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Jokers 5 - 4 Epsom 3s (A)

29th January 2024

By Rob Stone

Old School Lane, Saturday 27th January 2024

Scorers: Andy Carlisle x 2, Dr Rob Stone x 1, Josh Aynsley x 2

Team: Tony Haycroft GK, Will Fulker, Ollie Treherne, Jon Bowen, Martin Ravvers, Jim Hey (Capt), Jim Sayer, Rob Stone, Andy Carlisle and guests Adrian Malokouti, Josh Aynsley and James Lloyd

Umpires: Theirs, thank you.

DOD: Secured by yours truly, very early and while still in the scratcher, by allowing Mrs Stone to drive both my 38-inch hockey sticks to Lilleshall!

Anyhow, talking Old School; a Jokers custom. One of my favourite cartoons of the late '70s was Hong Kong Phooey! HKP was a mild-mannered janitor who became a superhero. Who was that super guy?

The game started with pace and gusto, mostly from Epsom, but this was well absorbed by Ravvers, Ollie, Jim S, and Jim H. Occasional attacks from Andy and Stoner proved a nuisance for Epsom, and finally, our persistence in pressurising their left back led to a PC opportunity. With the first shot saved to the left, Andy produced a fine strike from a narrow angle to give us an unexpected 1-0 lead.

Shocked, Epsom responded well, with their midfield combining effectively to slide their right wing through on goal. 1-1 (Note to self - discuss wing backs sweeping in behind for each other).

The game continued with Epsom gaining more possession. Tireless work from Jon and Jim H halted many attacks, but ultimately, good work down their left led to a goal. 2-1 to them. However, not long after the restart, a brief break down our left saw Stoner slide in HKP at the top of the D, with work to do. The early strike was saved, but once again, the rebound was swept home with the mere 37.5-inch JDH borrowed from the club coat rail. 2-2 (Note to self - HKP can play a bit).

Once again, more Epsom pressure and more strong resistance, with Jon and Jim H working tirelessly to break down play in the centre.

With the first half drawing to an end, a nice break down the right from Adrian led to an excellent pass from Lloydy, who found Andy at the back post. 3-2 up, and 'there you go' for those that understand the NI vernacular.

The half time message was to keep up the good work, reduce the errors, and remember we will get tired because we are very old! (Note to self - the next goal is… important).

We started well in the second half; I would say the game was more balanced. Confidence grew in the Jokers. After ten minutes, a quick ball from Ravvers set up an early pass down the right by Jim S, to Lloydy who released to Stoner in the D, who slipped it to HKP who, with calmness beyond his years, guided the ball past the keeper into the bottom right-hand corner. 4-2 to us (Note to self - not sure a two goal lead will be enough but definitely team goal of the season).

Epsom responded well, all 15 of them. We were at bare bones with several banjaxed hamstrings, Will sidelined and two still playing on.

More and more pressure from Epsom led to errors and PCs. One effort, going wide, was deflected in to leave us 4-3 ahead. (Note - post man stays inside the post)

More pressure and more PCs. Big T saved well with his stick; Jim H picked up a green for valiant defending, and Ravvers charged down flick after flick. Finally, a right slip was drilled into the bottom left corner. 4-4.

Ten minutes to go. Could we hang on for the draw? Once again, structure and guile kept Epsom away from our 23.

With two minutes to go, Lloydy's (at this point speculative) aerial down the right wing was picked up, sublimely, by HKP. With two defenders and the goalie bearing down on him, he pivots and spins in front of all three, resulting in a most welcome three-body collision and allowing him to slide the ball comfortably into the net to give us a 5-4 lead.

The dying minutes were played out with the Jokers grinning from ear to ear.

So, who was the mild-mannered janitor? Who was that super guy? Our Hong Kong Phooey. Playing in his first-ever men's game, two goals, one assist, and a commanding performance.

POM: Josh Aynsley