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First Team, Match Report

14 Feb 2024

Match Report: Epsom & Ewell 0-2 Farnham Town

After Saturday’s planned fixture against Cobham at The Memorial Ground was rained off, Farnham were forced to wait a few more days before the opportunity of making English football history presented itself.

With a win over Epsom & Ewell, it would mark 22 consecutive wins to start the 23/24 league campaign, which would be the most achieved by a team in the recognised English football pyramid (Levels 1 to 11, or Steps 1 to 7). An acknowledgement to our friends at Jersey Bulls who were a perfect 27 from 27 during the 2019/20 season in the Combined Counties Division One which was cruelly expunged and struck from the records due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Farnham’s last game came against Step 3 Kingstonian in the Surrey Senior Cup where they ran out 3-1 winners and progressed to the quarter-final. Lamar Koroma and Darryl Sanders overcame their slight knocks which forced them to miss that game and return to the side for the trip to The Reg Madgwick, with Tom Smith and Lewis Flatman dropping to the bench.

Despite their recent squad turnover and lowly position in the league table, the Salts started brightly and forced the first save of the game when Nelson Roberts tried his luck from the edge of the box which was well held by Pat Nash in the Farnham goal.

Farnham came straight down the other end manufacturing a chance of their own down the right, with Joe Jackson playing it inside to Adam Liddle who looked to pick out the far left corner with a first-time sweeping effort but dragged the shot wide, but Paul Johnson’s side would continue to grow into the game.

As the clock ticked into the seventh minute, Farnham began to move the ball with precision and purpose in the Epsom half, with Harry Cooksley driving forward towards the box. He was challenged but the ball ricocheted into the path of Sanders who played it square to his left into the path of Dean Rule who struck a left-footed effort from 15 yards out into the bottom corner to hand the Town the lead.

It looked for much of the first half as if it would be a matter of not if Farnham would win but by how many as the chances kept coming, Cooksley forcing an excellent save low into the bottom right corner of the goal after being teed up for a shot 25 yards from goal by Sanders from a free kick.

The opportunity for a second appeared to present itself for Liddle when Sanders played a defence-splitting pass in behind for the striker who skipped around the ‘keeper but was unable to catch up to the ball in time to divert an effort into the empty net. Dean Rule went in search of his second of the game shortly after when he played a one-two with Owen Dean and fired the shot in from the edge of the box which was claimed by the ‘keeper Toby Colwell at the second attempt.

On 26 minutes though, Farnham had secured a deserved cushion into the game. Cooksley played the ball into Sanders just inside the Farnham half. The number 10 chested the ball down and played an immediate volleyed pass over the Epsom defence for Liddle to run onto after beating the offside trap. Colwell rushed out to close down by Liddle kept his composure to lift the ball over him and into the empty net for a 2-0 lead.

Farnham began to lose their rhythm after doubling their lead, perhaps in part down to an injury to Sanders who is so often at the heart of our attacks. He would leave the game at half-time with a knee complaint, with Lewis Flatman replacing him in the attack.

Flatman immediately got in on the action playing a piercing pass into the feet of Rule on the edge of the box 10 minutes into the second half. Rule played another one-two with Owen Dean and found himself in a shooting position on the right of the box. He laid it off to Cooksley whose strike was parried by Colwell and Rule’s follow-up from four yards sailed over the bar when it looked hard to miss than score. His blushes were spared, however, by the offside flag.

Five minutes later, another chance went beginning that looked tougher to squander. Cooksley’s flighted free kick is met by Ryan Kinnane who headed it back towards the far post for Owen Dean to chase with only Colwell to beat, but his driven effort fizzed across goal and wide.

As the pressure was piled on, the Epsom defence to their credit simply would not wilt. Jack Dean strode forward from defence and carried the ball fourty yards before sliding in his brother, Owen, for a one-on-one opportunity. He struck it well but Colwell made an excellent save to deny him. Liddle picked up the second ball and played it back into the box for Jack Dean who struck an effort arrowing towards the bottom corner only to be denied by another great Colwell save.

The Dean Family probably left the game thinking how did neither of them get on the scoresheet. On 65 minutes, a corner is knocked down by Kinnane to Jack who met it on the half volley but again, the ball was blocked and cleared off the line.

As the game went on, Johnson introduced the subs with a view to them impacting the game as they had done all season, but even they had the yips in front of goal. A cross from Rule was headed into the air and fell in the box kindly for Liddle. He was unable to guide his effort on target but it fell for Shamal Edwards six yards from goal who saw his low shot blocked as well.

Also brought on as a late sub was Charlie Postance who led an excellent counter as we edged into stoppage time. He popped it into Flatman just inside the Farnham half and strode forward. Flatman clipped the ball forward for Postance to run onto before lashing a powerful shot a yard or so over the bar.

Despite their countless chances, Farnham were unable to add to their two first half goals but they were enough to secure a 22nd successive league victory and extend their lead at the top of the table to 12 points, courtesy of Knaphill’s draw at Camberley Town. Huge credit goes out to a spirited Epsom & Ewell side who defended bravely to keep the score to what it was.

Next up for Farnham is another away trip to a struggling side as they travel to Colliers Wood United who are four points adrift at the bottom of the table.

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