Gondoliers Match Report v Epsom Jan 23rd Won 6-0 (Sturgess 2, Mullins 2, Rosoman, Kuhle)
Epsom started the day a well-regarded 4th in the league. A good quality squad of regulars who have always given the Gondoliers a challenging outing. As 3pm beckoned, there was a respectful nervousness about the game in prospect in the Broadwater home changing room. Aspiring to maintain pressure on league leaders, Oxford, there was no room or evidence of complacency (except for the two players who arrived “on time” as the umpires strolled to the middle).
Early exchanges were keen and honest with the suggestion that two well matched teams had taken to the green beige of Guildford in front of its eager and bristling crowd of nearly five. The ball was being made to do the work for once and possession rightfully prized. Epsom’s front men and midfield were giving as good as they got but, after the first 15 minutes, the Guildford front men of Nigel and HP sensed a certain frailty in the Vagabonds defence and pushed harder on the breakaway resulting in a Sturgess shimmy in the circle around the goalkeeper and a clattering of the Epsom backboard.
The Gondoliers knew this was no time for exuberant congratulation. There was no evidence to suggest that the Gondoliers had ever been capable or confident about protecting a one goal lead so they quickly returned to the task. Possession swapped hands in the continued close encounter but as half time beckoned it was a crisp cross from the left that took a deft Toby Mullins' touch in front of a crowded goal to leave the Epsom goalkeeper languishing on the ground and a defender fishing the ball from the net.
With the half time whistle, the Gondos retired to the wendy house for tea and cake but Chris Basey was having none of it. He threw the laden table to the floor and issued the rallying cry for more of the same from his team. It was 0-0 as far as he was concerned and as he emerged from the trench, his warriors followed over the top.
[Meanwhile Carney and Regan were off having tea and cake in the setting sun somewhere else but that’s another story.]
It wasn’t clear whether it had been the rousing thunder from the home hideaway, but the Epsom team that emerged seemed a shadow of their first half self. In awe of the two goal chase in front of them, they put themselves under pressure and started to frustrate each other. Meanwhile the Gondoliers confidently smelt blood and started to enjoy the fact that the ball was moving freely and quite definitely in the direction of the Epsom goal. At regular intervals Guildford pressed forward and before we knew it, Nigel and Toby were on the scorecard again alongside HP and Nick Kuhle.
It wasn’t as if Epsom weren’t making their own challenges into the Gondolier half, but with sufficient rugby and ice hockey heritage amongst Bottoms, Tonks, Bernard, Savage and Windsor-Lewis, the defence remained tidy, robust and fiercely protective of a clean sheet, holding Epsom to the most part tantalisingly and frustratingly outside the D and short of clear opportunity. It has to be said that with SWL playing the whole hearted role that we have come to expect, the umpire did suggest to him that he not overdo it and advised a two minute rest on the sidelines to calm his exertions. With a few goals in the bag, Steve subdued his long held silver tongued barristerial ambitions and withdrew. That said as he emerged a short while later to join the goal mouth throng defending a short corner, the adrenaline pumped a touch too early and this time he retired to the half way line for further rest.
The Gondoliers should be happy with their afternoon’s endeavour but perhaps not get carried away with a score line that seemed a trifle unfair to Epsom who never quite found their edge and had been crowded out of their usual room in the midfield by a rotating choice and energetic selection of Hayley, Winn, Basey, Kuhle, Howells and Mullins but constantly fought back and pressured. Although the score might have suggested otherwise. in goal, Woodward had had work to do and pulled off a couple of spectacular saves and remained a very sound last line of defence throughout. Nonetheless if the Gondoliers can keep up this form, the crowd might get to double figures.
Good match report, Tim. Just for the record I believe it was HP who took the deft touch for the second goal in the first half. Great performance from the Gondos and hopefully the springboard we need to reclaim our top spot from Oxford and Southampton in the next few weeks.
In the spirit of true Gondo camaraderie I think it's only fair to point out that despite beating a very good Epsom side 6-0 virtually every Gondo commented on how much we missed Tom and Mike and any reference to 'Basey for captain' chants in the shack post match are scurrilous rumours with no factual foundation whatsoever.
Chris, looking forward to your team selections for next week via that new email list we all discussed. Thanks.