Epsom & Ewell FC losing at the bottom

Epsom & Ewell FC 1-2 Spelthorne Sports Combined Counties League – Premier Division. Saturday 2nd April 2024.

On a miserable night for football at the Madgwick in front of just 43 spectators, our season took a serious turn for the worse as we led fellow strugglers Spelthorne Sports at the half, only to get pushed back further and further before conceding twice to lose 2-1 with almost everyone in the ground thinking that they could see it coming.

This was a particularly disappointing second half performance and if I’m honest, our opponents had most of the ball in the first half too, but we had some chances and took one of them. However, they fought back, inspired by constant cajoling from the bench and frequent substitutions, while we remained mute and kept the same eleven on the field, despite looking desperate for fresh legs from the hour mark onwards.

Before the kick off our programme notes heralded the arrival of three players, yet one of them, Kevin Turbi wasn’t even in the line up! We did hand a start to Will Kendall, late of Redhill, Abbey Rangers and Merstham, while Luke Taylor from Sheerwater also came on late in the day. our opponents had former Salts Ade Batula and Tommy Williams on their registration list, but neither were on the team sheet for this encounter.

We started brightly but without forcing a save from Bob Honey, brother of Shay who had been in goal against us in the return match before joining us briefly; surely the only time in club history that we had faced two goalkeeping brothers in our two matches against the same club! Spelthorne were first to register a shot on target but Dan O’Donovan was alert at the near post to stop the shot from an angle.

There was very little going on in terms of goal threat but we had a real opportunity in the 24th minute when a high and deep cross from Luke Miller was not gathered by Honey, with the ball falling just behind Kendall who was unable to adjust to get any power on it from just a few yards out. Fifteen minutes later we took the lead from our best move of the match as Miller floated in another delivery to the far post where Thompson Adeyemi cushioned the ball back to Kendall who knocked the ball in for his first goal for our club from just five yards out.

Moments later we should have had a second goal after Miller’s ball in was sent over the bar by the incoming Adeyemi from just eight yards out. We didn’t realise it at the time, but this would prove to be our final real chance of the match. We went in at the half with the lead, although it was a precarious one and there was still a lot of work to do if we were to get the points.

The visitors started the stronger of the teams in the second half and somehow sent a header across goal from four yards when it was easier to score. We were struggling to get the ball out of our half and another good chance was clipped just wide of our far post from a good position on the hour. Maybe it would be our day after all.

But it was clear for all to see that we were tiring. The supply was not reaching Miller any more and Jaevon Dyer on the left wasn’t creating a threat. Yet we made no changes and almost appeared to hope that we would get away with it. That hope ran out in the 74th minute when a deep ball in from the right was knocked back across goal where Andrew Juett was waiting to force the ball in from close range. An inspired Spelthorne team kept pushing and scored again eight minutes later when a ball in from the left found Zach Scott just inside the penalty area and he guided his low shot into the far bottom corner past O’Donovan to give them a lead they would not relinquish.

Dyer was unfortunate not to see his powerful shot clear the bar by inches from twenty yards, but it would prove to be his final input. After going for 86 minutes with no substitutions, we then made four all at once, including Dyer, but it was far too late for them to make an impact and apart from a couple of dangerous looking corners from Adam Green the whistle blew shortly afterwards to confirm our fate.

I should make it clear that our players worked hard all night, but we were lacking in direction, both on and off the field and it looks to our supporters as though we are unable to see matches out on the rare occasions that we get a lead. This needs to change quickly. We are quiet and desperately needed a Zach Powell, or dare I say it, an Alex Penfold, who might have been able to raise the intensity of our game.

I rated our chances of relegation as “slim” going into this match, despite recent form, but that now needs to be updated to “entirely possible” after this contest, as it is looking more and more likely that our survival can only happen because the two teams currently below us fail to win sufficient points to overhaul us. This is a concerning time for our club and we now need to pick up some more points against much tougher opponents in Fleet Town and Abbey Rangers before our season ends at Guildford City. We do at least have eleven more days before those fixtures to try and sort this out, but confidence and belief need to change radically and this needs to come from our Management who might want to take a leaf out of the Spelthorne book for advice.

Epsom & Ewell: Dan O’Donovan, Ayran Kugathas, Ethan Nelson-Roberts (c), Adam Green, Reece Tierney, Callum Wilson, Luke Miller, Matt McGillivray, Will Kendall, Thompson Adeyemi, Jaevon Dyer

Subs: Jerry Antwi for Kugathas (86), Sirak Negassi for Dyer (86), Zach Ingham-Wright for Miller (86), Luke Taylor for McGillivray (86)

Report Source: www.eefconline.co.uk