At the end of a first half in which they had been completely outplayed by their visitors Epsom and Ewell – looking far from a bottom-of-the-table side – North Greenford conceded four times in a disastrous seven minute spell to give themselves an almost impossible mountain to climb after the break.
It could have been more as, earlier in the half, the Salts had come agonisingly close to opening the scoring on at least three occasions when United had to ride their luck to protect their goal. First a Scott Murphy header on the end of a Shaun Masterson corner was eventually gathered by Blues keeper Bailey Mulhall on the edge of his goal-line.
Then a further effort from a Masterson corner was also cleared off the line followed by a Joe Loftus-Cheek header that rebounded off the home cross bar allowing the Greenford defence to again get the ball away from the danger area.
The deadlock was finally broken on 38 minutes when Mulhall left his goal to claim a long-ball played down the middle, but was beaten to it by Salts left midfielder Louis O’Brien who was able to drive a low shot past the stranded United keeper into the back of the empty home net. The floodgates then opened.
Three minutes later O’Brien claimed his brace with a powerful strike that Mulhall could not keep out despite getting a hand to the ball. Two further goals were then added, both scored on the end of balls played behind the Blues back line, the first by Loftus-Cheek followed, less than a minute later, with an equally clinical finish by strike partner Kyen Nicholas.
At that point it felt the second period would become no more than a damage limitation effort and, if it were to be that, changes would need to be made by the management team. That was indeed what happened. Their plans had actually been thwarted before kick-off when Carl Bower suffered an injury during the warm up and were not helped by the injury suffered by left-back Ryan Murphy midway through the first half.
The re-organisation that took place during the interval made a significant difference and the team produced a much improved performance in the second period. A string of chances were created with U18 players Joe Mills and James Barnett, as well as Stuart Muldrew, Sean Hillier and Nathaniel Mensah all having scoring opportunities but the quality of the finishing did not match that of the build-up play.
A final chance on the stroke of full-time falling to Barnett summed up the evening as far as the Blues were concerned when, after a fine run, the young forward rounded Salts keeper Conor Young only to stumble at the last moment as he tried to find the net from a tight angle. This though had been Barnett’s best First Team performance as it had been for midfielder Joe Mills and debutant defender Michael Adjei.
At the same time it has to be said that throughout the second half Epsom & Ewell, as well as being resolute in defence with Young producing a solid and dependable performance between the sticks, also created chances at the other end. The Salts clearly deserved their second convincing win on the spin, finally lifting the club off the bottom of the CCFL Premier Division table and keeping alive their slender chances of avoiding relegation if they can continue this impressive run in their final two league games.
NGU Team: Bailey Mulhall, Kian Martin (James Barnett 45), Ryan Murphy (Ben Kilshaw 33), Joe Mills, Charlie Connor, Matthieu Lantoine, Sean Hillier, Daniel Vincent (captain) (Sammy Adams 85), Nathaniel Mensah, Stuart Muldrew, Michael Adjei