Swifts’ special K’s display sets up FA Trophy trip to Hampton

Gary White

SWIFTS produced one of their performances of the season to thrash hgher division Kingstonian and book a place in the FA Trophy’s first round proper.

A hat-trick from Sam Bantick and goals from Kreshnic Krasniqi and Joe Gardner saw off the Bostik Premier K’s, who needed a late leveller in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Fetcham Grove.

Former Heybridge striker Reece Grant scored a late consolation from the penalty spot.

But it was not enough to prevent the Bostik North side setting up a meeting with National League South high-fliers Hampton in the next round on Saturday, December 16.

As has regularly been the case this season, Swifts manager Jody Brown was full of praise after his players pulled off yet another cup upset.

He said: “I said in the preview I was confident we could pass the ball better on our pitch than the one of Sunday and I was right.

“Of course it’s not like that all the time but our passing and movement was pretty eye-catching.

“We gave Kingstonian a lot of respect in the way we prepared and set up but I think on this particular night we’d have beaten most sides from Steps 3 or 4.

“To perform as consistently as we have against sides from a higher level has to be appreciated and it’s no fluke.

“It’s now ten unbeaten against sides higher in the pyramid – and only League Two Exeter City have beaten us.

“Sam Bantick’s hat-trick was a great response from him after being left out on Sunday but I fully expected him to make a difference, and the players will tell you it was part of our planning.

“Our minds are now focussed on the league and reaching our best-possible levels in the next few vital fixtures.”

It was a bitterly cold night at the Aspen Waite Arena and Swifts looked good right from the start with excellent pass and move football which immediately put the visitors under pressure.

Juan Luque cut in from the left and hit a good strike which was pushed away by keeper Rob Tolfrey before Swifts’ hit a 14th-minute goal when Bantick slid home Luque’s low cross. (That goal is pictured above by Paul Simpson).

Krasniqi made it 2 -0 four minutes later when Gardner broke free on the right and his cross was swept home by the man of the match.

The Scraley Road Army were again in great voice and Swifts skipper Lewis Dark and Krasniqi were dominating in the middle of the park.

Swifts could have been four up at the break after great stops to deny Gardner and Bantick but they hit their third immediately after the restart when Dark set-up Gardner to finish with an empathic low drive.

Swifts kept the tempo up and were rewarded once more on 73 minutes when Bantick slid home from close range from a Gardner cross.

And the ex-Brentwood star completed his treble with ten minutes to go when he took a diagonal ball in his path before cutting in and firing home from an acute angle.

Grant scored a late penalty as a small consolation for the visitors before their long coach trip back to Surrey.

Swifts Starman: Kreshnic Krasniqi.