by Mike Vimpany

SOUTHAMPTON’S spirited second-half fight-back from 4-0 down at half-time was not enough as Epsom left the Sports Centre with a 6-4 Hampshire/Surrey Regional Division 1 win.

Second-from-bottom Southampton’s spirits were lifted when James Nurse followed up to score after a Will Meacher shot was palmed on to the crossbar, Southampton created turnovers with their high press second-half tactics and Nurse scored a second from a short corner.

But Epsom converted a penalty corner of their own to make it 5-2.

Simon Watson rekindled Southampton’s hopes with a third – only for Epsom to get a sixth from a penalty stroke.

Time was running out when Oscar Rigby potted a fourth but it was too late to save the day.

“We just needed another ten minutes as we totally controlled the second half,” sighed Southampton’s Rob O’Brien.

“We just need to shore up the back and keep the goals out as we are creating chances, scoring four to beat Wimborne Wayfarers last week and another four against Epsom.

“It’s just a shame to score four goals and come out with a loss. It’s not a good feeling.”

The defeat has put a huge emphasis on Southampton to beat third-from-bottom Havant at Havant College on Saturday.

Havant lie four points above Southampton, with winless Hamble rooted to the basement after a chronic 11-1 mauling from Barnes.

FIXTURES (Saturday) South League Premier Division 2: Marlow v Winchester, Trojans v Woking (1.30pm) Hampshire/Surrey Regional Division 1: Hamble v Fareham II (1.30pm), Havant II v Southampton, Reigate Priory v Wimborne Wayfarers.

Division 2: Fareham III v London Edwardians II (1.30pm), London Academicals v Romsey.

Hampshire League: Chichester v Trojans, Salisbury v University (Bemerton, 1pm), Winchester II v Bournemouth II (1.30pm).

South League Division 3B (Women): Andover v Trojans II (11.30), Fareham v Basingstoke (11.45).