Hailsham unlucky to lose to Epsom and Ewell
A very spirited performance from Hailsham Town ended with a 2-1 defeat to league newcomers Epsom & Ewell.
Hailsham started brightly with Archie Guest's cross earning an early corner, whilst Connor Townsend was twice denied in the opening minutes, the first time by an offside flag and the second by the alert visiting keeper Matt Bishop.
Hailsham had a flurry of corners, but after Wester Young had made a good stop at his near post, the visitors took the lead on 21 minutes when Sam Marks got a free kick over the wall and into the roof of the net from the edge of the area. The Stringers came close to a leveller just before the interval, when the middle excellent Ellis Webster found Guest, only for his header to be blocked at the far post, with Ollie Hathaway then rifling over for Hailsham on the stroke of half time.
A positive second half start saw Hailsham come close in the opening minute of the second period, after Connor Townsend blocked a goalkeeper clearance, but close to the hour mark Hailsham were forced into a change after goalkeeper Wester Young went off with a back injury. Defender Archie Guest took the gloves, but if the visitors now thought they were in for an easy ride they would be mistaken.
On 61 the Stringers drew level - Webster's fine cross met with a powerful downward header from Connor Townsend to make it 1-1, but four minutes later, Epsom & Ewell retook the lead when Luke Miller found space on the left to cut in and score with a low, powerful drive. Guest would then be called into action, making a smart save, before Hailsham came within inches of equalising - Charlie Playford's ball in headed against his own post by Epsom's Martin.
The Stringers continued to press, keeping the visitors on their toes whilst Guest commanded his area very well, twice leaping to claim the ball from corners. Hailsham's final chance came in the 87th minute - a crunching lunge on young sub Fenton Webster earning a free kick which could only be bundled into the side netting. Throughout, Hailsham's effort was first class, and The Stringers were certainly been worthy of a point at least, but instead they will look to get off the mark on Saturday, making another long trip to Selsey.
Stringers; Young (Fox 59), Hathaway, Guest, S Townsend, S Pout (F Webster 85), Nicklin (Cyprien 80), E Webster, Playford, Taylor, C Townsend, Madelin. Unused: Thomsett
Man of the Match: Ellis Webster (Sponsored by LT Property Improvements Ltd )
report by Stuart Fairway