Reigate Priory 0 Epsom Athletic 6
The less said about this game the better. Epsom travelled to Park Lane for the first proper home game at Priory’s ground and were looking to continue their excellent form from the start of the season. Priory were looking to win two games on the spin, something they haven’t managed yet this season. The sun was shining and there is no better setting for a game than Park Lane.
Injury and unavailability continue to be the talking point of Priory’s season to date. Travis continues to struggle with injury and was replaced for a first start in the first team for Colin Finley. With talisman Stratton and last season’s top goalscorer Byrne still injured, gaffers Davies and Winterburn were left with limited options and a lack of competition for places in the squad. The Reigate side were, however, able to recall James Stone to the starting line-up. Tom Glithero took his spot on the bench.
Having enjoyed an excellent battle against Epsom only a couple of weeks ago, nothing less than the same effort and desire would do against a side looking for promotion this season. The game started at a high pace in the searing heat (too hot for a game of football) with both teams looking to get the first strike and their nose ahead. For 20 minutes or so, Priory looked like they were in the game and would be able to reproduce some of the magic from their first encounter. However, Finley was called into action a couple of times to keep the scores level. Unfortunately, this was the point in which Priory imploded. First, they were guilty of giving the ball away in a dangerous position and, attacking in numbers, Epsom slipped the ball inside Benson for the striker to finish calmly past Finley in the Priory goal. 1-0 soon become 2-0 as Doicky was beaten by the lively right midfielder who lofted the ball into the area. Leask got underneath the ball to leave their striker with a free header and Priory staring down the barrel. They managed to limp into half time only 2 goals down as Colin pulled off some heroics and there was some last ditch blocks by Leask, Beckett and Paddley.
The only crumb of comfort for Priory was they were only 2-0 down at half-time but more effort would be needed to try and get, firstly, some pride from the game and, secondly, a result. Unfortunately, the managers words fell on deaf ears and Priory turned in their worst half of the season so far. There was a lack of urgency, a lack of effort and a lack of belief in the team. The Epsom goalkeeper will not have an easier game this season and he was left to top up his sun-tan as his team went about their business of increasing their goal difference. Firstly, a counter attack down the right hand side saw their left midfielder hit the post. The rebound kindly bounced to their right midfielder who made no mistake from 10 yards out despite the efforts of Beckett and Finley on the line. A mix up between those two would lead to the Epsom fourth and it was at this point that you could physically see the team give up. Both Benson and Payne were replaced by Roberts and Glithero respectively but it was too late for them to make an impression. The changes also left holes and it was from a gaping hole through the middle that Epsom scored their fifth. Their left midfielder was given the freedom of the pitch to run at the Priory back four, exchange a one-two with the striker and pass the ball into the corner. The embarrassment wasn’t over though as another counter attack where the defence were overrun left the substitute with the simplest of tasks to get his second and Epsom’s Sixth to finish the rout.
I’m not one for naming names but I think a couple of people deserve recognition and did not deserve to be on the end of this defeat. The score line makes it look like the defence had a shocker but defending for 70 minutes was always going to be a tough task. Colin Finley made an excellent debut and, without him, it could have been into double figures. James Leask also continued his good form since returning to the side and, apart from getting under the ball for the second goal, made a steady performance. Everyone else needs to stand up and be counted in the next game and fight for their place. As if people are not aware but the reserves have played 3 and won 3 this season so there is plenty of people waiting to make the step up. Another performance like this would see inevitably changes.
It is key to remember the mistakes made in this game but to not dwell on the result. It is important to move on and what better opportunity than another home game against another tough side, Old Farnbroughnians. Nothing less than three points and a performance is needed.
Squad: Finley, Benson, Beckett, Leask, Doick, Hogg, Stone, Paddley (c), Williams, Payne, Philcox, Roberts, Glithero.