Tiring Epsom Hockey Club get edged out on the south coast
Fifth-placed Epsom travelled to the south coast to take on fourth-placed Fareham 2s and came away on the wrong end of a seven-goal thriller.
The result leaves Epsom stranded in the middle of the SHL Hants/Surrey Division One - four points off the chasing pack.
Epsom set out an adventurous formation and were soon ahead as James Midmer volleyed home a scrappy early short-corner.
Fareham’s strong, young side soon worked their way into the game, zipping the ball around into several quick forward runners.
Fareham had sounded numerous warnings by the time they equalised from a well-worked penalty corner after 20 minutes.
The home side then took a 2-1 lead through a swift counter-attacking move,thereafter Epsom defended bravely but were glad of the half-time whistle.
Epsom rejigged their formation at half-time and came out with a more patient, defensive approach.
This immediately paid dividends as a swift turnover move saw James Harris play in Paul Atkinson to bundle home an equaliser for 2-2.
Epsom subsequently had chances to take the lead but could not quite execute some half chances from either open play or another short corner.
As the game wore on, Epsom gradually tired in the face of a younger, fitter team and Fareham took a 3-2 lead mid-way through the half from a short corner rebound.
Epsom had a few more attacks left in them and equalised via a stunning goal, Scott Barton slinging a quick free hit into the circle for the onrushing Mike Atkinson to neatly deflect home for 3-3.
There were 10 minutes for Epsom to hang on and a strong defensive effort meant they looked to be doing enough before losing Oli Hildrey to an unfortunate yellow card.
Fareham piled forward with the man advantage and grabbed a late winner when a crash ball into the circle pinballed around and eventually found a forward to score from close range.
The result was ultimately a fair one, but it was nonetheless a brave effort from Epsom who played well on a tough away assignment before tiring late on.
The side will look to regroup at home to Hamble this weekend.
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