23/11 – Epsom 4’s – Dan does it again and we come away with a draw

AndrewM Match reports, Men's 4th xi

So here we go again, and as we know the 4’s games start about 3-4 days before the weekend, with the usual shuffling of players and top trumps between the teams. Anyway we had 12 players – hooray.  But no sooner had we decided the team structure that the ever reliable Matt Smith pulled out, with family duties requiring his attention today.

However, Maj managed to grab Matt Bishop from the 6’s at short notice (who is now our 29th squad player so far), and Dan helped out to pick him up on-route. So off to Croydon we went, and whom were sitting above us in the league, but hey we tend to rise to a challenge in the 4’s. Journey was interesting and as we know Croydon was designed by a 5 year old using lego bricks, with roads put in as an afterthought and when you add the Purley way traffic it all gets a bit – well shitty (think that’s the best phrase). I would use more appropriate phrases, but would need a code word system to fully describe the delights of Croydon on a Saturday.  Maj managed to get a flat tyre on his Audi, and asked if we had any white creamy stuff we could inject to inflate his tyre. Not quite sure what he meant, and whilst there was a lot of young men ready to donate for their captain, this would have been just wrong so we left Maj with a flat tyre.  Indeed it was not really a problem, as it was only flat on the bottom anyway.

Into the game. So we arrived, or at least 10 of us did, as Dan was caught in traffic having done us a favour and we were clearly going to have to start a man down. To be fair, their ref who made it very clear she was taking no prisoners today (and didn’t),  did offer us the mandatory 15 minute of additional panic time to assemble a full team.

The gallant Epsom 10 battled really well, and being quite honest we had the better of the game, with some great scoring chances created by the speed of Jack (before he gets nicked by the 3’s next week) and Rob Maslin who was just on fire today. Jamie Perkins made some great attacks down the right and we nearly scored first (OK so I may have missed one from a very tight angle on their near post).  Dan and Matt arrived, and Matt took the missing defender position whilst Dan just studied the game from the sideline awaiting his moment to shine.

However, and totally against the flow of the game, Croydon scored and went 1-0 up. Undeterred we battled hard and we continued to strip their defence to pieces and finally rewarded when I attacked their D, and quite brilliantly passed the ball to Dan at the top, who as always (boring) finished it well to get us back to 1-1 at half time.  We could easily have taken the lead, especially when Jack ran into the D, lined up his perfect reverse hit, and……dropped his stick – doh.

OK – so half time talk was positive and encouraging and we knew we could not just upset the league table with a draw but actually come away with 3 points here. As always a game of two halves (strange thing that) and a much more even second half. Indeed both Epsom and Croydon played some stages with 10 men, and probably both were better with 10 than 11?  But it was Croydon who got the luck first, and when they fowled at the top of the D and stick tackled our defence, the ref did not see this infringement and they scored what was a very lucky 2nd goal and which honestly should not have been allowed – but it was, and their Ref advised us not to complain.

Lots more interesting decisions were made in the second half, and many “Ooh’s and aah’s” were mentioned by both teams, for which their ref told everyone off for, and if there was any further oohing or aarhhing, we would be carded. Lets just hope she does not attend a fireworks display hey. Finally we got our own luck and deservedly got an equaliser courtesy of Rob Sydenham attacking their D, crossing it in, and the ball coming off a defender into the goal. As we know (refer to previous match reports when I scored – and yes that was a long time ago) these all count and this goes down as a Rob S goal.  So 2-2 it was, and a great game of hockey was played out today.

Epsom – a great team effort, and we fully deserved at least the draw and on another day would have won. Some of the best hockey we have played all season, and through just hard battling for the win from start to finish.   No one played badly, or did anything really stupid (perhaps Jack dropping his stick) and TFC should have gone to Maj, who got the puncture on the way there, and rather than get his tyre repaired by one of the many quality establishments in Croydon (there were loads offering quality tyres at £9 or even £10 each – and sure they would last at least 3 miles) he went to a proper shop after the game and paid £150. Well that’s low profile tyres for you.  Maj also missed teas back at Croydon – but then again, there did not appear and wasn’t any tea’s anyway – but at least the friendly Croydon bunch bought us a 9 pint (non-pourable) jug of lager which was enjoyed by myself, Simon and Mazza (who spilled the first pint on their new carpet tiles, and was a late but clear winner of TFC)  – should be noted Jack and Tom had cokes (healthy lads). Man on the Match, has to go to Dan – 4 goals in 4 games just has to be club record somewhere.  Til next week.