Maj’s usual pre-match rallying call, included ‘must win’, ‘we can catch 5th place’ (clearly never was good at sums) ‘lets go for the win’ etc etc. However and whilst we have achieved some truly magical moments in our first year back in Division 1, the wizarding world of Harry Potter this was not, and reality does bite back at times. So we were pitched against London Ed 3’s who are sitting second in the league, will get promoted to Premier League and who are pushing for league winner status. Clearly we were up against a well drilled and slick outfit, who had 11 quality players and an uncanny ability to aerial the ball the length of the pitch and with razor sharp accuracy, so we were battling from start to finish. Have to say really enjoyed the game, and whilst the score line may not look so, it was a close battle up and down the pitch, and we played some good flowing hockey. They just created more chances, scored more than we did and law of physics means their goal tally being far higher than our’s makes them the winners today.
OK not helped by 2 simple goals given away in the early minutes by Epsom, and is not what we’re about, but it happened – so move on. The first when we saved but failed to clear a short corner which was knocked back in, and the second which was well taken but the pass through to their attacker should have been cut out, and we were left both not watching the game as a team, and not speaking as a team. So no complaints, but as a team we need to get back that desire we know we have. 3rd goal was equally uninspiring and resulted in Maj trying to spoon the ball off the line, claiming it had not gone over, the umpire giving some really weird signal with his hands (think he was making the shape of a rabbit in the shadows, but it may have been a horse), and after the audience got bored we all decided it was probably a goal. So 3-0 down at half time.
Very strangely this is a game of 2 halves (funny that, as most games are split into equal sections with a break in-between) – and Epsom started to show the fight back and we got some more spirit and Mojo. 2nd half was far more balanced with spirits flying high across both teams, culminating in Matt Breese getting hit with a stick, and then throwing his own stick into the side fencing (TFC perhaps?). We suggested he took a break at this point, and off he went to purchase an ice-cream (he really did this) to chill out. Jack D tried to show the experts how to throw an aerial, but managed to throw it off the side lines (sure they were really worried then –not…………) and Matt Smith did something silly, can’t remember what it was, but he was later awarded TFC for the first time in about 14 years, and he became the first custodian of the new Epsom Mens 4’s TFC shirt (til next week).
End to end flowing game, and pressure continued with London ED’s scoring their 4th, and this was becoming a hard day at the office. Some really good battling from all the Epsom players, and special note goes to Jamie P for an outstanding performance at left back (Man of Match worthy perhaps)– great battling and speed against an otherwise very useful right winger, and typically Jamie had the beating of him each time. Jack R continued to battle up front, but with Epsom forced to defend deep he was too often up against 4-5 defenders by himself – now he’s quite useful but that was an expectation too far. And some constant running by Mazza both upfront, in the midfield and also defence which saw him win the Man of the Match award.
Onto the final phase of the game (and the exciting bit, because I scored !) Jack continued to niggle their defence and after going round 2-3 players brought the ball on his favoured reverse side at the top of the D, with his good old Dad hovering in front of the keeper – not sure if Jack chose between cracking on in (and seeing if it would hit me on the way) or decided to play it in, but a good firm shot/pass towards the goal which the keeper stepped across and would have had it covered – but the Rengger telepathy paid off, and I was able to deflect the ball between the keepers legs from about 1 foot out, for a well deserved consolation goal /tap in.
No hiding from the score-line and 4-1 it was. Whilst Maj is still on suicide watch for our heaviest defeat of the season – lets put this into some perspective. London Ed’s may win Division 1, will definitely get promoted and are a quality team. We played really well, battled throughout, and showed why we deserve to be in position 6 and just above mid-table. Indeed we have been 6th place since end November, and whilst we cannot catch 5th (honest Maj this can’t be done), we equally now cannot get caught either – so will end a very respectable 6th place in our first year back in Div 1, and will have held this place for 16 of the 22 weeks of the season. This is a great result and lets not forget what we have achieved. Next week we can get revenge on Woking, improve our positive 2 goal difference to date (yes this means we have scored more goals than we have conceded in a tough Division) and then the final game will be a good old slog against another top 3 team – Reigate.