April 9th, 2022. After the embarrassing capitulation to Balham the Vale faithful who travelled to The Hub were hoping to see some sign that a Force 10 hair drying from boss, Josh Gallagher, had fired up the team from SW20 enough that, this time, they’d at least turn up to the game... Of course no-one knows if the walls of the Grand Drive dressing room really did echo to the sound of the gaffer going full postal but what WAS clear very early in this crucial encounter with was that this was not the team that rolled over so weakly to their fellow South Londoners a week before. It was true that Walton & Hersham didn’t have to do much. In the stands fans were discussing what was required for the home team to get the promotion they were after and one thing was clear - a win would see them go up. For Raynes Park this was a display of what the team can be - Reece Wiliams-Bowers battling with the W&H defence like a man possessed, Seanan McKillop playing like a rock, Nes Bellikli turning the opposition inside-out. For twenty minutes the silent W&H crowd watched as, to the sound of constant noise from the visiting fans, RPV appeared to be just getting their sights in before opening the scoring - it was only a matter of time and in the first ten minutes Nes Bellikli pulled a shot wide and an exquisite Louie Downey lob was just tipped over the bar by the W&H keeper. Unfortunately this exercise in one-sided football hit the buffers on the 14th minute when the referee awarded The Swans a penalty so soft he could have put a Flake in it and called it a 99, but, and this was a lesson that the Vale defence need to learn - contact in the area
is always going to be claimed and will often result in a spot-kick. Harry Mills stepped up, stuttered and calmly put the pen to Billy Bishop’s left.
Vale continued to pressure W&H all across the park and as the whistle blew for half-time the home team had managed to get two shots on target - one of which was the penalty. This isn’t to detract from W&H’s game. This was a good side that had the discipline to know what was needed and the calm to make sure it was achieved regardless of how pretty it looked. After the break Vale again took to the artificial surface at The Hub with determination and belief and, after seventy minutes of some pretty poor refereeing (for both sides) and a yellow for Jake Gallagher it was, in the end, H&H who paid the ultimate price with Max Hustwick being presented with a second yellow for a careless challenge/body-check on Reece Williams-Bowers. As Hustwick sauntered off at a speed that suggested he might be waiting for the Vale defence to simply fall-asleep Vale saw their chance to start applying pressure on their promotion-bound opposition. Cue 15 minutes of nervous tension that spilled over into a brief episode of handbags and, as the clock wound down and the officials managed to still find ways to embarrass themselves, it became apparent that, despite having most of the play and almost all of the chances this was not going to be Raynes Park Vale’s day. A couple of goal-mouth scrambles had Vale fans ramping up the noise and the W&H faithful open-mouthed and faint but, in the end, the whistle blew, Sham 69’s anthem ‘Hersham Boys’ blasted out of the PA and, finally, the Swans fans made a noise to see their Cockney Cowboys into a well-deserved promotion on a sunny Surrey afternoon. There may not have been any lace up boots and corduroys but no-one was complaining in KT12...
Walton & Hersham 1
Raynes Park Vale 0