Saturday 6th April 2024.                            Southern League, Premier Division South.

Hendon 1    Walton & Hersham 1.

Although still a mathematical possibility, Swans’ slim hopes of a play-off spot were effectively ended when Hendon scored a stoppage-time penalty to deprive them of a win. They were left ruing a failed penalty of their own and other missed opportunities to take all three points, although the home side can point to chances of their own that could have led to them taking the win. Indeed Hendon had a great chance to make it 2-1, but failed to take it in the eighth and final minute of added-on time.

Swans made three changes to the previous starting line-up, with Joe Pratley-Jones, John Gilbert and Eddie Simon all coming back-in Josh Tobin was unwell, and with Cameron Thompson also reporting in sick only four substitutes were named.

With Silver Jubilee Park experiencing the remote edges of storm Kathleen, there was a gusty wind blowing that the home side had in their favour in the first-half. Swans almost took advantage of taking a quick throw by the left corner-flag straight from the kick-off, leading to Gilbert getting in on the left byline, but he was closed out.

Hendon were soon threatening, forcing a corner on the left after Swans had to scramble the ball behind at the left-post, and Billy Leonard side-footing a low shot from the edge of the box that goalkeeper Tyla Dickinson went down to his left to save.

Swans built-up a good move on the left that led to Simon having a shot blocked in the box.  Simon then set up Stan Flaherty five yards outside the box, but he dragged a low, left foot shot wide of the right post.

Hendon immediately got forward, with Kai Brosnan getting in on the left byline, and when the ball came back in from the right Niko Muir put wide at the near-post. A long ball down the middle was then nodded on by Muir to get Joe White in behind in the box, but Caelan Avenell did enough to close him down, and he stabbed his shot at Dickinson, who made a good save. It had been a very open first quarter, Hendon looking lively on the break with the wind assisting them, and Brosnan again got in on the left byline to drive the ball low across the goal-face.

With 25 minutes played Swans had an opportunity when Avenell put Johl Powell down the right to force a corner, leading to Gilbert being fouled on the edge of the ‘D’ just outside the box when Eoin Bolger’s kick was headed away. Flaherty and Nana Owusu were the candidates to take the free-kick, but it was Flaherty who stepped up to curl a left foot shot just wide of the left post.

Hendon forced a corner on the left, and from Brosnan’s kick the ball was headed back across at the far-post, and Simon was on the line at the left post to clear away. With half an hour played, following a throw-in on the left, Leonard got in on the byline, and Shaun Lucien set up Brosnan ten yards out to drive in a shot that Dickinson did well to save, beating the ball away to his left. Then some clever play by Lucien on the right led to Muir laying the ball back to Leonard on the corner of the box, but he drove his shot over.

Flaherty sent a fine ball from inside his own half on the right to pick out Simon on the left and get him into the home box. Simon drove past Hamza Semakula to get close in at the left post, but Hendon keeper Dylan Berry just managed to deflect the ball wide for a corner.

With seven minutes of normal-time of the half remaining Swans had the opportunity to take the lead. Excellent play on the left, with several players involved, led to Simon and Owusu combining on the edge of the box. Owusu clipped the ball through to try to find Gilbert, and he got in front of Dave Diedhiou, who brought him down by the penalty-spot. Flaherty had scored both his previous penalties, but his shot down the middle lacked power, and the six-foot plus Berry stuck out his right leg to kick the ball away.

Hendon had another chance when Brosnan was found unmarked in the left of the box, but he shot wide of the near-post.

In the final minute of normal-time Flaherty was fouled by Samuel Adenola deep on the right, and Flaherty’s free-kick into the box forced a corner on the right, with Bolger’s kick just being cleared at the far-post. In added-on time Gilbert drove in a low shot from wide on the left that Berry went down to save. There was still time for Swans to have another good claim for a penalty rejected. Pratley-Jones delivered a long throw from the left, and the ball clearly struck the upstretched right arm of Kurtis Cumberbatch at the near-post, but the referee saw no offence. With the game so open, and the chances falling to both sides, they went in at the break with the scoresheet surprisingly blank.

Just two minutes after the resumption Swans went close to breaking the deadlock. Dickinson came out to the front edge of the centre-circle to meet Pratley-Jones’ pass back from the right and send a kick down the pitch. Joe Hicks got into the left of the box and past Semakula to get his head to the ball and guide it past keeper Berry. The ball was going just wide of the far-post, but Avenell followed in, only to poke the ball into the side-netting with the goal beckoning. Pratley-Jones had already had the opportunity to utilise his long throw from the left when he delivered another into the box. This led to Flaherty having a shot from the edge of the box blocked, and Owusu picking up on the left to drive the ball across the edge of the 6 yard-box. Simon got in front of Adenola, but he could not get enough on the ball and it went wide of the far-post.

Swans had made a really good start to the second-half, and six minutes in they took the lead, with another Pratley-Jones’ left-side long throw paying-off. Hendon struggled to clear in the box, and when Avenell was able to set up Powell by the penalty-spot, he passed the ball left-footed low inside the right post.

The home side had their first attack of the half with Muir getting Lucien down the right, and his cross found Adenola coming in on the edge of the box, but his low shot was comfortably taken by Dickinson on his line.

With less than ten minutes played of the second-half Gilbert had to come off with an ankle injury, and Anis Nuur came on to replace him. Powell was soon making a fine run on the right, and the ball was put behind for a corner. From Bolger’s right-side kick Berry just managed to tip the ball away at his far-post and behind for another corner on the left. Nuur’s kick had to be headed behind for a third consecutive corner, but this time keeper Berry made the catch from Bolger’s delivery.

With an hour played Swans were grateful to their keeper for maintaining their narrow advantage. Lucien fed Muir in space in the right of the box, and he drove in a shot that Dickinson saved superbly, getting both hands to the ball to deflect it onto the far-post. White had a chance following in, but he shot wide of the right post.

Swans put together an excellent move, leading to Alex Kelly getting forward and Owusu laying the ball in from the right corner of the box to Nuur, but his low, left foot shot was saved by Berry in his 6 yard-box.

The game continued to be very open, with chances coming at both ends. Hendon’s Brosnan laid the ball back from the left to Leonard on the edge of the box, but he drove over. Cumberbatch was then quickly in to nick the ball off Nuur 25 yards out, and Muir was able to set up White in clear space in the right of the box, but he struck his shot over the goal.

Powell made another excellent run on the right for Swans before laying the ball back to set up a chance for Nuur on the edge of the box, but he scooped his shot over. Midway through the half Hendon’s Adenola picked up the first booking of the afternoon for pulling Flaherty down, giving Swans a free-kick deep on the right. Flaherty’s delivery into the box was headed on by Pratley-Jones, but keeper Berry was able to claim. A Hendon attack was broken up deep on Swans’ left, and excellent skill by Nuur sent him ghosting past Dan Matsuzaka and driving forward into the home half before setting up Simon 25 yards out. Simon drove into the box to leave him with a one-on-one with Berry, but the Hendon keeper did well to get down to his right and push a low shot away.

With a quarter of an hour left Hendon built up a good move, and Semakula crossed high from the right for Dickinson to make a fine catch at his far-post.

Simon then went down injured, and was replaced by Arsen Ujkaj. Owusu was soon being played through to the left of the box, but after getting in to the near-post the angle became too tight and he clipped the ball wide. A Pratley-Jones’ long throw from the right forced a corner on the same side, and from Bolger’s kick Hendon almost headed into their own net at the near-post, but the ball went wide for another corner on the left. Having taken another long throw from the right Pratley-Jones was found by Ujkaj, and he chipped a great first-time ball over to the far-post where Avenell came in unmarked, but he failed to make contact and the ball went behind.

With the final minute of normal-time being played Muir made a fine, surging run down the right for Hendon before whipping in a cross to the far-post, where Avenell made a good block to deny Brosnan. The equalising goal soon came however, after Ujkaj immediately committed a foul deep on the right and was shown a yellow card. Luca Allinson delivered the free-kick into the left of the box, and Hicks looked to have won the ball cleanly, only for Diedhiou to go down. The award of a penalty looked dubious in the extreme, but White made no mistake from the spot, burying the ball in the bottom, right corner.

Flaherty forced a corner on the right for Swans, but Hendon were soon attacking again, and when the ball was swung in from the left Dickinson was fouled at the near-post Brosnan then crossed from the left, leading to Leonard sending a looping header wide of the near-post. In the eighth and final minute of added-on time Hendon went close to snatching the win. White laid the ball to the excellent Muir in the right of the box, but he drove a low shot just inches wide of the far-post.

Swans’ Team: Tyla Dickinson, Caelan Avenell, Eoin Bolger, Alex Kelly, Joe Pratley-Jones,  Joe Hicks, Stan Flaherty, Johl Powell, Nana Owusu, John Gilbert (Anis Nuur 54’), Eddie Simon (Arsen Ujkaj 79’). Subs. not used: Mitchal Gough, Jake Frailing. Scorer: Powell (51’). Caution: Ujkaj, foul (89’).

Hendon Team: Berry, Semakula (Apat 85’), Adenola, Cumberbatch, Matsuzaka (Allinson 79’), Diedhiou, Lucien (Olarerin 68’), Leonard, White, Muir, Brosnan. Scorer: White, penalty (90+1’). Caution: Adenola, foul (67’).