Saturday 2nd March 2024.                         Southern League, Premier Division South.

Walton & Hersham 1    Hanwell Town 2.

For the second weekend running Swans came away pointless from a game they had dominated, with visitors Hanwell Town, without counting their highly contentious penalty winner, having had fewer shots on target than Beaconsfield Town’s total of three a week earlier. Again, Swans had looked to be in control of the first-half, only to concede from a free-kick delivered into their box just before the break. This time however no opposition player touched the ball as it sliced off the left boot of the unfortunate Caelan Avenell on the edge of the 6 yard-box to beat goalkeeper Tyla Dickinson inside his left post. The second-half was then one of almost constant Swans’ pressure that had brought a deserved equaliser with just over twenty minutes remaining. It then looked to be a question of whether the visitors could hold out for a draw, but with just over five minutes of normal-time left they had another opportunity to utilise the ultra-long throw-ins of Mat McKenzie that had been their most potent weapon all match. He launched another throw from the right to the near-post, followed by the referee pointing to the penalty-spot for an offence only he seemed to be aware of. The penalty was despatched, leaving Swans precious few minutes to try to salvage at least a draw. Hanwell were able to withstand more Swans’ pressure however to come away with the win.

Swans made three changes to their previous starting line-up, with Arsen Ujkaj, John Gilbert and Jake Frailing coming in for Eoin Bolger, Anis Nuur and Stan Flaherty, who had an injury problem that led to him starting on the bench.

McKenzie had already got in a couple of troublesome long throws for the visitors, before Swans had their first opportunity after 12 minutes with a free-kick when Nana Owusu was fouled out on the left touchline 5 yards in from the corner-flag. Gilbert swung a terrific delivery in to the far-post, and with keeper Sam Beasant beaten, Calum Duffy did well to head the ball off the line with Josh Tobin behind him ready to capitalise. Swans were soon going even closer to taking the lead. Eddie Simon was fouled deep on the left, and following the free-kick Frailing combined with Owusu, who laid the ball across to Gilbert on the right. Gilbert superbly tricked his way past Dan Carr to get in on the byline and drive the ball low across the 6 yard-box. Tobin was at the far-post to have a shot deflected into the side-netting. Owusu and Gilbert worked the left-side corner short, and Owusu swung the ball in for Avenell’s header from the edge of the 6 yard-box to bring a fine save from Beasant down at his left-post. Tobin followed in on the right to drive the ball against the near-post. Simon was soon finding Gilbert on the right, and he sent an excellent first-time cross to the far-post to pick out Owusu, who got in a shot that Callum Woodcock blocked behind for a corner.

Owusu forced another corner on the left as Swans continued to press, before Hanwell again threatened with a couple of more long throws. Swans broke from the second, and Joe Pratley-Jones got down the left to almost play Simon in, but Beasant was quickly out to claim.

Just before the half hour Hanwell won the ball inside their own half to send Sam Evans on a run through to the edge of the box, but Dickinson was quickly out to make a terrific block with his feet. McKenzie was soon launching another long throw from the right, leading to Duffy getting in a header from close to the penalty-spot, but the ball looped into the gloves of Dickinson on his line.

Gilbert was fouled by Jenson Wright ten yards outside the right corner of the box, but Gilbert’s free-kick into the box was headed away.

Hanwell had withstood Swans’ pressure, and when they forced a corner on the right Wright’s kick sent the ball across goal and out for a throw-in. With five minutes of normal-time remaining of the half the visitors had a spell of possession around Swans’ box, and when Jacob Bancroft laid the ball back to Fabio Sole on the edge he struck a shot that was just inches over, although Dickinson looked to have it covered.

Two minutes later Hanwell took the lead in fortunate fashion with Avenell’s own goal from Wright’s free-kick delivered from deep on the right.

There was still time for Wright to send in another free-kick from the left touchline, but a foul in the box averted the threat.

Straight from the kick-off for the second-half Swans gifted Hanwell a corner on the left that they fortunately defended.

Gilbert was soon however making a fine forward run to play Simon into the right of the box, where he had a shot blocked for a corner. Gilbert continued to cause Hanwell problems, and Carr was shown a yellow card for halting his excellent run on the right. The free-kick from just outside the edge of the box was driven in low by Gilbert to force another corner on the right. Johl Powell was soon getting in on the left byline to play the ball across goal and win yet another corner on the left. Pratley-Jones’ long throw from the left was nodded on by Owusu at the near-post, and Swans built up a move that  led to Tobin finding Owusu ten yards outside the box on the left, and he drove in a fine shot that Beasant just got fingers on to deflect over. Gilbert drove the corner from the right in low, and when Tobin got to the corner of the 6 yard-box at the near-post to get a touch, Beasant did well to get down and scramble the ball off the line down at his right post.

Swans were almost caught out when Bancroft got free on the right to send the ball low across goal. Bancroft then forced a corner on the right, and when the ball was hooked back in from the left Dickinson got to it, but the flag had already gone up for offside.

Swans continued to dominate however, pressing for the equaliser, and with an hour played more excellent build up play led to Tobin playing Powell into the right of the box, but his shot from a tight angle was well blocked by Beasant at his near-post with Simon unmarked in front of goal. Swans were then denied another opportunity when Alex Kelly was in the centre-circle to play the ball through and send Frailing clear, but the referee failed to play advantage and blew up for a foul on Simon.

Hanwell had a rare opening when the ball was given away and McKenzie got in a shot from 25 yards that Dickinson went down on his line to push away.

Swans’ pressure finally paid off with the equaliser after 69 minutes. Persistent build-up play finally led to Gilbert’s great through ball sending Powell into the right of the box, and this time he made no mistake, sending a low shot across the keeper and into the far corner.

Another excellent build-up led to Frailing and Owusu playing a neat one-two on the left and Frailing getting to the byline to drive the ball across goal. Gilbert followed up on the right to send a left foot shot flashing just wide of the far-post. Powell made another fine run on the right to play the ball low in and win another corner. Frailing won yet another corner on the left, and when he played the kick short to Owusu, he cut to the byline to send the ball flashing across the goal-face. With ten minutes of normal-time remaining Flaherty came on for Frailing, and straight away he went close to putting Swans ahead. Owusu laid the ball inside to him on the left edge of the box, and he drove in a low, left foot shot that took the slightest of defections to go just wide of the far-post for yet another corner.

Instead of being ahead however, the penalty award then came that put Swans behind again, Evans finding the bottom, right corner from the spot.

Swans continued to pressurise the visitors’ goal, and Simon just failed to get a touch in the 6 yard-box when Gilbert drove the ball in low from the right touchline. In the 90th minute Powell was brought down just inches outside the right edge of the box close to the byline, and following Flaherty’s free-kick a corner was won on the right. From Flaherty’s kick Gilbert was in the box to have a shot blocked. With added-on time being played Gilbert found Flaherty on the right, and he cut in to the corner of the box to drive in a low, left foot shot that Beasant saved down at his near-post. Pratley-Jones immediately made a run in on the left byline to have a low cross cleared in the 6 yard-box. New signing Cameron Thompson then came on for Ujkaj. Pratley-Jones launched a long throw from the left, and when the ball came back to him on the corner of the box he struck a first-time, right foot half-volley that was blocked away for yet another corner on the left. Seven minutes into added-on time Powell forced another corner on the right, and with keeper Dickinson coming up, following Gilbert’s kick Owusu was on the edge of the box to have a shot blocked. The ball ran loose in the 6 yard-box and was clearly handled on the ground by a Hanwell player, but the referee further incensed Swans’ players and supporters by awarding a free-kick to the visitors. Pratley-Jones was then shown successive yellow cards, followed by a red, and was sent-off, leaving Swans to play out the remaining minutes with ten men.

Swans’ Team: Tyla Dickinson, Caelan Avenell, Joe Pratley-Jones, Alex Kelly, Arsen Ujkaj (Cameron Thompson 90+3’), Josh Tobin, John Gilbert, Johl Powell, Eddie Simon, Jake Frailing (Stan Flaherty 80’), Nana Owusu. Subs. not used: Mitchal Gough, Joe Hicks, Anis Nuur. Scorer: Powell (69’). Cautions: Dickinson, Avenell, Kelly, Nuur. Dismissal: 2 cautions, Pratley-Jones.

Hanwell Town Team: Beasant, Woodcock, Carr, Osman, Duffy, Duncan (Hall 72’), Bancroft (Fosu 82’), MacKenzie, Evans, Wright (Beynon 76’), Sole. Subs. not used: James, Ogwuazor. Scorers: Own goal (Avenell) (42’), Evans, penalty (85’). Cautions: Woodcock, Carr, Sole.