Epsom: 3 (Midmer, O.Hildrey, Smith)
Fareham 2s: 3
Epsom stayed 9th in the Surrey / Hampshire 1 after a 3-3 draw at home to Fareham 2s on Saturday. The action-packed game could have gone either way, with the result ultimately suiting neither side in the early stages of the league. Fareham had recorded narrow losses to London Academicals and Woking in their opening games, but as usual fielded a strong, young side with a useful midfield unit. Fareham soon created the opening goal after a strong drive from their central midfielder took out three players and led to a routine chance for 1-0. Epsom soon started moving the ball nicely and hit a purple patch after 10 minutes; first James Midmer found space and hammered home an equaliser, Oli Hildrey then drilled home a short-corner dragflick for 2-1 before young Tom Smith (on debut) fired home a rebound after another attack to make it 3-1 after 20 minutes. Epsom were flying at this stage with several further attacks seeing Mike Atkinson, James Midmer and Paul Atkinson all going close. But their level dropped slightly in the run-up to half time, with Fareham firing a few warnings. 3-1 at halftime.
Epsom started the second half brightly with a few attacks and short-corners, but then faded quite tamely. Fareham started to get on top in midfield and applied constant pressure, with Epsom’s defence at full stretch and Ed Burton-Brown making several decent saves at short corners. With 15 minutes to go Fareham deservedly cut the deficit with a strong short-corner dragflick beating Burton-Brown. Fareham kept applying pressure and equalised for 3-3 with 10 minutes to go. Epsom then had the worse of a string of yellow cards (Scott Jones, Joe Lazell and Brett Hosken all having a rest) but fought hard and both sides had chances in a frantic closing period of attack and counter-attack. With 1 minute remaining Fareham won a short corner, bravely charged down by Joe Lazell, before being re-awarded with Lazell now hobbling off the field. A re-jigged defence fortunately had nothing to do as the final short-corner was mis-trapped at the top of the circle and the final whistle went straight away. Sighs of relief all round!
Epsom have played nicely at times in their first three games, but with two draws and a narrow defeat to league-leaders Woking have only two points to show. They will hope to improve this next week away to Chichester 2s.