Match Preview: Walton & Hersham vs Basingstoke Town – Saturday 3rd February 2024

Match Preview: Southern League Premier South
Walton & Hersham vs Basingstoke Town
When: Saturday 3rd February 2024 Kick-off 3pm
Where: Elmbridge Xcel Centre, Waterside Drive, Walton-On-Thames, Surrey. KT12 2JP
Walton & Hersham (The Swans), Avg 2023-24 Home Att 578

After a decent run of form, we were unable to get going against Hampshire rivals Winchester City, and the two-nil loss was a fair result on the day. This means that we need to get back to winning ways as we travel to Walton & Hersham, runners-up to us in last season’s Isthmian South-Central Division.

Tomorrow’s game will be the return match from our game back in September, where the game went back and forth, with Stoke taking a 3-2 lead on 97 minutes, only for the referee to find even more added-time, allowing the Swans to earn a penalty, which they converted for the point.

Our Opponents
The Swans are managed by Scott Harris, is a former Walton & Hersham player, and played a pivotal coaching role at Walton Casuals, when they won promotion to step 3 in 2018.

Following a month of mixed results, which included two losses (Chesham & Swindon Supermarine), two draws (Hayes & Totton), with just the one win at Winchester, Walton now sit in seventh place, with a league record of Pld 26, Won 11 Drawn 6 & Lost 9 with 39 pts. Once again their leading striker is Eddie Simon, who (according to league records), has nine goals. Midfielder John Gilbert, has added seven goals, and is a former Walton Casual player, who previously played for Maldon & Tiptree. Right-winger Trae Cook-Appiah has seven league goals, and formerly was at Redhill. Striker Stan Flaherty has added four goals on the season, and started at QPR, then was at loan at Hayes & Yeading, before joining the Swans. Johl Powell is another recent signing for the club, and has started in front of Simon. Powell, has one goal since joining.

The midfield apart from Gilbert (who may be back from suspension), contains an ex-Stoke player, in winger Nana Owusu, the well-liked winger has found the net once since joining mid-season. Anis Nuur, has added three goals and has had two spells at Hartley Wintney, where he joined the Swans in August, as well as stints at Met Police, Westfield and Cray Wanderers.

The defence is led by experienced centre-back and Captain Joe Hicks, who like many others joined from former club Walton Casuals, and has spent spells at Met Police and Hampton & Richmond. Mitchal Gough will likely sit alongside him, and is in his second season at the club. Right-back Harry Mills, has six goals, three from the penalty spot, and has previously played for Hampton & Richmond, Horsham and Walton Casuals. The Swans have signed on loan two Fulham academy players both which will bolster their defence. Stefan Barnes may feel in at left-back, and has made a couple of appearances for the first team. Caelan Avenell is a central defender. In goal it is likely to be Tyla Dickinson, who at just 22, has already been on loan at a number of clubs, including three from our league Beaconsfield, Hayes & Hungerford.

Our Basingstoke Town Side
Well our short winning run of three games, came to an end against Winchester City last Saturday, as were not at our best, with the visitors being able to frustrate most of our attacking play on the day. This loss pushed us back into thirteenth place, with our record standing at Pld 30 Won 9 Drawn 7 Lost 14 GF 53 GA 68 with 34pts.

It is expected that Manager Dan Brownlie, will have full-squad of players to select his line-up, but depending on how attacking he wants to be, will determine the starting strikeforce tomorrow. It is assumed that this will include Liam Ferdinand (11 goals), Bradley Wilson who leads the Stoke goal-scoring table with sixteen goals, and Dan Rowe, with thirteen goals. Will George Reid, be back from injury and available, if so he could earn a place on the bench. The same with Stefan Brown & potentially Ashleigh Artwell.

Once again assuming no injuries have been picked up then Simon Dunn will lead out the team, with Michael Atkinson his partner in midfield. Paul Hodges could earn a start here, or possibly from the bench. The same goes for D’Andre Brown, who has impressed in recent weeks, but could be an ideal replacement to freshen the team up, as the game moves into the second-half. There’s also Luis Le Paih, who once again is likely to be an option off the bench. James Clark, is an option here or at the back.

The defence may see one change from last week, with Scott Armsworth, back from injury, and should line-up alongside man-mountain Billy Upton who confirmed that he will be staying with the Stoke till 2025. The backs will once again be Markus Johnson-Schuster on the right, and Massimo Giamattei on the left. Leaving Nathan Smart & Callum Winchcombe as options on the bench. In goal will once again be Simon Grant, and we will need a big game from him tomorrow afternoon.

This will be a big game for both teams, Walton, to revenge last season, as Stoke lifted the league title, as well as them trying to push back into the playoff race. For Basingstoke, it is to get back to winning ways.

Match Preview by Martin French..