Saturday 26 January – Duke’s Meadow, Chiswick
Epsom: 5 (G.Hunt, Marfleet, Midmer, W.Hunt 2)
A smash and grab raid in the second half saw Epsom emerge with a 5-2 win away at Barnes.
Barnes dominated the first half with slick, intricate passing opening up Epsom repeatedly and only some utter heroics from centre-backs James Harris, Joe Lazell and goalkeeper James Tuck kept the home side out in the opening stages. Barnes eventually broke the deadlock after 15 minutes with a strong counterattack smashed home from the top. From that point Epsom worked hard to combat constant pressure, and created a couple of counterattack chances, but they really did not feature in the game at all and were fortunate to get to half time only 1-0 down.
The second half saw Epsom emerge sharper and they soon equalized with a neat attacking move resulting in Will Hunt playing in brother George Hunt to sweep home. Soon after Epsom won a short corner; the initial routine was saved but the ball looped back into the danger area and was drilled home by Jack Marfleet for 2-1. Barnes soon equalized from a short-corner drag-flick (2-2), but the shape of the game had now changed with Epsom growing in confidence and Marfleet becoming increasingly influential in midfield. On 50 minutes another Epsom short corner saw James Midmer pop up to make it 3-2 from close-range. Immediately after, a rapid counterattack saw Mike Atkinson play in Will Hunt who fired home clinically for 4-2. Epsom were flying now and some more counterattacks saw Kai Smith, Tom Neve and Mike Atkinson all go close. Barnes then came back with some sustained pressure, but continued to be frustrated by Harris, Lazell and Tuck who were all superb, with right-back James Hunt also making some key tackles. With time running out another Epsom counterattack saw the pacey Neve break down the left, switch play to George Hunt on the right wing who then squared for Will Hunt to neatly step round the keeper and walk the ball in for 5-2. It was a really neat goal and completed a result that would surely have been around 1000/1 at half-time.
This was a performance full of character from Epsom who dug in against a very strong home side in the first half, before showing some clinical finishing on the counterattack. They will hope to take this spirit forward into a key match with Croydon and Old Whitgiftians at home, with the Race Night fundraiser to follow, support at either event would be very much appreciated.