Saturday 12 January 2019 – Oxted School, Bluehouse Lane
Oxted 3s: 1
Epsom: 6 (J.Hunt, W.Hunt, Bond, Marfleet, Midmer 2)
Epsom resumed their league campaign with a trip to Oxted 3s, who sat eighth in the league. Epsom handed league debuts to James Tuck in goal and George Hunt (brother of attacking dynamo Will), in doing so reducing the average age of the squad by several years. Coach Johnny Oliver laid out an optimistic vision for a tight first five, with gradual control then established through patient possession. What transpired was a frenetic end-to-end half with a blizzard of shots, hail-mary passes and short corners at either end. Had any of the spectators paid to enter it would have provided value for money, unless you were a connoisseur of the art of finishing for the scoreline somehow remained goalless for 25 minutes until James Hunt eventually gave Epsom the lead with a calm finish at a short-corner. Some more fine saves from both keepers meant Epsom went into the break 1-0 up.
Epsom started the second half with a spell of patient possession that hinted at the original vision of Oliver. A rapid counterattack saw Steve Turnbull play in Will Hunt who improvised neatly with an upright backhand shot to make it 2-0. Oxted immediately struck back from a short corner; a rocket drag-flick from Joe Kourea finally beating Tuck to make it 2-1. At this stage Oxted were on top and only some fine saves from Tuck kept Epsom on top, the hosts also had a goal disallowed. Epsom then came roaring back with a spell of short corners; several routines came and went unsuccessfully before eventually Alex Bond slammed in with the aid of a deflection for 3-1. Soon after, another Epsom corner saw Jack Marfleet take matters into his own hands by burying a straight dragflick for 4-1. Epsom were now playing with more assurance and dominated the closing stages. A fine run down the right from Turnbull played in James Midmer for a chance he couldn’t miss, which was fortunate as much of his finishing to that point had resembled that of Christian Benteke on an especially off day. Soon after, a fine reverse-pass from Will Hunt played in Midmer, who this time swept home first-time for 6-1, a result which massively flattered Epsom on the balance of play but was nonetheless a good performance against tough opponents with no shortage of finishing power. To emphasise this point man of the match was undoubtedly Tuck with a special mention for Joe Lazell who worked tirelessly at centre-midfield.
There was some good stuff from Epsom in this fixture, especially in the second-half, and they will hope to build on it at home to Fareham 2s next week.