Men’s 1s: freezing draw at London Academicals

jimmy_m Match reports, Men 1st XI

 

London Academicals: 2

Epsom: 2 (Smith, B.Hildrey)

 

Epsom put in a battling rearguard effort to take a 2-2 draw at runaway league-leaders London Academicals. With five regular centre-backs missing, Brett Hosken became the latest to step into the breach, somewhat reluctantly, against a side with 43 goals in 9 games! Hosken and co were put under immediate pressure as Academicals side dominated the early stages, but Epsom withstood the early barrage and then took the lead from a quick counterattack flicked home in fine style by Tom Smith. Soon after, on 10 minutes, Epsom won a short corner and Ben Hildrey improvised neatly to slam home for 2-0. Epsom were by now looking well-organised and creating regular counter-attack chances; Smith neatly worked space for a reverse-stick drive which drew a great save from Academicals’ keeper, before a quick counterattack saw George Jameson flash just wide. Academicals then came back working a string of chances. Some heroics from ‘keeper Ed Burton-Brown kept them at bay for some time, but on 25 minutes the home side scored via a short-corner rebound for 2-1. On the stroke of half-time, Academicals won another short-corner and, with all 10 players up, scored another rebound for 2-2.

The second half was controlled by Academicals, but Epsom defended bravely, led by a titanic effort from centre-backs Brett Hosken and Oli Hildrey and some hard running in the midfield and forwards. There was initially some counter-attack threat from Epsom, one superb pass from Mike Atkinson finding the tireless Jameson who flashed wide, but this started to fade and the last 15 minutes became a case of survival. Academicals forced a steady stream of short-corners but Burton-Brown made some great saves to shut-out dragflickers Sam Hatherley and Ali Francis, with Francis also striking the outside of the post. With five minutes to go the match was then bizarrely halted by a streaker, who emerged from a stag-do in the bar to do a lap of the field! Following this Epsom held out until on the stroke of full-time Academicals forced a dramatic short-corner, again able to bring all 10 men up. A heroic block from Jameson saw the ball deflect to safety and ensured a hard-fought point. This was a top effort from the squad who now finish the first half of the season at home to Reigate Priory on Saturday.