High Road, Chipstead
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
Programme: Sold out
Match Rating: 3
Epsom and Ewell are currently playing their home games at Isthmian League outfit Chipstead's home ground, and it is a very pleasant place to watch football, located down a country lane and surrounded by colourful trees amid peace and quiet. One enters in one corner, and before the turnstile there are several picnic tables located outside of the entrance to the clubhouse. Once inside, there is some shelter covering terrace steps stretching to the goal, whilst along the length from the entrance there is the clubhouse building, an all-seater Atcost stand straddling the half way line, with a tea bar hut adjacent. Around the rest of the ground is just hard standing. Arriving at the ground seconds before kick-off, programmes had sold out, which was a shame as by all accounts it was a very good one, although the club offered to send a reprint to anyone wanting a copy.
Epsom and Ewell finished last season in seventh place in the Combined Counties League Premier Division, and have secured four points from their two games played. Erith and Belvedere finished in third place in the Southern Counties East League last season and with designs on reclaiming the Isthmian League place they relinquished in 2014. They lost both of their opening games of the season, though.
On an overcast afternoon, which was quite muggy at kick off but became chilly by the second half, it would prove extremely that I had arrived just in time for kick off – a minute later, and I would have missed the opening goal, which came after just 19 seconds on the clock. The home team gave the ball away soon after kick off, and eventually Alfie May saw his shot on goal parried by the keeper to the feet of Sam May, who struck the ball home from close range. The visitors went on to dominate the rest of the first half but were unable to convert their numerous chances, and Epsom and Ewell went into the half time break just the one goal behind and very much still in the game.
Unfortunately for the home team, they started the second half as they had started the first, conceding within a minute of the restart. The ball fell at the feet of George Mitchell and he curled a shot over the keeper and into the far top corner of the net. The game was really up for Epsom and Ewell on 53 minutes when they conceded a third. Alfie May danced through the defence before having plenty of time to place his shot inside the far post from just outside the area. In the 65th minute, the visitors made it four, when a counter attack resulted in Alfie May clipped the ball over the keeper and into the net. One really began to fear for Epsom and Ewell now, who were defending poorly and had little imagination in their game, whilst Erith and Belvedere looked a constant threat with quick, incisive forward play. So it was very surprising that the final scoreline was not bigger than 0-4, but that will matter little to Erith and Belvedere, who will now host Carshalton Athletic in the next round.