Epsom & Ewell 5-2 Forest Row Southern Combination League – Division One. Wednesday 17th August 2022. Report Source: www.eefconline.co.uk. Reporter: Richard Lambert.
On Wednesday night at Fetcham Grove we thoroughly deserved the three points on offer with a 5-2 League win, although required two superb headers from Brad Peters to seal the points as the visitors threatened to take something from the match with the score at 3-2 midway through the second half.
Peters had been substituted on Saturday at Seaford Town, having been yellow carded and sin-binned in quick succession and it was notable that for this match Gideon Acheampong was wearing the Captain’s armband instead, but our centre-half responded well with a superb performance defensively and the two goals provided the cherry on the cake! It was just a pity that his goals were only seen by a crowd (counted twice independently) of 66 people on a Wednesday night when there were few other matches taking place.
We made just the one change to our starting eleven with Adam Grant coming in for the unavailable Tiago Andrade and retained the back four which had worked well at Seaford three days previously. Peters nearly opened the scoring in the second minute when he guided a header from a Ryan Smith free kick just wide of the post twelve yards out, before Grant saw his shot on goal blocked a couple of minutes later. However, we opened our home account for the season in the eleventh minute when Grant made a fine run down the left and his pull back skimmed off the boot of Athan Smith-Joseph out to Richard Pingling just inside the penalty area, where his low strike found the bottom corner and gave Ben Abbott in the visiting goal no chance.
Smith-Joseph was giving the opposition defenders trouble as usual and he broke through on the left; cutting in and striking across goal, but Abbott was able to claw the ball away from the danger area. He then beat some more defenders before rifling a shot just over the bar, aided by the slightest touch from Abbott, although the goal kick was still awarded. We then had a pair of yellow cards, one for each side and both correctly awarded, with Jubril Adamson receiving his for a late lunge which caught an opponent.
The visitors drew level in the 42nd minute when a nice move from the left was finished off by a cannonball strike from the 18 yard line from Brett Caiger, whistling past Matt Walton into the roof of the net. However, their jubilation was short lived as a Steve Springett cross from the left was not dealt with and Adamson tucked away the loose ball into the corner in the 44th minute, so the half ended with our boys ahead once again.
Although Forest Row had been dangerous on occasions, we deserved our half time lead and extended it in the 47th minute when a great through ball from Zach Powell was perfectly weighted into the stride of Springett and he drilled the ball across Abbott into the bottom corner to make it 3-1.
We were on top now and Springett and Pingling forced good saves from Abbott, but then the Row pulled a goal back somewhat against the run of play in the 62nd minute when Steve Major eluded his marker to glance a near post corner across Walton into the far corner.
The game was a little too open for a while after that, but we settled down and Grant was denied from close range by Abbott and then substitute Jaevon Dyer, making his debut, made a great run through a crowd but sliced his shot wide. It would have been one of the best debut goals I’d seen, but we didn’t have to wait long to make the game safe. Peters earned a corner with a dangerous ball across goal that was turned away at the far post, and from the delivery our defender remained up for the set piece and thumped the header past Abbott from close range in the 78th minute. Four minutes later he did it again from a Springett free kick, this time maybe six yards out, but still unstoppable.
As the match wound down we also had a couple more debuts as Eldi Baze and George Membrillera joined the fray late on. The latter had in fact been on the scoresheet in our last home match, although it was for the opposition when Dorking Wanderers Reserves won here back in April, but this time we were already home and dry and a late card for Grant for an unnecessary nudge in the back made no difference.
The final whistle blew soon after and we moved up to fifth place in the table as a result; only behind Billingshurst on alphabetical order. The Row had won their previous match, defeating Seaford Town 4-1, but this win tells me all I already knew from pre-season, which is that we will be challengers this term. One thing to note is that in three matches so far we have used all fifteen available substitutes and we clearly continue to have much strength in depth. We visit Worthing United on Saturday, hoping to keep our winning run going.
Epsom & Ewell: Matt Walton, Gideon Acheampong ©, Steve Springett, Ryan ‘Butch’ Smith, Brad Peters, Andy “Woody” Hall, Athan Smith-Joseph, Zach Powell, Jubril “Jibs” Adamson, Adam Grant, Richard Pingling
Subs: Jaevon Dyer for Adamson (52), Eldi Baze for Pingling (71), Joshua Owen for Smith (75), Louis Chin for Powell (79), George Membrillera for Smith-Joseph (82)