The 2022-23 season opened for me, with a visit in warm sunshine to see a friendly played on a high quality artificial surface, at Epsom and Ewell High School. I had been delayed arriving here because a lorry had shed a load of bottles on a connecting road near Chessington World of Adventures, so was pleased to see the kick off was pushed right back to 11.25 am.
The teams playing in this opening friendly game of the season were Colliers Wood United FC of the Combined Counties League Premier Division South and Westside FC, who played last season in the Southern Counties East Football League Division 1 but returned to the Combined Counties League for 2022/23. Both teams play at the Wibbadune Stadium on the A3 in South West London, so this friendly had the edge of a true “Derby” game.
Westside FC played in their all yellow strip and Colliers Wood United FC in Blue. The Epsom and Ewell School Sports Ground boasted a decent changing venue and a caged artificial pitch, although some shade would have been good for those of us who forgot to prepare for the sun today!
The game began with Colliers Wood United Fc having much of the pressure and creating the best chances. On the 30 minute mark, the Westside FC team, driven by good attacking football down the right wing, began to threaten, with a good lobbed opportunity going narrowly wide and a long range effort striking the crossbar.
On 35 minutes Westside FC broke and Kieran Campbell slotted neatly home with confidence belying an opening game, to make it 0-1.
This seemed to regalvanise the Colliers Wood United FC team and they then laid siege, unsuccessfully, to the Westside FC goal, forcing corner after corner, until the half time whistle blew with the score 0-1.
The second half was just five minutes old, when a poor challenge in the box led to a Colliers Wood United FC penalty, which Will Kendall slotted away, to tie the scores at 1-1.
The rest of the half saw both sides pushing to score but with very few clear cut chances. At the final whistle, the local rivals were locked together in a 1-1 draw.
This was an entertaining and evenly matched friendly. A really honest and hard fought game to open my season.