Epsom: 6 (Vermeulen, Midmer, Barton 2, Hosken, B.Hildrey)
Epsom travelled through high winds to Southampton for their penultimate game before Christmas. Memories of last season’s nightmare trip lingered in the mind of travel co-ordinator Ed Burton-Brown, whose precautionary meet time of 10:15 meant several players arrived early and started a three-hour wait for Scott Barton.
Barton sat and watched a very even first 10 minutes, before Epsom took the lead with a flowing team move playing in Paul Atkinson whose shot was parried but followed up by Dutch overseas star Drew Vermeulen. Soon after, James Midmer seized on a clearance and fired home for 2-0 and Barton then emerged to slam home a short corner rebound to make it 3-0 after 15 minutes. Epsom were on top for a while but several attacks just eluded a finish. Southampton then started to rally and cut the deficit to 3-1 with a well-worked counterattack just before half time.
Epsom emerged in determined mood at the start of the second half and a well-worked short corner move found injector Brett Hosken to convert from just under 1 yard for 4-1. Soon after Mike Atkinson’s neat pass played in James Midmer who was cleaned out for a penalty stroke. Barton stepped up (despite strong hints from Midmer that someone more sober might take it) and converted with aplomb. At 5-1 up Epsom could have cut loose but instead a series of individual errors allowed Southampton to counterattack strongly and cut the deficit to 5-3 with a well-worked short corner and open play goal. With 10 minutes remaining Ben Hildrey fired home a rising dragflick to make it 6-3 to Epsom. Southampton again cut the deficit to 6-4 with another counter-attack. Southampton then had two short corners with two minutes to go; any conversion would have meant an extremely nervous last few minutes but fortunately Burton-Brown was in no mood to let his early start go to waste and saved well.
Epsom were relieved to take the match 6-4 and headed back up the M3. They finish the first half of the season on Saturday against Chichester at Therfield School