorer: Frailing (90+6’). Caution: Pratley-Jones, foul (88’).

Beaconsfield Team: Rowley, Togwell, Neville, Kpohomouh, Bradshaw, Yearwood, Rollinson, Dobson, English, McElroy (Okorogheye 77’), Fraser (Roth 86’). Subs. not used: Van Aurich, Grant, Dymott. Scorer: Neville (45+2’ & 89’). Cautions: McElroy, foul (63’), Okorogheye, kicked ball away (90+4’).