Bunting Boots Battersea Into Touch

Battersea v Sutton and Epsom rugby action

Sutton & Epsom 26 Battersea Ironsides 25, Saturday 23rd September. This was the first time the two clubs had ever met in a league fixture as Battersea Ironsides became league opponent number 104 at Rugby Lane on Saturday. Once more the Black & Whites were set against an unbeaten side and on this occasion they entertained the league leaders. The hosts gave a debut to fullback Luca Shaw whilst the visitors, not for the first time this campaign, made a host of changes to the squad who had downed London Cornish the previous Saturday. S&E turned the early season form guide on its head with a dramatic 26-25 victory.

After the recent torrid temperatures it was a welcome return to sensible weather that was most conducive to entertaining rugby. Freddy Bunting set the game in motion and within five minutes the Ironsides had taken the lead. A solid lineout in the 22 was followed by a penetrative carry by lock Jack Wharton before captain Stuart released the backs and winger Ben Turner applied the coup de grâce. The conversion from the flank drifted wide as Battersea led 5-0. Five minutes later and the visitors had doubled their lead. A stunning break from a ruck on halfway by blindside Raphael Arboine was snuffed out by a splendid cover tackle deep in the S&E 22 but the damage had been done. The ball was recycled and spun wide for Ben Turner to dot down once more. Another challenging conversion from Charles Stuart failed as Battersea Ironsides were 10-0 ahead in as many minutes.

The league leaders were content that the natural order was being maintained as they appeared to be on their way to a regulation bonus point victory condemning the Black & Whites to another demoralising defeat. However, perhaps there should be a pitch-side sign at Rugby Lane declaring: “BEWARE OF THE BUNTING”. An illegal side entry to a ruck offered the Sutton skipper his first shot at goal. He duly obliged to put S&E on the board at 3-10. A few minutes later he was caressing the ball through the uprights again for 6-10 to conclude the first quarter. The second penalty being awarded for a deliberate knock on after a fine break by Matt Whitaker. The men from Burntwood Lane responded as outside centre Jacob Charles carved through the home defences and with a modicum more of precision a try would have ensued. Moments later his centre partner Ben Lyons held on to the ball too long and another chance disappeared over the horizon.

The SW17 outfit’s progress was already being hampered by the regular blasts from referee Richardson’s whistle. The sight of the referee shooing back the Battersea offenders the obligatory ten metres as if they were recalcitrant hens was becoming a regular feature of the game. Almost inevitably Freddy Bunting was given another opportunity to add to his account but failed to reduce the deficit on the half hour. The hosts rang the changes with Will Lloyd replacing Callum Gibson in the front row and Jack Benton taking over from Ewan McTaggart in the second row. The remainder of the half saw more probing kicking from both XVs as if they had signed a non-aggression pact putting security ahead of ambition. In time added on, normal service was resumed as Freddy Bunting bisected the uprights for the third time as S&E trailed 9-10. There was just enough time on the clock for the visitors to also have a shot at goal. Charles Stuart kept his head and landed his penalty from near the halfway line to conclude the first period with Battersea
Ironsides 13-9 to the good.

As the sides turned around a fascinating contest was evenly poised. The early dominance of the visitors had been undermined by indiscipline as they threw around penalties like confetti and failed to heed the impassioned plea of ‘cut out the penalties’ from within their ranks. S&E grew into the game via a solid scrum and keeping it tight with the forwards carrying to good effect to counteract the threat of the Battersea backs in open play.

The Black & Whites started the second half in fine style. An early infringement saw Freddy Bunting kick to the 22. An excellent catch and drive was followed by Matt Whitaker carrying to within five metres of the line forcing a scrum to Sutton under the posts. The resilient Battersea defence held the line until Sutton were awarded a penalty try when prop Will Lloyd was illegally prevented from collecting his annual score. The hosts now led by 16-13. In adversity the Ironsides made the perfect riposte. Probing kicks from Charles Stuart pegged the hosts in their 22 and put the visitors onto the front foot. Then more incisive running by Charles Jacobs had S&E on the retreat as centre partner Ben Lyons was on hand to shrug off challengers for an excellent finish in the corner. Despite the conversion failing Charles Stuart’s side had seen the restoration of their lead as the scoreboard read 18-16 to Battersea Ironsides.

With an unpleasant echo of last Saturday’s match against Old Reigatian the opposition tries were like London buses and Battersea secured a bonus point for their fourth try a minute later. Capitalising on the bouncing ball from an up and under the Openview side tore into the Sutton 22 and scrum half Jack Moates dived over. Charles Stuart gratefully accepted the easier conversion to extend the lead to 25-16. In a blink of an eye the Rugby Lane crowd, who had been contemplating a first win of the season, were now dreading a fourth defeat on the spin. As the game entered the final quarter so the action switched to the visitors’ 22. Despite pressure and territory the hosts had to be content with another Freddy Bunting penalty to be within a score at 19-25.

With only seven minutes remaining the men in green ventured into Black & White territory and were given a penalty. Following the prevailing orthodoxy the pot at goal was declined in favour of the kick towards the corner. In hindsight, Charles Stuart’s decision might have been a tad cavalier as a successful kick would have translated to a nine-point lead. Fortune did not favour the bold as they were undone by conceding their umpteenth penalty. In time added on a collapsed scrum gave Freddy Bunting the chance to kick to the corner for S&E to have a shot at glory. There followed 5 minutes of unrelenting assault on the Battersea line, heroic defence and unbearable tension with penalties and scrums as the action concentrated under the posts. Finally, a mass of bodies slumped over the line and jubilant Sutton players thrust their arms skyward. Mr Richardson took a considered look and finally raised his arm aloft for Rob Hegarty’s try. It was left to Freddy Bunting to add the conversion that was greeted with rapturous applause and the final whistle as Sutton won 26-25.

Battersea Ironsides had the ideal start with a quick-fire Ben Turner brace of tries. Their lineout, whether on their ball or against the Sutton throw, was excellent. Centre Charles Jacobs was a threat every time he had the ball. Captain Charles Stuart varied the attack from 10 but ultimately they were let down by their discipline. The profligate penalty count spread like a contagion and not only cost them 12 points, but also hefty yardage and time spent with 14 men.

The Black & Whites showed character in bucketfuls coming back from the dire start and then overturning the 9-point deficit that culminated with the nail-biting denouement. For Sutton the pack was a source of great strength in the set-piece and the loose, Matt Whitaker was a giant in attack and defence whilst Freddy Bunting kept the scoreboard ticking over.

Next Saturday the Black & Whites visit newly promoted Old Alleynians for the first time since November 2012. The OAs have had a solid start to the campaign lying sixth in the table after wins over Gravesend and Sidcup.

Sutton & Epsom:
Luca Shaw, Jack Briggs, Ciaran Mohr, Freddy Bunting ©, Max Russell, Gareth O’Brien, Chris Ballard, Tom Boaden, Jack Howes, Callum Gibson, Ewan McTaggart, Josh Glanville, George London, Rob Hegarty & Matt Whitaker. Replacements: (all used) Will Lloyd, Chris Farrell & Jack Benton.

Battersea Ironsides:
Jack Winch, Ben Turner, Charles Jacobs, Ben Lyons, Charlie Craig, Charles Stuart, Jack Moates, Sam
Chetwynd, Harry Vigar, Harry Batstone, Jack Wharton, Max Trickett, Raph Arboine, Alex Chitan, Charlie Horrell. Replacements: (all used) Jonny Newsham, George Williams & Billy Diamond.

Shoot-out ends Salt’s Vase season

Bearsted 1-1 Epsom & Ewell FC. Bearsted won 4-1 on penalties. Isuzu F.A. Vase – Second Qualifying Round Saturday 23rd September 2023.

A rather disappointing penalty shoot out, the twelfth in our history, ultimately sealed our exit from the F.A. Vase this season. However, much like the F.A. Cup defeat at Eastbourne, we had looked like going out with a whimper until Captain Callum Wilson pulled us level again as the match finished 1-1 after the ninety minutes was complete.

On the face of it, a draw against a team that are well placed in the Southern Counties East is not a bad result and had this been a League match, we’d probably have been more than happy with a point, but we were unable to take advantage of the Wilson equaliser and what was actually our second worst statistically of the seven shoot outs we have lost, ensured that the correct team went through to the next round.

We made three changes to the line up following the defeat at home to Sheerwater. Up front we had Marlon Pinder who returned to the club in midweek and he came in for Tino Carpene, while Wilson returned at the back in place of Nick Inwugwu and Rory Edwards also came into the starting eleven in place of Chester Clothier.

On a perfect playing surface the opening exchanges were mostly in favour of the home side. Harvey Keogh was in action early to keep out a shot from an angle with his legs before Reece Tierney picked up an early and somewhat harsh yellow card, which was probably given because of the theatrical tumble as it was only fractionally late. On the quarter hour the Bears had a good opportunity but Joel Wakefield sent his strike over the bar from just inside the penalty area.

The home side continued to press and a decent attempt from Jordan Tingley went over Keogh’s head, but was wide of the goal and the danger was cleared. Then Wilson made a good block for a corner and from this, there was a concerted appeal for a handball, which certainly had me worried, but the referee wasn’t interested and as we broke, Jaan Stanley was brought down, earning Alfie Sanders a yellow card for the home team. Wilson was in action again soon after as he made a fine block from Tingley and as we approached the half another Bearsted corner was headed over by the unmarked Ryan Blake.

The final action of the half was a rare Epsom attack as Tommy Williams found Ade Batula on the left, but his ball across goal was cut out by Frankie Leonard in the Bears goal. In fact we had the first chance of the second half too as a Williams corner was headed clear under pressure from Tierney at the far post, but in the 55th minute we went behind as a good pass in from the left to Ollie Freeman enabled him to square the ball for Tingley to finish from close range.

This had been coming and as with other recent matches it was looking as though we had a mountain to climb. Pinder had a good opportunity from an Ethan Nelson-Roberts left wing cross but his headed contact was minimal and the ball went across goal instead of at it. Our “new” man put in a decent shift and will get better as he regains fitness, but his service was sadly lacking in this match. Even our wing backs, who had provided the best opportunities in recent weeks were not getting forwards as often as they used to; something I feel we need to address if we are to provide more of an attacking threat.

Carpene came on after 66 minutes and looked lively. He was involved in our equaliser five minutes later as Batula did well on the right wing before laying the ball back for Stanley to deliver into Carpene who then knocked the ball on for Wilson, standing around the edge of the penalty area to drive low and hard past Leonard, who got a glove to it, but was never going to keep it out. Without a doubt this was against the run of play and would prove to be our only shot on target, but we’ll take anything we can get right now! With our heads up we started to ask more questions and Batula tried his luck from 25 yards, only to see his shot blocked by a defender. Then in the 87th minute Carpene slipped his man and got through, running in on goal from about 40 yards out, but Blake was there to make a crucial tackle just outside the area and our chance was gone. Nelson-Roberts then found Kiyo Brown in the final moments but his shot was also blocked for a corner by a defender.

The home side struck a free kick over the bar during the five minutes of injury time, but the final whistle ensured we would go to penalties. Regrettably we had just taken off our regular penalty taker in Stanley and didn’t really turn up for the spot kicks. With Bearsted electing to go first, Phil Headley, Ollie Freeman, Will Johnson-Cole and Blake all scored, rendering their fifth penalty unnecessary as Carpene and Williams both saw their weak kicks saved by Leonard. Wilson netted his penalty in between the two saves, but when Blake’s fourth penalty went straight through Keogh it was all over for another year.

There were some positives. Despite missing Ash Snadden and Zach Powell at the back we looked a lot more solid than we had against Sheerwater, but the real concern here is that we are having to do too much defending right now and need to find a way to take the pressure off of our back line for greater periods. Pinder will improve options up front if we can get better service to him, but we now face matches against AFC Croydon Athletic (League Cup) who scored six this day before we travel to Tadley Calleva who hit seven. Neither will be lacking in form or confidence when they face us.

Epsom & Ewell: Harvey Keogh, Tommy Williams, Ethan Nelson-Roberts, Callum Wilson (c), Ollie Thompson, Reece Tierney, Ade Batula, Rory Edwards, Marlon Pinder, Thompson Adeyemi, Jaan Stanley

Subs: Nick Inwugwu for Thompson (62), Tino Carpene for Pinder (66), Kiyo Brown for Stanley (84)

Report Source: www.eefconline.co.uk

Close result in match of fluctuating fortunes

Epsom rugby versus Reigate action

The Black and White bandwagon descended Saturday 16th upon the Geoffrey Knight Fields for the third round of the Regional 2 South East season. Old Reigatian (OR) are one of three clubs, along with London Cornish and Old Alleynians, who crossed Sutton and Epsom’s path during their brief dalliance with Level 7 in 2012-13. For Rugby Lane supporters of a certain vintage there was a link to the club’s former glory. The OR captain was Reilly Franklin-Talbot the son of erstwhile Sutton Number 8 Sean who, amongst many Herculean deeds, scored the last gasp try in the 1990 Surrey Cup final to defeat Old Mid-Whitgiftians by 16-11. Now returning to the present from some rose-tinted nostalgia, the hosts had begun the year with impressive wins over Sidcup and London Cornish in sharp contrast to the suburbanites’ start. The early form guide was just maintained as OR edged past the visitors 35-29 in a game of fluctuating fortunes.

On another glorious summer afternoon, that had a refreshing breeze that was more sympathetic to the travails of the participants than last weekend’s cauldron, the crowd gathered to revel in an afternoon made for running rugby. Freddy Bunting’s lofted kick off was superbly tapped back by Michael Davies to initiate an opening period of Sutton control. Following multiple phases and profitable probing by Sutton and Epsom they were awarded a penalty. Freddy Bunting did the necessary and Sutton led 3-0. The Black and Whites returned to the OR 22 looking to build on their early advantage but in a crowded midfield Reigatian centre Tom Allen made a timely intervention to intercept and race away to score under the posts. The unchallenging offering was accepted by Conor Woods as the home crowd applauded their 7-3 lead after an enthralling eight minutes.

An accidental, but avoidable, offside by Sutton and Epsom gave the Reigate team the opportunity to test the visitors’ defence as they kicked into the 22. The defence stood firm and won a scrummage that enabled them to exit via Chris Ballard’s boot. However, a kick is only as good as its chase. A pitiful challenge encouraged a wonderful counter and in the blink of an eye a try looked to be a certainty until a crucial pass hit the deck with the line at the mercy of OR who compounded their misery by giving away a penalty. Their disappointment was assuaged within scrum they deservedly scored. The backs created the overlap for flanker Finlay Lock to apply the coup de grâce. A sweetly struck conversion by Conor Woods made it 14-3.

The Old Reigatian backs were in full swing and it was a thrilling sight to behold. The combination of pace, evasive footwork and wonderful passing was devastating. In addition, the ubiquitous flanker Finlay Lock linked play with deft touches and was supported ably by captain Reilly Franklin-Talbot’s powerful carrying. Attacking once more this potent potion for success was denied on the line by a Will Lloyd tackle. This was only a temporary stay of execution as OR scored from the 5-metre scrum. Winger Max Coyle stood up the defence and stepped past would be tacklers to finish with aplomb. Conor Woods bisected the uprights and the unstoppable Old Reigatian XV had an impressive and deserved 21-3 lead.

Sutton and Epsom tinkered with their front row as Tom Boaden was replaced by Tariq Al Khaldi. Then five minutes later the Sutton pack was forced into another change when Number 8 Kean Orchard injured his knee and the visitors brought Dan Jones off the bench. The Black and Whites now employed the boot to great effect. Firstly, a Bunting kick forced a drop out then an O’Brien effort set up a lineout in the 22. A jinking run by Gareth O’Brien had the hosts in retreat. The Sutton pack recycled the ball and George London forced his way over. Captain Bunting added the extras to cut the lead to 21-10. The next opportunity to add to the score went to the home team.

However, the Rugby Lane men resolutely defended a 5-metre line and the timely intervention of centre Ross Parsons won the visitors a relieving penalty. At the other end the Black and Whites were awarded a penalty and, in a rare demonstration of fallibility, Freddy Bunting’s kick drifted by on the crosswind. The kicking machine returned to working order when the Sutton skipper slotted over his next opportunity that concluded the first period with Old Reigatian 21-13 to the good.

Within five minutes of the restart Freddy Bunting had reduced the deficit to 5 points with his third penalty of the afternoon. Sutton were playing with control and with astute application of their kicking game. The key to their improving fortunes was the set scrum as Messrs Al Khaldi, Howes and Lloyd were utterly dominant. Indeed it was from a scrum that Sutton and Epsom took the lead.

The Black and White pack marched back their opponents by 10 metres in a ruthless demonstration of power and control. Michael Davies took advantage of the back-peddling defence and the visitors were halted on the line. Sutton were not to be denied and hooker Jack Howes was able to reach over to score. Bunting’s conversion put Sutton ahead by 23-21. They had overturned the 18-point margin by starving the Reigatian team of possession.

Sutton and Epsom extended their lead when the scrum was awarded a penalty in front of the posts and Freddy Bunting chipped it over to stretch the lead to 26-21. OR awoke from their slumber in startling fashion. From the restart Chris Ballard cleared to the host’s half and the ball was gathered by Max Coyle who set off on a scything run that exploited Sutton’s poor cover. Scrum half Alex Skinner was on hand to finish off the sweeping move and Conor Woods added the simplest of conversions. Reinvigorated by regaining the lead at 28-26, with a bonus point in the bank, OR’s struck again moments later. Skipper Reilly Franklin-Talbot marauded into the 22 and passed to winger Harrison Mitchell who dotted down. Conor Woods made it five conversions from five attempts as Old Reigatian led 35-26 as the game entered the final quarter.

Sutton and Epsom were soon gifted a way back into the game with a penalty in front of the posts. However, Chris Ballard took a quick tap penalty trying to exploit the defensive disarray. The gamble did not go to glory and the Reigate men survived. Soon after a wonderful chance to extend their lead was butchered when centre Tom Allen’s passing let him down following his brilliant break that denied the home crowd a third try in a devastating ten minute spell. With the game in time added on Dan Jones was manhandled at the breakdown and Sutton and Epsom had a penalty. This time the points were taken to give the visitors a potential losing bonus point as the lead was reduced to 35-29. A minute later the Rugby Lane supporters were crestfallen when Old Reigatian were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. The previously perfect Conor Woods erred and the score remained the same. Despite frantic efforts from the Black and Whites there was no eleventh hour drama and the game concluded moments later with OR triumphant by 35-29.

Old Reigatian’s backs played some thrilling rugby on a perfect day in the wonderful setting of the Geoffrey Knight Fields. In addition, the tireless Finlay Lock excelled on the flank as OR outscored Sutton and Epsom by five goals to two. In a game of contrasting styles the hosts certainly monopolised the highlights package but there are many ways to flay a feline. The Sutton pack with Tariq Al Khaldi making a most significant contribution off the bench made it an intriguing contest.

With 19 points from the bludgeoning Bunting boot the game could have gone either way. For the visitors there were improvements from the previous outing. Ross Parsons in the centres epitomised the improved work at the breakdown. Jack Howes at hooker had a 100% record with his lineout throwing. However, the garlands are reserved for the fabulous front row who created the platform from which all their success came.

Old Reigatian remain unbeaten, second in the table on points difference having garnered the maximum 15 from their three matches. Sutton have now lost to three of the four unbeaten XVs. Next Saturday they host the other unbeaten side, Battersea Ironsides, who top the table.

Sutton and Epsom:

Michael Davies, Jack Briggs, Ross Parsons, Freddy Bunting ©, Max Russell, Gareth O’Brien, Chris Ballard, Tom Boaden, Jack Howes, Will Lloyd, Ewan McTaggart, Josh Glanville, George London, Rob Hegarty and Kean Orchard.

Replacements: Tariq Al Khaldi, Dan Jones and Alfie Baker. XXX

Old Reigatian: Sam Turner, Harrison Mitchell, Gareth Stephens, Tom Allen, Max Coyle, Conor Woods, Alex Skinner, Ciaran Lee, Ciaran Nestor, Toby Collister, Reilly Franklin-Talbot ©, Dan Grant, Seb Courteney-Walker, Finlay Lock and Oli Brooks.

Replacements: Ethan Monk, Sam Lenihan and Max Nichol.

Epsom’s football team concede 4 goals

Epsom & Ewell FC 2 – 4 Sheerwater. Combined Counties League – Premier Division South. Saturday 16th September 2023.

Last week I wrote that our match against Sheerwater was likely to be a more telling indicator of where we are this season and whilst the football club may sugar coat things, I will be honest here as I always am and state what everyone else at the match was thinking, which is that we are now clearly in a relegation battle before the end of September as we shipped four goals to a team that hadn’t scored one in the League for 341 minutes before this match in a truly disheartening 4-2 defeat.

Some people might say that the cup matches are important and we have done well in them this season so far, but our bread and butter is the League and four losses to start the season was not even close to the start we would have wanted. However, it could have been argued in our defence that we had played some good teams this season so far. Regrettably, all of those arguments went up in smoke as we faced a team as low on confidence as we were and still lost in this pivotal match.

There may have been mitigating circumstances. Our first choice back three that played only two weeks ago at Eastbourne United were all out of the starting line up as Callum Wilson and Zach Powell were not available, while Ash Snadden was sitting on the bench. In their places came Ollie Thompson, Nick Inwugwu and Reece Tierney and whilst all have been decent this season, this lack of consistency must have had a bearing on why we conceded four goals for the first time this season. Throw in a jittery performance from our keeper Harvey Keogh behind them and some indiscipline from Ethan Nelson-Roberts and Ade Batula who both found themselves in the sin-bin for unnecessary comments and this all contributed to a home defeat that leaves us in serious trouble at the foot of the table and in danger of being cut adrift.

With Captain and Vice-Captain absent, Chester Clothier took on the armband and in front of a disappointing attendance of 70, despite a perfect day for football we started fairly well. Batula was probably our best player and he made a good run on the ten minute mark which ended with a good pass over to Nelson-Roberts who chose to shoot high from an angle and sent the ball over Billy Wilson’s crossbar.

A few minutes later Tommy Whitby sent a free kick over our bar, but Keogh then took his goal kick and passed it straight to an opposition striker just eighteen yards out! As he then ran in clear on goal, Keogh redeemed himself with a good save for a corner that fortunately came to nothing.

We recovered from this near fatal setback and started to create more with Batula prominent, playing more down the right than in his usual central role, but our momentum was checked when we lost Nelson-Roberts to the sin bin for comments he made. Clothier was protesting his teammate’s innocence but the referee wasn’t interested and off he went for a ten minute break.

Once we were back up to full strength though we had our best period of the game and Batula forced Wilson to tip over his strike from 20 yards. Although the subsequent corner was half cleared, the ball fell to Tommy Williams out on our left hand side who curled an unstoppable strike beyond Wilson and into the top corner via the far post to register an early candidate for goal of the season in the 36th minute.

We looked strong at this point which made the equaliser just seven minutes later a complete surprise to me. The most disappointing aspect was how easily the goal came about, as we appeared to think that a foul on Williams would be given, but the game was not stopped and a ball played out to the right found a player in space and his low ball in was swept past Keogh from just inside the penalty area into the far corner by Theo White. This was the visitors first goal for 384 minutes in League action and it had been so simple. There was no further action of note and the teams went off at the break with a goal each, but a feeling that we had missed our chance.

The second half started with some good interplay between Williams and Batula but the cross into the danger area was headed out. A minute later Batula fed the advancing Inwugwu just eight yards out but his touch let him down badly and the ball was cleared when we really should have had at least a shot on target. Regrettably Batula blotted his copybook when he made a sarcastic remark to the Assistant after being denied a throw in and found himself sitting down for ten minutes. Although Tino Carpene had a great chance in the 56th minute well blocked by Wilson while we were a man short, our opponents took the lead just sixty seconds later when Elliott York was put through on the left and he lifted the ball over Keogh to go 2-1 up.

The game drifted for a while, but with eleven men back on the field we secured the equaliser in the 73rd minute after Carpene won the ball just outside the area and he fed Jaan Stanley on the left whose delivery was side footed into the roof of the net from six yards by the unmarked Batula.

Just as it felt like we had got back into the match and were about to kick on for a winning goal, we were behind once again as a 75th minute free kick from White was met at the far post by the unmarked Rhys Paul who gave Keogh no chance from fairly close range and a minute later White tried his luck from 20 yards and the ball sailed into the roof of the net to make the score 4-2.

We had a couple of half chances as we tried to fight back with substitute Ben Amissah unlucky to see his near post header flick off a defender and drop just wide from a Kiyo Brown left wing cross and Wilson was down well to keep out a Brown drive, but the visitors had their moments too with Keogh doing well to keep out a close range effort at the near post.

We then had the very rare sight of a board advertising that six minutes of extra time would be played and in that period Batula struck wide from a good position before Amissah headed a left wing cross just over the bar. The chances were gone and the final whistle confirmed a depressing score line.

Overall, and in terms of possession and chances you could argue that we were no worse than Sheerwater, who themselves were not that impressive, but we made enough errors, both mental and physical over the ninety minutes to say that we probably deserved what we got. It was interesting at full time to see the players holding an inquest on the field with all the Coaches and Management having walked away by that point. I’ll be honest though, I don’t think our squad is strong enough right now and it will be key to see whether we will have any new faces in the next week or two, because without any we are going to be in a big struggle for the rest of the season.

Epsom & Ewell: Harvey Keogh, Tommy Williams, Ethan Nelson-Roberts, Nick Inwugwu, Ollie Thompson, Reece Tierney, Ade Batula, Chester Clothier, Tino Carpene, Thompson Adeyemi, Jaan Stanley

Subs: Rory Edwards for Adeyemi (63), Ben Amissah for Carpene (77), Kiyo Brown for Stanley (77), Ash Snadden for Tierney (83), Ayran Kugathas for Williams (89)

Report Source: www.eefconline.co.uk

Bullish performance beats the Salts

Jersey Bulls 2-0 Epsom & Ewell – Combined Counties League – Premier Division South – Saturday 9th September 2023.

Our fourth defeat from four League matches was maybe no real surprise for most Epsom supporters as Jersey Bulls defeated us by two goals to nil, even though our failure to register a shot of any concern to the home keeper was a little concerning. On a blisteringly hot day, the home side gradually wore us down and by the end we were a well beaten side, even though I thought we did a good job defensively for much of the match.

In front of an attendance advised as 533; low for Jersey, but in my opinion around a hundred above the actual number who were present, based on a less than half full stand that holds nearly a thousand, we took the field with a few changes from our loss at Eastbourne United. Ayran Kugathas came in for the suspended Tommy Williams, while Ollie Thompson started at the back ahead of Ash Snadden. Further forward Jaan Stanley returned to the starting eleven with Tino Carpene dropping to the bench.

It was Hawaiian day at Jersey and many of the supporters were wearing garlands presented in the Jersey fan zone that opened up before the match. However, there was little for our boys to celebrate and as the players “warmed up” (as if they needed to get warmer!) you could tell that this was going to be a difficult day against a team that passed the ball around for fun.

The first real action occurred in the seventh minute when Harvey Keogh was out quickly to block as a striker broke through. We won a corner at the other end but there was no one there to finish the delivery on after it was flicked on by a defender. Both sides had another opportunity inside the first twenty minutes as a good run by the Jersey number 11 finished with a shot dragged across goal, before a Rory Edwards corner was cleared at the near post, but only as far as Ethan Nelson-Roberts who struck the ball well enough, but it just cleared the Jersey bar. What we didn’t realise at the time was that this would be our best chance of the match.

We had a scare in the 27th minute when a mis-hit shot spun up in the air, and Keogh then dropped it and we had a moment of panic in the six yard area before the danger was cleared. However, we were back on the attack soon after as Zach Powell sent a lovely pass through to Ade Batula on the right, who cut in only to see his shot blocked by a defender.

We had an unusual incident in the 33rd minute. Shortly after completing a five minute water break, the referee called a halt to proceedings once again and it transpired that he was struggling with his vision (insert joke here!), but fortunately a Jersey official was able to fill the breach on the line after one of the Assistants stepped up to take the whistle.

The game continued in a similar pattern with Jersey controlling much of the ball, and their number 10 struck at goal but it went high and in the direction of St Helier High Street with the only danger being to passers by outside the ground. On a more serious note we were beginning to concede some free kicks on the edge of the area and from one of these, the ball clipped the wall and forced Keogh into a fine save, tipping the ball over for a corner. For sure the danger signs were there at the half, but we managed to get in to the shade of the dressing room goalless.

Unfortunately, and much like the previous FA Cup match, we conceded early in the second half after another clumsy foul had conceded a free kick out on the Jersey left. The delivery was met with an unmarked header which Keogh kept out, but the ball fell to Adam Trotter around fifteen yards out and his shot went through a crowd of people into the net with Keogh either unsighted or beaten by a deflection.

This was the signal for the drums and bells to start playing for a while as the previously quiet home support suddenly found their voice. In the carnival atmosphere Keogh kept out another low drive that was just creeping inside the post with his left leg and although we attacked with a good run from Kiyo Brown, his powerful looking shot had all the pace taken off it by a defender and it dribbled through apologetically to the keeper.

The hosts sent another header straight at Keogh midway through the second half as we began to get pushed back further and Powell picked up a yellow card to go with the one Batula had picked up at the start of the half. Fresh legs came on with Carpene, Sirak Negassi, Nick Inwugwu and then Snadden all joined the action, but we were struggling to get out of our half as the Bulls seemed to be toying with us at times. Keogh made another flying full stretch save but in the 84th minute Edwards appeared to be clattered in the middle of the park and we all stopped, expecting the free kick that never came and they nipped through to score their second goal through Le Quesne. It was the least they deserved, even if we shouldn’t have switched off, but fortunately a few minutes later the torture was over. In fact this match was very similar in nature to the identical defeat we suffered on our previous visit in 2019.

Some of our Committee appeared rather over-disappointed by the result after the match, and some even expressed the view that the home side weren’t that great, but they did more than enough to secure the win against us and you had the feeling that they had another gear or two if required. We have to be realistic about our ambitions this season and accept that sometimes the opposition are on a different level to us right now. That was definitely the case in this encounter and the only things we took home from Jersey were some garlands and a sun tan!

It could be said that four straight defeats to open the season is a poor start, but in our defence, we have played arguably two of the better sides in the division in Jersey and Redhill and were extremely unlucky to lose in the closing seconds at Fleet Town on the opening day, as a point gained there would have kept us off the foot of the table position we currently occupy. However, we do need to start picking up points soon and whilst I’m not that downhearted about our defeat on the Island, our next match at home to Sheerwater on Saturday is likely to be a much more telling indication of where we actually stand this season.

Epsom & Ewell: Harvey Keogh, Ayran Kugathas, Ethan Nelson-Roberts, Callum Wilson (c), Ollie Thompson, Zach Powell, Ade Batula, Chester Clothier, Jaan Stanley, Rory Edwards, Kiyo Brown

Subs: Tino Carpene for Batula (57), Sirak Negassi for Kugathas (73), Nick Inwugwu for Powell (73), Ash Snadden for Clothier (78)

Report Source: www.eefconline.co.uk

Beckenham Edge Extraordinary Encounter

Epsom v Beckenham rugby action

Sutton and Epsom 41 – Beckenham 42. It was a case of polar opposites on the opening Saturday for this weekend’s combatants as the hosts began the campaign with an away defeat at Reeds whilst the visitors got off the mark with a thrilling 36-31 home win against London Cornish. Sutton and Epsom had not had the pleasure of hosting the Kent club since their 28-8 victory in November 2013. The Black and Whites gave debuts to starting prop Callum Gibson whilst utility back Jack Briggs began on the bench. In marked contrast evergreen George London returned to the colours to make his 187th appearance. The match surpassed even the weather in terms of being unexpected and eleven tries later Beckenham won by a solitary point as the scoreboard read 42-41.

The Rugby Lane crowd palavered peacefully onwards from the clubhouse into the unclouded jollity of the afternoon to witness the Class of 2023-4 open their domestic account. The thermometer told of testing temperatures in the 90s and the challenging conditions were certain to be a factor in proceedings. Freddy Bunting kicked off for the hosts. The first opportunity was given to the visitors as Sutton strayed offside to give Lewis Bunton a simple penalty to put Beckenham on the scoreboard, 3-0, in the third minute. Sutton and Epsom replied in kind moments later as Freddy Bunting equalised with a penalty of his own for 3-3. The Bunting boot then set up a great opportunity with a fabulous 50 20 kick. An ensuing quickly taken penalty by Chris Ballard had the Black and Whites under the posts. Will Lloyd went close before it went wide for Gareth O’Brien to jink his way over. Freddy Bunting added the simple conversion for a 10-3 lead.

The next sortie to the Kent 22 resulted in a second Sutton goal. Michael Bennion made a break and Max Russell kept it alive before it was switched to the right. Gareth O’Brien then glided in untouched under the posts from 30 metres for his second try. Freddy Bunting did the necessary for 17-3 and the players enjoyed a much needed official hydration break. With thirsts slaked and suitably revitalised the boys from Balmoral Avenue swept into the home 22 and won a penalty five out. They set up the lineout and though their catch and drive faltered they were awarded another penalty. A quick tap and a powerful burst saw Jamaican international Rimarni Richards score. The conversion drifted wide but Beckenham had reduced the deficit to 8-17. The Black and Whites immediately extended their lead, though Michael Bennion’s dummy went unsold, the ball was recycled, George London stooped to take a pass on the half-volley then made light of the attentions of the visitors’ defence to relentlessly power on and touch down from 20 metres. Freddy Bunting bisected the uprights and Sutton and Epsom had clear water at 24-8 approaching the half hour mark.

That clear water was to be the high water mark for the hosts as their ascendancy was alarmingly transformed by a stunning Kent comeback. It was not so much a turning of the tide but a tectonic shift of seismic proportions. A careless penalty at the restart gifted Beckenham an opportunity from a 5-metre lineout. They executed their process to perfection as former skipper Liam Markey flopped over. Despite the conversion failing they were on their way back at 13-24. It was the visitors’ turn to err at the restart, not only kicking out on the full but also following up by giving away a penalty. Sutton and Epsom opted for the kick to the corner rather than through the uprights but the gamble did not pay dividends. Moments later at the other end the men from Balmoral Avenue were more clinical as they won their lineout and a bullocking run by Rimarni Richards crossed the whitewash. On this occasion Lewis Bunton added the extras for 20-24. As a disbelieving home crowd dropped their remarks into the understanding air there was one more twist, or perhaps dagger to the heart, before the half-time whistle. Dan Hamilton gathered a loose ball in his own half and he sprinted by the grandstand with no one ahead of him. Desperate cover closed him down but a wonderful support run by Lewis Bunton saw the 10 score. He added the conversion and the visitors turned around 27-24 to the good to end a jaw-dropping half of rugby.

It was hard to know if the incarnadine faces of the Sutton players were from the heat or their embarrassment. The Kent team continued the second period where they left off in the first. Within moments Lewis Bunton had added another penalty for a 30-24 lead. From the restart the catch was run back 50 metres and soon followed try number five with a strong finish on the flank by winger Stefan Linton. The touchline conversion failed but Beckenham were 35-24 ahead with 27 unanswered points. At this stage the visitors looked to be favourites to continue their hot streak and run up a cricket score. However, the pendulum swung back in favour of the Black and Whites.

A positive carry by debutant Callum Gibson offered Sutton some respite with a penalty. Captain Bunting steadied the ship and ended the drought to close the gap to 27-35. Better was to come to raise the spirits of the Rugby Lane crowd. A desperate kick and chase by Max Russell led to a 5-metre penalty. Sadly Max Russell showed all the circumspection of the Gadarene swine with the same result as the Biblical beasts as his quick tap gave away possession. Fortunately for Sutton and Epsom they soon got a penalty that reduced Beckenham to 14 men as Mr Duncan Butler-Wheelhouse issued a yellow card to captain Hans Laud-Anderson showing no empathy towards a fellow double-barrelled man. More woe fell upon the visitors as Ewan McTaggart emerged from a pile of players with a try from the 5-metre lineout to secure an Sutton and Epsom bonus point. Freddy Bunting converted expertly from the touchline to make it a one-point game with Beckenham 35-34 ahead.

It was time for the final official water break and cool heads were certainly at a premium as the game entered the final quarter. Sutton started to play with fluency, the tackling improved, turnovers were being won and the set scrum was secure. The Black and Whites regained the lead with their best team try of the afternoon. Multiple phases had Callum Gibson, Max Russell and Ciaran Mohr make gains and it was left to the vastly experienced George London to force his way over from close-range for his brace. Freddy Bunting once more converted from touch to lead 41-35 leaving Beckenham searching for a goal in the last ten minutes as a try would not suffice.  

A spectacular finish ensued as the tension led to errors. Kicks went out on the full, balls were dropped and penalties neutered attacks. Then with the game in time added on the visitors had the chance to kick a penalty into the corner. Could they once again score from a 5-metre lineout? The ball was secured but the drive was held and anxious moments passed until a shrill blast of the whistle. Everyone expected a try but a penalty try was a surprise to those seeking shelter from the sun in the grandstand. Instead of a very challenging conversion from the flank Beckenham had an automatic 7-point score and had regained the lead 42-41. Surely that was the end of the drama.

With noteworthy game management the visiting pack controlled the restart. Slowly and steadily they advanced to the Sutton 22 and the Sutton and Epsom defence dared not concede a penalty but were desperate for a turnover. Unexpectedly Beckenham gave away a penalty and offered the hosts a lifeline. It was advanced by Bunting’s boot to halfway. The lineout was secured and the endgame began. The ball went wide and the Kent territory was entered. Then the ultimate drama as Sir awarded the hosts a penalty. It was Captain Bunting who had to go to the well once more and attempt another kick from the touchline. The ball soared over the height of the uprights but inches wide and the final whistle blew. Beckenham had triumphed 42-41 and the Black and Whites had the consolation of two bonus points.

Both teams had moments of dominance but also had periods they would want to forget. It was cruel that the brilliant place-kicking of Freddy Bunting was not rewarded by one last successful strike to add to the previous magnificent seven. The Sutton scrum was a source of strength, Gareth O’Brien sidestepped his way to two tries and veteran George London also doubled up with forceful scores. Equally Beckenham had their standout performers with the powerful carrying of prop Rimarni Richards being rewarded with two tries, Dan Hamilton was central to the comeback and their lineout converted the chances they were provided with remorseless efficiency.

Next Saturday, 16th September, the charabanc will be heading to Geoffrey Knight Fields for a fixture with Old Reigatian. OR have opened their campaign with an impressive 33-7 home win against Sidcup before a 36-26 winning trip to London Cornish in round 2. Meanwhile the Black and Whites will hope it will be third time lucky as they search for their first win.

Sutton and Epsom: Michael Bennion, Max Russell, Ross Parsons, Freddy Bunting ©, Ciaran Mohr, Gareth O’Brien, Chris Ballard, Will Lloyd, Chris Farrell, Callum Gibson, Ewan McTaggart, Josh Glanville, George London, Rob Hegarty and Kean Orchard.Replacements: (all used) Tom Boaden, Jack Howes and Jack Briggs.

Beckenham: Luke Bosch, Stefan Linton, Dan Hamilton, Matt Lovell, Tom Bateman, Lewis Bunton, Ben Murphy, George Baker, Lamar Sinclair, Rimarni Richards, Ciall Kirwan, Josh Hiscott, Liam Markey, Tom Ward, Hans Laud-Anderson .Replacements: (all used)Rob Willden, Olly Stapleton and Sami Suliman.

Epsom horse owners asked to take survey

Retired race horse

Britain’s inaugural Thoroughbred Census has been initiated, inviting former racehorse owners to partake in the survey open until December 31, 2023. The primary aim is to enhance the traceability of retired racehorses.

About the Census: The census is a collaborative effort with Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), the official aftercare charity of British Racing, funded by the Racing Foundation. It receives support from World Horse Welfare and Weatherbys General Stud Book and is coordinated with experts from Hartpury University. This initiative is a crucial component of British Racing’s Horse Welfare Board’s five-year welfare strategy, ‘A Life Well Lived.’ The project’s objective is to enhance the traceability of thoroughbreds after their racing careers conclude.

The Census seeks to address a recognized data gap resulting from infrequent updates to equine identification documents (passports) once thoroughbreds transition into private ownership. By improving data accuracy, British Racing and RoR aim to provide enhanced support to owners, including access to educational resources and avenues for competition if desired. Additionally, it fosters informed and supportive communities. Furthermore, it equips the Horse Welfare Board and RoR to enhance and adapt welfare initiatives and facilitates rapid and effective communication in the event of an equine disease outbreak.

Helena Flynn, Programme Director of the Horse Welfare Board, stated, “This campaign will help us emphasize responsible ownership and the critical role every thoroughbred owner plays in ensuring the accuracy of their equine identification document (passport).”

What Information Does the Census Require? To complete the survey, owners must provide the horse’s equine identification document (passport) number, microchip number, age, current residence, second career, and other pertinent details to compile a comprehensive dataset for retired British racehorses in 2023.

Why is an Additional Objective of the Census Necessary? Typically, new horse owners are expected to update ownership information within 30 days. During their racing careers, this information is meticulously maintained by breeders, owners, and trainers in the Weatherbys General Stud Book. However, data for former racehorses significantly declines when they enter private ownership after retiring from racing, with equine identification document (passport) compliance averaging just 20% across the equestrian community. This decline may stem from a lack of awareness regarding the importance of this phase, uncertainty about associated costs, a reluctance to update documents even after a horse has passed away, and a general disinterest in participating in the process.

Therefore, an additional goal of the census is to engage with private owners to encourage them to review and, if necessary, update their horse’s equine identification card (passport). Moreover, owners of horses previously registered with licensed British trainers will be invited to register their horses for free with RoR.

David Catlow, Managing Director of Retraining of Racehorses, emphasized, “The ‘social license’ for the use of horses in sport is under increasing scrutiny, with the welfare of former racehorses after retirement being a specific concern. This initiative is a significant stride toward ensuring thoroughbreds enjoy a healthy and caring existence throughout their lives, while also providing the racing industry with pertinent data to inform future decisions.”

To complete the form, please visit: https://uwe.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8bNJFzR2FB95ZlQ

Participation in the census is voluntary, but owners are strongly encouraged to join the community and contribute. Full findings will be disclosed in the first quarter of 2024.

Reeds Weybridge 27 – Sutton & Epsom 12

Rugby action.

Following the disappointment of last season’s relegation Sutton & Epsom RFC had a stern test in
their Regional 2 South East opener with a trip to Reeds Weybridge. The hosts are one of the
country’s most upwardly mobile clubs with six promotions in the last eight campaigns whilst they
finished finished third at the last time of asking. There was some compensation for missing out on
their habitual climb up the rugby pyramid. An excellent cup run ended in an 18-3 defeat to league
rivals Battersea Ironsides at Saracens’ StoneX Stadium in the final of the inaugural Papa John’s
Regional 2 South Plate. For the Black & Whites it was their first league encounter with the men
from Whiteley Village. S&E welcomed debutants Chris Ballard, Kean Orchard and Max Russell to
the 1 st XV whilst, on the other end of the scale, it was a red-letter-day for Will Lloyd as the veteran
prop made his 100 th 1 st XV league appearance. Unfortunately, Sutton failed to open their account
at the first time of asking as Reeds Weybridge deservedly won by 27-12.

On a magnificent summer’s afternoon, with a cricket match in progress on the other side of
the trees, S&E’s new captain, Freddy Bunting, initiated proceedings kicking down the modest slope
with a gentle breeze in his face. The hosts completely dominated the opening fifteen minutes.
They imposed their tempo and pattern on the game. After an initial penetrative carry by a forward
or two the ball was spun wide. Despite the territory and possession the forward bursts were
modest rather than devastating. Sutton survived a quick tapped penalty from the alert Ollie Palmer
but having cleared their lines incurred their first penalty to the new experimental tackle laws. A
probing kick to the corner gave RW a great attacking platform. The first assault was repelled by a
Matt Whitaker tackle but swift recycling saw the ball swung blind and an overlap was created for
lock Cameron Goodwin to stride home. Jack Jesty added the extras with a sweetly struck
conversion from the flank for a 7-0 lead.

Buoyed by the opening score on five minutes the Hersham men looked to stamp their
authority on the game and extend their advantage. Despite the next ten minutes being one-way
traffic the hosts and spectators were frustrated by the stop-start nature of the proceedings. Errors
were met with a bountiful whistle as infringements and rustiness were not excused by Referee
Wright. A second try for RW seemed inevitable as Coriolanian Sutton defence was required to hold
their line. The ball was sent wide for an inevitable score but a diving Michael Davies intercepted a
pass with a catch more familiar to cricket than rugby. The frustrated hosts conceded a penalty and
the visitors cleared from under their posts.

Belatedly S&E had some possession and immediately put it to great effect. Fluent handling
saw them arrive for their first visit into the alien 22. Another penalty was awarded and Bunting
kicked to the corner. Before the lineout was taken prop Alex Mount was replaced by Tom Boaden.
From the throw a well-executed lineout saw the mass of Black & White shirts bundle over the line.
Rob Hegarty emerged from the pile to claim the try. Freddy Bunting’s touchline conversion drifted
wide as Reeds led 7-5. Their followed a period of dominance from the men from Rugby Lane. The
visitors mimicked their opposition by failing to add to their total despite the monopoly of territory
and possession. Though they were unfortunate that when Ben Tame crossed the whitewash from
another lineout the referee was unsighted and gave the only decision available to her and Reeds
had a relieving drop out. However, the visitors only had themselves to blame for failing to secure
the lead. They were turned over near the line and conceded a penalty with a try at their mercy. It
was the turn of RW to show the virtues of Horatio on his famous bridge.

Sutton’s profligacy was punished in the 40 th minute. Chris Ballard’s pass was impeded at
the ruck and the loose ball was poached. Captain Bunting made an excellent tackle to stop the try
but the second wave saw hooker Rhys Day score despite another thunderous tackle. Jack Jesty
added the conversion to stretch the lead to 14-5. There was eight additional minutes to the half
and Sutton spent more time in the far 22 but to no avail as the sides went into the interval with
Reeds Weybridge 14-5 to the good.

Naturally Sutton and Epsom were desperate for the opening score of the second period. But within a
minute it was the boot of Jesty that added an early penalty from in front of the posts for a healthy
advantage of 17-5. The visitors played at a higher tempo but still struggled to be clinical as they
tried to get back into the game. Frequent blasts of the whistle impaired both teams until the
Hersham side were offered another opportunity to extend their lead. For the only occasion in the
game Jack Jesty erred and S&E’s task was not made any harder. Solid defence rebuffed the Black
& Whites as Gareth O’Brien’s scything run was halted by the offence of crossing. Reeds Weybridge
then gave the visitors a lesson in scoring. From a period of sustained pressure and patient ball
retention blindside Joe Wastie rounded off the attack. Normal service resumed from Jack Jesty and
RW led by the sizeable margin of 24-5.

Sutton and Epsom needed a rapid reply and it came from the most familiar source. An alert Chris
Ballard took a quick tap penalty then the ball was spread wide and S&E threatened again but this
time Matt Whitaker was on hand to score. Freddy Bunting eased over the conversion to trail 12-24.
For Reeds’ Captain Herbie Finn there was not the standard scalding vituperation that often follows
these moments but the sagacious advice to his troops that the game was not over. The Black &
Whites needed to maintain the pressure and add to this score to create doubt in the minds of their
opponents. However, careless penalties were conceded, the ball was cleared and any flames of
recovery were extinguished by the commendably calm game management of the hosts.

In the last five minutes Referee Wright brandished a yellow card, going about the task with
a mortician’s lofty detachment from the irksome job in hand. Reeds would have to play out the
game with 14 but is was too late to have a telling impact as Joe Wastie went from player to
spectator. After five minutes of time added on the hosts were awarded another penalty and the
assured Jack Jesty bisected the uprights to conclude proceedings with Reeds Weybridge victorious
to the tune of 27-12.

Reeds deserved their victory. Their lineout provided quality possession, their forwards
carried effectively and they played at pace. Through notable absentees in their ranks they perhaps
lacked that telling intervention in the back division to punch holes in the defence but they will not
be overtly concerned having taken the points. Unlike Sutton and Epsom they opted to kick simple penalties and kept the opposition at arm’s length. The hosts played with an excellent tempo and to their
familiar pattern and imposed themselves on the game in the first quarter. They should have
gained more than their solitary goal but early season rustiness will no doubt be replaced by clinical
efficiency in the weeks to come. Their defence was resolute and their game management in the
last quarter meant there was going to be no famous Sutton comeback.

For the visitors it was a delight to see the return of Matt Whitaker. Sutton and Epsom without Whitaker
would be like Hamlet without the Prince and for the umpteenth time the opposition declared him
the pick of the S&E bunch. Debutant Chris Ballard at 9 impressed with not only his service but also
his ability to exploit the gaps. It was not for want of effort that centurion Will Lloyd failed to be on
the winning side. He was rock solid in the scrum, made his carries and offloads as well as a crucial
intervention on the line that prevented a Reeds try. Neither side benefited from the frequency of
the stoppages but the Black & Whites failed to play with the fluency that was demonstrated in pre-
season. One feels a victory would transform their demeanour.

Next Saturday 9th September league rugby returns to Rugby Lane with a 3pm home fixture
against Beckenham RFC all are most welcome to attend.

Sutton & Epsom:
Michael Bennion, Max Russell, Michael Davies, Freddy Bunting ©, Ciaran Mohr, Gareth O’Brien,
Chris Ballard, Alex Mount, Chris Farrell, Will Lloyd, Kean Orchard, Josh Glanville, Ben Tame, Rob
Hegarty & Matt Whitaker.
Replacements: (all used)
Tom Boaden, Ewan McTaggart and Ross Parsons.

Reeds Weybridge
Brad Robbins, Kitan Ojo, Josh Clark, Billy Maddock, Jack Grady, Jack Jesty, Ollie Palmer, Lennan
Day, Rhys Day, Riley Milsom, Cameron Goodwin, Herbie Finn ©, Joe Wastie, Lewis Jones, Michael
Replacements: (all used)
William Scott, Shannon Fullen and Peter Daverns.

Pot of gold for Rainbow?

Rainbow leisure centre. Epsom.

Rainbow Leisure Centre in East Street Epsom has been shortlisted for a prestigious award from trade association UK Active.

The centre – which was renovated recently- boasts a 25m pool, dance studio, large gym and over-60s social room. As a result, it has been nominated for ‘Local and Regional Club/Centre of the Year’ in recognition of its huge contribution to the local community.

Rainbow caters to customers of all ages with an innovative programme that includes fourteen classes dedicated to people over 60, plus swimming, gym sessions and classes for the centre’s junior members – currently numbering more than 500. The centre is also used by three disability clubs and four special needs schools who participate in tailored activities such as ping pong, dance and Boccia.

Customers are kept involved in the centre’s plans with social events and ‘Meet the Manager’ sessions. Currently, they are accepting almost 30,000 bookings per month.

The centre is run by charitable social enterprise GLL under the ‘Better’ brand. The organisation’s ethos is to reinvest profits to support local communities and Rainbow is an important part of this commitment.

Darren Pope, Rainbow’s General Manager, comments, “We couldn’t be prouder to have been shortlisted for the best centre/club in the South of England. Making the shortlist would not have been possible without the incredible work from the staff at Rainbow. No matter what the result, I am very proud of my team’s achievements this year.”
UK Active award winners will be announced at the end of October this year.

Better was founded in 1993 as a charitable social enterprise with seven leisure centres in Greenwich. In 1996 the social enterprise started expanding outside of the London Borough of Greenwich and now runs all kinds of community services and spaces across the UK. Now renamed Better, over 250 public sport and leisure centres and 57 libraries are managed in partnership with more than 30 local councils, public agencies and sporting organisations. Membership to the organisations’ centres has increased to over 650,000 with 40 million visitors a year.

Unarresting match with the police

Epsom & Ewell 0-0 Met Police. Emirates F.A. Cup – Preliminary Round. Friday 18th August 2023.

We had our first taste of Friday night football at the Madgwick this season as Isthmian League Met Police visited for this Emirates FA Cup tie and despite having the lion’s share of the possession, rarely threatened in this goalless draw. This was the ninth time the clubs had met in this competition and we have only won two of the matches, with three draws now.

For our part, we were missing three players who were injured in Tuesday’s League match and at times almost seemed content to cancel the opposition out and aim for a replay, where hopefully some of the walking wounded will be able to return.

The first bit of good news was that first choice keeper Harvey Keogh was back between the posts after dislocating his little finger in the Redhill warm up, but unfortunately Jaan Stanley, Callum Wilson and Tommy Williams were all unable to go, so Zach Powell took the armband on with Ayran Kugathas and Chester Clothier in place of the others. Additionally Ollie Thompson and Sirak Negassi moved onto the bench and Tino Carpene and Nick Inwugwu took their places.

Before the match commenced a minute’s applause was held in recognition of regular supporter Mark Durbridge who passed away on Friday 11th August. A few former players and his family were present and all stood around the centre circle with the teams and officials for the duration of the applause.

We have had some slow starts this season and we got off to a nervy opening in this match too. Kugathas sent his header beyond Keogh and out for an unnecessary corner which was half cleared to the edge of the box where we then conceded a free kick. Fortunately, the strike on goal was dealt with easily enough by our keeper. However, in the seventh minute Bayley Mummery struck a shot against our far post and although the ball rebounded back into play, it appeared from where I was as though another player then struck our other post, but by this time the flag was raised for offside and the danger was over.

We had our first opportunity in the tenth minute when the ball was fed through to Kiyo Brown and he ran at goal, although his shot was too close to the experienced Liam Beach and he tipped the ball over for a corner which we were unable to take advantage of. Brown then had another run, but what looked like being a threatening ball in was blocked at the last second by a defender.

However, for the majority of the half we were on the defensive, happy to counter attack when the chance arose and looking quite difficult to break down. We also had a couple of yellow cards in the middle of the park with Rory Edwards getting one and then Alfie Walters for a cynical trip on Carpene who had threatened to get away on the left wing. This would have consequences for their defender later. There was nearly a third yellow card after Carpene was brought down by Laurence Ernest and the referee was there quickly to wave the card before being made aware that his Assistant had flagged belatedly for the ball going out of play.

Kugathas was next to pick up a yellow for pulling back his man as this stop-start game was never really allowed to get going. Regular visits from our physio ensured that an extra six minutes were played, but there was nothing of note within it and the teams trooped off at the break with honours even.

The second half started in a similar fashion and we weren’t asking many questions of our visitors, although Brown got to the touchline once, but his low ball in was cut out by Beach. Next to try was Ade Batula, but his shot from a narrow angle was never going to beat the well-positioned keeper who blocked the ball out for a corner.

Brown picked up a yellow card for a clumsy tackle before Dan Stewart also found his way into the rapidly filling book, even though this was not a dirty game in any way. Unfortunately with fifteen minutes of normal time remaining Powell limped off and Ollie Thompson came on at the back, moving Inwugwu to a centre position within the back three and Clothier inherited the arm band. A sixth card followed for another visiting player for a foul on Ethan Nelson-Roberts and two further substitutions occurred for us with Ben Amissah coming on for Carpene and Jabari Ofosu-Hernandez made his debut in relief of Nelson-Roberts.

We still appeared to be quite happy not to rush things and to settle for a replay, but nearly won the tie in the 92nd minute after Amissah was put through on goal. Regrettably, he stumbled and this enabled Beach to get a hand to the ball before our man could fully recover. However, the loose ball fell kindly for Batula who just needed to clip the ball over the retreating defenders from twenty-five yards, which he did, but it didn’t come down in time and thumped the Met crossbar before going over for a goal kick.

There was time for an unusual incident in the 93rd minute as Walters had been injured and Beach told him to leave the pitch so as not to play any of our players onside. However, he then came back on after the attack had been cleared and picked up a second yellow card for re-entering the field of play without permission. Harsh!

Ultimately, the fact that I am referring to all the yellow cards and substitutions tells you that there wasn’t really much to report in terms of real opportunities in this match. It was constantly interrupted by injury and the somewhat fussy referee and the crowd of around 165 or so probably wondered whether they should have bothered to come out at all as the rain then gave them a thorough soaking as they walked 300 yards to reach their cars!

Most importantly though, the two teams remain in the hat for Monday’s draw and will now meet again on Tuesday for the replay, which will have to be settled on the night, even if it takes extra time and penalties. There is one good omen here as the last time we met in the FA Cup back in 1989 we drew 0-0 at home before winning the replay 2-0 at Imber Court. Déjà vu anyone?

[For the replay report visit: www.eefconline.co.uk as Epsom and Ewell Times will be on a short production break.]

Epsom & Ewell: Harvey Keogh, Ayran Kugathas, Ethan Nelson-Roberts, Zach Powell (c), Nick Inwugwu, Ash Snadden, Kiyo Brown, Chester Clothier, Ade Batula, Rory Edwards, Tino Carpene

Subs: Ollie Thompson for Powell (75), Ben Amissah for Carpene (83), Jabari Ofosu-Hernandez for Nelson-Roberts (87)