MATCH REPORTS 2021/22
- Match Reports by Chris Pullen -
Bowers & Pitsea 0-1 Merstham - Saturday 22nd January - Pitching In Isthmian League
This was a big win for the Moatsiders. It was a day that the result was much more important than the performance, and Merstham had to battle and compete physically with a rugged and direct Bowers side.
With John Ufuah having departed the club for a pro contract in Wales, Merstham were dealt another blow when left back Jude Mason failed a fitness test, so Jack Haire had to deputise for him. Boss Frank Wilson was also absent due to Covid, so Barry Hayles was in charge for the tricky visit to Essex.
The Moatsiders began well. They had much the better of the opening twenty minutes, in terms of both possession and carving out a few half chances. The nearest they came to scoring was with a couple of James Richmond headers from set pieces; one narrowly wide and one straight at the keeper. Dylan Adjei-Hersey and fellow Wimbledon loanee, Hus Biler were combining well on the right flank and causing the Bowers defence plenty of problems. But as the half wore on, the home side got back into the game and Ademiluyi was giving Jack Haire a tough afternoon. On 25', Bowers probably had the best chance of the half when the ball found Wabo in acres of space on the edge of the box, but he failed to hit the target. At the other end, Merstham had a number of promising situations, with Charlie Greenwood pulling the strings in midfield, but the final ball was lacking and Bowers keeper wasn't called upon to make a save in the opening 45 minutes, but neither was Toby Bull. It began to feel very much like a single goal would win it.
The second half got off to an explosive start. Bowers midfielder Alex Bentley picked up a yellow card for going through the back of Korrey Henry on 50' and then seven minutes later he got a deserved second yellow for a quite deliberate trip to slow down a Merstham counter-attack. The home supporters thought it very harsh, but the second yellow was deserved and when you're already on a yellow, you're asking for trouble. Three minutes later, Merstham took full advantage. Biler and Adjei-Hersey worked some magic on the right flank and the Merstham winger went around the full back and got to the dead ball line before drilling a low cross into the six-yard box. Serge Makofo was in just the right place to get a toe on the ball as he slid in to nudge it over the line and give the Moatsiders the all-important first goal. But Bowers didn't let their heads drop and redoubled their efforts to get back on terms. They always looked dangerous from set pieces, but Bertie Lloyd and James Richmond were having an outstanding match, dealing well with a string of high balls into the box. Bowers skipper White did get on the end of one on 62', but his header was straight at Bull. A minute later, Korrey Henry swiveled in the box and hammered a shot at the near post which the Bowers keeper beat away. Biler's follow up from the rebound was blasted just over the bar. On 70', Henry again did well to hold the ball up in the box before setting up Tahjae Anderson, whose well-struck effort was turned over the bar by the keeper. Bowers had their best chance to pull level when Monville went past Haire on the left flank, but his shot hit Toby Bull as the keeper narrowed the angle and made himself big. Merstham managed the game well in the last 15 minutes and restricted Bowers to just lumping the ball forward, which was dealt with fairly comfortably by the back four. Then, in the third minute of added time, Biler and Bowers' Sartain got tangled up as the Merstham man tugged the shirt of his opponent. Both players put their foreheads together as pleasantries were exchanged. After they were separated, to everyone's amazement, referee Karl Sear pulled out a straight red for first Biler and then Sartain. He was clearly the only person in the ground who saw it as violent conduct. It was a disappointing end to the afternoon for Biler who'd had an outstanding game.
Merstham: Bull, Biler, Haire, Gharbaoui, Lloyd, Richmond, Adjei-Hersey, Greenwood, Henry, Makofo (Jacquart 87'), Anderson (Cook 75').
Unused Subs: Hayles, McGee
Man of the Match: Huseyin Biler
Lewes 3-0 Merstham - Saturday 15th January - Pitching In Isthmian League
Sometimes in sport it is simply not your day, and this was certainly the case for the Moatsiders at high-flying Lewes. For forty-five minutes, the visitors outplayed the Rooks, but a combination of injury, inept officiating and bad luck meant that the Moatsiders came off at half time 0-2 down, when most watching would have agreed that it was an exceedingly harsh score line.
Merstham got off to a dreadful start, going a goal down after three minutes. A free kick 25 yards out was beautifully curled into the top corner by Ollie Tanner, who is being looked at by a number of pro clubs. But credit to the Moatsiders. They bounced straight back and should have equalised almost immediately. John Ufuah's searing pace got him to the dead ball line and he fired in a low cross to the near post. Korrey Henry couldn't get a touch but a half clearance from a Rooks defender went straight to Charlie Greenwood 10 yards out. The young midfielder opted to side foot it when perhaps putting his laces through it might have been the better option. His goal bound effort hit a defender and deflected wide. On 16', Dylan Adjei-Hersey collected the ball on the edge of the Lewes box, shimmied and fired in a low, skimming shot which struck the foot of the post. Huseyin Biler, who signed on loan from AFC Wimbledon this week, and made an excellent debut, was following in at the far post. He took a touch and hammered a shot at the near post, but Rooks keeper Carey stuck out a foot to deflect the shot wide. Biler's overlapping runs were a feature of the first half and another one on 23' saw another cross whipped into the near post and neither Adjei-Hersey or Henry could quite get a touch as the ball run through the six-yard box. Another mazy run by Adjei-Hersey saw him scythed down seemingly a foot or two inside the box. But the referee, who gave nothing to the visitors all afternoon, decided that it was a free kick on the edge of the box, and not worthy of a yellow card. It was one of a number of highly questionable decisions. On the half hour, Merstham suffered an injury to left back Jude Mason, which effectively changed the game. He was hurt in an aerial challenge and suffered a dead leg. Tahjae Anderson replaced him, with Jack Haire shifting to left back. But with Haire's work rate and covering gone from midfield, Merstham's control of the game gradually started to slip away. Seven minutes before the break Lewes added a very lucky second against the run of play. A ball being played out to the right wing hit the knee of Ayman Gharbaoui who was running back and deflected straight to the feet of Joe Taylor, who was all alone on the edge of the Merstham box, 5 yards offside, but played onside by the deflection. With just Bull to beat, he slotted it past the Merstham keeper to make it 2-0. Just before the break, Henry had a shooting chance but blazed just over the bar from just inside the box.
Tanner forced Toby Bull into a good stop at the start of the second half, but on 49 ' a great run by Greenwood gave first Adjei-Hersey and then Anderson shooting chances, but both were blocked by defenders throwing their bodies in the way. The game was now end to end and Lewes full back Carsle called Bull into action again with a spectacular save at his near post. On 50', Henry's defence splitting pass found the feet of Ufuah and his shot beat Carey, but also went just past the past. On 62' Lewes added a third with a quite laughable penalty. A long ball over the top found Taylor who looked well offside, but the flag stayed down. Taylor played it inside to Klass and as James Richmond went to ground the block the shot, the tall midfielder went down like a Canadian Redwood, in so many stages that it looked like a slow-motion replay. He has no future as an actor, but apparently it was enough to convince the referee, who must have thought hard about deciding to award a penalty or an Oscar. A penalty it was rather than a yellow card for simulation, but that surprised no-one in amber and black given what had gone before. Taylor slotted past Bull to make it 3-0. Even then Merstham refused to throw in the towel. A close-range header from Adjei-Hersey was beaten away by Carey and the Merstham winger just failed to get a toe on the next ball fired across the six-yard box. Then on 75' another Ufuah run found Makofo in the box. He missed his kick initially then spun and hit one that was the keeper blocked with his foot and Anderson's follow up was hacked off the line by a defender. A good performance by the Moatsiders ended up with nothing to show for their efforts.
Merstham: Bull, Biler, Mason (Anderson 31'), Gharbaoui, Lloyd, Richmond, Adjei-Hersey, Haire, Henry (Makofo 67'), Greenwood (McGee 82'), Ufuah.
Unused Subs: Hayles
Man of the Match: Charlie Greenwood
Merstham 3-1 Wingate & Finchley - Saturday 1st January - Pitching In Isthmian League
Two Korrey Henry penalties either side of half-time snapped a run of six games without a win for the Moatsiders. Make no mistake, this was a hugely important win for Merstham, as they had begun to slide down the table. While not playing their best football by any stretch of the imagination, the Moatsiders ran and fought and, where necessary, defended resolutely.
With Bull, Collins, McGee and Jacquart all still missing, Boss Frank Wilson made one change to the side that had come a cropper at Folkestone last time out, with Jack Haire making his second start of the season, having finally recovered from injury. Tahjae Anderson, another player who'd been out for several weeks was deemed fit enough for a place on the bench. Frank Wilson did, however, change to a 4-4-2 which seemed to suit Merstham's central midfielders far better, with Charlie Greenwood and Ayman Gharbaoui both putting in excellent shifts.
The match itself won't live long in the memory. It was a scrappy game, with the importance of the three points to both sides uppermost in the minds of the players. While Merstham deserved the win, Wingate made the home side work hard for their victory and their robust approach was aided and abetted by the referee, who may have written five Wingate names in his notebook but could easily have doubled that number.
Wingate had the first chance of the game when a Cotter header flicked the top of the bar after 8 minutes, but they weren't helped as first Kearney and then Cotter limped off in the first half. There was plenty of endeavor from both sides, but good defending at both ends ensured that neither keeper was tested in the opening 25 minutes. Merstham got the all-important opening goal on 27’. A free kick from 40 yards out found the head of Korrey Henry, who glanced the ball on to Jude Mason, stealing in at the far post. The full back took a touch and fired in a low shot from six yards out. His shot was half blocked, but the ball had enough pace on it to cross the line and the assistant flagged to give the goal. Yet another foul by the visitors gave John Ufuah a chance to line up a free kick from 25 yards on 30'. His shot beat the wall and forced Gate keeper Ben Goode to palm it away with his left hand. Three minutes before the break, Korrey Henry's strength and close control in the box invited a challenge and Dexter Peter obliged with a shove in the back. Henry picked himself up and slotted home the spot kick to make it 2-0 at the interval and give the Moatsiders some breathing space.
The second half was similar to the first period. Plenty of commitment from the two teams, but there was a lack of quality at both ends when it really mattered. The game was punctuated by a steady stream of free kicks and Wingate names started to go into referee Heron's notebook, though quite how Wingate's Sam Hatton didn't receive a yellow card until midway through the second half was a complete mystery. A nasty tackle from behind on Dylan Adjei-Hersey, with the Merstham wide man being forced off with injury , was deemed only worthy of a talking to.
Some of the corner kicks during the game had resulted in mauls better suited to Twickenham rather that the Moatside. On 66' the referee lost patience as a couple of Merstham bodies went flying as they tried to reach Ufuah's corner kick. Another penalty to Merstham. Up stepped Henry who slotted the spot kick past Goode and seemingly put the game beyond the reach of the visitors. But Wingate certainly didn't throw in the towel and on 77’ sub Liam Smyth fired home. Merstham sank deeper and deeper to protect their lead. Although the visitors had a couple of half chances, Niemczyski didn't really have a save to make and the Moatisiders managed to see out the remainder of the game out to secure three vital points.
Merstham: Niemczyski, Haire, Mason, Gharbaoui, Richmond (c), Olarewaju, Adjei-Hersey (Anderson 50'), Greenwood, Henry, Makofo (Blake 82'), Ufuah.
Unused subs: Ellaway, Lloyd, Hayles
Man of the Match: Charlie Greenwood
Folkestone Invicta 6-1 Merstham- Monday 27th December - Pitching In Isthmian League
December has been a bad month for Merstham, with five defeats from five outings. While a fixture at second place Folkestone was always going to be a tough ask, not many would have predicted that the Moatsiders would ship in six to the Seasiders.
For the first twenty minutes, Merstham looked as dangerous going forward as the home side, and they might have scored in the first 90 seconds when the ball bobbled around in the Invicta six-yard box, but no-one in a red shirt could force it over the line. On a wet and treacherous surface, goals seemed inevitable as both sides attacked at every opportunity. The Moatsiders were playing in a less familiar 3-5-2 and had Chace Jacquart and keeper Toby Bull missing through injury and Covid respectively. Keeper Damian Niemczycki was signed from Billericay the day before the game to cover for Bull and endured a baptism of fire, especially in the second half, when the Moatsiders were reduced to ten men.
Folkestone made the breakthrough on 21', when Newman got his head to a corner and glanced it into the far corner. Merstham almost equalised immediately when Charlie Greenwood played a defense-splitting pass to Serge Makofo. But with just the keeper to beat, Makofo hesitated and a covering defender got back to make a last-ditch tackle. Moments later, a fine run by Korrey Henry ended with a shot just past the near post. On 29' Invicta extended their lead when a cross from Yousef was met by Vincent's head at the far post. Niemczyski got a hand to it and grabbed it at the second attempt, but the assistant indicated that it had crossed the line. On 42', Heard hit a speculative shot from 30 yards, but as Niemczyski attempted to push off to save it, which he would have done so comfortably, his foot slipped and he could only watch helplessly as the ball sailed into the net.
Any hope of a Merstham fight back disappeared in five awful second half minutes. On 60', Niemczyski couldn't hold a shot from Heard from outside the box, and Smith pounced to make it 4-0. Two minutes later, it was 5-0 as Yusuff swept home a cross from the left. On 63', Frank Wilson then made three changes and switched to a back four. But a minute later, Mike Olarewaju got a straight red for retaliation to a late challenge from Yusuff. Rather typically, the referee didn't punish the original offence which was worthy of a yellow card. Five down and a man down, the signs were ominous for the visitors. But credit to the ten men. They pulled one back on 77' when a John Ufuah cross was turned into his own net by Vincent. A combination of brave defending, some good saves from Niemczyski and frankly poor finishing meant that Folkestone had to wait until added time to make it six when Atherton scored with virtually the last kick of the game.
Merstham: Niemczyski, Adjei-Hersey, Mason, Lloyd (Haire 63'), Richmond (c), Olarewaju, Gharbaoui (McGee 63'), Greenwood, Henry, Makofo (Allen 63'), Ufuah.
Unused subs: Anderson
Man of the Match: John Ufuah
Merstham 0-1 Brightlingsea Regent- Saturday 18th December - Pitching In Isthmian League
Christmas came early to the Moatside. Before the match there was a Christmas party for Merstham youth and the players were signing autographs for the youngsters. After the game, second from bottom Brightlingsea walked away with an early Christmas present, as the home side gifted a very average side three, precious points. This was the perfect opportunity for Merstham to turn around a poor run of form, but despite dominating the game, especially the second half, the Moatsiders came away with nothing.
With Covid and injuries sweeping through the squad and manager Frank Wilson absent, assistant manager Barry Hayles was forced to make several changes with Lloyd, Collins, Adjei-Hersey, Gharbaoui and Haire all missing. As a result, the subs bench was made up of inexperienced U23 players and Hayles himself. Mike Olarewaju was also signed from Chipstead to cover for the missing centre-backs. That said, Merstham had more than enough quality on the pitch to have won this game comfortably. The first half was instantly forgettable, with only Chace Jacquart and Jude Mason rising above a sea of mediocrity. It was Jacquart that came closest to scoring on 17'. A flowing move on the left flank, saw Mason skip past his man before delivering a superb cross onto the head of Jacquart. But from six yards out, the midfielder headed it straight at Turner, the Regent keeper. But that was as good as it got. For the remainder of the half, Merstham played too slowly, and all too often tried to make spectacularly difficult passes, or simply failed to find an amber shirt. Toby Bull was largely a spectator, though Regent did look occasionally dangerous from set pieces.
After the break, Merstham showed far more purpose and pace. They at last got John Ufuah into the game and his pace caused Regent all sorts of problems. Merstham were dominating possession, but not creating enough clear-cut chances. On 64', a typically direct run from Ufuah led to a shot from the edge of the box, but it was straight at Turner. Two minutes later, he was at it again, cutting through the Regent defense, but his final shot was a tame one, when a square ball to Korrey Henry was probably the better option. On 66', another run from Ufuah caused havoc and this time he did pull it back for Henry, but the striker's goal-bound effort hit Miskin and went for a corner. Then on 68' from a half-cleared corner, Ufuah picked it up on the right side of the box, dipped a shoulder leaving a defender for dead and hammered it past Turner, only to see it headed brilliantly off the line by Gilbert. It was all Merstham, and it seemed only a matter of time before the relentless pressure told. On 80' a towering header from James Richmond from a Ufuah corner was palmed straight up in the air by Turner. It was dropping onto Henry's head to nod home from a yard, but Makofo decided to try an acrobatic overhead kick and took it off Henry's head and the ball went wide. Three minutes later, Merstham were made to pay when Littlejohn got on the end of a low free kick from the right to turn it past Bull, with their only shot on target in the second half. It was a classic case of smash and grab, but Regent weren't complaining as they held out to secure a rare away win and leave the Moatsiders empty-handed.
Merstham: Bull, Williams, Mason, Greenwood, Richmond (c), Olarewaju, Ufuah, McGee (Haire 79') Henry, Jacquart, Makofo (Allen 83).
Unused subs: Ellaway, Blake, Katundu, Hayles
Man of the Match: Chace Jacquart
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
Merstham 1-2 Carshalton Athletic - Saturday 23rd April - Pitching In Isthmian League
Although the result ultimately meant that Merstham were relegated, no-one could fault the commitment of the players, who worked their socks off and were desperately unlucky to be on the losing side. The game rather summed up Merstham's performances in recent weeks. For the opening twenty minutes they were much the better side and probably should have been in front. For the last half hour, with the score at 1-1, the side that looked like grabbing the three points was the home side, and yet somehow it was the Robins that walked away with the win.
Merstham's afternoon didn't start well, with starting goalkeeper Sami Tiemcani injuring a thumb in the warmup. Fortunately, Pat Ohman was also in the match day squad and he came in for Tiemcani and pulled off a couple of great saves in the closing stages of the game. The Moatsiders began the game well and on 12' Korrey Henry forced Robins keeper Thomas into a scrambling save when he hit a dipping volley from all of 30 yards. A minute later and Thomas made a superb save low to his left to keep out a fierce Tahjae Anderson shot from the edge of the box. On 22' some head tennis in the Carshalton box ended up with Anderson's header being nodded off the goal line by Luke Reid. Two minutes later, Carshalton went in front with a goal very much against the run of play. A free kick was awarded just outside the Merstham box. Hamilton Downes' shot was a poor effort straight at the wall, but it hit Mike Olarewaju's heel and deflected into the far corner, leaving Ohman helpless. When your luck's out, your luck's out. The goal changed the momentum of the game and for the rest of the first half, the Robins were on top, but didn't create any clear cut chances.
Merstham came out at the start of the second half fired up and pushed Carshalton back from the kick-off. On 56', they drew level when a superb in-swinging corner from Josh Hallard was met with a thumping header from Tahjae Anderson. From that moment on, it was all Merstham and they looked more than capable of grabbing a second. Luke Cook fired just wide. Anderson blazed over from a narrow angle and on more than one occasion, the ball flashed through the Robin's box without anyone getting a decisive touch. With twenty minutes left, a superb cross from Hallard was just about to be headed into the net by Anderson, when a Robins' defender got the faintest of touches, which was enough to take it past Anderson, as most of the worldflow stadium were already celebrating a goal. As Merstham threw bodies forward and Olarewaju was sent to play up front as an auxiliary striker, there was always the chance that a Robins counter-attack would sucker punch the home side. With ten minutes left, Ohman produced a great stop to parry Bradford's fierce drive. Five minutes later, the Merstham keeper then produced one of the saves of the season. A sweetly hit shot from White was arrowing into the far corner as Ohman flung himself across his goal. To make it an even better save, the shot got a slight deflection and Ohman did brilliantly to adjust in mid-air and claw it away with his top hand. Unfortunately for Ohman and Merstham, from the resulting corner, they didn't clear the ball and it fell kindly to Bassett, who really ought to have been sent off for a second bookable offense ten minutes earlier. The Robins midfielder calmly found the bottom corner to give the Robins a fortunate victory and condemn the Moatsiders to the drop.
Merstham: Ohman, Haire, Hallard, Mason (Cook 46), Lloyd, Olarewaju, Biler, Lovatt, Henry, Anderson (Makofo 90), Jacquart.
Man of the Match: Chace Jacquart
Wingate & Finchley 2-1 Merstham - Monday 18th April - Pitching In Isthmian League
A spirited fightback from two nil down very nearly earned the Moatsiders a precious point, but in the end it wasn't to be. Merstham go into the final game of the season knowing that a win at home to Carshalton is imperative and even that may not be enough.
As has been the case in recent weeks, the Moatsiders began brightly and on an excellent playing surface, they moved the ball well. A slick passing move as early as the fifth minute gave Chace Jacquart a shooting opportunity, but he dragged his shot wide. However, as has been the pattern in the last couple of months, the promising approach play tended to peter out in the opponent's final third. A combination of the delivery into the box, forwards being unable to hold onto the ball, or over-ambitious passes from the midfield meant that the Wingate keeper wasn't called into meaningful action. Wingate always looked dangerous on the counter-attack with Ofori's pace and trickery on the right a constant source of danger. On 18', a misplaced pass in Merstham's own half gave Hinds a great chance, but the winger blasted wildly over the bar. Merstham keeper Sami Tlemcani was then forced to make an excellent block at close range from Ofori after he cut in from the flank. On 32', Tlemcani went full length to stop a shot from Kearney and was indebted to Bertie Lloyd, who was on his toes to poke away the rebound as a Wingate forward was about to stick it into the empty net. Moments later, Tlemcani did well to stick out a foot as Ofari tried to go past him, ensuring he got nothing but the ball. Kessai then tested the Moatsiders keeper with a shot from 25 yards. But just on the stroke of half time, Wingate made the breakthrough. A defence-splitting ball found Kearney and he rounded Tlemcani with ease before finishing comfortably to give the home side the lead.
Those who've been watching the Moatsiders in recent weeks would probably say they've been deserted by lady luck and that was certainly the case on 56'. A corner from the right found Josh Hallard at the far post. The Merstham left back hit a superb volley which was arrowing into the top corner. But a Wingate player on the line got the merest of touches with his head and that was enough to deflect the ball onto the underside of the bar. The ball bounced down onto the line and was hooked away to safety. Instead of being level, four minutes later, Merstham found themselves two down. A long, pinpoint kick from the Wingate keeper found Kessai deep in Merstham's half. He was allowed to turn and find Ofori, who in turn found the bottom corner from 18 yards. At that point you might have thought that Merstham heads would drop, but they kept battling and on 75' they pulled a goal back. Korrey Henry played a ball through to sub Serge Makofo. It looked as though Makofo had been pushed too wide, but he did well to whip in a great ball and Henry, arriving at pace, powered his header home from six yards. Suddenly it was all Merstham. But some promising situations in the final 15 minutes just lacked that required moment of calmness or quality on the ball. Wingate's defending became increasingly desperate as the clock ticked down. In added time, shots were raining in on goal and defenders were throwing their bodies in the way to make some last-ditch blocks. There was a big appeal for a penalty with a minute left as a shot appeared to strike an arm, but it was waved away. As the final whistle went, Merstham players slumped to the ground having given their all. It was no consolation to hear from Wingate officials that we deserved a draw.
Merstham: Tlemcani, Haire, Hallard, Lloyd (c), Olarewaju (Cook 56') Biler, Jacquart, Henry, Lovatt, Anderson (Mason 82'), Desa (Makofo 65').
Unused sub: Ohman
Man of the Match: Chace Jacquart
Merstham 1-3 Bognor Regis Town- Saturday 16th April - Pitching In Isthmian League
Merstham will look back on this game as a golden opportunity to break their losing streak. They were much the better side in the opening forty-five minutes and a goal to the good. It could have and should have been more, but for a string of fine saves by ex-Merstham stopper Amadou Tangara, who kept his side in the contest. But as been the case in recent weeks, individual errors let the Rocks back into the game in the second half.
The Moatsiders began the game brightly and certainly didn't look like a side on the back of a dreadful run of results. As early as the fourth minute, Fin Lovatt tested Tangara with a shot from 25 yards that the keeper got his body behind but couldn't hold. But no-one was following in for the rebound. Both sides looked dangerous in the opening exchannges and Rocks' Charlie Bell hit a volley just wide on 8'. A minute later, Korrey Henry perhaps could have done better with a header from a Biler cross which didn't hit the target. Merstham began to get a measure of control as the game progressed. On 22', a quick counterattack and some good work by Henry released Erald Desa, whose pace was giving the Rocks rearguard a testing afternoon. Desa cut inside and fired in a fierce shot which Tangara did well to push away at full stretch. It wasn't all one-way traffic though, and Gifford missed a great chance on 31' with a header from six yards out that he put wide. Hus Biler tested Tangara again with a shot from distance as the Moatsiders pushed for the opener. Tangara then produced two great stops in the same passage of play. Once again Desa cut inside from the left flank and hit a venomous shot towards the far corner which Tangara did well to palm away. Hus Biler, following in, took a touch and his powerful shot was heading into the roof of the net, but Tangara had regained his feet in time to tip the ball over the bar. Finally on 42', the Moatsiders got their reward with a beautifully crafted goal. Biler and Tahjae Anderson combined well on the right flank before Anderson slipped a short pass into the feet of Henry inside the box. Instead of controlling it, the striker flicked it on to the far past where Desa was lurking. The forward coolly took a touch past a lunging defender before hammering it past Tangara from eight yards. It was no more than the Moatsiders deserved. Two minutes later, Desa had a great chance to make it two in a carbon copy of the first goal. The ball found him at the far post and Desa beat the covering defender. However, from a similar distance, this time the Merstham man scuffed his shot and Tangara was able to save low to his left. One wonders how the game would have panned out if the Moatsiders had gone in two up at the break. As it was, Bognor very nearly equalised in first half added time. A free kick from the left wasn't cut out at the near post and as bodies flew everywhere, the ball bounced off a post and tricked along the goal line before Jack Haire thumped it to safety. The Rocks players appealed to the officials that the ball had crossed the line, but the referee blew for half time.
On a number of occasions this season, the Moatsiders have gone in one up at the interval and promptly conceded at the start of the second half. The away game at Bognor a few weeks ago was the most recent example when a mistake gifted the Rocks and equaliser nine minutes after the interval. This time it was eight minutes. Sami Tiemcani gathered the ball from a corner and spotting Hus Biler in space, threw it towards him. But the throw was woefully short, and picked off by Robb who had acres of space on the left as the Merstham back line was not in its shape. The ball was crossed in low and half cleared to the edge of the box, but fell straight to Bell who hit a superb volley into the far corner to level things up. That changed the momentum of the game and Merstham began to look less assured in possession. Bognor started to control the tempo, though they didn't really create any clear-cut openings. But the Merstham threat up front had largely dissipated, and it felt as though the Moatsiders' best chance was to see the game out for a draw. But Rocks sub Nathan Odokinyero had other ideas and found the bottom corner from just outside the box with just 10 minutes left. Gifford then rubbed salt into the wound with a third on 90' as the tired Moatsider failed to clear a free kick properly.
Merstham: Tiemcani, Haire, Hallard, Lloyd (c), Olarewaju, Biler (Mason 85'), Jacquart, Henry (Mafoko 87'), Lovatt, Anderson (Cook 63'), Desa.
Man of the Match: Bertie Lloyd
Potters Bar Town 2-0 Merstham - Saturday 9th April - Pitching In Isthmian League
The Moatsiders now have both feet firmly planted on the relegation trapdoor after this latest defeat. For much of the game, Merstham were the better side, especially in the opening forty-five minutes. But despite a couple of great chances, they couldn't turn their good approach play into goals. Six goals in the last seventeen matches tells its own story. In the end, it was another bad defensive mistake which gave the home side the lead and ultimately the three points.
Boss Frank Wilson has been beset by injuries but was finally able to welcome back two recognised centre backs and both skipper James Richmond and Bertie Lloyd went straight back into the side. For forty-five minutes, the defence looked far more solid and capable of winning balls in the air, which hasn't been the case in the past few matches. Bertie Lloyd put in a man of the match performance, but in the first minute of the second half, James Richmond limped off with a recurrence of his injury, which was a huge blow in the game itself and probably the remainder of the season.
The Moatsiders began the game brightly and almost took the lead after 12 minutes. A lovely through ball by Sean Marcano found Korry Henry inside the box. The Merstham striker, on the stretch and being challenged by defender and keeper, managed to get it past the Town keeper, but he did enough to take the pace off the ball and a covering defender was on hand to clear it off the line. Both sides looked dangerous, but Lloyd and Richmond dealt relatively comfortably with most of the Town attacks. At the other end, the pace of Marcano and Desa was always a threat and if the final ball had been better on occasions, the Moatsiders might have created more. But they had a golden chance to take the lead on 26'. Korrey Henry got the ball under control and slid a perfect pass through to Fin Lovatt, who had a clear run at goal. His shot from a slight angle beat the keeper but went narrowly wide of the far post. Five minutes later, Merstham went behind to a horror goal. A cross from the right should have been comfortably cleared, but keeper Pat Ohman and James Richmond both hesitated and left it for each other. The ball bounced through to the far post where Delyfer headed against the bar but was quickest to the rebound and nodded it into the net to put Town a goal up. But the Moatsiders didn't let their heads drop and still looked capable of getting something from the game.
Then came the hammer blow with Richmond going off with barely 60 seconds of the second half played and Jack Haire replacing him in the centre of the defence. Lovatt tested the Town keeper with a low shot from 25 yards, which he did well to gather in. Desa went close on 66' with a shot just over the angle of post and bar as the Moatsiders continued to threaten, but Town were looking threatening on the break and Ohman did well to palm away a low bobbling shot five minutes later. But from the resulting corner, Town added a second. The corner was only half cleared to just outside the box and the ball was dinked hopefully back into the box over the Merstham back line. Defenders and keeper all looked to the linesman as Pascal was all alone to poke the ball past Ohman. There was no flag and the visitors had a mountain to climb. The closest they came to getting a goal back was in added time, when Chace Jacquart was put through, but the Town keeper did well to block the shot and ensure that the Moatsiders were denied even a consolation goal.
Merstham: Ohman, Biler, Hallard (Anderson 46), Lloyd, Richmond (c) (Haire 47), Marcano, Jacquart, Henry, Lovatt, Mason, Desa (Cook 68).
Man of the Match: Bertie Lloyd
Merstham 0-3 Corinthian-Casuals - Tuesday 5th April - Pitching In Isthmian League
An injury-hit Merstham slumped to their seventh straight defeat, in a match marred by some unpleasant scenes from so-called supporters of Corinthian Casuals. The match was every bit as comfortable for the visitors as the score line might suggest. However, quite why the mindless thugs in Casuals colours thought it was acceptable to throw beer and objects at the Merstham goalkeeper, including a cigarette lighter, is hard to fathom. When two female stewards asked them to cease and desist, they were abused by these gallant gentlemen. At one point the match had to be stopped to make the referee aware of the situation. One can only hope that Corinthian-Casuals FC take action against these 'supporters' whose actions sully the name and the traditions of a great club.
As to the match itself, Merstham boss Frank Wilson had to field a very strange looking line up, having lost three more players to injury since Saturday's game. Injuries are part and parcel of football, but last night the Moatsiders had all four centre-backs missing, plus two of the usual midfield three, and it showed. Casuals should probably have gone ahead on 7', when Knight had a free header six yards out, but headed straight at Pat Ohman. On 16', the Merstham keeper denied Edwards with a great block after his defence fell asleep at a free kick and left Edwards all alone. It felt like a matter of time before Casuals went in front. It eventually came from a corner, when Nmamani was left unmarked at the far post and headed home on 36'. Frank Wilson changed from a 3-5-2 to a 4-4-2 at the interval and brought on Luke Cook up front. But the game was effectively over as a contest five minutes into the second half when Knight had another free header and this time made no mistake as he glanced the ball past Ohman. The Moatsiders rarely looked like getting back into the game and it seemed more likely that Casuals would extend their lead, which duly happened on 77'. Cheklit's powerful drive from the edge of the box was superbly saved by Ohman, but the ball looped off his hand, clipped the post and found the net. With two minutes left, a delightful Fin Lovatt free kick from 25 yards left the Casuals keeper helpless, but the ball smacked against the post, which rather summed up the evening for the Moatsiders.
Merstham: Ohman, Biler, Hallard, Elezaj (Cook 46), Haire, Jacquart (Marcano 62), Lovatt, Henry, Anderson, Mason (c), Desa.
Unused subs: Ellaway, Stone, Hayles
Man of the match: Chace Jacquart
East Thurrock United 2-0 Merstham - Saturday 2nd April - Pitching In Isthmian League
Billed before the match as a relegation six-pointer, it was a game that the Moatsiders could ill-afford to lose. But with this defeat, Merstham are very much in a relegation dog-fight, with just three points separating the five teams at the bottom. It was a poor game, on a poor surface, but the match turned on an inexplicable error by Merstham keeper Pat Ohman a couple of minutes before the break. One has to feel sorry for Ohman. The keeper has been in fine form since his arrival, but such is a goalkeeper's lot - one mistake and it leads to a goal.
Merstham boss was able to welcome back Korrey Henry and Charlie Greenwood from injury, but was still without James Richmond, Bertie Lloyd, Ayman Gharbaoui and Erald Desa. To make matters worse, AFC Wimbledon decided to recall Dylan Adjei-Hersey from his loan spell, so it was another makeshift line-up for the Moatsiders. Greenwood limped off on 68' with what looked like a recurrence of his groin injury, to add to the Moatsiders' injury woes.
The game began brightly, with Ohman pushing a 25-yard free kick over his crossbar. A minute later, Jude Mason had one of the best chances the Moatsiders created all afternoon. Fin Lovatt jinked inside, and it looked like he had a great chance to shoot, but laid the ball off to his left for the Merstham skipper, who blasted his shot over from 10 yards. The match was a tetchy affair and Hus Biler was the first of five Merstham names to find their way into the referee's notebook after barely ten minutes. There was very little quality on show from either side. Merstham found it hard to keep the ball and the home side won a lot of second ball all over the pitch. The Moatsiders didn't help themselves by conceding a lot of free kicks and corners around their own box and there was always the risk that one could prove costly. And so it proved, but in a very unexpected way. A corner was cleared to well outside the box on the left side. Rocks left back Morrell chipped the ball back into the area. In truth, it was an awful ball and straight to Pat Ohman, who rose to collect it unchallenged. For some reason he seemed to get too far underneath the ball, and it went through his hands and dropped behind him over the line to put the home side a goal up two minutes before the break. It was a pivotal moment.
The game was all but over as a contest just on the hour mark and once again, it came from a set piece. The ball was half cleared to the edge of the box. For some reason, every Merstham player just stopped and watched as Thurrock's Ryan Dear was given a free header which he nodded back into the danger area. Mike Olarewaju seemed to have a chance to clear it, but miskicked and the ball rolled kindly to Ollie Miles who had the simple task of firing home from 8 yards. Merstham rarely threatened and only a couple of good stops from Ohman prevented the home side extending their lead in the last ten minutes. A massive game against Corinthian Casuals is next up on Tuesday evening.
Merstham: Ohman, Biler (Makofo 61'), Hallard, Greenwood (Cook 68') Olarewaju, Haire, Jacquart, Lovatt, Henry, Anderson, Mason (c).
Unused subs: Elezaj, Hayles.
Man of the Match: Josh Hallard
Merstham 1-3 Enfield Town - Saturday 26th March - Pitching In Isthmian League
A match against high-flying Enfield was always going to be a challenge, but the task wasn't made any easier when Merstham boss Frank Wilson was forced into more changes from Tuesday's starting eleven, with Wimbledon loanee Josh Hallard and Erald Desa both unavailable, adding to the long list of players out injured.
Merstham played very well on Tuesday at Bognor and were unlucky not to get anything from the game, but against Enfield the Moatsiders were on the back foot from the opening minutes. They were indebted to keeper Pat Ohman for keeping them in the contest, especially in a one-sided first half. Ohman had to make his first save on 9’ when he blocked a shot from Cunnington after Merstham gave the ball away when trying to play out from the back. Two minutes later Ohman was in action again, when he made another great block from Cunnington with his legs. The Enfield side are a big, powerful outfit and they were dominant in the air and picked up the majority of second balls after winning the first header. The only surprise was that it took Town until 26’ to open the scoring. Jude Mason was caught in possession and Sam Youngs finished from close range. The goal stung the Moatsiders into action and a mazy run by Dylan Adjei-Hersey sliced through the Town defence. His shot beat the Town keeper, but his shot bobbled just wide. More poor defending gave Faal a great chance to make it two, but Ohman again blocked the shot at point blank range. Town's Taafe was the next to be denied by the Merstham stopper with yet another close-range block on 41'. Very much against the run of play and on the stroke of half time, Merstham drew level. A corner from the right found its way to the far post, where an unmarked Tahjae Anderson stooped to head home to make it 1-1 at the break.
Very much like Bognor on Tuesday, Merstham conceded an early second half goal and just like Tuesday, it was some calamitous defending that gifted Town their second on 49’. A long ball into the Merstham final third wasn't dealt with and Faal was allowed to control the ball and turn with no challenge. He squared the ball to Youngs who had time to pick his spot and slot it past Ohman from 10 yards. Taafe should have made the points safe on 52’ but somehow hit the bar from a yard after Faal played the ball across the goal. Chace Jacquart was the pick of Merstham's outfield players and on 58', he dribbled past four Town defenders in the box, but his final shot was charged down and Hus Biler blazed the rebound over the bar. Merstham rarely threatened to get back on terms and Town continued to look dangerous. They added some gloss to the score line on 78’ when Faal scored his customary goal when he found the far corner. There was still time for Ohman to deny Della Verde when he pushed away his low shot with a few minutes remaining.
Merstham: Ohman, Haire, Biler, Mason (Hayles 80'), Olarewaju, Adjei-Hersey, Jacquart, Makofo, Gharbaoui, Lovatt (Cook 58) Anderson.
Unused subs: Elezaj
Man of the Match: Patrick Ohman
Bognor Regis Town 2-1 Merstham - Tuesday 22nd March - Pitching In Isthmian League
For long periods of the game, Merstham were by far the better side. But two penalties either side of the interval gave the Rocks the points. It was hard on an injury-hit Merstham side, who played some excellent football and battled hard throughout, but they will look back on the two penalties and thinking 'if only'.
With Korrey Henry joining the growing injury list and Jack Haire unavailable, boss Frank Wilson was forced into more changes. One bit of good news was the last-minute signing of AFC Wimbledon U18 left back Josh Hallard on a month's loan, who slotted in at wing back, allowing Jude Mason to play as one of the back three. Charlie Greenwood also returned from illness, but his return lasted just 10 minutes before he picked up a groin strain and had to be replaced by Serge Makofo. Merstham started the game well and put the Rocks under early pressure. Erald Desa up front looked particularly lively, and Chace Jacquart was pulling the strings in midfield. Both sides were playing some neat, one and two touch football, but without the final ball to produce a clear-cut chance, neither keeper was called into action in the opening half hour. As the game progressed, Merstham looked increasingly dangerous, and it was no great surprise when they went ahead on 34'. Another crisp passing movement on the right side found Makofo's feet just inside the box. Whether it was a superb chip and a mishit cross only Serge Makofo will know for sure, but his effort floated over the head of ex-Merstham stopper Amadou Tangara into the far corner of the net. At this point The Moatsiders were very much in control. But just when they looked as though they would go into the break a goal to the good, disaster struck in first half added time. Merstham momentarily switched off with the Rocks taking a throw in close to the corner flag. Caught on the wrong side, Dylan Adjei-Hersey bundled into the back of a Bognor man and there were few protests when the referee pointed to the spot. Gifford blasted home the penalty to make it 1-1 at the break.
The second half was only nine minutes old when Jude Mason left a pass to Hallard horribly short and suddenly the Rocks were through on goal. Josh Hallard tried to get a challenge in but only succeeding in bringing down Dowridge and again it was an easy decision for the referee. Gifford gleefully fired home his second from the spot. Merstham responded well and didn't let their heads drop. They worked some great positions, with some neat, incisive football, but couldn't fashion a genuine opening. So often the ball went through the Rocks penalty box with no-one able to get a decisive touch. The nearest the Moatsiders came was when Tahjae Anderson was brought down right on the edge of the box. His feet were clearly inside the box when he was fouled, but perhaps the referee thought two penalties was enough. The Merstham midfielder dusted himself off and took the free kick himself. His powerful strike missed the far post by a coat of paint with Tangara helpless. But it wasn't to be for the Moatsiders, who will look upon this as a game from which they should have picked up points.
Merstham: Ohman, Biler, Hallard, Mason, Olarewaju, Greenwood (Makofo 12'), Adjei-Hersey, Gharbaoui, Lovatt (Anderson 74'), Jacquart, Desa (Cook 78')
Unused subs: Hayles
Man of the Match: Erald Desa
Merstham 1-3 Hornchurch- Saturday 19th March - Pitching In Isthmian League
Merstham are now very much in the relegation dogfight after a run that has seen them lose seven out of the last eight. That run hasn't been helped by a spate of injuries and illness. Saturday's line up was missing skipper James Richmond, Bertie Lloyd, Charlie Greenwood, Jonathan Page and Tahjae Anderson. With Reuben Collins still not fit, manager Frank Wilson was forced to play the versatile Jack Haire at centre back. Things got worse when Korrey Henry limped off with a hamstring strain after just 20 minutes.
But the depleted Moatsiders made Hornchurch work hard for the three points and shocked the visitors by taking the lead after just 40 seconds. Having won an early corner on the left, the ball was half-cleared to Chace Jacquart just outside the box. The midfielder took one touch and delivered a perfectly flighted ball into the far post and Erald Desa's deft header found the corner of the net. But Hornchurch quickly recovered their poise and began to ask questions of the Merstham defence. Liam Nash should have done far better on 8' but blazed wildly over from 12 yards. But Merstham looked dangerous too and a 25 yarder from Dylan Adjei-Hersey went just over the Hornchurch bar a few minutes later. Although Hornchurch had more of the ball, Patrick Ohman was relatively untroubled in the opening half hour. Another Merstham corner almost led to a second, when the ball bounced off a Hornchurch defender and skimmed the top of the crossbar. But Hornchurch were winning aerial duels all over the pitch and it came as no real surprise that the equaliser on 38' came from a corner. A near-post delivery wasn't dealt with, and a goalmouth scramble ended when Rickie Hayles stabbed the ball home from close range. It took a good stop from Ohman a few minutes later to deny Sam Higgins and ensure it was 1-1 at the break.
The second half was only a few minutes old when the Urchins took the lead with an awful goal from a Merstham point of view. Hornchurch keeper Joe Wright raced out his box to deal with a Merstham through ball. His long clearance was allowed to bounce in the Merstham final third and as Merstham defenders hesitated, Nash nipped in to fire past Ohman to make it 2-1 on 53'. Merstham did have a great chance to equalise when a quickly taken free kick by Jacquart sent Desa clear, but as the Merstham striker lined up a shot, Hayles did superbly to get back and block the shot. Ohman was tested a couple of times with shots from outside the box which he did well to push over, but the Moatsiders rarely looked like getting an equaliser. Hornchurch made the points safe on 87'. Merstham had thrown men forward in seach of a last-gasp equaliser and a swift counterattack left a 2v2 at the back. Sub Ogunwamide outpaced Haire and squared the ball for Muldoon who had the simple task of slotting it past Ohman from 10 yards.
Merstham: Ohman, Biler, Mason, Gharbaoui (Hayles 70), Haire, Olarewaju, Adjei-Hersey, Jacquart, Henry (Makofo 23'), Lovatt, Desa (Cook 83')
Unused subs: none
Man of the Match: Chace Jacquart
Merstham 0-1 Cheshunt- Tuesday 8th March - Pitching In Isthmian League
There is a bit of a cliche in football that decisions, good and bad, even themselves out over a season. One can only hope so, because a hugely contentious referring decision, with twenty minutes remaining deprived the Moatsiders of at least a point. The game was heading for a 0-0 stalemate, with neither side really looking like scoring, and over the 90 minutes, a draw would have been a fair result. But the Moatsiders should also look back at the first fifteen minutes, when they were on top and created a couple of gilt-edged chances which they failed to take.
After the win against Leatherhead, boss Frank Wilson had the rare luxury of naming an unchanged starting eleven. Merstham began the game well and on 3', Korrey Henry did superbly well to set up a great shooting chance for Jon Page, who had time and space to pick his spot from 12 yards. But the midfielder blazed his shot over the bar. In the 7th minute, a superb passing move set up Korrey Henry, but he shot straight at the keeper, when either side and he would surely have scored. A minute later and the Cheshunt keeper made a complete hash of a routine catch from a cross and dropped it. Mike Olarewaju reacted first and volleyed the bouncing ball goalwards, but a covering Cheshunt defender did well to head it off the line with his keeper nowhere. Merstham dominated the first 20 minutes and could and should have gone in front during that period. Gradually Cheshunt got back into the game. Their style of football is unappealing to watch, though effective. Essentially the ball goes into the air at every available opportunity and their big, physical side fight to win the first and second ball. At times it felt akin to watching a rugby union game, and it certainly didn't suit the smaller Merstham side. In the last 15 minutes of the half, Merstham had to survive an aerial bombardment, as a succession of long throws, free kicks and corners were launched into the box. The Moatsiders defended them well on the whole, and Patrick Ohman was only really called into action once to save a header from Cheshunt's Crowther.
The second half seemed to be played more in the air than on the grass and became increasingly attritional. Neither side really carved out any clear-cut chances and there was precious little by way of football. It certainly was a long way removed from 'the beautiful game'. Then on 71' came the moment that changed the increasingly predictable 0-0. Charlie Greenwood had possession some 30 yards out, as he went to go past a Cheshunt player, he was body checked in a style that would have been applauded in an ice hockey game but is clearly against the rules of Association Football. To the shock of every Merstham player and supporter, the referee inexplicably decided it wasn't a foul and allowed play to go on. Thirty seconds later, Cheshunt sub, Reece Beckles Richards curled the ball past Ohman and it found the back of the net via the post. Merstham players were incensed and Ohman received a yellow card for sprinting from his goal to confront the referee, which just added insult to injury. It was cruel on the Moatsiders. They rallied and in the last 10 minutes, there were a couple of good balls into the box which on another day might have been turned in. But it was not to be and the Merstham players and supporters were left seething at the final whistle.
Merstham: Ohman, Biler, Mason, Greenwood (Boozerai 81), Richmond, Olarewaju, Adjei-Hersey, Page (Gharbaoui 52), Henry (Anderson 72), Lovatt, Sesay.
Unused subs: Makofo, Desa
Man of the Match: Mike Olarewaju
Merstham 2-1 Leatherhead- Saturday 5th March - Pitching In Isthmian League
This was a 'must win' game for both sides. The Moatsiders were on a dreadful run of no points in seven games and in danger of getting sucked into the relegation dog fight. Leatherhead had begun to string some results together and a win could have closed the gap at the bottom to give them a chance of avoiding the drop. But two goals from on loan striker Finlay Lovatt ensured that the Moatsiders picked up an important win to give themselves some breathing space.
Twenty-four hours before the game, Merstham were struggling to find someone to go between the sticks as keeper Sami Tlemcani was ruled out with injury. After a frantic Friday, boss Frank Wilson managed to secure the service of Patrick Ohman from Faversham Town and Toby McKimm on dual registration from Tonbridge Angels. In addition to them, Frank Wilson had also re-signed centre forward Korrey Henry. Having only scored once in the last seven outings, reinforcements up front were urgently needed.
Henry almost made an immediate impact. On 5', he weaved his way through the Tanners back line and hammered a shot at the near post which keeper Cawdron did well to push away. But the ball rolled invitingly across the goal line, and it looked as though Andrew Sesay arriving at the far post must score. But somehow, the Merstham wide man couldn't turn the ball in, and the Tanners rearguard managed to hack the ball clear. With the points vital to both sides, the game was all action and being played at a frenetic pace. Dylan Adjei-Hersey was on the receiving end of several 'robust' challenges as he went at defenders. A few Leatherhead names ended up in the notebook, but it could and should have been several more. Merstham's new-look front line of Henry and Lovatt were showing signs of linking well and Sesay and Adjei-Hersey were causing problems with their pace. But in the fifteenth minute disaster struck. Hus Biler had possession in his own half and opted to play to back towards Mike Olarewaju. But Jermaine McGlashan was standing in front of the Merstham defender and couldn't believe his luck when Biler's pass when straight to his feet just inside the box. The Tanners forward beat Olarewaju and slotted it past Ohman as Biler held his head in his hands. But the Merstham defender recovered his composure quickly and went on to have a good game.
But having gone a goal down and on a poor run of results, it was pleasing to see how the Moatsiders dug deep and didn't let it affect their football. Both sides looked dangerous when coming forward, but a combination of good defending and a lack of quality on the final ball meant that neither keeper was seriously tested. But Merstham deserved to get back on terms and did so on 35'. A diagonal free kick from Olarewaju was flicked on by Adjei-Hersey to the feet of Henry. It looked as though the striker could take a pot at goal, but he unselfishly laid it into the path of Lovatt who placed it into the bottom corner from 12 yards to ensure the two sides went into the break all-square at 1-1.
The second half was similar to the first. Lots of effort and commitment by both sides and there were half chances at either end. The Tanners looked dangerous from set pieces and their long throw, while Merstham's pace on the counterattack created some promising situations. But clear-cut chances were few and far between. As the half wore on, Merstham looked the stronger side and began to get on top. Dylan Adjei-Hersey had a good chance with twenty minutes left, when a long punt forward found him free on the edge of the box, but he skewed his shot wide. Tanners keeper Cawdron then produced an acrobatic reflex save to keep out Sesay's volley with ten minutes left. Just as it looked as though the points would be shared, Merstham grabbed a late winner on 85'. It came from a long, hopeful ball forward and Lovatt and defender Cameron Black gave chase. But Lovatt read the bounce of the ball better and got in front of Black before coolly slotting it past Cawdron to grab his second and give the Moatsiders three priceless points.
Merstham: Ohman, Biler, Mason, Greenwood (Anderson 90), Richmond, Olarewaju, Adjei-Hersey, Page (Gharbaoui 88), Henry, Lovatt, Sesay (Haire 81).
Unused subs: McKimm, Makofo
Man of the Match: Dylan Adjei-Hersey
Merstham 0-2 Worthing - Saturday 12th February - Pitching In Isthmian League
It was always going to be a tough ask for the Moatsiders to stop the Worthing bandwagon rolling on, but for 85 minutes, the result was in doubt, as the home side battled and scrapped for everything. Ultimately, the Rebels always carried a goal threat and currently the Moatsiders don't. One goal in their last six outings clearly shows where the problem is currently.
The Moatsiders were dealt another blow when skipper James Richmond was ruled out with injury. New signing Sami Tlemcani, on loan from Chelsea, made his debut in goal and Frank Wilson was able to welcome back Hus Biler after suspension. The blustery wind and the dry, bumpy pitch did not make for a football match that was pleasing on the eye. There was plenty of endeavor from both sides, but the ball spent a lot of time in the air as a result of the conditions, which suited the bigger, physical Worthing side far more than the Moatsiders. The opening forty-five minutes was largely attritional and though sides worked hard, there were very few openings at either end. Worthing's Joel Colbran came close to breaking the deadlock on 25', when his thunderous drive from almost 30 yards smacked against the underside of the bar and the rebound was hacked clear by the Merstham defence. Merstham suffered another blow just before half time when midfielder Charlie Greenwood was forced off with injury. In first half added time, Tlemcani comfortably tipped over a header from Racine.
The Moatsiders began the second half well. On 49' a Dylan Adjei-Hersey free kick went narrowly wide. Two minutes later, a great through ball released Luke Cook, with just the keeper to beat, but the Merstham man never quite got the ball out of his feet and Worthing keeper Male dived at the feet to block his effort. The keeper was smartly up to make it a double save when he bravely smothered Adjei-Hersey's follow up from the rebound. Rather against the run of play, just a minute later, Worthing took the lead. Ollie Pearce picked up the ball and hit a speculative shot from 25 yards, which beat Tlemcani's dive, struck the far post and bobbled in. Credit to the Moatsiders though, as they didn't let their heads drop and kept battling. However, the goal threat was lacking and the closest they came was an effort from Jacquart which ballooned over the bar. Worthing made the points safe with five minutes left, when Tlemcani could only parry a Pearce free kick back into the danger area and Myles-Meekums was first to react and fired home from six yards.
Merstham: Tlemcani, Biler, Mason (c), McGee (Desa 65'), Haire, Lloyd, Adjei-Hersey, Greenwood (Cook 39), Makofo (Anderson 87'), Jacquart, Gharbaoui.
Unused Subs: Hayles
Man of the Match: Huseyin Biler
Cray Wanderers 3-0 Merstham - Saturday 5th February - Pitching In Isthmian League
Merstham gifted Wanderers two goals in the first sixteen minutes and produced one of their worst displays of the season in a hugely disappointing afternoon at Hayes Lane. It was an insipid performance by the Moatsiders, who were second best all over the pitch against a very average Cray side, who had begun the day in the bottom three.
Merstham started brightly and were moving the ball well in the opening minutes. But in the fifth minute, with the Moatsiders on the attack, Chace Jacquart inexplicably passed the ball from the Cray half straight to Cray's centre forward, Dickson, who outpaced Bertie Lloyd and fired into the bottom corner past Bull. The early goal galvanized the home side and seemed to unnerve the visitors, as they gave the ball away with alarming regularity. The back four, which has been a very solid unit in the past month, looked all at sea and that was epitomized by the second goal on 16'. It started with Merstham giving the ball away again, and after some comical defending, it ended with Reid kicking the ball out of keeper Toby Bull's hands as he bent to collect it, and into the net. Bull protested to the referee that he had both hands on the ball, but the official disagreed and the Moatsiders were two down. The Merstham supporters must have hoped for a reaction, but there really wasn't one, and The Wands grew in confidence and looked more like scoring a third. It was only Dylan Adjei-Hersey that looked a threat for the visitors going forward. Cray might have added a third in first half added time, when Bertie Lloyd was caught in possession by Yila, but his close-range effort was well saved by Bull.
At the interval, Frank Wilson brought on Korrey Henry up front, who hadn't started due to a minor knock. But Cray looked the more likely, and Bull was forced to make another save from Yila at his near post. Wanderers made the points safe with a third goal on the hour, when an in-swinging corner was glanced home by Kaiser. Luke Cook was introduced shortly after, and his arrival finally sparked the Moatsiders into life. Cook's pace and direct running finally gave the Cray defence something to think about. A run by Cook and a ball inside found Henry, who blazed over from 12 yards. Then a cross from Cook found Charlie Greenwood all alone six yards out, but the midfielder's tame header was comfortably saved by Cray's largely unemployed goalkeeper. But Merstham's good spell rather petered out and it looked more likely that Cray would add a fourth in the last 10 minutes. With league leaders Worthing up next, the Moatsiders will need to put this display quickly behind them.
Merstham: Bull, Haire, Mason, Gharbaoui (Cook 61), Lloyd, Richmond, Adjei-Hersey, Greenwood, Makofo (McGee 76'), Anderson (Henry 46'), Jacquart.
Unused Subs: Hayles
Man of the Match: Dylan Adjei-Hersey
Merstham 0-0 Kingstonian - Saturday 29th January - Pitching In Isthmian League
Honours even in a goalless, yet highly entertaining encounter at the worldflow Stadium. It was one of those games that both sides feel they could have won, yet clear-cut chances were few and far between on an afternoon where both defences were on top form. Merstham welcomed back Jude Mason from injury and with Hus Biler out thanks to the controversial red card at Bowers, Merstham's utility man, Jack Haire, switched from left back to right back.
The Moatsiders began brightly against a Ks side featuring six ex-Merstham players, with a seventh on the bench. Dylan Adjei-Hersey was proving a handful for Fabio Saraiva, playing at left back, and he received the first yellow card midway through the first half for scything down the Merstham winger. But despite some good approach play, the Moatsiders didn't really create a chance of note, which was as much down to the final ball into the box as it was good defending. Gradually, the experienced Ks midfield began to get a grip on the game and Buchanan kept finding pockets of space in the hole between the Merstham back four and the midfield. But the Merstham back four were in imperious form all afternoon, with centre-backs James Richmond and Bertie Lloyd commanding at the back and full backs Haire and Mason keeping the Ks wide men in check. Ks looked dangerous from corners and did get the ball into the net on 21', but it was chalked off for a foul on keeper Toby Bull. Ks had a good period of possession from the twenty-minute mark onwards, but like Merstham, they couldn't create a real goal-scoring opportunity. The only shot on target was a curling free kick from Saraiva from 30 yards, which brought a spectacular, but comfortable save from Bull, pushing it away with both hands. Adjei-Hersey sneaked in at the far post on a Merstham corner just before the internal and might feel he could have done better with a header that went just wide.
The second half wasn't dissimilar from the opening forty-five minutes, though both sides will point to moments where they could have snatched the three points. Ks came close when Ollie Cook toe-poked a shot against the foot of the Merstham post after good work by Murrell-Williamson. The best chance fell to Ajakaije, when the ball dropped to him six yards out. But the Ks forward opted for power rather than place it and he blasted it straight at Toby Bull who was able to block the shot and Merstham scrambled the rebound to safety. On 70', Luke Cook replaced a tiring Tahjae Anderson and his pace and direct running started causing the Ks defence some real problems. Twice he ran onto through balls that would have sent him clear, only to be denied by the linesman's flag. One of those certainly looked onside, as Cook ran from deep. On 71', Cook did beat the offside trap and raced clear, but when he got into the box, he seemed caught in two minds whether to shoot, or play it to the far post for two Merstham forwards arriving at pace. In the end his effort was neither one thing or the other. On 75' Bull did well to hold onto a low shot from 25 yards, with Ks forward on hand to capitalise on any fumble. A scuffle near the touchline between Mason and Buchanan led to a melee, and the Ks forward was very lucky not to see red for grabbing Mason and lifting him off his feet. With a minute left, a great through ball again sent Cook clear with just Tolfey to beat. But as Cook shaped to shoot, Gus Sow got back and made a superb, last-ditch tackle to take the ball off Cook's foot and preserve a point for the visitors.
Merstham: Bull, Haire, Mason, Gharbaoui, Lloyd, Richmond, Jacquart, Greenwood, Henry (Makofo 80'), Anderson (Cook 70'), Adjei-Hersey.
Unused Subs: Hayles, McGee
Man of the Match: Jude Mason
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