Epsom: 2 (P.Atkinson 2)
Epsom fell to a first defeat of the season away at Yateley to slip to fourth in the early stages of Surrey / Hampshire League 1. The first half was even with both sides playing some attractive hockey in midfield but neither quite taking this into the final third. Yateley eventually took a 1-0 lead through a well worked penalty corner and became good value for this going into half time, pressing and harrying Epsom at every turn. The second half saw Epsom turn things around and boss much of the possession and territory but it continued to be an off day for the forward line, who lacked the invention to break down Yateley’s solid defence from open play and also wasted six early short corner opportunities. It then got worse for the away side as Yateley struck a neat deflected goal against the run of play. At 2-0 down, with nothing really clicking, the game looked up, but Epsom continued to pile forward and eventually got some reward as Paul Atkinson cut the deficit to 2-1 with a neat short corner conversion. Soon after, Epsom won another corner and Paul Atkinson again scored, snapping up a rebound to make it 2-2. The momentum was now all with Epsom and they finally put together a flowing attacking move to play in Paul Atkinson, on the eve of his 40th birthday party, to seemingly grab the game out of the fire with a vintage hat trick. However, perhaps distracted by imminent party organising, the normally reliable Atkinson hammered his shot just wide. Yateley almost immediately broke at the other end and scored a well worked overload goal at the far post to make it 3-2. There were just a few minutes remaining and the hosts saw out this advantage to the close. Yateley were good value for the win as their defensive effort was first rate and their three well worked goals were a class above what Epsom’s attack could produce in the final third. Epsom will look to regroup and put in a better performance against table topping Wanderers on Saturday.