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Two excellent strikes earn the points for Salts

Seaford Town 1-2 Epsom & Ewell FC Southern Combination League – Division One Saturday 13th August 2022 Report Source: www.eefconline.co.uk Reporter: Richard Lambert.

With one swish of the left foot and a low scissor volley with the right, Jubril “Jibs” Adamson and Joao “Tiago” Andrade registered their first goals for the club and provided the Salts with a healthy seaside tonic as they put last week’s loss at Shoreham firmly in the rear view mirror with a 2-1 win at Seaford Town on Saturday.

It was Adamson’s debut, although he was not even in the original starting sixteen when it was announced, replacing Jahobi Maher in a pre-match line up change, who I presume was injured in the warm up, but it proved to be a successful change as his strike enabled our boys to recover from a shaky start and ultimately take the three points.

This was not an easy match to watch on a day where it was too hot for supporters, let alone players! The searing heat was constant, although in a strange way the players were helped a little by the stop-start nature of the game as a result of an over fussy and at times uncertain refereeing display which confused players and viewers alike. However, there were a number of positives to be taken from this match in addition to the obvious win. Both teams maintained a really high tempo throughout and the contest was a totally competitive one throughout, while we also showed good game management, both on and off the pitch to ensure that we remained ahead against an opponent who will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

We had a strange and unexplained delay to the start of the game and the players were kept waiting before we finally got underway seven minutes late and the first thing my boy noted was that we had started with a back four, after playing all pre-season with a back three. On the Seaford surface which was understandably brown, but with occasional patches of green speckled across it, we looked like we would be off the a good start from the opening exchanges, only to fall behind from a right wing ball in that was met at the near post with a strike from Callum Connor that was blocked, but he was first to reach the loose ball and smashed it past Matt Walton from close range in the sixth minute.

It would have been easy to think back to the previous week when we conceded after nine minutes and never recovered, but if anyone was thinking like that, it wasn’t for long after a delightful through ball just two minutes later found Adamson and his early strike was low and just inside the post from twenty yards before Seaford keeper Mike Platt, with a career as a Ben Stokes lookalike ahead of him, was able to do anything about it. In fact he couldn’t have reached it if he had been holding a bat!

It got better in a hurry too as Athan Smith-Joseph made tracks down the right wing in the 15th minute and sent a cross over. Platt came out of his goal and called for it, but the ball was already landing on the defender’s head and he cleared it away. However, the clearance fell straight to Andrade just inside the penalty area and he showed good technique to keep his volley down, which flew into the net that Platt had vacated.

Both sides had another good chance before the break. The hosts had a 37th minute free kick that was met with a decent header, although Walton appeared to get a hand to the ball before it hit the post and flew away, and then on the counter attack Smith-Joseph got down the right again and his pull back was sent just over the bar from Andrade from twelve yards. One more chance followed when a Ryan Smith free kick out on the right was met by the incoming Brad Peters, but he couldn’t quite get a sufficient contact and glanced the ball wide with his head.

The half had seen plenty of stoppages and the referee was the reason for most of them. Delays were frequent because of odd decision making and his habit of wandering over to his Assistants, almost as if he was after some sort of validation. This was proving a little frustrating and just before the half time break Peters found himself sent to the sin bin. Although I don’t know what was said, you had sympathy for our Captain at this point and he missed the final seconds followed by the opening ten minutes of the second half. Despite being down to ten men in those closing seconds there was still time for Steve Springett to show good energy and make advances down the left, although his ball in was volleyed over by Andrade.

The second half commenced with another unusual decision as Gideon Acheampong just reached the ball after it had already gone out, but sent it out of the ground and picked up the first yellow card of the day in the 50th minute, although we were down to ten at the time so that may have factored into the referee’s thinking. However, I’ve seen far worse completely ignored before! Peters returned after ten minutes actual play had occurred, but he then picked up a silly yellow card for a push right on the edge of the area and when moments later Connor picked up a yellow for the home side after a foul on Andrade, our Captain was taking a risk by clapping very clearly in the referee’s direction. Well aware that a second sin bin offence would leave us with ten men, our Assistant Manager Matt Chapman and his team, in the absence of both joint Managers today, made the wise decision to replace Peters with Johnny “Sonic” Akoto who made his debut at left back with Springett moving into the centre.

The hosts tried to push us back. Literally in one case when a long throw came in and Springett was sent flying, but the referee missed this foul that I could see from 100 yards away and the ball needed to be cleared out from under our crossbar by Andy “Woody” Hall. We then saw our left winger Richard Pingling kick the ball away into a hoarding, but fortunately for us, although inconsistently he didn’t receive a card. Pingling and Smith-Joseph asked questions of the Seaford defence all day and were a regular threat.

As the match progressed, further substitutions followed and one of these, Adam Grant just saw his header sent over the bar from another Smith-Joseph delivery and there was time for a new player Joshua Owens to come on for his debut where he, along with Owen Higgins and Louis Chin bolstered our tiring midfield. Chin came on in the 91st minute, yet we played nine minutes over, and whilst there were a couple of minutes taken for the mid-half drinks break, it was a very long time before the whistle blew and we could celebrate the points.

On another day, the home team could have taken a point, but our players looked much more solid this weekend and rarely looked in trouble during the second half. We kept a very good side at arm’s length for much of the contest and for that reason I believe we were worthy of the three points, something also acknowledged by the Seaford Manager Paul Wise in his always honest post-match comments. We now host Forest Row next, but please note that this match has been moved from the Tuesday to the Wednesday at short notice. Such are the hazards of ground sharing, although I imagine that our players will be grateful for the extra day’s respite between games!

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

Subs: Johnny “Sonic” Akoto for Peters (64), Adam Grant for Adamson (75), Owen Higgins for Smith-Joseph (84), Joshua Owens for Andrade (86), Louis Chin for Powell (91)

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