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Epsom and Ewell Top the Table

Oakwood 0-5 Epsom & Ewell, Southern Combination League – Division One, Monday 29th August 2022. Report Source: www.eefconline.co.uk. Reporter: Richard Lambert.

Any disappointment felt in the FA Vase defeat at Redhill on Saturday was firmly banished less than 48 hours later as we thrashed Oakwood 5-0 on the Bank Holiday Monday morning to go top of the League table for the first time this season.

It was almost a perfect day for a Salts supporter. Five goals, no bookings, a clean sheet and no apparent injuries. In fact, the only disappointment was the lack of a match day programme from the hosts, who had promised there would be one online. As far as I am aware, a programme is still mandatory in our league, yet it’s the third time in recent months that this has happened and it is probably time that the League reminded the clubs of their obligation to produce something that many supporters still want to see at each game.

The quick turnaround between fixtures always meant it was likely there would be changes to our line up, although only three were made; Johnny “Sonic” Akoto was unavailable, so Zach Powell moved to left back and recent re-joiner Gavin Quintyne made his first start for us, slotting seamlessly into Powell’s vacated midfield role. Up front Josh Alder came in for Jaevon Dyer and at the back Andy “Woody” Hall came back in for the absent Aaron Bogle. We would see two further debuts from the bench in this match as Nick Wilson and Jack Porter would each get their first run outs of the season.

We had performed creditably at Step Five Redhill, but so had Oakwood as they had lost narrowly 3-2 at another good Step Five team in Fisher, so although they had been struggling with early league form, this looked like it would be a tricky fixture to negotiate. However, after an even ten minutes we scored an early goal going down the slope and never looked in danger from that point onwards.

The scorer of our first goal was Jubril “Jibs” Adamson who received the ball from Tiago Andrade and curled the ball left-footed into the far top corner from outside of the penalty area in just the eighth minute. You couldn’t have placed the ball any further into the corner of the net without hitting the post or bar and the keeper, understandably had no chance of saving it.

We had already made a couple of chances by this point with a Hall header and an Alder volley both being just off target, but the home team had put a couple of dangerous balls in to our area themselves; one coming just after our opener with a far post header from the Oakwood number 11, but we were soon back on the attack and Adamson struck at goal once again after being found by a clever back heel by Andrade, although the home keeper was able to make the save easily enough.

We nearly extended the lead when a Smith free kick was up and over the wall, but was inches wide; grazing the back stanchion of the goal from twenty yards out and then Peters, already looking for his fourth goal of the season, saw his shot deflected over, although a goal kick was awarded.

We had a shout for a penalty when the home keeper came out for a high ball and appeared to clatter into Andrade first, but the ball was only half cleared to Smith and his long range shot was deflected kindly into the path of Alder who kept his composure to slot the ball under the advancing keeper from eight yards to register his first competitive goal for our club in the 37th minute.

We had further chances before the half with Alder and Andrade both forcing saves from the keeper and then Alder dragged a low shot across goal, just beyond the far post from a good position. However, we were well in charge by this point and I was confident that we could go on and score further goals in the second half.

And that is just what happened, although we had two good opportunities before that third goal did come, firstly from Quintyne who ran on to a good pass, but then saw his shot well blocked by the keeper, and then when Athan Smith-Joseph’s ball across goal took a hop on the long grass and bounced straight over Adamson’s leg. Fortunately our winger was on target soon after this, thanks to a lovely slide rule pass from Quintyne, only to see the shot saved but rebound onto the knee of the retreating number 3 and dribble apologetically into the net for an own goal in the 55th minute.

Wilson, Ricardo Fernandes and then Josh Owen joined the match and Matt Walton had a rare involvement as he had to tip a header from an Oakwood corner away, but we scored our fourth goal in the 62nd minute when Owen held the ball up on the left and drew defenders before crossing for the unmarked Fernandes to stroke the ball into the far corner from ten yards.

Owen was unfortunate to see his powerful header from Wilson’s free kick ruled out for an offside flag, but we had a fifth goal in the 75th minute and it came from an unlikely source as Gideon Acheampong had made a fine run and received a return pass into stride from Smith-Joseph and finished clinically low to the keeper’s left and just inside the near post from eight yards out. Cue large celebrations as it was only our Captain’s second goal for the club in his 69th Salts appearance.

That would conclude the scoring for this match, although Walton had a scare at the other end when he appeared to take his eye off the ball and it came back off the frame of the goal before he gathered it, while our coach Porter came on in the final moments, getting bundled over in the box, but the referee wasn’t interested and to be fair, he was probably right!

In truth this was a very comfortable win for our boys. Oakwood were not in the same league on the day and with a few more performances like this, maybe the two teams will actually be in different leagues next season as for the first time in 2022/23 we can actually look down from the top of the table, even though we probably won’t be there after next Saturday as we are the odd team in a seventeen team division and have no league match that day. Our next competitive match is a challenging League Cup tie at Step Five Crawley Down Gatwick on Tuesday 6th September.

Epsom & Ewell: Matt Walton, Gideon Acheampong ©, Zach Powell, Ryan ‘Butch’ Smith, Brad Peters, Andy “Woody” Hall, Athan Smith-Joseph, Gavin Quintyne, Tiago Andrade, Jubril “Jibs” Adamson, Josh Alder

Subs: Nick Wilson for Smith (57), Ricardo Fernandes for Alder (57), Josh Owen for Adamson (59), Louis Chin for Andrade (65), Jack Porter for Smith-Joseph (89)

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