Saturday 5th March – Rancid Epsom
This week the A’s put in a strong performance all round but still managed to leak three goals in a loss against top of the table Racing Epsom.
The game started well for Warlingham with some good ball play, looking confident and assured on the ball. The back four comprising Jones, Griffiths (J), Rolfe and Fortune were coming under pressure from a very strong Racing Epsom who were competent coming forward. A few surges in the direction of the Warlingham box seemed to encourage their efforts and twenty minutes in Keith punched a difficult hanging cross clear; unfortunately onto an Epsom boot. The ball was rocketed in and cleared by Jack Fortune from somewhere in the vicinity of the Warlingham goal line. This would have left the officials with a difficult call as to whether it had crossed for a goal, had it not been for the fact that while the A’s waited expectantly for the referee to make a call another Epsom player pounced and fired it well and truly into the back of the net. Everyone on the Warlingham team knew that that one was a gift and then went on to show a lot of character in pulling themselves up and redoubling their efforts.
The remaining twenty five minutes of the first period were all Warlingham with Epsom pinned in their own half and the A’s with the bit between their teeth. Confidence was returning fast with Richard W and James Fox commanding the centre of the park. To underline just how well we were performing James Fox jumped for and successfully headed the ball; a ‘once a season’ phenomenon that we haven’t seen…….well, for several seasons actually! Well done James. Lee Griffiths was unlucky not to shoot an equaliser with several dead ball opportunities, one of which forced a great save , pushing the Epsom keeper to the limit of his stretch to put it over the bar. Lee competed hard the whole game and when combined with a masterful ninety minutes from Fortune gave Warlingham command of the left flank.
At the break it was a case of keeping everyone focused for more of the same in the second half. The strategy was to rest Richard W and James F and replace them with fresh legs to keep the impetus up in the second half, with particular attention on keeping the work rate high in the initial stages. Jim T and Cocksy joined the team in the middle of the park. However, an injury sustained by Jack G before half time proved too painful (bless!). Jack was replaced by Jack Fortune in the middle, Lee dropped to left back and James F moved out to the left.
Less than two minutes into the half we had gifted another silly goal. There was a lot of soul searching; it had happened again.
Paul Stuart came on to replace James Fox at that point and although the whole team was really disappointed they picked it up and went about their business. Here we were with Epsom completely contained and with all sections of the team performing well and two goals down to silly mistakes committed in the six yard area.
At this point the referee started to show his inexperience and converted what was a clean and sportsmanlike game into a fund raising event for the SCFA. Just increasing the level of competition slightly left him the opportunity to make examples out of some innocuous challenges – by both sides. Just to demonstrate how much authority he had he booked Jim Tallon for ‘tutting’ at him. I think an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights might be in order!
To finish things off, with approximately 15 minutes to go, another parried save was pounced on by an Epsom attacker while the A’s stood by like statues.
3 - 0.
All-in-all a disappointing day but with some good signs. The team played well as individuals and pulled together really well in the face of adversity. We were more than a match for the Epsom team but on the day, failed to convert the chances we had. The worst we should have suffered was a nil all result but fate decided we should suffer some cruel twists.
Good character building stuff and only a loss if we fail to learn the lessons and get stronger as a result.
Let’s push for a strong finish to the end of the season.
Man of the match is a difficult one. The return of Pete Williams was encouraging and James Fox played a great 45 minutes before being subbed for tactical reasons. But the left flank combination of Lee and Jack Fortune earns them joint honours.