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- Match Reports by Chris Pullen -



Merstham 0-1 Sittingbourne | Isthmian South East | Saturday 16th August

Although the unseasonably warm weather didn't help, this game was desperately short on quality, entertainment and goalmouth action. Sittingbourne just about deserved the three points, simply because they had more of the ball and looked as though they might fashion a chance. Merstham, on the other hand, squandered possession with misplaced passes and rarely threatened. 


Merstham were able to include Korrey Henry in their starting line-up in his third stint with the club, and there were recalls for Lewis Pearch and Lee Quincey. The match was a scrappy affair and the first half was summed up in the fifteenth minutes when Merstham keeper Zack Basey, in trying to play out from the back, got his feet in a muddle and ended up side footing it straight to Sittingbourne's Jean-Baptiste Fisher. With Basey out of possession, all the forward needed to do was roll the ball into the unguarded net from 20 yards. Instead he managed to loft it over the bar and waste the best chance of the half. Merstham's back four defended well and kept the visitors at arm's length for most of the half. The nearest they came was two minutes before the interval when Donvieve Jones nodded just wide of the post from a free kick. On the stroke of half time, Basey made a good save to push away a goal-bound effort, but there was little else to get excited about in a drab first half.  


Merstham did improve after the break. Andrew Mensah replaced Blaize-Carr in the 52nd minute and very nearly scored with almost his first touch. A whipped in ball from the left saw Mensah all alone six yards out and looked certain to score. But the ball eluded his foot and went off for a goal kick. If that had gone in, it may have been a very different game. Gharbaoui and Collins both had shots from distance but nothing to trouble the keeper. Basey made a smart stop low to his left to deny Splatt. Skipper Reuben Collins limped off with a back injury in the 75th minute, which didn't help the Moatsiders and probably played a part in conceding the eventual winner. It came from a needless free kick as Okoro fouled a Sittingbourne player going away from goal. The free kick was floated to the far post and Jones was unmarked to head past Basey with ten minutes left. In added time, a mazy dribble by Pearch almost produced a chance, but the final ball into the box was comfortably cleared. The defeat leaves the Moatsiders one off the bottom and in dire need of a win.

Merstham: Basey, Alexiou, Gunner, Collins (Okoro 75'), Abnett (Ando 58'), Oaks, Pearch, Gharbaoui, Quincey, Blaize-Carr (Mensah 52'), Henry.

Subs not used: Dixon, Lewis

Man of the Match:  Zack Basey




Three Bridges 3-3 Merstham | Isthmian South East | Monday 28th August

What a contrast this was to Saturday's game. Good football, plenty of shots on target, spectacular saves and goals aplenty. Merstham took the lead, then went 3-1 down with just ten minutes left, but came roaring back with two goals in four minutes to earn a point. Boss Tony Reid again rang the changes with Abnett, Oshineye, Holden and Lewis coming into the starting eleven.


The game began at a high tempo and Merstham rode their luck in the first fifteen minutes as the home side hit the woodwork twice. In the first minute, Lawson hit the post when it looked easier to score and in the eighth minute, the same player's thumping header hit the underside of the bar and bounced down and out, with the home side saying it had crossed the line, but the officials disagreed. But it wasn't all one way traffic. In between the woodwork strikes, Greg Akpele cut in from the flank but blazed over from 10 yards, having done all the hard work. Zack Basey then produced an excellent save low to his left to palm away a shot from 25 yards. After a shaky first 20 minutes, the Moatsiders began to settle and were closing their opponents down quicker and higher up the pitch. On 23', a through ball found Lewis Pearch with just the keeper to beat, but the winger delayed fractionally and a covering defender deflected his shot wide. But three minutes later, the Moatsiders took the lead. Excellent pressing in the final third by Abnett and Pearch won the ball back. The Merstham full back went on a maurading run into the box and then unleashed a piledriver with his left foot that absolutely flew into the far corner. Five minutes later, Lorenzo Lewis had a great chance to extend the lead, but his shot was blocked by the legs of the Bridges' keeper. Just when it looked as though the Moatsiders would go into half time a goal up, Archer, who was a constant menace all afternoon, played a quick give and go, slicing through the Merstham defence and slotted past Basey as the keeper came to meet him. In first half added time, Leighton blazed over from a few yards out, but credit Oshineye for his challenge to put the Bridges' striker off.


If the first half was entertaining, the second half was arguably even better. It was a more even contest with both sides looking capable of scoring, but also conceding. Lorenzo Lewis was all over the place. On 58' he was tracking back and made a great last-ditch challenge to deny Lawson. Three minutes later, a superb diagonal ball by Ayman Gharbaoui, on as a half time replacement for Traore, found Lewis cutting in from the left. The winger beat his man, but his shot rolled just wide of the far post. With twenty minutes left, Merstham threw men forward for a free kick. But not only was it easily dealt with by the Three Bridges' defence, the Moatsiders also got caught in transition. Archer ghosted past a couple of poor challenges before putting it on a plate for O'Neill to put the home side in front. Merstham almost replied immediately, but Akpele's shot hit the side netting. On 79' a dubious free kick was awarded against Holden 20 yards out. O'Neill curled the free kick around the wall and into the net to put the home side 3-1 up and with it seemingly the three points. But Merstham has other ideas. Two minutes later, a Merstham corner was only half cleared and the ball fell to Pearch who found the bottom corner from 12 yards. On 85', a rampaging run by Michael Abnett on the left wing and a superb cross on the run into the six yard box saw sub Paul Lusuku and a Bridges' defender arrive together. It was hard to see who got the last touch. It could easily have been either player. No matter. Merstham were level. Next it was Basey's turn to shine. As the game headed into added time, he produced a brilliant fingertip save to deny O'Neil. Then moments later he produced two more top drawer saves in quick succession as the home side piled on the pressure. But as the game went deep into stoppage time, there was more drama. Basey came flying out and made a brave diving punch to get there just ahead of Rivera, who thumped into Basey. The referee blew his whistle, presumably for a foul on the keeper. But to Merstham's horror, he pointed to the penalty spot. Credit to the referee however. He went to his assistant and after a brief conversation, changed his decision. There was still time for more drama as Curran got a straight red for sything down Gharbaoui as Merstham were launching a counter attack.   


Merstham: Basey, Oshineye (Ando 46'), Alexiou, Gunner, Abnett, Oaks, Holden, Pearch, Traore (Gharbaoui 46'), Akpele, (Lusuku 68'), Lewis.

Subs not used: Reynolds, Atkinson

Man of the Match:  Zack Basey



Merstham 0-2 Hythe Town | Isthmian South East | Saturday 26th August

This game certainly won't go down as a classic. While Hythe deserved their victory, their style of football certainly isn't for the purists. Most of the spectators probably had a stiff neck by the end of the 90 minutes, as the ball spent more time in the air than on the ground. But Hythe have a method that works for them and Merstham found it difficult to cope with, especially in the first half. The home side wasn't helped by the absence of Reuben Collins, Korrey Henry and Craig Kingswell. Things were made more difficult when Andrew Mensah was injured in the warm up and had to be replaced in the starting line up by Akpele. All in all there were five changes from the disappointing FA Cup defeat last time out.


It was a scrappy game from the start, and Hythe's tactics were immediately apparant. Long throws into the box and balls hoofed forward from the back meant the Moatsiders' back four were under constant pressure. Town's height at set pieces caused problems all afternoon and it was no great surprise when a corner from the right led to the opening goal. Merstham left Lewis Smith unmarked and the Town skipper nodded down and over Peter Wedgeworth, who was guarding the near post, to put the visitors in front after 12 minutes. Merstham found it hard to get the ball down and play and even when they did, they were guilty of giving away possession far too cheaply. Lewis Pearch was the pick of the Merstham front runners and looked dangerous when he did get the ball at his feet, which wasn't often enough. But for all of Town's territorial dominance, Zack Basey really didn't have a save to make, though that was in part down to some excellent defending by Dean Gunner and Charlie Alexiou. 


Merstham began the second half far better, though Basey had to be alert to touch a low shot from Embery around the post. In the 57th minute, Merstham had a great chance to get back on terms. A long ball this time from the Moatsiders back four, was chased by the ever-willing Mike Dixon. He outpaced Allan and as Town keeper Molloy came rushing out of his area, the Merstham striker touched it past him. With the goal unguarded, Dixon shot from just outside the right side of the penalty box. The ball trundled slowly towards the net, but agonisingly wide of the far post. Basey made another good stop on 65' after Smith tested him low to his right, with the keeper just falling on the loose ball in time. Merstham hung in the game, and at 1-0 there was always hope. Hythe seemed content with the one goal and began to slow the game down, allowing Merstham more possession. But the Moatsiders lacked precision with their passing and spurned some good situations. With seven minutes left, Hythe wrapped the game up. Basey thought about throwing the ball out to Michael Abnett, but fatally hesitated before finally throwing it. But he'd telegraphed it and Smith nipped in to steal the throw before squaring it for Schafer, who finished comfortably from 10 yards. 


Merstham: Basey, Ando, Alexiou, Gunner, Wedgeworth (Abnett 66'), Oaks, Pearch, Traore, Akpele, Carder, Dixon (Lusuku 86').

Subs not used: Holden

Man of the Match: Dean Gunner

Greene King Player Of The Match: Lewis Pearch



Faversham Town 2-1 Merstham | Emirates FA Cup | Saturday 19th August

Despite going a goal up, Merstham were dumped out of the FA Cup by a Faversham side that dominated the game and could easily have won more comfortably. It was a disappointing performance once again from the Moatsiders, who had made a number of new signings after the previous outing. In fact, the Merstham line-up showed seven changes from the Lancing game. Alexiou and Wedgeworth returned to the side, while Anthony Oaks, Ryan Atkinson, Andrew Mensah and Shaquan Williams made their debuts. 


Merstham began the game brightly and there was an early chance for Lee Quincey who shot just wide of the far post. On 12', Andrew Mensah cut in from the right and his shot was palmed out by the Town keeper, but Quincey couldn't quite sort his feet out to turn home the rebound and the home defence scrambled the ball away. In the fourteenth minute, Merstham got the goal their early play deserved. A free kick from midway inside the Town half was beautifully curled in by Peter Wedgeworth. Faversham's Billy Bennett was first to the ball, but only succeeded in nodding it past his own keeper to put the visitors in front. But that was as good as it got for Merstham. Instead of building on that gift, the Moatsiders allowed Faversham to knock the ball around with increasing confidence. There were several close calls, as both Basey and his back four were working overtime to keep the home side at bay. There was a sense of inevitability about the equaliser which came on 29', but the Merstham coaching staff will be desperately disappointed with how they conceded. A corner on the left was played short to Aibangbee, who was totally unmarked on the edge of the area. He had all the time in the world to curl one into the far top corner, giving Basey no chance. Five minutes later, the Moatsiders were very lucky not to concede a second when Bennett somehow hit the post from 6 yards with the goal at his mercy. Miler should also have done better just before the break. It was with some relief that Merstham made it to the interval at 1-1.


That relief lasted about 15 seconds of the second half. Straight from the kick-off, Faversham waltzed through a non-existent midfield. Basey saved the first effort, but Parsons was on hand to slide the ball in from close range. From that point on, it felt more a question of how many Town would score rather than whether the Moatsiders could get back into the game. The Merstham back four and goalkeeper were under constant pressure to keep out wave after wave of Faversham pressure, as the home side completely bossed the game. Merstham need to bring more quality into the side and quickly.


Merstham: Basey, Alexiou, Collins (Ando 79'), Gunner, Wedgeworth, Oaks, Atkinson (Akpele 66') Quincey, Mensah, Dixon, Williams  (Lewis 69').

Subs not used: O'Donovan, Pearch, Reynolds, Abnett

Man of the Match: Charlie Alexiou


Lancing 1-0 Merstham | Isthmian South East | Saturday 12th August


The scoreline may suggest a close game, but the harsh reality is that Merstham got off lightly. On another day, Lancing might easily have won by four or five, such was their superiority. It was only a combination of some good goalkeeping by Zack Basey and some woeful finishing by Lancing that kept the score respectable. Merstham weren't helped by some dreadful refereeing, with a host of Merstham names going into the notebook for innocuous tackles. One of those was Lee Quincey, who was booked after just 18 minutes when he clearly won the ball. Such was the approach of the match official that Merstham boss Tony Reid felt he had no option but to sub the midfielder before half time rather than risk a second yellow and be reduced to ten men, which would almost certainly have happened. 


But the inept officiating wasn't the cause of Merstham's problems. They were completely outplayed in midfield, with the visitors having all sorts of time and space to look up and pick a pass. Even when the Moatsiders did get the ball to their front men, it failed to stick and the home side were instantly back in possession again. It was backs to the wall stuff for most of the afternoon. Lancing had their first opportunity in the second minute, but Laing fired straight at Basey. On 7', Basey was called into action again, flicking a shot from Taggert over the bar. Totally against the run of play, in the twelfth minute, the Moatsiders had probably the best chance of the half when Craig Kingswell was presented with the ball 20 yards out as the home side made a complete hash of playing out from the back. But the Merstham striker took too many touches and allowed a combination of defender and goalkeeper to block his shot. Normal service was resumed soon after as Basey made a save low to his right. For all their possession, Lancing didn't create too many openings, but on 29', Dean Gunner did well to hook a deflected shot off the line. On the stroke of half time, a rare foray forward by the Moatsiders saw a chance for Lewis Pearch, but he dragged his shot wide. In added time, Basey spectacularly tipped a 25 yard free kick from Laing over the bar. Goalless at the interval. 


Any hopes that Merstham would produce something better in the second half were soon put to rest. On 48', Basey produced a great save from Jones who controlled and volley a ball from just inside the box. Then came the goal that Lancing deserved. A cross from the left was met at the far post by Watson, who nodded home from close range. On 58', Jones should have made it two, but blazed over when well placed. Three minutes later a marauding run from Lancing's right back Bennett, ended with his shot flashing just wide of the post. On 64' a shot by Laing went just over the bar. Merstham didn't really look like getting back into the game at any point, but when you're only one down, there's always hope. However, Lancing, in spite of spurning several more good chances ran out comfortable winners in the end. After the euphoria of last week's FA Cup win, it's back to the drawing board for Tony Reid and his staff.


Merstham: Basey, Ando, Afonso, Graham, Collins, Gunner, Pearch, Tones (Dixon 53') Quincey (Traore 40'), Kingswell,  Bangurah (Lewis 46').

Subs not used: Alexiou, Reynolds

Man of the Match: Zack Basey


Merstham 2-1 Raynes Park Vale | Emirates FA Cup | Saturday 5th August


This Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie was the first real test for Tony Reid and his new-look Merstham side. In the end, a superb goal ten minutes from time by substitute Mike Dixon won it for the Moatsiders, but it really was a game of two halves. 


Tony Reid was forced to shuffle his pack for this one, with both Charlie Alexiou and Adam Adam ruled out with injury and his loan signings from Sutton United not eligable. Into the side came Cerny Ando at right back and Lewis Pearch on the right wing. 


The first half was played in monsoon-like conditions and it took the players some while to adjust to the slick playing surface, with passes frequently skidding out of play. But the Moatsiders got off to a dream start when they went ahead in just the fourth minute. A beautifully flighted free kick from Lee Quincey was met with a bullet header from Reuben Collins, which flashed past the Vale keeper into the net. But instead of capitalising on their early goal, the Moatsiders seemed to go into their shell and defended far too deeply, handing both possession and territory to their opponents. The Merstham back four came under increasing pressure as ball after ball was hoisted into the box and Dean Gunner and Reuben Collins were working overtime to deal with the danger. The Moatsiders were very much second best in the midfield battle and even when they won back possession, they surrendered it again all too easily. On 13', Merstham keeper Zack Basey produced a fine save low to his left to keep out a shot from JJ Stepney, but it felt as though an equaliser was coming. So it proved because after eighteen minutes, Vale were level. A cross into the box from the right was met by the head of Brad Sweeney six yards out, gaving Basey no chance. It was no more than Vale deserved. Merstham seemed sluggish and lacking energy and they were in some ways fortunate that Raynes Park lacked the quality and creativity to carve out more clear-cut chances. Basey only really had to make one save, tipping over a shot from Ndozid. Though on the stroke of half time, it took a superb block by Ando to prevent a goal-bound shot from Green hitting the target. 


Tony Reid said after the game that he let his players know during the interval that he was very unhappy with their performance in the first half. Whatever was said, it certainly galvanised the men in amber and black. It was a completely different Merstham side that came out in the second half. They closed down Vale all over the pitch and flew into challenges and won far more second ball. Some of the challenges by both sides were a little reckless and Vale were very lucky to keep ten men on the field after two very poor tackles on Lorenzo Lewis and Lee Quincey. Although Merstham were on top for most of the second half, they didn't really create clear cut chances, though neither did Vale as both keepers were largely untroubled. The closest Vale came was on 77', when a corner produced a goal mouth scramble and a close range effort was chested off the line by Peter Wedgeworth. Basey fell gratefully on the loose ball. The game seemed to be heading for a replay until substitute Mike Dixon produced a rare moment of quality. A long kick from Basey wasn't dealt with by the Vale defence and the ball bounced on the edge of the area. Dixon didn't hesitate and hit a stunning, dipping volley which flew past Bishop to give the Moatsiders the lead. As the game moved into added time, Craig Kingswell had a chance to make the game safe but was denied by a good save by Bishop. The Merstham striker was first to the rebound but was shoved in the back by O'Sullivan. The referee went to blow for a penalty but changed his mind at the last second. In the last of the six minutes of added time, Sweeney was put through on goal by a terrific defence-splitting pass, with just Basey to beat. The Vale striker opted to dink the ball over the advancing keeper, but got it all wrong and put it wide. Seconds later, the referee blew and Merstham were through to the next round of the FA Cup. 


Merstham: Basey, Ando, Wedgeworth, Graham, Collins, Gunner, Pearch (Bangurah 82'), Quincey (Dixon 75'), Kingswell, Reynolds, Lewis.

Subs not used: Gjoshe, Okoro, O'Donovan

Man of the Match: Reuben Collins

Greene King Player Of The Match: Reuben Collins

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