Old Schools’ Lane, Ewell – Saturday 2 February
Epsom: 5 (Marfleet 3, G.Hunt, Midmer)
Croydon and Old Whitgiftians: 2
Jack Marfleet scored a first club hat-trick as Epsom overcame a slow start to beat Croydon and Old Whitgiftians 5-2. Epsom’s team-talk revolved around taking early chances and limiting possession for the visitors’ danger-man Dominic Coe. So, inevitably, a lot of early chances were missed before after 10 minutes Coe bulldozed his way through three tackles and flicked home a brilliant rising finish to put Croydon 1-0 up. From this point on Croydon sat in a disciplined half-court formation meaning Epsom dominated possession but found chances hard to create. Eventually on 25 minutes Jack Marfleet bundled home a scrappy short corner to equalize at 1-1. Epsom kept pressing and might have taken the lead just before half-time when a short corner move played in James Hunt; but the normally reliable finisher’s flick went high over the bar towards the railway line meaning it was 1-1 at halftime and the makings of a stressful afternoon for coach Johnny Oliver.
Fortunately Epsom were much more intense at the start of the second half. Straight away a flowing move played in George Hunt to slam home for 2-1 and they started creating regular chances. On 50 minutes a fine run from debutant Josh Harris played in Kai Smith whose shot was blocked illegally on the line. Marfleet stepped up and converted the penalty stroke for a 3-1 lead. Just as the afternoon looked set to become more comfortable, Croydon won a short corner; Tuck made two fine stops but Croydon kept it alive well to make it 3-2. With the game now very open, Steve Turnbull sparked into life at the other end with a mazy run playing in James Midmer to make it 4-2. Epsom this time closed the game out well with a spell of calm possession. Just before the close a fine through ball played in the dynamic Will Hunt who was hacked down by a combination of two covering defenders and the keeper. Marfleet stepped up again with an emphatic penalty stroke securing a hat-trick and a 5-2 win.
On the balance of play Epsom deserved this win but Croydon were tough, had no shortage of goal threat and the result was in doubt until well into the final stages. The remainder of the day saw England win the Rugby and a successful race-night fundraiser at the club raising £1500. Thanks to everyone who supported the event. Epsom are back in action next week with another home game against Sunbury and Walton Hawks, all support welcome!