They say nostalgia isn’t what it used to be but Walton and Hersham is a storied name that immediately brings back memories of F.A. Cup glory for football fans of a certain age.
Well me anyway.
Children of the early 70’s, back when Super Sunday consisted of Roast dinner, highlights of three games on the Big Match with Brian Moore, always Chelsea or West Ham as I recall. With fish paste sarnies, tinned fruit cocktail and condensed milk for tea.
In the days everyone smoked everywhere, the M6 was cobbled and everything was in Black and White, the world’s oldest knockout competition really meant something.
Back when no corporate sponsor was required and not fielding your best team would have been a sacking oﬀence if anyone had even thought it was a thing. Its’ beloved, na- tional treasure status, Its’ place in our wizened old hearts owes much to the fact that the Cup Final was one of only a tiny handful of club games actually shown live on the TV. Imagine that kids? It was an event!
The Swans number Brighton, then managed by one Brian Clough, among their F.A. Cup scalps but much has changed since those heady days when Alan Batsfords team were regulars in the First Round proper.
On Saturday they were the visitors to Beaconsfield Town, representing Step 5 in search of a giant killing at Chalfont St Peter’s Mill Meadow ground, the latest temporary home of their Step Three rivals Beaconsfield Town, who continue to plough a nomadic furrow as work continues on the much awaited upgrade of Holloways Park and the laying of the new 3G playing surface.
Neither side was able to finish the job on Saturday but the Combined Counties League Premier Division North outfit will probably feel that they have the advantage in the tie after this entertaining encounter, which saw them take a first half lead and then fight back from 2-1 down to snatch a last minute equaliser and a replay on Tuesday evening at Elmbridge Xcel Sports Hub.
Beaconsfield turned in a Jekyll and Hyde performance but the overall impression would be one of lack of composure in front of goal where calmness and a little more ice in the veins would surely have delivered more from the succession of first half chances they created.
Dylan Kearney burst through in the first minute but his Shot was near enough to Liam Allen in The Swans goal to allow the keeper to kick the eﬀort to safety. Later the big strik- er had another good opportunity but headed straight at the keeper when un-marked at the far post.
Tyrone Lewthwaite escaped his marker to meet a cross six yards out ahead of the near-post. With space and time to spare he snatched at his shot and and skewed it well wide. In between The Rams established controlled possession and territorial advan- tage but Allen was hardly extended as shots and headers flew high, wide and seldom handsome.
The visitors struggled to establish much cohesion or pressure playing in snatches of controlled passing but in Harry Mills they possessed the games stand out performer. He was at the centre of everything positive the visitors did, drawing a 15th minute save from Mike Keish and fizzing a 28th minute free kick just wide of the post.
When the visitors took the lead it was no surprise that Mills was at the centre of it. Receiving the ball in the box with his back to goal he managed to fashion a turn and shot despite the close at- tentions of two defenders. His low right footed eﬀort was dragged across Neish and rolled into the far corner.
Half Time 0-1
Beaconsfield began the second half at 100 miles per hour presumably with Gary Meakin’s team talk ringing in their ears. Sent out early to await their opponents and the oﬃcials they swarmed around The Swans and pressed them back. Their application was rewarded on 50 minutes.
Allen and full back Louis Collins got in each others way as the keeper came to claim and dropped an innocuous through ball. The less than professional mix up presented the ball to Dylan Kearney
who showed good strength to hold oﬀ Collins attempt to haul him down before steadying himself and firing his shot into the roof of the net.
Eight minutes later Toby Little gambled on a poor first touch from Jordayne Henry, robbed the full back of possession and drove at the heart of the defence from 40 yards. He powered toward goal, drew the keeper and calmy placed his eﬀort beyond him to give The Rams the lead.
Kearney was replaced by Jeﬀerson Louis who slotted in next to Tyrone Lewthwaite as The Rams seemed likely to press home their dominance and finish the tie. Alex Lafleur solid in defence all day and eager to get forward all afternoon continued to carry a threat down the left but colleagues struggled to apply the finish to the service he provided and when they did Allen and his defence were equal to it. Scott Donnelly saw a fierce low drive cleared oﬀ the line when he appeared to have done everything right
Gradually as the second half wore on and The Rams failed to kill them oﬀ, Walton and Hersham regained their composure and as the hosts looked increasing happy to sit on their lead the visitors began to press for an equaliser.
Dominic Ogun blazed over when well placed then saw a goal bound eﬀort acrobatically tipped over by Neish who also palmed away a dipping cross-come shot from from Zach Dainkeh which threatened to dip in under his bar. From the resulting corner Marcus Johnson-Schuster deflected a goal-bound Palace Francis eﬀort wide and then showed great composure to stop and clear a Mills eﬀort with Neish beaten.
Beaconsfield could not regain the earlier control and lacked composure as the seconds ticked away. Olly McCoy, returning from injury, replaced Lewthwaite but struggled to influence the flow of the game as Mills again pulled the strings and drove the Swans forward.
When cool heads were needed, too often panic was evident and The Rams repeatedly handed possession back to the visitors who continued to press with patient controlled football, protecting possession.
It was no real surprise then when the equaliser came. Similarly no surprise that Mills was again the architect popping up on the left wing to deliver a perfect cross on to the head of substitute Onur Bakici, probably the smallest man on the field, who guided a glancing header across Neish and into the far corner.
It was no more than Walton and Hersham deserved and they will now feel they have one foot in the next round with the prospect of the replay in front of their own fans on the 3G surface at The home they share with Walton Casuals.
There is no time to dwell on what might have been for Beaconsfield but they can be encouraged by the opening 25 minutes of the second half, when they played with energy and control. At their best here they were more than a match for their opponents.
If they show the same eﬀort and commitment more consistently they are good enough to prevail but they have made it diﬃcult for themselves.
Subs not used
Manager:: Gary Meakin
Walton and Hersham
Subs not used
Manager: Scott Harris