Epsom 9 – 7 East Grinstead
Saturday 30th September 2017
Match Report by Haydn Williams
The atmosphere at Scho Field was electric on Saturday for the opening game of
the SEMLA east 1 season. Over 35 of the boys in blue and mango descended on
Epsom for what was set to be a monumental day. The Eagles were back in
esteemed company as they welcomed ex-premier league giants East Grinstead to
the Mango dome.
With Epsom finally training regularly going into the season and a few new lads
added into the fold, there was a quiet confidence from the home team.
Unfortunately, EG had other plans - they came out hard in the first quarter with
FOGO Tom Watson dominating the early Face offs and forcing an early lead as
Epsom started sluggishly. A mixture of sloppy finishing and outstanding goaltending
from debutant (and future mango drinker) Dan Murphy in nets kept the EG attackers
at bay as Epsom struggled to find their rhythm.
Where EG struggled, Epsom excelled. Mikey Estil finished a rare Epsom chance in
the first quarter to bring the game level before a quick return goal restored the
East Grinstead lead. With a couple of minutes remaining in the quarter Mat Paull,
finally at the right end of the pitch, started his second season in Blue and Mango
with a trademark underarm daisy cutter that beat the keeper at the far post and
brought the game back to 2-2.
The sun started to shine going into the second quarter and Grinstead began to
take control of the game. The team in all black steamed into a two goal lead – that
could have been more if not for more outstanding goalkeeping from Dan Murphy
and some exceptional defending from the returning George Stern.
As the Epsom Bay Packers (who had played earlier in the day) started filtering
toward the touchline, the famous Scho Field atmosphere started to kick in.
Epsom responded accordingly as Mat Paul added a second to his tally before club
metronome Griff battled through a number of players to bring the game even.
Another Grinstead goal subdued the crowd as Epsom went into half time trailing
Half time saw Epsom cultural consultant, club handyman and head of halftime
hype Ian Wakeford join in the fun on the sideline. Wakeford whipped his Epsom
Bay cheerleaders into a frenzy as a focussed Epsom squad headed back out to the
The third quarter saw the tide begin to turn mango. Epsom’s steely defence of
Murphy, Stern, Ed Lawrenz, Tony and Canadian purveyor of oversized clothing
Jeff Sinclair proved they were up to the challenge of East 1 with an aggressive
third quarter shutout. Club captain Charlie Walker did the business up the other
end of the pitch with a perfectly executed face dodge from goal line extended and
a well placed shot into the back of the net. Epsom were level and the crowd
began to sense there was an upset on the cards.
Quarter four saw Epsom return to the field with fire in their belly. An early
second goal from Mikey Estil put the home side ahead for the first time in the
match and sent the crowd wild.
Five minutes later and Epsom seemed to be letting the heat get to them. With
Griff holding two men off the ball at X and looking to drive round the goal to
switch the play, American import Mark Arjam engaged his teammate in thirty
seconds of on pitch bickering. The EG defence were then left red faces as Epsom’s
66 gave in to his American teammate, drove from behind the goal , dodged two
players and buried the ball in the bottom corner to give Epsom a two goal lead.
Arjam and Griff exchanged fist pumps and the lovers tiff was forgotten.
With Epsom leading by two, vice captain Dom Garcia and the aforementioned
Mark Arjam began to take control of the face offs. The boys in blue and mango
were beginning to look like they could see the game out comfortably. EG had
other ideas, they began piling on the pressure and eventually broke the battling
blue defence with what could be described as the slowest shot ever seen in a
lacrosse match. It was a one-goal game with six minutes to play.
Epsom soaked up growing pressure with Stern, Lawrenz, Sinclair and Toddy
fighting for every ball and not giving the EG attackers a spare second. The team
showed their grit and made their chances count when a sharp counter attack
once again found captain Charlie Walker who finished with a cool head to score
his second and restore a two goal advantage.
With the game at 8-6, Epsom had just two minutes on the clock to hold on to
their advantage. EG struck back immediately, some smart attacking movement
created space for another goal to leave the game on a knife-edge.
The East Grinstead pressure came again and again. The Epsom defence repelled
again and again. The clock was ticking.
Then the magic happened.
Epsom relieved the pressure with a quick clear to new recruit Joe Nicholson on
the halfway line. Shouts of “hold on to it” “run it to X’ and ‘Kill the clock” came
from the Epsom players, crowd and bench. Nicholson, however, had no
intentions of playing it safe. With what could be a season defining moment, he
picked out Walker on the edge of the crease with a pass that seemed to curve in
the air to avoid the defence. Walker did the rest. Taking the ball with ease and
sending it over the oncoming keepers shoulder into the empty net for his hat
The crowd let out the biggest cheer of the day as the score went to 9-7.
10 seconds later the final whistle blew and a roar of delight came from every
single member of the Epsom squad. The boys in blue and mango brought the full
squad together for a huddle and, in a show of the camaraderie that has been
monumental to the clubs recent success, let out a huge shout for the EPSOM.
In a mighty display from the underdogs on the opening day of the season, Epsom
loudly announced their return to the East 1 division. It’s safe to say that no team
in the league will be underestimating them after such a huge result.
Bring on the rest of the season. Saturdays are once again for the boys and we are
one step closer to making Epsom great again.
Epsom goal scorers
Charlie Walker - 3
Mikey Estil – 2
Mat Paull – 2
James Griffiths – 2
MOTM – George Stern
MangoDrinker – Dan Murphy