Top 4 Southern Combination League 24.08.2022

Good start to season with Salts

Mavericks receive a repeat dose of the Salts. Worthing United 0-3 Epsom & Ewell – Southern Combination League – Division One – Saturday 20th August 2022. Report Source: www.eefconline.co.uk Reporter: Richard Lambert.

In October 2021 we made our first visit to the Robert Albon Memorial Ground; the home of Worthing United, and won 3-0. Ten months on we repeated the scoreline without too much alarm and moved up to second place in the table as a result.

Our Management declared themselves happy enough with the result, but not quite so happy with the performance, and it’s true to a point, as the match was a little scrappy at times. However, the warm conditions, bone dry surface and strong winds all played their part in that, as indeed did an extremely eccentric second half performance from the officials.

Worthing and Epsom and Ewell FC logos

I have referred previously to the size of our squad, although the starting eleven is now starting to look more regular and for the second match in a row we made just one change with Athan Smith-Joseph moving to the bench as Jaevon Dyer made his first start for the club out on the left wing.

We kicked off with the wind at our backs and made a positive start. An early Ryan “Butch” Smith corner was headed back across goal by Brad Peters for Andy “Woody” Hall to hook the ball inches over the bar in just the seventh minute before a long throw from Jubril “Jibs” Adamson bounced through the six yard box and Richard Pingling saw his close range shot blocked by a defender. Peters was then at full stretch but was unable to direct his header from a Steve Springett free kick on target. All of this occurred in just the first fifteen minutes!

Pingling sent a thirty yarder just over the bar and in the 17th minute he was the creator of our opening goal, doing well on the right to beat two men before crossing with his right foot to the near post where Adam Grant was able to head the ball just inside the near post from six yards.

Springett had a fine game on Wednesday against Forest Row, but his afternoon would end painfully and prematurely after falling awkwardly and dislocating his thumb in the 26th minute. Play stopped for six minutes and the thumb was popped back into position, but our defender had to visit the local hospital for a scan. Hopefully it will reveal no further damage. Louis Chin came on in his place with Captain Gideon Acheampong moving over to left back in our defensive four.

We had a scare just before half time after Hall bundled his opponent over just outside the box and the free kick appeared to go through our wall, but Matt Walton was there to make the save and this was the most worrying moment for our boys from a defensive point of view as Walton would go on to claim his first clean sheet for our club. In fact as the half closed Hall nearly made his mark at the other end with a diving header from a Smith corner that Mac Scott in the Mavericks goal did well to claw away. However, there were still six minutes of injury time to play and Adamson forced another save out of Scott, but in the fourth minute of injury time we scored a second after Pingling sent a high ball in on the right hand side of the penalty area. Adamson got himself in front of the defender to shield the ball, held him off and then hooked it across goal, where Dyer was able to stretch and knock the ball in from close range.

We came out confidently with our two goal lead and looked for more. Dyer made a good run on the left but was denied for a corner by a great final second block from Andrew Younger, although the defender tweaked his ankle in making the challenge and was required to leave the field after treatment. We made that one man advantage count from the Smith delivery in the 55th minute as Peters launched himself at the ball, knocking it forward, and whilst he was blocked from following it up, Dyer was there to knock the ball past Scott from close range. However, that description doesn’t really tell the full story. I do not know whether our man has ever practised Taekwondo, but as the ball was heading towards goal it was behind him, and somehow he got his leg up to head height and knocked the ball in with the back of his heel for a skilful and acrobatic finish!

We made a couple more substitutions soon after this goal when Tiago Andrade and Josh Owen joined the action in the 63rd minute. However, the final twenty minutes of the match were all about the officials. I have no idea why but the referee suddenly started to issue cards, starting with Dean Sherwood the Worthing United Captain who was sent to the sin bin. While we had the one man advantage Andrade played a perfect pass into the stride of Pingling and as he drew his foot back to shoot, he was clattered into from behind by Younger, yet somehow neither the referee nor the Assistant saw the foul. It has to be one of the most clear non-awarded penalties I have seen in recent years and insult was added to injury when Andrade was involved with some good interplay with another substitute George Membrillera, but as Andrade drilled the ball below Scott the flag was raised for offside. It is possible that one or other of them may have been, but after the previous “non-call” a few minutes before, it was impossible to have confidence in the decision and certainly our players didn’t seem to agree with it!

Things got stranger. Pingling was taken out by Younger in the 76th minute and as the yellow card was raised, you wondered whether it really should have been a second one after Younger had also committed the “foul” for the non-penalty. However, even though the offender had been booked, Pingling was still made to leave the field after treatment. This was confusing and a few minutes later after Pingling had been substituted, the Assistant then overheard comments from the dug out and brought the matter to the referee’s attention who then sent our man off. People who were over there have confirmed that it was just conversation between people on the bench, but for some reason the officials chose to get involved.

There was still time for a home player to receive a yellow card for diving before Membrillera picked up a strange yellow card after he rolled the ball into the net after being flagged offside. This could easily have been dealt with by a quick word, but the referee then also booked Adamson in injury time for what looked like just incidental contact, following a Smith-Joseph run during which the ball had gone out of play, but which you’ll probably be unsurprised to hear was also missed by the officials!

The ending of the match left a bit of a sour taste as it stopped both teams from playing football and the scoreline remained unchanged at 3-0 as the final whistle blew. Still, it was another three points and our third win in a row places us in a healthy position with our next League encounter at Oakwood coming up on the August Bank Holiday morning. Before that we visit Step Five Redhill in the F.A. Vase on Saturday; a good team who will certainly give our boys a test.

Epsom & Ewell: Matt Walton, Gideon Acheampong ©, Steve Springett, Ryan ‘Butch’ Smith, Brad Peters, Andy “Woody” Hall, Jaevon Dyer, Zach Powell, Jubril “Jibs” Adamson, Adam Grant, Richard Pingling

Subs: Louis Chin for Springett (32), Tiago Andrade for Grant (63), Josh Owen for Smith (63), George Membrillera for Dyer (71), Athan Smith-Joseph for Pingling (81)

Southern Combination League One table 25.08.2022

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