MATCH REPORTS 2021/22
- Match Reports by Chris Pullen -
Merstham 1-3 Horsham- Saturday 4th December - Pitching In Isthmian League
Merstham's biggest problem is putting together a good 90-minute performance. In recent weeks, a good first half has been followed by a poor second half or vice versa. The game against Horsham was another example of the team's inconsistency. Totally outplayed in the first half and two down at the break, the Moatsiders came back well in the second half and with fifteen minutes left and 2-1 down, they looked more than capable of snatching a point. In the end, a defensive mistake three minutes from time guaranteed the three points to the visitors. But it was another case of what might have been for Merstham.
Horsham opened the scoring on 9’ with a highly controversial goal. A free kick from the left deflected off a Merstham head and the looped up high, dropping close to the goal line. Merstham keeper Toby Bull and Horsham’s Jack Brivio jumped for the ball and Brivio put both the ball and Bull into the net. Nine times out of ten, that sort of challenge is automatically given as a foul on the keeper, but this was obviously the tenth time as the referee gave a goal despite vehement protests by Bull and several Merstham players. The nature of the goal seemed to unsettle the home side, and an in-form Horsham took full advantage and began to dominate the game. Merstham didn't help themselves with a litany of mistakes and poor passes. The match itself saw plenty of endeavor from both sides, but very little quality and very little goalmouth action to speak of. In keeping with the first half, Horsham added a scrappy second on 31’. Merstham had a chance to clear the ball but instead opted to play a low percentage pass on the edge of their own box. That resulted in a needless corner and from the corner Harding’s header deflected off a Merstham defender into the far corner.
The second half saw a far better performance from the Moatsiders, who played with more energy and determination. On 47’, Dylan Adjei-Hersey hit a superb volley that looked destined for the back of the net, but it hit a covering defender. Ten minutes later, he forced a good save out of Horsham keeper Sam Howes, though some of the sting was taken out of the shot by a slight deflection. But it was a game of few chances. On 60', Reuben Collins made a great last-ditch tackle as it looked as though O'Toole was clean through on goal. Merstham looked dangerous when going forward, with Adjei-Hersey and John Ufuah coming more into the game. On 75' Ufuah's trickery in the box invited a rash challenge from Day and a stonewall penalty. Korrey Henry hammered home the spot kick and suddenly it was Horsham on the back foot as Merstham piled on the pressure. Frank Wilson again introduced Bertie Lloyd as an auxiliary centre forward and went to three at the back with 10 minutes left. Lloyd was winning the majority of the high balls pumped up in his direction, as the Moatsiders opted for route one, but the ball just didn't seem to drop kindly on more than one occasion. On 82', a cross shot from Adjei-Hersey almost reached Makofo on the far post but Bees keeper Howes stretched to pluck it off his toes. Horsham put the game to bed on 87’ when Merstham could, and should have cleared their lines, but in trying to play the ball out, Collins was robbed, and the Bees found sub Eddie Dsane in the box, who jinked past James Richmond to fire home.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Gharbaoui (Makofo 35'), Richmond (c), Collins, Adjei-Hersey, McGee (Haire 79') Henry, Jacquart, Ufuah (Lloyd 79').
Unused subs: Greenwood, Hayles
Man of the Match: Dylan Adjei-Hersey
Merstham 2-2 Bishop's Stortford- Tuesday 30th November - Pitching In Isthmian League
Despite going a goal down in 90 seconds, Merstham earned themselves a hard-fought point thanks to a brace from Korrey Henry and a gritty second half defensive display against an in-form side.
Merstham couldn't have got off to a worse start. From the kickoff, Bishop's Stortford knocked a long ball into the Merstham right corner and won an early corner. The corner was only half cleared, and the ball was chipped back into the middle where Jake Cass was waiting, unmarked six yards out, to head home. But credit to the Moatsiders as they didn't let this early blow affect them. They began to string some good passing movements together. The Blues play a very physical and long ball game, so the ball was in the air a lot and the match was quite scrappy. The Moatsiders were back on terms after 20 minutes. A Jacquart free kick from the left saw attackers and defenders go up for the ball. It dropped kindly to the deadly right foot of Korrey Henry who poked it home from 8 yards to put the Moatsiders level. On 22' Henry went close with a header after superb wing play from Dylan Adjei-Hersey, but four minutes later, Merstham were in front. This time it was a Adjei-Hersey free kick from the right flank that caused the problem. He hit a long ball to the far post where Jude Mason rose like a proverbial salmon to head it back across goal and Henry pounced to bundle the ball home off his thigh from close range. The two quick goals seemed to shake the Blues and they responded with a tactical substitution with Harris coming on up front. But for the most part, the Moatsiders dealt with the long ball from the Blues fairly comfortably and Toby Bull wasn't called into action.
The second half was a different story. Right from the opening moments, the Blues raised their intensity and were pressing higher and harder. Merstham didn't help themselves by overhitting balls from the back which were carried by the strong wind to the Blues keeper or out of play all too often. As a result, the Moatsiders failed to build play as they had in the first half and were resorting to playing long, hopeful balls which the Blues defenders gobbled up. Merstham found themselves penned in and it was all hands to the pump to try and keep Bishop's Stortford out. The back four were immense and won their share of high balls and produced some excellent last-ditch tackles and great blocks to keep the visitors out. The game was punctured by a plethora of free kicks which suited the Blues as the continued to pump high balls into the Merstham box and look to pick up the second ball. The unrelenting pressure eventually told on 67' when a corner ricocheted around in the Merstham six-yard box, before eventually being bundled home by Foxley for another scrappy set piece goal, and one that was in keeping with the game. John Ufuah almost replied instantly for the Moatsiders a minute later, when he got in behind the defence, but blazed his shot over the bar. Giles then robbed Jacquart on the edge of the box but failed to hit the target. The Moatsiders were indebted to Reuben Collins for a brilliant block to deny Foxley with six minutes left when it looked as though the striker must score. But the Moatsiders hung on to earn a deserved point and deny the Blues their fifth win in a row.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Gharbaoui (Makofo 71'), Richmond (c), Collins, Adjei-Hersey, McGee (Greenwood 85') Henry, Jacquart, Ufuah (Haire 90).
Unused subs: Lloyd, Hayles
Man of the Match: Reuben Collins
Merstham 2-2 East Thurrock United - Saturday 27th November - Pitching In Isthmian League
Two late goals earned Merstham a point in another dramatic finish at the Moatside. But East Thurrock were probably kicking themselves all the way home, because it was a game they largely dominated after going a goal up and while you can admire Merstham's fighting spirit , it was a poor performance by the home side.
On a raw, November afternoon, the Moatsiders started brightly, with loan signing Craig McGee slotting into midfield. It was Merstham who carved out a series of early chances and it looked just a matter of time before they opened the scoring. On 9', John Ufuah set up a chance for Korrey Henry, but the striker's effort was well wide. Two minutes later, a delightful flick by Henry put Ufuah through on goal. But Ufuah tried to take it round the keeper and Janata did just enough to slow Ufuah down, allowing a covering defender to get in a challenge and Ufuah's shot went over the bar. United really only looked dangerous from set pieces and Barton called Toby Bull into action with a header from a corner that Merstham's stopper held comfortably. On 21', Henry powered through the East Thurrock back line and found himself with just Janata to beat, but like Ufuah, he elected to take it past the keeper, but ended up going too wide and the chance was gone. Almost inevitably, East Thurrock made Merstham pay for their profligacy on 36'. A free kick wide on the left was swung in towards the six-yard box. Bull, who has been in outstanding form this season, elected to come for the ball, but was never getting there and United's Robinson got a touch off his head to send the ball past Bull into an empty net to put the visitors ahead, against the run of play. Henry almost replied immediately, when he dribbled the ball in the box before swiveling to hit a low shot from 10 yards. But Janata stuck out a leg to deny the Merstham striker. On 43', Merstham dodged a bullet when an awful pass from Reuben Collins went straight to Gordon 25 yards out with just Bull to beat. Collins and Merstham fans alike breathed a huge sigh of relief when the United midfielder failed to hit the target.
As the weather deteriorated after the interval, so did Merstham's football. Not only was their passing poor, but they began to make a catalogue of errors, especially in their own final third, with some calamitous defending. Hernandez should have extended United's lead on 54', but his shot was just wide. Bull was then forced into a smart save as more poor defending gave Owusu a shooting chance. The error prone defending continued as Merstham gave the ball away again and James Richmond went diving in to try and block a cross, only to being down Ashman in the box. Hernandez made no mistake from the spot on 62' and it was hard to see Merstham getting back in the game, as they looked at sixes and sevens all over the pitch. If anything, it looked more likely that the visitors would extend their lead as Merstham seemed to be intent on giving the visitors early Christmas gifts with some truly awful defending. Owusu and Chace Jacquart got involved in an altercation and Jacquart pushed the United midfielder away. Owusu shamefully went down as if shot by a sniper holding his face trying to get Jacquart sent off. Obviously, the pantomime season is in full swing in Thurrock. Luckily, the referee was not conned by a drama performance worthy of a three-year-old, and the game continued. With eight minutes left, Merstham boss Frank Wilson rolled the dice, removing James Richmond, going to three at the back and throwing on Bertie Lloyd as an auxiliary center forward. It proved a master stroke. Suddenly Merstham were winning long balls aimed at Lloyd and feeding off the second ball. United began to look edgy and gave away silly free kicks. On 89', a free kick wide on the right was flighted in beautifully by Dylan Adjei-Hersey and Henry rose superbly to nod the ball home. There was renewed belief in the home side and within a minute, Ufuah weaved his magic on the left flank before whipping in a low cross that went through the six-yard box. But Adjei-Hersey has ghosted in unmarked at the far post and he headed Merstham level from a yard out. Two goals in the 89th and 90th minute and with 4 minutes of added time, Merstham suddenly looked like they might snatch it and they so nearly did. Ufuah once again whipped in a great ball and Makofo and Adjei-Hersey were both inches away from turning it home. But East Thurrock also had a great chance to win it on a counterattack in a frenetic finish, but the shot went wide of Bull's far post.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Gharbaoui (Makofo 59'), Richmond (c) (Lloyd 82') Collins, Adjei-Hersey, McGee, Henry, Jacquart (Greenwood 88') Ufuah.
Unused subs: Hayles
Man of the Match: Jude Mason
Merstham 4-3 South Park - Tuesday 23rd November - Specsavers Surrey Senior Cup
A dramatic and incident-packed night at the Moatside eventually saw Merstham squeak through to the next round of the Surrey Senior Cup. But it took a late winner from Serge Makofo to prevent nine-man South Park from taking the game to a penalty shoot-out.
The evening began with a minute's silence as the players, officials and supporters paid tribute to long-serving Merstham board member and Vice President, Kevin Austen, who sadly passed away after a long illness.
Merstham's side showed eight changes from Saturday's starting eleven at Enfield, with keeper Ollie Ellaway, James Allen and Sean Marcano stepping up from the U23s to make their senior debuts. It was keeper Ollie Ellaway who made the first important contribution, when he produced a brilliant reflex stop on 10' to palm away a Bancroft header from point-blank range. But with all the changes in the side, Merstham perhaps inevitably looked disjointed, and it was no great surprise when South Park took the lead on 14'. Merstham failed to clear an in-swinging corner and Pitcher pounced on the loose ball and drilled it low into the net. The home side really weren't creating anything in the final third, although James Richmond might have equalised with a header from a corner on 24'. But South Park were the better side, and they extended their lead a few minutes later, when the ball dropped to Aziz in the box, and he had all the time in the world to pick his spot. Ellaway made another fine save from a free kick minutes before the break to keep his side in the game. But at half time, it was hard seeing the Moatsiders turning it around.
But Merstham boss Frank Wilson made two significant changes at the interval, bringing on Chace Jacquart and Dylan Adjei-Hersey. Their impact was immediate. On 47', Jacquart played an inch-perfect ball through ball to Serge Makofo, who took a touch before rifling it home from 12 yards. Suddenly the roles were reversed, and it was the home side that were on the front foot. But Merstham were helped by a moment of madness from Park's Danny Alderton. Already on a yellow card, he deliberately smashed the ball into a prone Jacquart from a couple of feet away, after the referee had already blown for a free kick. A second yellow deservedly followed and South Park were down to 10 men with 40 minutes still remaining. The quick-thinking Jacquart made the defender pay immediately from the free kick, as he played it short to Troy Williams on the right side and the defender hammered an unstoppable shot into the top corner to make it 2-2. Park keeper Otuyo kept Park in it when he saved from the ever-dangerous John Ufuah on 27', but he was helpless a minute later when a cross from Williams found Ufuah with time and space and the Merstham wide-man coolly slotted home to make it 3-2 on 73'. At that point, you could have been forgiven for thinking the tie was settled. But credit to the ten men of South Park. Two minutes later, a counterattack on the right flank saw a low cross into the box from Jalloh and Laing swept the ball past Ellaway to level it up at 3-3. Just when it looked as though the tie might go to spot kicks, Korrey Henry did superbly to hold the ball up before laying it off to Makofo. The Merstham striker didn't hesitate, and his unerring shot found the corner from the edge of the box. There was still time for Park's Alex Laing to pick up a second yellow for an awful challenge on Adjei-Hersey, reducing Park to nine players and for Jalloh to miscue a last-gasp half-chance with just seconds left.
Merstham: Ellaway, Williams, Nelson-Roberts, Gharbaoui (Henry 65), Richmond (c), Lloyd, Marcano (Adjei-Hersey 46), Greenwood, Makofo, Allen (Jacquart 46), Ufuah.
Unused subs: Stone, Hayles
Man of the Match: Serge Makofo
Enfield Town 3-1 Merstham - Saturday 20th November - Pitching In Isthmian League
This game was a tale of two halves and two penalties. Merstham dominated the first half and led deservedly at the break thanks to a stonewall penalty. Enfield dominated the second but got back into the game thanks to a highly controversial penalty. Just as they did against high-flying Worthing last month, the Moatsiders took a lead but couldn't hang on to it, much to the frustration of boss Frank Wilson. "We executed our game plan well in the first half and we were very pleased at the interval. But in the second half we just didn't do what we had done so well in the first half."
Merstham did begin the game well against second-placed Enfield, pressing the home side and not letting them settle on the ball. It was that high press that resulted in the Moatsiders getting a spot kick in the 11th minute. Dylan Adjei-Hersey chased a lost cause and put Town's left back under pressure. The full back fluffed his clearance, straight to Chace Jacquart who was supporting the high press. Jacquart picked up the ball and ran into the box, getting in front of the full back, who in a panic bundled into the back of Jacquart, knocking him down. It was a clear penalty. Up stepped Korrey Henry to calmly dispatch the spot kick, sending the keeper the wrong way. Town looked dangerous when they got the ball into Faal, but for the most part, James Richmond and Reuben Collins handled the threat very well in the opening 45 minutes. Collins was fortunate on 22' when he tried to play it back to Toby Bull, but under hit it. Fortunatley, he recovered quickly to hack the ball clear. The first half was very much stop/start, with a number of fouls by both sides and injuries requiring the physio. Neither side was really able to produce much by way of flowing football, but what football there was came from the visitors. Bull was well-protected and didn't really get called into action until the half hour, when he kicked away a shot at his near post from Faal. Enfield looked more threatening from set pieces and forced a succession of corners as half time approached. But the Moatsiders had a glorious chance to extend their lead when they broke quickly from a defensive corner and John Ufuah and Henry found themselves in a 2v1 against the last Town defender. It was perhaps easier to see from the stands, but it seemed all Ufuah had to do was slide the ball to Henry to put the striker through on goal. But Ufuah chose to take on the last defender and had the ball nicked off his toe and the chance went begging.
Enfield began the second half very much on the front foot and put the visitors under pressure immediately. The Moatsiders didn't help themselves with some sloppy passing which meant they got pinned in their own half. Suddenly Town's midfield had time and space to turn and run at the Merstham defenders and the warning signs were clearly there. On 54', Enfield's left back got forward and into the Merstham box. He tried to take the ball past James Richmond, but the Merstham skipper shepherded him to the by-line and leant on him as the ball ran out of play, as you see defenders doing week in and week out. But this week, the referee decided that was a foul and give Town the welcome gift of their own penalty, much to the horror of Richmond and his teammates. Faal beat Toby Bull comfortably from the spot. Merstham had to dig deep as Town, suitably buoyed by the present from the referee, poured forward. But the Moatsiders couldn't get a grip on the game and their passing, so crisp and accurate in the first half, was just woeful in the second 45 minutes. Bull was being called into action far more frequently and did well on 65' to push away a low shot from Faal. On 69', Bull was tested again by Kiangebeni, as the pressure began to build. But the Moatsiders had a gilt-edged chance to regain the lead on 74' when a counterattack suddenly gave them a 3 on 1 against a solitary defender. Jacquart had Henry to his right and Ufuah to his left. Again, easy to say from the stands, but the ball to Ufuah looked the better option. Jacquart however, opted for Henry, but the Merstham man had strayed marginally offside. Merstham paid dealt for spurning the chance when a minute later, Enfield took the lead. A slick move sliced through the visitors' defense and although Bull did superbly to stop a fierce drive from 12 yards by Della-Verde, the rebound fell kindly to Coker who gleefully smashed it home. In added time, as the Moatsiders threw caution to the wind, sub Nelson-Roberts was left 1v1 against Coker who out-muscled the Merstham defender and thumped the ball past Bull to add gloss to the scoreline.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Gharbaoui, Richmond (c) Collins (Nelson-Roberts 83'), Adjei-Hersey, Jacquart, Henry, Sankoh (Makofo 58), Ufuah.
Unused subs: Greenwood, Hayles
Man of the Match: James Richmond
Merstham 2-0 Cray Wanderers - Tuesday 9th November - Pitching In Isthmian League
Merstham got back to winning ways and a superb second-half display created so many chances that on another day, the Moatsiders could have hit six or seven, such was their dominance. Wanderers' keeper Jack Turner kept the score line respectable with a string of fine saves as the Moatsiders cut through the Cray back four with almost embarrassing ease.
The first half started brightly, with the Moatsiders very much on the front foot. Turner began his busy evening as early as the third minute when he blocked John Ufuah's shot with his legs. Chace Jacquart almost turned the rebound home but for a Cray defender throwing himself in the way. But on 5', Cray almost took the lead when Dickson got to a bouncing ball before Merstham keeper Toby Bull, but fortunately his flick went over the bar. The Moatsiders were beginning to take control of the match and Jacquart should have scored on 10' after good work between Dylan Adjei-Hersey and Troy Williams on the right flank. But the midfielder mis-cued his shot wide from ten yards. Next it was Rueben Collins who had a close-range effort blocked by more desperate defending. It was no great surprise when the Moatsiders took the lead on 18'. Ufuah's pace got him on the end of a superb, defence-splitting pass from Jacquart and the merest of touches was enough to take it past Turner into the unguarded net. However, from that point on, Merstham rather allowed themselves to be distracted by a Cray side who played very direct, route one football, combined with a very physical approach. That resulted in numerous free kicks and yellow cards as the quality of the football took a distinct nose-dive after a promising start. The match became stop-start and that suited Wanderers as they began to ask questions of Merstham's back four. They almost drew level on 29' when a free kick from 20 yards clipped the outside of the post with Bull beaten. Although the Moatsiders went into the break one up, it wasn't a convincing lead.
It was a very different Merstham that began the second half. The midfield trio of Jacquart, Gharbaoui and Sankoh got a firm grip on the game and began releasing Merstham's front three to cause absolute havoc in the visitor's defence. The back four of Richmond, Collins, Mason and Williams were far more aggresive and won virtually every 50/50 ball, not allowing Cray to settle in possession in the Merstham half. It didn't take long for Merstham to extend their lead. On 53', Korrey Henry used his strength to hold off a Cray defender, who made a clumsily challenge in the box. Down went Henry and the referee pointed immediately to the spot. Henry dusted himself down and comfortably converted the spot kick as for once Turner went the wrong way. From that point on it was Turner versus the Merstham front three. It is no exaggeration to say that if the Moatsiders had scored six, it would have been a fair reflection of the half. This is some but not all of the chances; on 58', Turner denied Henry a second, when he blocked his point-blank effort at the far post; on 60', Adjei-Hersey beat two defenders and his goal-bound shot was deflected over the bar; three minutes later, Turner denied Ufuah with an outstretched left hand; on 64' a well-worked corner found Jacquart in space, but his shot found the woodwork with Turner beaten; a minute later, Henry was denied again by the foot of Turner; on 74', Henry should have added a third when he blazed over from 10 yards after great work by Ufuah and; moments later it was Ufuah who was holding his head in anguish after Turner's outstretched foot denied him a second. But it took a brilliant save by Bull who plunged low to his right to keep out a volley from Cook with eight minutes left to prevent a nervy finish, which would have been a bizarre end to a half that Merstham dominated completely.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Gharbauai, Richmond (c) Collins, Adjei-Hersey, Sankoh, Henry (Makofo 84), Jacquart, Ufuah (Folkes 88').
Unused subs: Greenwood, Lloyd, Nelson-Roberts
Man of the Match: Adjei-Hersey.
Hornchurch 1-0 Merstham - Saturday 6th November - Pitching In Isthmian League
The Moatsiders can consider themselves rather unlucky to leave Bridge Avenue with nothing to show for their endeavors, especially after dominating large parts of the second half. But it was a day when Merstham's free-scoring frontline couldn't convert a number of half chances and two good opportunities, although the Moatsiders also had their keeper to thank for a number of good saves throughout the game.
Merstham were happy to welcome back Korrey Henry from injury to lead the line and Imaad Sankoh in midfield, who'd picked up a knock in the Worthing game. Chace Jacquart also returned in midfield having been away since the demolition of Bowers & Pitsea.
The game took time to get going and Merstham particularly so in the opening forty-five minutes. It was rare that the Moatsiders were able to keep the ball long enough to put a passing move together and Hornchurch won most of the individual duals, especially against the Merstham midfield and front three. But Merstham defended well and aside from the odd scare, Richmond and Collins dealt well with most of the balls into the box. Jude Mason was having his work cut out for him on the left side as the Urchins right back was often an auxiliary wing back when the home side had the ball, but the visitors looked solid at the back. Merstham almost took the lead on 22' when a low near post corner ricocheted off a couple of players and bobbled just past the post. But a minute later, Bull had to plunge to his left to palm away a good header by Nash after a swift counterattack by Hornchurch. Bull was called into action again on 34' when he dived to push away a shot from Ruff from the edge of the box. But from the resultant corner, the Urchins took the lead. A low, near post corner was met by Ruff. He didn't make great contact, but it was enough to deflect the ball past Bull and give Hornchurch a lead that they probably deserved on the balance of play. Five minutes before the break, Merstham nearly grabbed an equaliser with their best move of the half. Ufuah picked the ball up wide on the left and cut inside, drawing defenders to him. He saw Dylan Adjei-Hersey on the right and played a great ball into the winger's path. Adjei-Hersey drove into the box and hit a hard, low drive that was destined for the bottom corner, but Urchins keeper Joe Wright made an excellent save to keep his side in front going into the break.
Merstham made a change at the interval, replacing Charlie Greenwood, who'd picked up a knock, with Tahjae Anderson and changing the shape of the midfield. It certainly made a big difference because suddenly it was the visitors who were enjoying the lion's share of possession and pinging passes around through midfield, where Jacquart and Sankoh were starting to dictate the tempo of the game. Hornchurch were still dangerous on the break though, and Bull had to save from Nash on 49'. Merstham were beginning to find both Henry and Ufuah with increasing regularity. Henry nearly found the net on 56' when he pinned his defender and swiveled, but his shot went just past the post. Merstham were dominating the game but couldn't quite carve out clear-cut chances. That was until the 72nd minute, when Adjei-Hersey cut inside and had his shot blocked, but the ball ran to Anderson just on the edge of the box and all alone, but the midfielder's shot went agonizingly wide of the post. On 75', Parcell could have made the game safe for Hornchurch but blazed over the bar from ten yards. Merstham almost made him pay and it took a brilliant double save by Wright to deny first Adjei-Hersey and then Henry from the rebound to deny the Moatsiders a deserved equaliser. With five minutes left, Bull was once again called upon to push away a shot by Bricknell. From the resulting corner, it took a goal line clearance from Collins to keep the Moatsiders in with a shout. Merstham continued to push forward and switched to a 3-4-3 for the last 10 minutes, but they were unable to conjure up one final opportunity.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Sankoh, Richmond (c) (Makofo 82') Collins, Adjei-Hersey, Greenwood (Anderson 46', Henry, Jacquart, Ufuah.
Unused subs: Folkes, Hayles
Man of the Match: Bull.
Merstham 1-3 Welwyn Garden City - Saturday 30th October - Buildbase FA Trophy
On Halloween weekend, Merstham served up a real horror show of a performance and Welwyn Garden City were in no need of any magic as they cruised into the next round of the FA Trophy. After a string of good performances in recent weeks, the Moatsiders were poor from minute one to minute ninety. They were outplayed but also outfought all over the pitch, which was both surprising and disappointing.
Boss Frank Wilson was able to welcome back skipper James Richmond and right back Troy Williams into defence and Ayman Gharbaoui in midfield. There was also a start for Calvin Ekpiteta, returning to the Moatside on loan. It was evident from the opening minutes that Merstham were out of sorts. Their passing was sloppy and players were making poor decisions and unforced errors all over the pitch. Welwyn had their first opening after just 45 seconds when Addina fired over the bar. Toby Bull, one of the few Merstham players who came out of the game with any credit, was called into early action when he palmed away a shot on 11' from Addina. Minutes later, Tahjae Anderson went close when his shot from the edge of the box went just over the bar. City should have taken the lead on 14' when Rolfe headed over from close range, following a long throw. Merstham spurned a glorious chance of their own to take the lead on 20', when John Ufuah, who's been deadly in front of goal of late, was put clean through with only the keeper to beat. Uncharacteristically, Ufuah took too long to make his mind up, allowing Rolfe to get back and make a saving tackle. Bull was once again called into action when he had to turn a deflected free kick over the bar. But he could do nothing on 24', when Rolfe was left all alone from a corner to head come and give the visitors a deserved lead. Any hopes that the goal would spark the Moatsiders into life were soon dashed and they were lucky not to be two down when four minutes later, Bull and Richmond left the ball to each other to deal with, allowing Watson to nip between them. Luckily for the home side, he poked the ball wide. Merstham looked vulnerable from set pieces all afternoon, and five minutes before the break, a City corner had to be cleared off the line at the far post by Ekpiteta after it had been missed by everyone.
Frank Wilson took much-needed action at the break, removing Ekpiteta and bringing on Omar Folkes. The change up front rejuvenated the home side, and they began the second half very much on the front foot, pushing the visitors back and looking far more threatening. But on 56', Merstham conceded a second goal from a corner, as Close was allowed a free header at the near post which flew into the roof of the net. A free kick from Ufuah on 68' gave the Welwyn keeper something to do, flicking the deflected effort over the bar. But a minute later, the Moatsiders were given a lifeline. Folkes did well to hold the ball up and played a clever ball into sub, Serge Makofo. The Merstham man checked in the box, inviting a challenge from a defender, who obliged and tripped Makofo. The referee had no doubt and pointed to the spot. Up stepped Ufuah to hammer home the spot kick on 70' and at 2-1, with twenty minutes left, the game was set up nicely for a barn-storming finish by the Moatsiders. Except it didn't happen. If anything, Welwyn looked more likely to grab a third and twice Bull had to make excellent stops with his feet and legs to keep Merstham in the game. It was unfortunate for the young keeper when in added time and playing well outside his box as Merstham threw bodies forward, he was caught in possession as he tried to dribble past Welwyn sun Ironton. Having robbed Bull, the Welwyn sub had all the time in the world to roll the ball into the unguarded net from 25 yards.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Gharbaoui, Richmond (c) Collins, Adjei-Hersey, Greenwood (Hayles 84), Ekpiteta (Folkes 46), Anderson (Makofo 57), Ufuah.
Unused subs: Stone, Lloyd, Palmer.
Man of the Match: None.
Worthing 2-1 Merstham - Tuesday 26th October - Pitching In Isthmian League
For fifty minutes, the Moatsiders made a very good Worthing team look very ordinary. That is probably the biggest compliment you can pay an understrength Merstham side that pushed the league leaders all the way.
Already missing Chace Jacquart and skipper James Richmond, boss Frank Wilson also had to do without Korrey Henry, Ayman Gharbaoui, and Troy Williams from the side that beat Leatherhead the previous Saturday. Into the side came Kyrell Palmer at right-back, Imaad Sankoh, making his debut in midfield and Reyon Dillon up front.
Playing a 4-2-3-1, a side that had scored 12 goals in the last three outings, transitioned seamlessly into a disciplined, hard-working, defensively-minded outfit, that frustrated Worthing and their fans for the opening forty-five minutes. Aside from a header from Worthing's Tom Chayle that clipped the top of the Merstham crossbar on 9', the home side didn't get a shot on target in the whole of the first half. With the Moatsiders sitting deep and working hard to close down the spaces between the lines, Worthing spent most of the first half playing sideways and backwards and rarely looked like scoring. For the fans, it wasn't the most exciting half of football to watch, but for the Merstham supporters, it was gripping stuff, especially when in the 38th minute, the Moatsiders broke out and took the lead. Once again, it was John Ufuah's electric pace that created a chance out of nothing. Reyon Dillon fought for a ball in the centre circle and a Worthing defender poked it away from him intending it to go through to his keeper. But the ball took a slight deflection and slowed down the pass. That gave Ufuah the chance he needed. Turning on the after burners he got to the bouncing ball just ahead of the Worthing keeper, who had come flying out of his area. He touched it past the stranded keeper, but Ufuah was now at a ridiculous angle and couldn't possibly score from there. But he did. Coolness personified, at full speed, he found the far corner from an acute angle to give the Moatsiders the lead and stun the 1000+ crowd. But it took a superb tackle in his own box by Kyrell Palmer on 44' to deny Worthing's Pattenden a gilt-edged chance to equalise and ensure the visitors went in to the break one up.
When you're 1-0 up away from home, you really need to get through the first 20 minutes of the second half to give yourself a chance of keeping that lead. Unfortunately, the Moatsiders conceded twice in the opening quarter of an hour of the second period. On 55', Worthing played a short corner and Pattenden had time on the edge of the box to chip a ball to the far post where Racine nodded it back across goal to give Pearce the simple task of nodding home from point-blank range. Four minutes later, the Rebels took the lead with a disappointing goal from the Moatsiders point of view. Chalaye got the ball wide on right and was able to turn and play the ball into the Moatsiders box. For once, Sankoh and Bertie Lloyd both hesitated and Myles-Meekumb nipped in ahead of them to fire it past Toby Bull. Merstham regrouped, but Worthing now looked far more dangerous, as the visitors were forced to commit more players forward to try and get back into the game. Bull made a routine save at his near post to deny Pearce and Palmer had to be alert to clear a dangerous ball into the box after Reuben Collins got caught in possession. But with ten minutes left, Worthing should have wrapped it up. Merstham gave the ball away in the final third and a cross to the far post left Worthing sub Golding with the simple task of tapping the ball home. But he didn't count on Toby Bull's speed across his line and the Merstham keeper somehow managed to stick out a foot to block the shot and then dive on the rebound. A defeat perhaps, but Worthing knew they'd been in a game.
Merstham: Bull, Palmer, Mason, Sankoh, Lloyd, Collins (c), Adjei-Hersey, Greenwood, Dillon (Ekpiteta 57), Anderson (Makofo 69),Ufuah.
Unused subs: Hayles, Folkes
Man of the Match: Palmer
Leatherhead 2-3 Merstham - Saturday 23rd October - Pitching In Isthmian League
Seldom can a manager have looked as unhappy with an away win as Merstham boss Frank Wilson did after Saturday's game. But it is a measure of the standards that are expected of this Merstham side and it's fair to say that the performance at Fetcham Grove fell well short of those standards. But you must always give great credit to any side that goes a goal down on the road and comes away with all three points.
Merstham were sloppy in and out of possession from the opening minutes, misplacing simple passes and making strange decisions when they had the ball. It was no real surprise that this resulted in the Tanners being gifted the opening goal on 12'. For some reason, Reuben Collins elected to duck under a ball, presumably in the hope it would carry through to his keeper. But Leatherhead's Onokwai was the player the ball bounced through to and the striker looped his header over the stranded Toby Bull. But the Moatsiders responded and less than 60 seconds later, Korrey Henry had a great chance to equalise when he was through on goal. But his shot was blocked at close range by Tanners keeper Bowman. It looked as though the Moatsiders might have woken up, but the game settled back into a succession of individual and collective mistakes by both sides. But with Merstham's strike force, there is always hope that a piece of individual brilliance will conjure a goal out of nothing and so it proved on the half hour. John Ufuah's determination and strength won a long ball that he was definitely second favourite for. He whipped a ball into the box where Henry controlled it, but with his back to goal he had plenty to do. However, a Tanners defender rashly tried to win the ball and went through the Merstham man. The referee had no hesitation and awarded a penalty to the visitors. Although Bowman got a hand to Henry's spot kick, it had enough power to find the net and put the Moatsiders back on level terms. But neither defence looked secure and two minutes later, Kithambo had a chance to put the Tanners back in front, but blazed wildly over the bar. At the other end, Ufuah was through on goal, but once again Bowman came to his side's rescue by saving Ufuah's effort with his foot. On 40', Troy Williams sent a cross into the Leatherhead box and a poor header landed at Ufuah's feet. The Merstham striker shifted the ball onto his right foot and hammered an unstoppable shot into the far corner to put the visitors 2-1 up. Tahjae Anderson almost made it 3-1 on 44', but his shot from the edge of the box went just past the post. Just when it looked as though Merstham would go into the break ahead, in first half added time, a Merstham corner led to a quick counterattack by the Tanners. With the Moatsiders in disarray, a square ball found Sami who hit a superb shot into the top corner from 25 yards to send the two sides into the interval level at 2-2.
The consensus at half-time was that there would be more goals in the second period. However, Merstham weren't helped by being forced into a double change at the break with Henry and Gharbaoui both being forced off with injuries. Reyon Dillon replaced Henry and U23 midfielder Manny Katundu was brought on to make his senior debut. Any hopes that the game would improve as a spectacle in the second half were short-lived, but though low on quality, there was always the chance of a goal at both ends. However, Merstham certainly defended better after the break and Toby Bull had little to do. At the other end, Anderson went close with a dipping free kick from 25 yards on 63'. Ufuah had become more and more of a threat as the game unfolded and was giving Tanners right-back Toussaint a torrid time. On 74', his pace took him clear of the covering defenders as he chased a long ball. Tanners keeper Bowman made the decision to come and clear it, but Ufuah got to the ball first and the flying keeper clattered into the Merstham winger. Once again, the ref had no hesitation in awarding a spot kick. Ufuah dusted himself down and hammered home the penalty to give the visitors the lead. For the last fifteen minutes, the Moatsiders protected their lead and reduced Leatherhead to long range efforts. 'Winning ugly' perhaps, but winning nonetheless.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Gharbaoui (Katundu 46), Lloyd, Collins (c), Adjei-Hersey, Greenwood, Henry (Dillon 46), Anderson (Makofo 65), Ufuah.
Unused subs: Hayles, Stone
Man of the Match: Ufuah
Merstham 4-0 Bowers & Pitsea - Tuesday 19th October - Pitching In Isthmian League
Merstham followed up their demolition of Haringey with an emphatic win over Bowers & Pitsea, thanks to a hat-trick from Korrey Henry. Bowers had an outstanding result in the FA Cup on Saturday and you might think that they were still in celebratory mood, looking at the score line. But it was a very competitive game, especially in the opening forty-five minutes, when Merstham's back four were tested by an aerial bombardment.
The first half was actually something of a turgid affair. Bowers play a 'route one' type of football, which is effective and difficult to combat, but not pleasing on the eye. James Richmond and Reuben Collins won their fair share of balls in the air, but the ball spent far more time in the air than on the ground in the opening 30 minutes, which didn't really suit the Moatsiders. It wasn't until 22' that either side registered a shot on target, when a shot from distance from John Ufuah gave Bowers keeper Mitch Beeney something to do. It was Ufuah that looked the most likely source of a breakthrough as his pace wide on the left and clever combinations with Jude Mason, caused the visitors more than a few problems. On 36', another Ufuah run caused panic in the Bowers back four. Ufuah found Korrey Henry on the edge of the box, but his shot was comfortably saved by Beeney. But a minute before the break, the Moatsiders got the all-important breakthrough. A loose pass in the Bowers half was picked off by Tahjae Anderson. The midfielder slid a perfectly weighted through ball to Henry who was on the shoulder of the last defender and beat him for pace. Although Beeney got something on Henry's cool finish, he couldn't keep it out and the Moatsiders went into the break one up.
The second half got off to a blistering start. Within 30 secs, Ufuah's pace got him to Henry's flick-on ahead of the last defender, leaving him 1 v 1 with the Bowers keeper. The Merstham winger's final touch was slightly heavy and gave Beeney the chance to smother Ufuah's effort. But it was a short reprieve for the visitors. On 49' another electrifying burst by Ufuah turned the Bowers' defence. His low cross found Anderson in the middle of the box. The midfielder calmly controlled the ball and curled a shot into the net, leaving Beeney rooted to the spot. Barely a minute later, Merstham made the points safe by grabbing a third. A long ball from the back wasn't dealt with by the visitors and Korrey Henry outmuscled the last defender, controlling the bouncing ball and pinned the centre back. There was still plenty to do as Henry had his back to goal, but the striker swiveled to his right and hit a low shot into the corner of the net. On the hour mark, Ufuah chased a lost cause and put Bowers sub Leahy under pressure. The defender tried to play it back to his keeper, but a combination of the ball being slightly under hit and Ufuah's pace meant that the Merstham man got there just before the keeper, who brought Ufuah down. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Korrey Henry blasted home the penalty to complete his hat-trick on 61'. Bowers kept trying to get a consolation goal and it took a superb save from Toby Bull on 74', when he pushed a stinging close-range shot from Trendell over the bar, to preserve the clean sheet. Arguably, Merstham could and probably should have added to their tally, but perhaps that's being a little greedy.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Gharbaoui, Richmond © (Lloyd 46), Collins, Ufuah, Greenwood, Henry (Makofo 73), Anderson (Dillon 72), Adjei-Hersey
Unused subs: Palmer, Stone
Man of the Match: Henry
Merstham 5-0 Haringey Borough - Saturday 16th October - Pitching In Isthmian League
Haringey were blitzed by a five star and five goal performance by the Moatsiders. All of the goals came in an incredible first-half, which left the home fans rubbing their eyes in disbelief and the visitors shell-shocked.
Merstham scored with their first real attack after just five minutes. John Ufuah collected a loose Borough header and spotting the run of Dylan Adjei-Hersey, he delivered an inch-perfect ball. The Merstham winger didn't have to break stride and from the edge of the box, he hit it first time and the ball arrowed into the bottom left-hand corner. Haringey recovered from that early set back and began to get a foothold in the game. A wicked deflection off James Richmond went narrowly wide and Cole's powerful shot from 30 yards went just over the bar. In the 21' minute, the Moatsiders doubled their lead, courtesy of an awful mistake by the Borough keeper Jon Miles. Merstham played a short corner and Ufuah delivered a fairly innocuous cross into the six yard box. It was an easy catch as he was unchallenged, but somehow Miles dropped the ball. Reuben Collins gratefully accepted the gift and bundled the ball home. The goal seemed to deflate the visitors and it wasn't long before Merstham extended their lead. On 28', a nice exchange of passes between Adjei-Hersey and Troy Williams led to the right-back putting in a great ball to the far post. Merstham's other full-back Jude Mason had ghosted in totally unmarked and side-footed home from close range to make it 3-0. By now Haringey were all at sea and an awful pass out of defence straight to Chace Jacquart very nearly gifted Merstham a fourth. But a fourth goal wasn't long in coming. Ufuah had been a constant menace and had given the Borough right back a torrid time, having gone past him on the outside three or four times already. In the 34th minute, he drifted past a couple of challenges, but this time cut inside and unleashed a superb shot from 18 yards into the far corner. Merstham's supporters were already pinching themselves, but two minutes later it was 5-0. Ufuah was fouled 35 yards out. Jacquart's quick free kick caught Haringey flat-footed and found the feet of Korrey Henry. The Merstham target man pinned his defender and the rolled to his right before hammering a low shot into the net. The half-time whistle couldn't come quick enough for the beleaguered visitors.
Although the Merstham faithful were hoping for more fireworks in the second half, both sides were largely happy to settle for what they had. Merstham were keen to keep a clean sheet and not give the visitors any hope, while Haringey were in damage limitation mode. As a result, the second forty-five minutes were relatively uneventful. Haringey had a few shooting opportunities, but all of their efforts bar one were wildly off target. It wasn't until 64' that Toby Bull had to make a save of any note, when he palmed away a shot from Bessadi. At the other end, Merstham had a few promising situations, but the final ball was lacking. The one big talking point of the half was when the Borough keeper came out of his box and slipped, making a complete hash of his clearance. He then handled the ball once, as he tried to recover, then panicked and scooped the ball away from an oncoming Henry. Amazingly, the referee and assistant saw neither use of his hands. As he was outside the area, it would have been a straight red. Perhaps the referee was feeling some sympathy to a team five down. But when the visiting fans were agreeing they saw not one, but two hand balls by their keeper, you wonder how the officials didn't see it. It wasn't until the dying moments that the Moatsiders threatened again. A James Richmond header was nodded over his own bar by a covering defender, and the Merstham skipper then went close with the resulting corner. Five goals and a clean sheet. It doesn't get much better than that.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Greenwood, Richmond ©, Collins, Adjei-Hersey (Dillon 70), Jacquart, Henry, Ufuah (Makofo 70), Gharbaoui (Anderson 46).
Unused subs: Palmer, Hayles.
Man of the Match: Jacquart
Merstham 1-3 Margate - Tuesday 12th October - Pitching In Isthmian League
After a fine win and excellent performance against Corinthian Casuals, the Moatsiders came down to earth with a bump against Margate. Merstham really didn't get the rub of the green during the game, but the overall performance, especially in the first half was certainly below par.
The first half never really got going as a spectacle. Both sides had some neat passages of play, but then all too often surrendered possession, especially in the final third. Neither goalkeeper was unduly troubled, although at least Chase Jacquart forced Gate keeper Pat Ohman into a diving save on 7'. Jacquart had what looked to be a goal bound effort blocked by a defender on 16', after great work by Korrey Henry wide on the left. But both defences were on top, with Merstham's back four looking solid, protecting Toby Bull very well. It was the dying moments of the first half when both sides had chances to take the lead. On 44', Dylan Adjei-Hersey went on one of his trademark runs, leaving defenders trailing in his wake. He cut inside and unleashed a shot from 25 yards, which Ohman could only watch and pray that it wasn't on target. Unfortunately for the Moatsiders, it whistled past the far post. Then, in first half added time, Merstham rather needlessly conceded a throw-in in their final third. Margate worked a shooting chance for Bola on the edge of the Merstham box. His scuffed shot would no doubt have been comfortably saved by Bull as it lacked power, but the shot took a wicked deflection and found the opposite corner. The whistle went for half time seconds later.
Merstham began the second half far better and Henry immediately tested Ohman with a shot from distance. But on 57', Bola scored an absolute screamer from a good 30 yards. It came from nothing and it was a goal you just had to admire, rather than blame anyone defensively. Merstham were in a hole, but they responded magnificently. John Ufuah had been a threat to Margate all night and his shot went narrowly wide as the Moatsiders put Margate under real pressure for the first time. It was Ufuah's cross on 68' that found Adjei-Hersey in the box and the Merstham winger steered the bouncing ball home from 6 yards. Suddenly it was game on and Merstham poured forward. At that stage it looked as though an equaliser was only a matter of time. But in the 80th minute, an innocuous free kick into the Merstham box wasn't dealt with and the ball dropped to Blackman on the penalty spot. There wasn't a Merstham defender within 10 yards of him and he had time to make a cup of tea before slotting it past Toby Bull to kill any hope of a Merstham comeback.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Gharbaoui, Richmond ©, Collins, Jacquart, Greenwood (Dillon 58) Henry (Anderson 85), Ufuah, Adjei-Hersey (Makofo 88).
Unused subs: Palmer, Lloyd
Man of the Match: Ufuah
Corinthian-Casuals 0-3 Merstham - Saturday 9th October - Pitching In Isthmian League
Two goals in added time masks the fact that this was a close game and The Moatsiders were made to work hard for the three points. But against an in-form Casuals outfit, it was an excellent all-round team performance, and few would deny that it was a deserved win for the visitors.
For probably the first time this season, boss Frank Wilson had a potent strike force on the pitch and some strength in depth on the bench. New signing Korrey Henry led the line well and worked hard, while the introduction of John Ufuah and Reyon Dillon in the second half reaped dividends, as both found the net in added time.
Merstham got off to a dream start. In the third minute, a long ball was flicked on by Serge Makofo and Chace Jacquart got the ball under control and ran at the Casuals defence. With options left and right, Jacquart chose correctly and his clever ball to his left found Dylan Adjei-Hersey unmarked ten yards out. Although the Merstham winger slipped as he went to hit it, the shot was struck well enough to find the far corner.
It was an entertaining game, with both sides playing some good football, although neither keeper was tested in the opening twenty minutes. Merstham looked solid at the back and threatening when they went forward. On several occasions, some good approach work was only marred by a poor cross or an over-ambitious pass, trying to thread the eye of a needle. Casuals had their first real sight of goal on 19', but Bendle failed to hit the target from close range. But the football was frequently marred by the performance of the referee, who it has to be said, had an absolute shocker throughout. On 32', Adjei-Hersey was sent clear and as he ran at pace into the penalty area and was drawing his foot back to shoot, he was clearly clipped from behind. When the home supporters use terms like 'stone-wall' penalty, it is a pretty good indicator of what should have happened next. Amazingly, Mr Smith waved it away and told the Merstham staff after the game that it had been an accidental 'coming together'. Fouling a player from behind when he's through on goal and denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity is of course a red-card, so perhaps that is why he chose not to give the foul. But the referee's performance became increasingly erratic as the game progressed. In the second half, he decided to book Jude Mason for time wasting when Mason was pointing out that a Casuals player was only 5 or 6 yards away as he went to take a free kick. But at least the yellow card was waved theatrically.
Back to the football. Merstham keeper Toby Bull had been relatively unemployed, but he was finally called into action a few minutes before the break, when he was forced to palm away a shot from Warren Mfula. The Moatsiders were well-worth their lead at the interval.
If you can be at all critical of the second half display, you'd say Merstham didn't take two or three excellent chances to add to their lead. One of those was on 56', when Henry flicked on a long ball, and Jacquart pounced on the loose ball before finding a diagonal run by Adjei-Hersey. The winger controlled the pass instantly and took it wide of the despairing lunge by Casuals' keeper Bracken. Shaping to turn the ball into the empty net, Adjei-Hersey was knocked off balance by a last-ditch challenge by Casuals' left back Mensah, who did just enough, and Adjei-Hersey's shot hit the side netting instead. Five minutes later, the Moatsiders had another big shout for a penalty, when Henry looked to be tripped in the box. But it was hardly a surprise when the man in black chose to ignore that one too. Casuals pressed forward in search of an equaliser and enjoyed most of the possession. But aside from a few dangerous looking balls into the box, they really didn't create a clear-cut chance, except when a casual bit of defending by Reuben Collins almost gifted Mfula an equaliser, but the forward couldn't get his volley on target. On 66', Cadogen could have done better with a free header but was off target. Merstham had another great opportunity to wrap the game up on 76' when Charlie Greenwood had two chances to beat Bracken from close range. But the Casuals keeper did well to save his first effort and was smartly up to block Greenwood's second effort from the rebound.
With two minutes of added time already played, Merstham broke from defending a corner. Adjei-Hersey collected the ball and found Ufuah on the halfway line. Ufuah had only one thing on his mind and ran at pace at the last Casuals defender who was forced to back off. That gave Ufuah time to pick his spot from 18 yards which he did superbly, finding the far corner to make the points safe. Almost straight from the restart, Casuals hoisted a long ball into the Moatsiders box, which was cleared and once again, Ufuah was running at the Casuals depleted defence. This time he unselfishly played it square to Reyon Dillon, who side-footed home to add a little extra gloss to the scoreline.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Gharbaoui (Dillon 72) Richmond ©, Collins, Adjei-Hersey, Jacquart, Henry (Anderson 72), Makofo (Ufuah 65), Greenwood.
Unused subs: Palmer, Stone
Man of the Match: Richmond
Merstham 0-2 Hereford - Saturday 2nd October - Emirates FA Cup
Hereford progressed through to the next round of the FA Cup far more comfortably than the score line might suggest. However, both sides deserve credit for an entertaining game played in a torrential downpour that was close to making the pitch unplayable towards the end. Indeed, the referee remarked after the game that had the Moatsiders complained more about the playing surface, which had standing water in the centre circle in the last fifteen minutes, he might have considered calling it off. While the Moatsiders never gave up, they rarely looked like scoring and offered little threat going forward. By contrast, Merstham's defenders and keeper were made to work hard, especially during a one-sided first half.
The first warning signs came as early as the second minute when a clever ball gave Hereford's overlapping right back Hodgkiss, a chance to warm Toby Bull's palms as the Merstham keeper was forced into acrobatic action to push away a stinging drive. Merstham were pinned back in their own half for the opening fifteen minutes and even when they did regain possession, the Bulls swiftly pressed and won it back rather too easily. On 16', a disputed corner almost brought the opening goal. Pollock got ahead of James Richmond to the in-swinging corner and his bullet header was spectacularly saved by Bull at point blank range. The ball dropped in the six-yard box and an almighty scramble ensued before the Moatsiders managed to hack the ball to safety. A few minutes later, Reuben Collins threw himself in the way to block a goal-bound effort from Ollie Hulbert. Time and again, Hereford found themselves with time and space to line up a shot from the edge of the box, but thankfully their shooting was as miserable as the weather. It was a valiant rear-guard action, but it seemed only a matter of time before the Bulls broke through. Surprisingly, it took them until three minutes before the break to get the opening goal. A clever little chip by Pinchard found the feet of Owen-Evans who turned smartly before sweeping the ball home from 10 yards. Merstham almost grabbed a shock equaliser in first half added time, when a beautifully flighted free-kick by Dylan Adjei-Hersey was flicked on by the head on James Richmond, only to go narrowly wide of the far post.
The game was to all intents and purposes settled within two minutes of the restart. Just 30 second into the second half, a great run and cross by Adjei-Hersey found the head off Tahjee Anderson, all alone just six yards out. The Merstham faithful were already jumping to their feet to celebrate an equaliser, but Anderson somehow nodded wide. Merstham were made to pay for that miss on 47'. Merstham were on the attack, but Ayman Gharbaoui had the ball nicked off him in the middle of Hereford's half. The Bulls launched a swift and deadly counterattack, which culminated in a beautiful curling Pinchard shot into the top left corner, giving Bull no chance. From that point on, the result really wasn't in doubt. Bull made a couple of good saves, and Richmond and Collins both hurled their bodies in the way to block goal bound efforts. But the Moatsiders did little suggest they could get a goal back to set up a grandstand finish that might have been interesting, as conditions deteriorated markedly in the last 10 minutes.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Anderson (Greenwood 54), Richmond ©, Collins, Jacquart, Gharbaoui (Monga 65), Sam-Yorke (Folkes 61) Makofo, Adjei-Hersey.
Unused subs: Lloyd, Ellaway, Hayles, Palmer
Man of the Match: Collins
Kingstonian 4-1 Merstham - Saturday 25th September - Pitching In Isthmian League
The final score was very harsh indeed on the Moatsiders and not reflective of the 90 minutes as a whole. But the Moatsiders failed to convert several gilt-edged chances in the first half when they were arguably the better side and ultimately paid the price.
Merstham began the game well, with new signing John Ufuah showing some nice touches. It was an entertaining game, with the visitors looking full of confidence. K's keeper Rob Tolfey has a busy first half and in the 12th minute he was called into action when Dylan Adjei-Hersey forced him into a smart save low to his right. But a minute later K's should have taken the lead when Clunis somehow failed to convert from a couple of yards when it looked easier to score. But the Moatsiders continued to carve out opportunities and minutes later Tolfrey made another good stop when Ufuah's close range effort had some of the sting taken out of it by a deflection. Ufuah had another great chance in the 25th minute when good work on the left by Serge Makofo gave the Merstham striker a clear sight of goal from 8 yards, but his shot was straight at Tolfrey who did well to beat it away. It was really against the run of play when K's took the lead on the half hour. Some indecision in the middle of the park by the Moatsiders, gave Clunis the chance to slide the ball through to Ajakaiye, who dinked the ball over Toby Bull as the keeper came to meet him. But Merstham were undeterred and kept going forward. Just five minutes after going a goal down, Tolfey was again called into action when he saved well from Ufuah. But the Moatsiders collected the rebound and Chase Jacquart curled a teasing ball towards the far post from the edge of the box. The ball eluded everyone, clipped the post and bobbled over the line to give Merstham a well-deserved equaliser.
K's began the second half far better and started to ask serious questions of the Merstham defence, though the Moatsiders were guilty on several occasions of over-playing and trying to dribble their way out of their own box. Reuben Collins was almost punished when he was dispossessed on the edge of the area, and Clusnis' shot went just past the post. Bull did well to hold onto a skimming shote low to his left, which was the first time the Merstham keeper had been called upon to make a save. But K's regained the lead on 56 minutes from a corner. It was a messy goal. As the ball was swung it, four players went down. It was hard to tell who fouled who, so the referee called it even, allowing Cook to scramble home the loose ball from close in. At 2-1 down the Moatsiders were still in the game. But unlike the first half, they just couldn't keep possession as K's dominated midfield and Merstham rarely threatened an equaliser. With ten minutes left, boss Frank Wilson rolled the dice, taking off Collins for an extra midfielder and playing three at the back. But on 83 minutes, K's wrapped up the points when a Beeney cross found Cook unmarked at the far post to make it 3-1. To rub salt in the wounds, K's were awarded a very soft penalty in injury time when Banton felt contact and fell theatrically, but it was enough to convince a referee who had annoyed both sets of supporters with his decisions all afternoon. Ex-Merstham favourite Gus Sow hammered home the spot-kick to give the score extra gloss for the league leaders.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Gharbaoui (Dickson 76), Collins (Palmer 80), Richmond ©, Adjei-Hersey, Anderson (Folkes 56), Ufuah, Jacquart, Makofo.
Unused subs: Lloyd, Greenwood.
Man of the Match: Ufuah.
Merstham 4-1 Margate - Saturday 18th September - Emirates FA Cup
The Moatsiders ultimately cruised into the third qualifying round of the FA Cup with this emphatic win. But for an hour, this was a hard-fought and close affair that at half-time was too close to call. It took two second-half goals in the space of six minutes to really decide the tie in favour of the home side.
After the disappointing midweek result and performance against Lewes, Merstham boss Frank Wilson opted for a much more attacking line up, bringing in both Serge Makofo and Reyon Dillon as a twin spearhead up front. Both forwards justified their inclusion with a goal apiece and an impressive display.
Although Merstham began the game well, passing the ball around confidently, the opening twenty minutes of the game were cagey, with neither side really threatening and both keepers' virtual spectators. That changed in the 21st minute and it was due to a calamitous mistake by the visitors. A long ball out of defence by James Richmond looked harmless enough but inexplicably, Margate skipper Ben Swift misjudged the flight and his clearing header went sideways across his own eighteen-yard box, rather than forward. Makofo gleefully latched on to the gift and calmly slid the ball past Ohran in the Margate goal. Minutes later, a well-struck free kick from Dylan Adjei-Hersey from 25 yards, was on target but didn't really test Ohran. But in the 32nd minute, the Merstham winger's shot from the same distance did bring out a fine save from the Margate keeper, plunging low to his left to keep out a skidding drive. Margate didn't really test Toby Bull in the Merstham goal, though Gate's James Bessey-Saldanha was giving Merstham right-back Troy Williams a real test and no doubt Williams was rather pleased to see the left winger subbed off at the interval. Just when it looked as though the Moatsiders would go into the break a goal up, Margate equalised. Merstham turned the ball over in their own half, and Montel Agyermang picked up the ball and drove at the Merstham back four. In something of a carbon copy of a goal they conceded against Lewis, they backed off too much and allowed Agyemang to pick his spot from 20 yards, which he did with some aplomb. The referee's whistle blew for the interval a minute later.
Conceding a goal just before the break can change the momentum of a game and so it proved. But it was Merstham who came out for the second half far more aggressively. They closed Margate down more quickly all over the pitch and won the ball back frequently. But sometimes in football you need a little luck, and in the 57th minute Merstham got a slice of it. Tahjee Anderson picked the ball up wide on the right flank about 30 yards out. He looked up and delivered a dangerous curling ball into the box, aimed at the far post. The ball eluded everyone, including the Margate keeper, who was distracted by players running across him, and nestled in the far corner of the net to put the home side 2-1 up. Anderson insisted it was a shot, so maybe we ought to give him the benefit of the doubt. Whatever the intent, Merstham were in front and six minutes later, they doubled their lead. Chace Jacquart, who had an excellent game, saw a pass into Reyon Dillon's feet who was 12 yards out. The midfielder delivered a perfectly-weighted ball and Dillon turned his marker superbly, getting the ball onto his right foot and then drilling a low shot into the far corner. From that point on, it was all about game management. Margate kept pushing forward trying to get one back, but it presented the Moatsiders with some good counter-attacking opportunities and Adjei-Hersey's pace was causing Gate all sorts of problems. It was fitting that he put the icing on the cake six minutes from time. Merstham had been playing 'keep ball' in the Margate left corner of the pitch, but a deft turn and a burst of acceleration saw Adjei-Hersey lose his marker. The Merstham winger then produced a sublime finish from 20 yards, curling the ball round and over the hapless Gate keeper into the far top corner of the net to give a nice gloss to the scoreline.
Merstham: Bull, Williams (Palmer 90), Mason, Gharbaoui, Lloyd, Richmond ©, Jacquart, Anderson, Makofo (Greenwood 89), Dillon (Monga82), Adjei-Hersey.
Unused subs: Dickon, Bademosi, Hayles.
Man of the Match: Adjei-Hersey
Merstham 1-3 Lewes - Tuesday 14th September - Pitching In Isthmian League
A desperately disappointing first-half display handed the initiative to Lewes and the visitors took full advantage to register a comfortable win. The result was rarely in doubt, and the Moatsiders can consider themselves fortunate that Lewes were profligate in their finishing in the opening forty-five minutes.
Merstham started the game very passively, allowing the visitors to take the initiative as they sat deep in their own half. Lewes are a good side, but if you give any team time and space to pick their passes, eventually they will hurt you. Merstham keeper Toby Bull was in for a busy night, and he was called into action as early as the fourth minute when he had to push away a low, skidding drive from 25 yards. But he could do nothing four minutes later, when Merstham left Rooks' Ollie Tanner unmarked at the far post to fire home the opener into the top corner. From that moment on, the visitors took control of the game. Merstham could easily have found themselves two or three down by the interval. Lewes should have added a second in the 24th minute when they sliced through the Moatsiders' defence, but Bull kept out Taylor with a fine save from close range. The one bright spot for the home side was Dylan Adjei-Hersey, who was giving the Lewes right back a torrid evening. Having pulled back the Merstham winger three times, the ref soon gave the hapless defender a yellow card and shortly afterwards the Lewes boss pulled him off to avoid a potential red card. Football is a funny game though. Having been totally outplayed, Merstham equalised in the 36th minute. A corner from the right found skipper James Richmond all alone in the six-yard box. He nodded home without even having to jump to put the teams on level terms. Just as it looked like Merstham would go in on level terms at the break, Lewes re-took the lead. A ball into the box caused panic and while Bull did well to block the first shot on target, he could do nothing when Richards blasted the ball home from just inside the box.
Merstham began the second half much better and the drive and determination missing in the first half was at last evident, although the Rooks still looked dangerous when they went forward. In the 55th minute, Rooks keeper Carey made a superb fingertip save at his near post to deny Adjei-Hersey, who must have thought he'd scored. Merstham switched to a 4-4-2 as Reyon Dillon came on up front. Just when it looked as though Merstham might force an equaliser, Lewes scored a killer third. It was a bad goal to concede. The ball was given away cheaply, and Tanner picked the ball up 40 yards from goal and ran at the Merstham defence. No-one attempted a tackle and Tanner was able to pick his spot and from 20 yards giving Bull no chance. From that point on the result was rarely in doubt. Merstham tried to get back into the game, but created little in terms of clear-cut chances, while Lewes seemed content to keep what they had.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Greenwood (Dillon 57), Lloyd, Richmond ©, Gharbaoui, Jacquart, Folkes (Makofo 67), Anderson (Dixon 67), Adjei-Hersey.
Unused subs: Monga, Palmer.
Man of the Match: Dylan Adjei-Hersey
Cheshunt 0-1 Merstham - Saturday 11th September - Pitching In Isthmian League
Merstham picked up their first away win of the league campaign with a solid defensive display, particularly in the last fifteen minutes, as Cheshunt pumped ball after ball into the box. But few would deny that the three points were well deserved, and it is arguable that it could have been more comfortable had two clear-cut penalties been awarded to the Moatsiders in the opening forty-five minutes. More on the performance of the match officials later. With Rueben Collins out with a knock, Bertie Lloyd came into the back four and had a fine match alongside James Richmond. The other change was Toby Williams for Kyrell Palmer at right back.
Merstham started the game brightly and played some neat football, but also looked capable of creating chances. The first clear-cut opening came as early as the seventh minute, when a long ball from the back found Reyon Dillon. The striker got the ball under control and took it round the keeper. But the Cheshunt defence were quickly back, preventing Dillon from getting a shot away and the danger was snuffed out. In the tenth minute, Merstham had the first of their two penalty shouts. Omar Folkes had the ball played into his feet ten yards out, when a Cheshunt defender scythed through the back of the Merstham striker. But referee Stratton, who had a dreadful game throughout, decided that such a challenge from behind was not a foul. In the 18th minute, another good Merstham attack created a shooting chance for Tahjae Anderson. His shot appeared to be arrowing towards the bottom corner when it was cleared almost off the line by a covering defender. But it wasn't all one-way traffic and Cheshunt looked dangerous too, especially down their left flank. Some dangerous balls into the box were well-defended by the Merstham back four. Cheshunt's Aaron Blair was especially dangerous and worked two or three shooting chances for himself but failed to hit the target. Then in the 26th minute came a bizarre incident. Dylan Adjei-Hersey did superbly well on the left flank and beat his defender before dinking a clever chip to the far post where Dillon was waiting almost on the goal line to nod the ball home. That was until a Cheshunt defender put in a challenge that would have been deemed very acceptable in the NFL, but not in association football. The defender barged the Merstham forward in the back sending him flying into the goal. Referee Statton said after the game that there was 'insufficient contact' to award a spot kick. One can only assume the referee is more used to watching rugby than football. Three minutes before the break however, Merstham did get the breakthrough. Williams played an early ball into Dillon on the edge of the box. The striker's first-time flick found Anderson arriving in space and he finished coolly from eight yards. But the Moatsiders were indebted to keeper Toby Bull for going in one up at the interval. He produced a superb one-handed save right on the goal line on the stroke of halftime when it looked a certain equaliser for the home side.
The second half saw a change in tactics by the home side. They elected to go route one and began pumping long, high balls into the Merstham box. But it was the Moatsiders who almost extended their lead in the forty-seventh minute when a jinking run from Adjei-Hersey ended in a well-struck shot that was spectacularly saved by the Cheshunt keeper. On the hour mark, Dillon was again sent clear, but he took too long to get his shot away which was blocked. The high balls into the Merstham box continued, but Lloyd and Richmond stood firm and Bull didn't really have a shot to deal with. There were a few alarms as the ball ran loose in the area from time to time, but the Moatsiders defended very well as a unit, with the midfielders working hard to pick up the second ball. The best chance of the half actually fell to the Moatsiders seven minutes from time, when sub Yannick Monga was picked out by a Adjei-Hersey free kick. But the midfielder's volley from six yards somehow went wide. The referee added on six minutes of stoppage time and Cheshunt won a string of corners, but the Moatsiders dug deep and defended valiantly to pick up a valuable and deserved three points.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Greenwood, Lloyd, Richmond ©, Adjei-Hersey, Anderson (Monga 72), Folkes (Gharbaoui,65), Jacquart, Dillon (Makofo 75).
Unused subs: Dickson, Palmer.
Man of the Match: Bertie Lloyd
Balham 0-2 Merstham - Sunday 5th September - Emirates FA Cup
This isn't a match that will live long in the memory. On a dreadful playing surface, on a hot, sunny afternoon, both teams struggled to play football. Indeed, it had all the ingredients of an FA Cup upset, and the Moatsiders didn't help themselves with an insipid first-half performance. The game really changed on the hour mark, when Merstham boss Frank Wilson made a double substitution, bringing on Omar Folkes and Serge Makofo. Playing with a genuine number nine suited the Moatsiders and from that point on, they looked far more like winning the game.
Merstham had two very good chances to take the lead in the opening twenty minutes. In the 16', a Chace Jacquart free kick found its way through to the feet of James Richmond in the six-yard box, but the Merstham skipper got the ball stuck under his feet and couldn't get his shot away. In the 21st minutes, a superb through ball by Charlie Greenwood sent Jacquart clear with just the keeper to beat, but the midfielder seemed to be caught in two minds between squaring the ball and taking it around the keeper. In the end he did neither and another golden opportunity went begging. Goalmouth action was strictly limited however, and the game became an attritional battle in midfield as both sets of players struggled with the playing surface and a lively, bouncing ball. As a result, the ball spent more time in the air than on the grass. The only other talking point of a dull first half was the duel between Merstham's left winger Dylan Adjei-Hersey and Balham's right back. Adjei-Hersey was fouled several times, before the referee lost patience and showed the defender a yellow card. A few minutes later, the defender clattered into the Merstham man once more again, and the referee made it clear he was in last-chance saloon. Wisely, Balham's manager chose to substitute the full back at half time.
Tahjae Anderson started the game in the central striker role, but it's fair to say the experiment didn't really work. On the hour mark, Frank Wilson made his changes, putting Folkes on as the target man, and moving Anderson into a more familiar wide right role. He also replaced right-back Kyrell Palmer, moving Troy Williams from midfield to full back. The Moatsiders looked far better for the changes and almost immediately began to pose serious questions of a Balham defence that up to that point had been relatively comfortable. Folkes was making a difference and almost immediately laid off a ball for Adjei-Hersey, who cut inside and his low shot was tipped past the post by Balham keeper, Read. Five minute later, Folkes turned superbly wide on the left leaving a defender for dead, but the Balham keeper was quickly off his line and smothered Folkes' shot. It wasn't all one-way traffic though, and Balham still posed a threat, clearly demonstrated when a fine run and shot from their left-back went narrowly over the angle of post and bar. The pressure was building though and Merstham finally got the all-important break-through in the 77th minute. A corner from the left was helped on by the Balham keeper, but the ball found its way to Anderson on the right side of the box. He squared up a defender before spotting Jacquart arriving at pace from the edge of the box. Anderson rolled the ball deftly into his path and the Merstham midfielder gleefully hammered it into the net at the near post. Three minutes later, Merstham booked their place in the next round by adding a second, and again Anderson was the provider. This time he collected a ball touched on by Folkes wide on the left by the bye-line. Looking up, he spotted Serge Makofo unmarked at the far post and his clever chip left the sub with the simple task of nodding home from almost on the goal-line to finally put the game to bed.
Merstham: Bull, Palmer (Folkes 61), Mason, Greenwood, Richmond ©, Collins (Lloyd 71), Adjei-Hersey, Monga (Makofo 61), Anderson, Jacquart, Williams.
Unused subs: Gharbaoui, Dillon, Dickson, Hayles.
Man of the Match: James Richmond
Merstham 0-2 Folkestone Invicta - Monday 30th August - Pitching In Isthmian League
Most people would be surprised if Folkestone aren't in the title race at the end of the season. But the Moatsiders gave a good account of themselves, especially in the second half and were pushing for an equaliser when Invicta broke away and put the game to bed with a goal eleven minutes from time. However, there were plenty of positives to take from the game and the return of Jude Mason at left back and Charlie Greenwood in midfield certainly improved the side.
Folkestone started much the better and their front two of Yusuff and Smith were a real handful for the Merstham back four all afternoon. Toby Bull, who had another fine game in goal, was called into action as early as the fourth minute when he acrobatically pushed away a Yusuff lob after the forward muscled his way through to win the race to a hopeful punt forward. Although Invicta were playing some nice football, they were more than happy to go direct and let their forwards fight for the ball. Merstham offered little going forward and far too frequently gave the ball away in the opening forty-five minutes. Toby Bull was called into action several times as Folkestone dominated possession and created several good scoring opportunities. The visitors got their opening goal in the 24th minute, thanks to a hotly disputed free kick. Yosuff and Rueben Collins were fighting for possession on the edge of the box. It was a genuine 50/50 tussle. But the Invicta forward felt the contact and fell backwards as if he'd been pulled down. The referee, who had an indifferent afternoon, decided the flop warranted a free-kick in a dangerous position. The resulting free-kick deflected off the Merstham wall but the rebound dropped perfectly for Invicta's Ronnie Dolan who fired home from the edge of the box, giving Bull no chance. While the goal was fortunate, there was no doubt the visitors deserved their lead. The Moatsiders had Bull to thank for keeping the deficit to one goal, especially when he made a great stop minutes before half time.
During the interval, Merstham boss Frank Wilson made some tactical adjustments which stopped Folkestone finding their front two so easily. As a result, the second half was a much more even affair. In the 63rd minute, Wilson brought on Delano Sam-Yorke up front and pushed Rayon Dillon out wide on the right. Suddenly the Moatsiders looked much more dangerous, as Dillon had the beating of the Invicta left-back. On the other flank, Merstham's Dylan Adjei-Hersey was finally getting into the game and looked dangerous every time he got the ball. As a result, Invicta sent two men to try and shut down the Merstham winger, creating space elsewhere. Merstham's best chance came with fifteen minutes left. Dillon breezed past his man again once again and got to the bye line. He pulled the ball back to Greenwood, arriving at pace in the box, who hit it first time, but Invicta keeper Roberts nade a superb stop. The ball ran loose and was hacked clear before a Merstham player could get to the rebound and put it into the net. Just a minute later, a superb interchange between Adjei-Hersey and Mason on the left flank sent the full back clear. His cross agonizingly just missed two Merstham players who only needed to get a touch to turn the ball home. At this point, the home side were on top and looking as though they would grab an equaliser. But Folkestone were still dangerous on the counterattack and with eleven minutes left, an excellent cross to the far post found the head of Smith who nodded home from close range to secure the three points for the visitors.
Merstham: Bull, Palmer (Williams 73), Mason, Greenwood, Richmond ©, Collins, Jacquart, Gharbaoui (Sam-Yorke 63), Dillon, Anderson (Folkes 80), Adjei-Hersey.
Unused subs: Lloyd, Monga
Man of the Match: Jude Mason
Horsham 3-0 Merstham - Saturday 28th August - Pitching In Isthmian League
While no-one could deny that Horsham were the better side on the day and worthy winners, this match turned on two penalty decisions: one given in favour of the home team, one not given to the Moatsiders. Merstham must be on course for some sort of unwanted record; three league games played and three penalties conceded but more of those controversial refereeing decisions later.
Horsham, pointless before the game, began the match as though they were desperate to win in. They were dominant from the off and enjoyed the lion's share of possession in the opening forty-five minutes. Merstham by contrast, were strangely passive. They worked hard, but didn't win most of the 50/50 duels and when they did get possession, they were careless with the ball. They did get a shot on target in the 10th minutes, when some slick passing engineered a shooting chance for Ayman Gharbaoui, but his well-hit shot was straight at the Horsham keeper. At the other end, time and again Horsham got in behind the Merstham full backs, with Harding a particular threat with his pace and dribbling. It was a combination of good Merstham defending and a lack of quality on the ball into the box that restricted Horsham to several half chances. But it took a spectacular save from Merstham keeper Toby Bull in the 20th minute to keep his side on level terms. Ex-Merstham favourite Tom Kavanagh rifled a shot from just inside the box that seemed destined for the back of the net, but Bull superbly tipped it onto the bar and away for a corner. On the half hour Dylan Adjei-Hersey just failed to reach a cross at the far-post after a rare Merstham counterattack. Then, in the 40th minute came the first of the two penalty decisions. The Moatsiders didn't clear their lines from a corner and Reyon Dillon, back defending, was adjudged to have handled the ball. The word 'harsh' springs to mind, but his arm was away from his body. Kavanagh thumped the spot kick past Bull to give Horsham a lead at the interval that was probably deserved on the run of play.
The game changed just on the hour when Merstham boss Frank Wilson made a double change, bringing on Greenwood and Williams for Dillon and Stone. The Moatsiders instantly looked better for the changes, with Tahjae Anderson switching from wide right to playing down the middle. He and Adjei-Hersey began to cause Horsham problems. It was Anderson who was involved in the next penalty controversy. With two Horsham defenders in close attention, the Merstham man had the ball wide on the left on the edge of the 18-yard box. His close control led to a defender clipping his ankles. If you watch the video of the game, the foul clearly took place on the line, which as everyone will tell you is effectively inside the box, but referee Metcalfe immediately gave a free kick about six inches outside the box. Where's VAR when you need it?! The referee won't want to see the video again. At that point, the Moatsiders were just one down and it could have been a very different game if that had been given. But in the 68th minute, Horsham made sure of the points when Brivio was left unmarked at the far post to head home from close range. Chace Jacquart was inches away from pulling a goal back when he just failed to connect with a low cross into the six-yard box. But in the fifth minute of stoppage time, salt was rubbed into the wound when Horsham added a third. Harsh on the Moatsiders, but Horsham deserved the points.
Merstham: Bull, Palmer, Stone (Williams 58), Gharbaoui, Richmond ©, Collins, Adjei-Hersey, Monga (Folkes 77), Dillon (Greenwood 58), Jacquart, Anderson.
Unused subs: Lloyd, Bademosi.
Man of the Match: Chace Jacquart
Merstham 1-0 Potters Bar Town - Saturday 21st August - Pitching In Isthmian League
A fine all-round team display saw Merstham pick up their first win of the season and deservedly so. Manager Frank Wilson was able to pick from a much stronger squad with several players returning from injury. There were four changes from the previous game, with Stone and Palmer coming in at full back, Anderson in midfield and Sam-Yorke up front.
It was an entertaining game, with both sides playing some nice football, though there was very little by way of goalmouth action in the opening twenty-five minutes. Potters Bar, like so many teams, were intent on playing out from the back, though one could argue they didn't have the personnel to do so. As a result, they lived dangerously throughout the game and gave the Moatsiders three or four clear-cut chances by getting caught in possession in their own half. In the 28th minute they paid for it when Dylan Adjei-Hersey closed down the Town keeper Al Droubi, who decided to try and dribble past the Merstham winger. He made a complete hash of it and ended up scuffing a hurried clearance straight to Chace Jacquart just outside the box. The Merstham man controlled the ball, cut inside and coolly slotted home. Merstham then had chances to extend the lead. Good work by Sam-Yorke gave Tahjae Anderson a good shooting chance, but he hit it straight at the Town keeper. Moments later, Adjei-Hersey headed narrowly over from close range, though he insisted he was pushed as he went to head it. Town had plenty of height throughout their side and looked dangerous from set pieces. In the 39th minute, an innocuous ball to the far post saw a tangle between Merstham’s James Richmond and his opposite number. Much to the bemusement of the home supporters, the referee adjudged Richmond to have been tugging at the Town player's shirt and pointed to the spot . Town's Ben Ward Cochrane hit his spot kick well, but it was brilliantly saved by Merstham keeper Toby Bull low to his left. Two games played this season, two penalties conceded and two penalty saves by Merstham's young keeper. On the stroke of half time, more good passing from the Moatsiders put Kyrell Palmer through on goal, but his shot was sliced well wide.
Potters Bar persisted with their tactics of playing out from the back and in the 63rd minute, they presented the Moatsiders with a golden chance to extend their lead. A high press saw Chace Jacquart, who had an excellent game, rob Budden deep in the Town half. Clear through on goal, Jacquart elected to curl it into the top corner, but he got too much on it and his shot clipped the bar. Lesson learned by Potters Bar? Obviously not, as two minutes Adjei-Hersey closed down Pascal, who was dithering in possession and stole the ball off him. The Merstham winger's shot was destined for the far corner, but Town keeper Al Droubi produced a superb one-handed save to keep his side in the game. As the Moatsiders sunk deeper, Potters Bar had plenty of possession but rarely threated, except when right-winger Ibie was in possession. With the clock running down, there was a rare moment of alarm in the home defence with five minutes remaining, when the ball ran to sub Cole, eight yards, who looked certain to score. However, Toby Bull capped a fine display by blocking his shot to ensure Merstham collected all three points.
Merstham: Bull, Palmer, Stone, Gharbaoui, Richmond ©, Collins, Jacquart (Folkes 90), Monga, Sam-Yorke (Blake 73), Adjei-Hersey, Anderson (Bademosi 79).
Unused subs: Ellaway, Lloyd, Thompson
Man of the Match: Toby Bull
Brightlingsea Regent 2-0 Merstham - Saturday 14th August - Pitching In Isthmian League
A depleted Merstham, missing eight players through injury, will look back on this as a game they could and probably should have got something from, but for two defensive lapses. Brightlingsea took all three points courtesy of two counter-attack goals, which will be a source of irritation to manager, Frank Wilson.
On a warm afternoon, there was plenty of endeavour but very little quality on show in the opening forty-five minutes. In the 14th minute, an innocuous ball to the far post hit Ayman Gharbaoui on the arm, and the referee pointed immediately to the spot. Up stepped Jake Clowsey for the R’s but his scuffed spot-kick was comfortably saved by Merstham keeper, Toby Bull. Five minutes later, the Moatsiders carved out their best chance of the game and should have taken the lead. Dylan Adjei-Hersey produced some magic wide of the left before his cross found the feet of Sam Blake in the box. Blake produced a great touch to set up a shooting chance for Omar Folkes from 12 yards, but the Merstham man snatched at the chance and sliced it well wide of the target. At the other end, Jack Haire did superbly well to block a goal bound effort form Ken Feyi. It had the feel of a game where one goal was likely to win it as neither side looked capable of creating much in front of goal. The first half ended 0-0.
The second half continued where the first half left off, with both sides guilty of squandering possession, more often than not by lumping the ball forward aimlessly. On the hour, Clowsey had a chance to redeem himself for his penalty miss but blazed over from ten yards when the ball dropped to him following a corner. A few minutes later, the Moatsiders had their best and only real chance of the second half when Izzy Bademosi was put through on goal, but he fired wide. Brightlingsea got the all-important opening goal in the 68th minute. With the Moatsiders having committed bodies forward, a swift counterattack by the R’s released Gouldbourne on the left flank. His inch-perfect cross found Clowsey who finally made amends by nodding home from six yards. From that point on, the Moatsiders huffed and puffed, but never really looked like scoring. With three minutes left, the R’s made the points safe when they broke quickly following a Merstham corner. Gharbaoui was left all alone at the back and the Brightlingsea forwards knocked the ball past him to set up Rs sub Byrne-Hewitt who had the simple task of side-footing home from a couple of yards.
Merstham: Bull, Haire, Adjei-Hersey, Gharbaoui, Richmond ©, Collins, Jacquart, Monga, Folkes (Hayles 82), Blake, Bademosi (Tang 66).
Unused subs: Ellaway, Lloyd
Man of the Match: Jack Haire