Epsom: 1 (P.Atkinson) Woking: 2
This was a scrappy encounter which never really caught fire, but the few moments of quality came from Woking, in particular their overseas player Denzil Dolley, and the visitors deserved the win.
Following a strong Woking opening- Dolley created the opener, firing in a cross from the right which found Andy Pike just a few yards out to make it 1-0. Epsom looked half asleep in the opening stages and Dolley could have made it two as he robbed a defender and went clean through- but Colin Savage made a good one-on-one save. This seemed to shake Epsom into action and the home side finally put together a sustained period of possession in the run up to half time. Following a few half chances, Epsom got an equaliser when Paul Atkinson converted a fortuitous penalty stroke. The score was 1-1 at half time with Epsom slightly lucky to still be in the hunt.
In all honesty- the second half was a disappointment for Epsom who failed to pass the ball with any accuracy and were frequently caught in possession by a strong Woking defensive press. From one such turnover, Dolley embarked on a dangerous run down the right which was illegally halted first by both Matt Simmonds, and then Tom Tredwell, resulting in both Epsom defenders being sent to the sin bin. The subsequent period with 9 men finished the game for Epsom who, short-handed, eventually conceded a penalty flick (converted by Dolley for 2-1). and then lacked the energy to raise their game when back to 11 in the final stages. Epsom forced a few short corners in the closing stages but didn’t execute well and then lost focus in the final minutes. Woking were the more professional side on the day and deserved the win.
On a much more positive note, the side’s annual ‘Racenight’ fundraiser in the evening was a real success, raising over £1000 for the club and proving a fun night. The evening saw a decent crowd getting fully involved and there was a real energy in proceedings that was last seen a few years ago. The final total was helped, as always, by some generous bids in the auction race. It was also helped by the fact that the 1st XI won this race, avoided a stewards enquiry, and the money went straight back into the pot. Immy Bhatti’s separately bought horse fell at the final hurdle when well placed, sending the part time player / coach’s evening into decline. There were rumours of a 4am finish for 1st XI Manager Martin Wales. Special thanks to James Harris for coordinating a great night with real dedication.