MATCH REPORTS 2019/20

Wednesday 11th December 2019

Velocity Trophy

Kingstonian 2-3 Merstham 

Report by Chris Pullen

The Moatsiders gained some revenge for their league defeat 4 days earlier by knocking K's out of the Velocity Trophy in this First Round tie.  It was Merstham's first win in a competitive match since beating Wingate & Finchley in mid-September, and over the course of the 90 minutes it was well-deserved. 

 

With Aaron Lamont cup-tied, and Jamie Splatt unavailable, Merstham boss Frank Wilson had to reshuffle his pack, bringing Potchu Mendes-Calucane and Marco Sousa-Pina into the side, and opting to play a 3-5-2. Unlike Saturday, it was K's that started the better with Bamba forcing Matte Pierson into a good save at his near post in the 6th minute. The Moatsiders have been guilty of conceding too many soft goals of late and a minute later, they did so again. Trying to play out from the back, they lost possession deep in their own half and Merstham old boy Calum Davies made his former club pay by firing an unstoppable shot past Pierson from just inside the box. But just like Saturday, the visitors looked dangerous every time they went forward and five minutes later forced a corner after another incisive move. Chase Jaquet swung the corner in and Shola Ayoola rose highest to plant a firm header past Tolfrey to make it 1-1. Both sides looked dangerous and more goals seemed inevitable. In the 22nd minute, the Moatsiders took the lead. Jacquart and Omar Folkes combined well and Folkes had a shot blocked by a lunging K's defender, but the ball ran loose to Ayoola who side-footed home from 10 yards to make it three goals in two outings for the Moatsiders. But K's weren't behind for long. Davies levelled things up when he grabbed his second, swiveling on the edge of the area and finding the bottom left corner of Pierson's net with a clever finish. Folkes and Ayoola combined well to set up a good chance for the Merstham target man, but Folkes dragged his shot past the far post with only Tolfrey to beat. After an entertaining first half, it was all square at the break.   

 

Five minutes into the second half, Folkes had another great chance but delayed his shot a fraction of a second and allowed Harry Osborne to come flying in and make a great block. From the resulting corner, a Jacquart shot was flicked narrowly past the post by Ayoola. Dan Bennett had a gilt-edged chance to give K's the lead, but he over indulged in the box when he had just Pierson to beat and a combination of keeper and defenders eventually smothered the opportunity. The second half saw fewer clear-cut chances as both sides defended better. With 15 minutes remaining, Ayoola cut in from the left but his rasping drive found the side netting. Just as it looked as though the match was heading for penalties, Ayoola did superbly well to hold the ball up before laying it perfectly into the path of the fast-arriving Ellis Brown, whose low drive seemed to go through Tolfrey and give the Moatsiders a much-needed victory.     

 

Merstham: Pierson, Mensah,  O'Halloran, Mendes- Calucane, Richmond, Jones, Brown, Jacquart, Folkes, Ayoola, Sousa-Pina (Madu 60).

Unused subs : Monga, Hayles, Kersuzan

 

Man of the Match: Shola Ayoola 

Saturday 7th December 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Kingstonian 4-0 Merstham 

Report by Chris Pullen

After an encouraging performance the previous week, Merstham undid a lot of that good work by conceding some sloppy goals and allowing K's a relatively comfortable afternoon in the end. Leaving aside the goals conceded, Merstham played very well in patches and were rather unlucky to come off two down at the break, but once K's added a third, the result was beyond doubt. There was an encouraging debut for new signing Olusola Ayoola, who gave the K's defence plenty to think about. But the Moatsiders have got to stop conceding goals from set pieces if they are going to put this wretched run of form behind them.

 

Merstham actually started the game very well and Ayoola wasn't far away, but couldn't get enough on a near post header to get it on target and a Jacquart shot was deflected just wide. But from K's first attack in the 6th minute they won a corner. The ball was delivered to the far post, which Merstham failed to deal with,  and Cook was waiting inside the six yard box to force the ball home at the second attempt. Matte Pierson had to be alert when Dan Bennett was allowed to get goal-side and the Merstham keeper did well to scoop the ball off the toes of the K's man. In the 14th minute, Yannick Monga danced through the K's defence but completely mishit his shot and Tolfrey made a comfortable save. Pierson than made an acrobatic save from Reece Hall who hit a screamer from 25 yards, that the Merstham stopper did well to tip over. It was end to end stuff. Another K's corner after 15 mins saw the home side extend their lead with a carbon copy of the first goal. A deep corner wasn't cleared and this time it was Theophanous on hand to finish from close range and make it 2-0. Credit to the Moatsiders though as they continued to play their football. They were slicing through the K's midfield at will and a combination of good defending and some poor final balls meant that the Moatsiders failed to test Tolfrey. Ayoola was put through in the 22nd minute and as he was about to shoot, he was clearly shoved in the back by a K's defender. His shot went over the bar and referee Morrison simply gave a goal kick, much to the irritation of the Merstham players and fans alike. Bennett had another chance but fired wide when he should have hit the target, while Hall tested Pierson again from range. Ten minutes before the break, Jacquart weaved his way through the K's back line but then hit a tame shot straight at Tolfrey. On the stroke of half time, Merstham almost gave Theophanous a gift wrapped early Christmas present as they tried to play out from the back, and played it straight to the K's number 9, but Pierson did well to force the K's forward to delay his shot and then Bennett blazed wildly over. It was a breathless first half which could easily have seen six or seven goals, with chances galore at both ends.

 

At half time, the consensus was that the Moatsiders were a little unlucky to be two down and if they could get the game back to 2-1, anything could happen. Unfortunately for the visitors, it was K's who got the all-important next goal after 58 minutes, as Bennett atoned for missing several good chances in the first half, by dinking the ball over Pierson after the K's forward was played in by Beaney. Understandably, Merstham heads dropped a bit and the good football that they'd played in the first half wasn't really in evidence in the final half hour. As the Moatsiders pushed forward in search of a consolation, it looked increasingly likely that K's would catch them on the break and add to their tally. The Merstham midfield went AWOL and you had to have some sympathy for the Merstham defenders as it was often 3 v 3 or 4 v 4. K's did eventually add a fourth after 71', when Jacquart was robbed in his own half and Theophanous ran clear before firing low and hard into the far corner to make it an emphatic victory for the home side.  

 

Merstham: Pierson, Brown, O'Halloran, Mensah, Richmond, Jones (Mendes Calucane 62'), Jacquart, Lamont, Folkes, Ayoola (Madu 72'), Monga (Sousa Pina 62')

Unused subs: Hayles, Splatt

 

Man of the Match: EJ Mensah

 

Saturday 30th November 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Merstham 2-2 Bishops Strortford 

Report by Chris Pullen

Merstham picked up their first league point since mid-September in a thoroughly entertaining encounter at the Whisky Bible Stadium. The Moatsiders showed a lot of heart and character, twice coming from behind, though a point was the least they deserved. There were promising debuts for Jalen Jones, returning for his second spell at the Moatside, and Aaron Lamont, who marshaled the midfield and showed an impressive range of passing. But the most pleasing thing for the home supporters was the quality of football, which has been lacking in the last few games. 

 

Merstham started the game brightly, with crisp passing and positive intent. Omar Folkes was only denied by a last-ditch block by a Blue defender, while Chace Jacquart saw his effort tipped over the bar by the Stortford keeper after Folkes and Monga had combined well to set up the chance. But it wasn't all one-way traffic and James O'Halloran did superbly well to hook away a dangerous cross as Cureton was lurking at the far post. However, from the resulting corner, the Moatsiders went behind when they failed to deal with the initial delivery, allowing the ball to reach the six yard box, where Cureton was waiting to finish from close range in the 20th minute. But three minutes later, Merstham were level from a corner of their own. O'Halloran curled one in to the near post and the ball appeared to hit the post, hit a Blues defender and was scrambled clear. But the eagle-eyed assistant spotted the ball had crossed the line and the goal was given. Buoyed by the equaliser, the home side dominated, with Lamont pulling the strings in midfield and Jacquart and Brown looking dangerous in possession. But Merstham's dominance was disrupted just before the break, when Eddie Dines fell heavily and had to be replaced nursing a shoulder injury.

 

The visitors began the second half well and had a greater share of possession, although the impressive Omar Folkes went close with a header just after the break. But the visitors were looking threatening and they regained the lead in the 61st minute, when, for once, the Merstham defending was less than impressive, allowing Sweeney to cut inside and his low shot beat Matte Pierson at his near post. In previous weeks, heads might have dropped, but the Moatsiders dug deep and kept playing their football. Christian Madu replaced Yannick Monga and his pace and width began to stretch the visitors. With 15 minutes remaining, manager Frank Wilson went for broke, taking off Jalen Jones and bringing on Barry Hayles, who immediately made his presence felt. With just seven minutes remaining, the Moatsiders drew level. A deep cross from the left found Omar Folkes at the far post, who headed the ball back across goal to where Chace Jacquart was waiting to drill the ball low into the net and give the Moatsiders a thoroughly deserved point.   

 

Merstham: Pierson, Brown, O'Halloran, Mensah, Richmond, Jones (Hayles 75') Lamont, Dines (Splatt 38') Folkes, Jacquart, Monga (Madu 62')

Unused subs: Copeland, Mendes Calucane

 

Man of the Match: Aaron Lamont

 

Saturday 23rd November 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Cheshunt 3-0 Merstham 

Report by Chris Pullen

Merstham's poor run of form continued with a comprehensive defeat at fellow strugglers Cheshunt. The Moatsiders were second best all over pitch from first minute to the last. The most disappointing aspect for travelling Merstham fans is that their team was not only beaten, but they were also out-worked and out-fought by what was a fairly limited Cheshunt side. That said, when you have to change your starting line up, and your bench in the 45 mins before kick off, it really doesn't help. New signing Mitchal Gough had been penciled to go staright into the starting line up by boss Frank Wilson, but Gough had picked up a knock in training on Thursday and after a brief conversation was deemed not fit enough to start. Then midfielder Eddie Dines, who again was in the stating line-up until the pre-match warm up, reported he was unwell. The end result was that right back Dquame Copeland was switched to centre-back, Potchu Mendes started at right back, Frankie Heisson-Harris replaced Dines in midfield and Barry Hayles replaced Mitchal Gough on the bench. Less than ideal preparation. The only good news was that Chace Jacquart was starting his first game for two months. 

 

For the first ten minutes of the game, the Moatsiders couldn't get out of their own half, and it took a superb save by the overworked Matte Pierson to keep the scores level, as he managed to get across his goal to block Williams' effort with an outstretched right foot. The Merstham keeper has been in excellent form all season and his handling was superb in the opening 20 minutes, as he dealt with a number of crosses into the visitors' box. He was unfortunate to pick up a yellow card for handling outside his box when dealing with another Cheshunt raid after 15 minutes. Skipper James Richmond did his best to organise the hard-pressed Moatsiders, but it felt somewhat inevitable that Cheshunt's pressure would eventually tell. The Moatsiders held out until the 33rd minute when they conceded a goal in keeping with what was a poor quality game. Merstham failed to clear a free kick and in the ensuing scramble, Newton's shot was going well wide, but the ball instead found Moss, who fired home from 8 yards. A scrappy goal, but it was no more than the home side deserved. Three minutes before the break, Pierson produced a breath-taking save from a Camara pile-driver from 25 yards; the Merstham keeper diving full length to tip the ball onto the upright and keep the Moatsiders in the game. 

 

Merstham's injury woes continued as James O'Halloran had to be replaced at the interval with Zach Dainkew. Any hope that the second half would see a Merstham fightback were soon put to bed, as the pattern of the first half of Cheshunt domination was repeated. On the hour, the game was over as a contest. A long ball to the far post was badly missed by a Merstham defender, leaving Newton with time and space to fire past Pierson. Barry Hayles replaced Jamie Splatt with 20 minutes remaining and his presence up front seemed to invigorate the Moatsiders. But with 15 minutes left, Cheshunt right back Diallo had acres of space to fire home a third and put the result beyond doubt. Chace Jacquart had a goal chalked off with 5 minutes left for a dubious offside, but it would have been nothing more than a consolation. The Moatsiders are going to have to find a way to break this losing sequence in the next few weeks, or it's going to be a long, hard winter.  

 

Merstham: Pierson, Calucane (Madu 57), O'Halloran (Diankeh 46), Heisson-Harris, Copeland, Richmond, Brown, Splatt (Hayles 69) Folkes, Jacquart, Ocran

Unused subs: Monga, Dines

 

Man of the Match: Matte Pierson

Tuesday 29th November 2019
Isthmian Premier League
Potters Bar Town 2-1 Merstham
By Johnny Moatside

On a freezing cold Tuesday evening The Moatsiders travelled to the Palkex Stadium home of Potters Bar Town on the back of eight straight losses and desperately in need of points to restart their season. Frank Wilson’s side sat in 18th place in the BetVictor Isthmian Premier Division table prior to kick off, four places and seven points behind their hosts. 

Potters Bar got off to a flying start just three minutes in, when Imedd Kartita’s cross found Josh Hutchinson, who calmly slotted the ball past Merstham keeper Matt Pierson on the volley to give the them an early lead. Potters Bar were forced into an early change in in the eleventh minute when defender Andrew Lomas went off injured, being replaced by Stefan Powell. A minute later Merstham goal stopper Pierson was forced to make a stunning save from a Kartita free kick which was followed quickly by a shot from former Moatsider Roman Michael-Percil, that went just wide of the visitors upright  Following an unexciting few minutes R’avan Constable was called into action saving a shot on his line by Omar Folkes from a James O’Halloran  corner keeping Bar in front with over fifteen minutes of the half left to play. Half time brought an entertaining first half to an end especially if you were a Potters Bar fan.

Ten minutes into the second half and Merstham were looking at going further behind when Dwight Pascal earned Potters Bar a penalty after he was dubiously brought down in the box (no VAR in the Isthmian League).  Hutchinson took the penalty, only to see his effort brilliantly saved by the Merstham Man of the Match Matte Pierson in the bottom right hand corner. The Merstham travelling faithful took a collective sigh of relief before heartily cheering their idol. It didn’t take long for Potters Bar to recover from the missed penalty when a clever through ball by Michael-Percil played Hutchinson through on goal but at a very tight angle making it difficult for him to get the ball over the advancing Merstham ‘keeper and he could only watch as the ball fizzled out for a corner. On the hour mark Bar’s striker Bradley Sach made a mazy run at the heart of the Merstham defence carving his way through on goal his impressive finish doubled the Home side’s lead leaving the Moatsiders a proverbial mountain to climb. Seven minutes later Merstham ‘super sub’ Ellis Brown pulled one back for the visitors  when he took a golden opportunity from ten yard yards and  placed his shot neatly past Constable to give Merstham hope. Minutes later a superb goal line clearance by Pierson from Michael-Percil in the closing minutes of the game denied Potters Bar the chance to restore their two goal advantage. Despite every effort to get back on level terms Merstham just lacked the final ball and the game ended with Potters Bar taking all three points and adding to the Moatsiders string of poor results. 

Merstham: Matte Pierson, Dquame Copeland (Ellis Brown 62), James O’Halloran, Eddie Dines, Sinn’Kaye Christie, James Richmond (C), Pochu Mendes-Calucane, Jamie Splatt, Omar Folkes, Zach Dainkeh (Christian Madu 45), Brendan Ochran (Barry Hayles 73)

Unused Subs: Frankie Hession-Harris, Yannick Monga 

Merstham Man of the Match: Matte Pierson 

 

Saturday 16th November 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Bognor Regis Town 2-1 Merstham

Report by Chris Pullen

Football can be a cruel game sometimes. In a match packed with good football and plenty of goalmouth action, the Moatsiders came so close to earning a well-deserved away point, only to see it snatched away by a controversial Rocks winner a minute from time. 

 

The Merstham side that started at Bognor showed three players making their debuts; Dquame Copeland, on loan from Welling; Jamie Splatt on loan from Dulwich and Zach Diankeh, on loan from Ebsfleet. All three had promising debuts with Jamie Splatt particularly impressive in midfield. The visitors were positive from the start and were nearly rewarded with an early goal when Brendan Ocran burst clear in the 4th minute and was only denied by the legs of former Moatsider Amadou Tangara in the Rocks goal. That set the tone for the match. A few minutes later, Flint's strike from 10 yards smacked against the Merstham post, although it looked like Matte Pierson got a touch. A few minutes later and the Moatsiders came close again, when Omar Folkes cut inside and curled one narrowly over. It was a breathless opening quarter of an hour, with both sides looking dangerous whenever they went forward. A Bognor corner saw Crane get a free header, but luckily it once again found the Merstham woodwork and was scrambled away to safety. Merstham keeper Matte Pierson was having a busy afternoon and had to be alert to palm another Rocks shot away. Folkes might have scored on 20 minutes but shot straight at Tangara. That led to an immediate Bognor counter attack resulting in another close shave at the Merstham end. The only surprise was the game was goalless with so much attacking intent by both sides. SinnKaye Christie then produced a great block to deny Smith from close range. Finally on 34 minutes, the home side took the lead. A raid down the right flank saw the ball crossed low and hard to the near post. Pearson half blocked the first effort, but the ball ran loose to Leigh, who couldn't really miss from six yards. Bognor deserved the lead on the balance of play and for the last ten minutes of the half, the Moatsiders had to dig deep to avoid going in two down. They very nearly did in first half added time as Cook should really have scored from another Rooks corner. 

 

At half time, Boss Frank Wilson took off Ellis Brown and brought on Potchu Calucane. With Brendan Ocran limping off on the stroke of half time, and been replaced by Christian Madu, it was a bold move. The second half had only just begun when a bad pass by Christie was intercepted by Smith and Pierson had to produce an excellent save to keep the Moatsiders in the game. Minutes later and Pierson was again called into action, blocking Leigh's effort with his legs from close range. But it wasn't all one-way traffic, as a good run by Folkes saw his shot only just fly over the angle of post and bar. James O'Halloran then produced a superb headed clearance off his own line, before Splatt then tested Tangara again, but it was a relatively comfortable save for the Rocks keeper. But Merstham were coming more and more into the game and were looking just as likely to score as Bognor. In the 72nd minute, Pierson produced another fine save to keep out Smith's fierce drive. Frank Wilson then played his final card and brought on Barry Hayles and it paid almost immediate dividends. Madu was fouled just outside the box and Splatt curled in a delicious free kick. Both James Richmond and Hayles got touches on the ball, but Hayles got the final touch to send the ball into the far corner of the net. Nine minutes left. Could the Moatsiders hang on? They almost won it when Folkes' shot, destined for the top corner, was headed wide by a covering defender. With a minute left, a low cross into the Merstham box was half blocked by Pierson, who got kicked in the process. With the Merstham keeper on the ground and in need of treatment, the referee chose to play on and although Pierson got to his feet as the ball was swung back into the box, he was slightly out of position as a header by Smith looped over him and into the net. A real last-minute sickner for the visitors, but when the Rocks keeper is given the Man of the Match award, it tells you that Merstham gave as good as they got. 

 

Merstham: Pierson, Copeland, O'Halloran, Dines, Christie, Richmond, Brown (Calucane 46), Splatt, Folkes, Diankeh (Hayles 73), Ocran (Madu 44).

Unused subs: Heisson-Harris, Monga

 

Man of the Match: Matte Pierson

 

Saturday 26th October 2019

FA Trophy

Carshalton Athletic 3-1 Merstham

Report by Chris Pullen

Merstham were dumped out of the FA Trophy by a confident Robins outfit, who dominated the game and ran out comfortable winners. It was a disappointing performance by the Moatsiders and once Carshalton had taken the lead, the result really didn't look in doubt. If it hadn't been for several find saves by Matte Pierson, the scoreline might have been a lot worse.

 

The game began quietly, with neither side able to offer any real attacking threat in the opening exchanges. That changed after 15 minutes, when the Robins sliced through the Moatsiders and it took an excellent block by Pierson, who was quickly off his line, to deny Korboa. But Carshalton went in front 3 minutes later and it came from Merstham giving the ball away cheaply in midfield. With players committed forward, and defenders backing away, Pattisson had time to hit a  speculative effort from 20 yards, which skimmed off the wet surface, and, although Pierson got his right hand to it, it had enough power to find the bottom corner. That goal changed the game. The Moatsiders started backing off, especially in midfield, and at times the two holding midfielders, were back on the toes of the Merstham centre-backs. That meant there was acres of space for the Robins to exploit in front of the Moatsiders, and sure enough, they did. Merstham got pinned in their own half and even when they did win the ball back and played it towards Omar Folkes to hold up, the Merstham man was outnumbered and the rest of his team mates were slow to support him. As a result, the ball kept coming back and the Moatsiders couldn't get out. It took another fine, close-range block by Matte Pierson after 27 minutes to deny Bradford, who was clean through. But a second Robins goal looked increasingly likely, while at the other end, the Robins keeper was a virtual spectator. More by luck than judgement, Merstham managed to get to the interval just one goal down.

 

Merstham boss Frank Wilson, was forced into a change at the interval, as left-back James O'Halloran, was unable to continue, and was replaced by Brendan Ocran, with Eddie Dines dropping into the vacant full back berth. The second half was only five minutes old when the over-worked Pierson was again forced into action, denying Korboa again after the Carshalton man ran onto a route one long ball and got his shot away. In the 54th minute, a rare Merstham foray forward saw Robins keeper Perntreou just beat Folkes to the ball and scoop it off his toes. Rose replaced Sousa Pina and although Merstham began to enjoy more possession than they had in the first period, they still failed to offer any real threat to the Robins goal. Carshalton were soon testing Pierson again, as he was forced to push away a 25 yarder from Dudley and then watch as Pattisson fired the rebound over the bar. With 67 minutes on the clock, Wilson made his final change, bringing on Barry Hayles to see if the veteran striker could nick a goal. But in the 74th minute, Carshalton made the game safe when a quick counter attack found Haxhiu unmarked on the left and he beat Pierson with a shot into the roof of the net. With three minutes remaining, Carshalton put the icing on the cake when Koroma hammered a 25 yarder into the bottom left corner, giving Pierson no chance. The Moatsiders did grab a consolation in the 90th minute, when Hayles showed his positional sense hasn't dimmed with age. The player-coach spun on a sixpence and fired home from six yards to give the Merstham faithful something to cheer.  In fact, Ellis Brown almost added a second moments later, when he was put through and rounded the Robins keeper, But in doing so, he left himself a tight angle, and it allowed Chedle to get back and block his goal-bound effort on the line. But that would have flattered the visitors who were well-beaten on the day. 

 

Merstham: Pierson, Calucane, O'Halloran (Ocran 46), Dines, Christie, Richmond, Brown, Heisson-Harris ( Hayles 67), Folkes, Monga, Sousa-Pina (Rose 56).

Unused subs: Lester, Rapson, Madu, Mensah.

 

Man of the Match: Matte Pierson

 

Tuesday 22nd October 2019
Isthmian Premier League
Margate 2-1 Merstham
By Johnny Moatside

 

Speaking to Merstham Boss Frank Wilson after the game he described Merstham’s 2-1 defeat as “heartbreaking” even though the Moatsiders dominated the game and produced one of their best performances of the season under the Wilson regime.

Merstham had the first chance of the game when in the fifth minute a break by Frankie Hession-Harris down the wing found Yannick Monga but the midfielder’s shot was fired over the Margate bar.  Ten minutes later a chance fell to Marco Sousa-Pina but his attempt was easily dealt with by Joseph Tupper the Gates’ goalkeeper. In the 20th minute Merstham were awarded a free kick however Monga’s shot went high over the Margate bar, a kick England rugby fly-half Johnny Wilkinson would have been proud of.
The Moatsiders went a goal behind in the 23rd minute with the first of a brace for Margate’s midfielder Adem Ramadan but far from giving in, especially after the team’s poor run of losing their last six games on the bounce, the visitors continued as they had started from the off playing some clever and pacy football and dominated the majority of the play as the first half came to an end.

Merstham’s Man of the Match,18-year-old, James O’Halloran set up Yannick Monga for a fine equaliser in the 60th minute before substitute Bradley Ocran missed a glaring chance for the Moatsiders when he failed to get a proper contact after striker Omar Folkes had set him up for what seemed like an easy tap-in. When Merstham gave away a needless corner three minutes from time, Ramadan grabbed his second to make it a painful evening for Wilson and his young side.

Speaking after the game to Clive Youlton of getSURREY Wilson said “It was like a dagger in the heart. But on the back of this performance I can only see us getting better. We have been on a terrible slump but we have strengthened where we’ve needed to and that’s not being disrespectful to the players who have left. Others have come in including James O’Halloran who was with me at Kingstonian last season and he was absolutely fantastic here. He made the goal and caused them all sorts of problems down the left side.”

Merstham: Matte Pierson, Pochu Mendes-Calucane, James O’Halloran, Eddie Dines, Sinn’Kaye Christie, James Richmond (C), Ellis Brown (Brendan Ocran 78), Frankie Hession-Harris, Omar Folkes, Yannick Monga, Marco Sousa-Pina.
Unused subs: Barry Hayles, Christian Madu, Jaheim Rose, Liam Smith

Merstham Man of the Match: James O’Halloran

 

Saturday 19th October 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Horsham 4-0 Merstham

Report by Chris Pullen

A curious game for the Merstham fans who made the journey south. A poor first half, with the visitors conceding two poor goals, followed by a vastly improved second half - with the visitors conceding two poor goals. The difference was in the second half, the Moatsiders missed first a penalty and then a sitter, as the game could easily have been 2-2 before the Hornets put the game away with a third goal. But Merstham will look back on this game and ponder what might have been. 

 

Merstham boss Frank Wilson made several changes to the side beaten on Tuesday; new signings James O'Halloran and Potchu Mendes both made their first appearances in amber and black, while Christian Madu came into the starting line up. Merstham also changed to a flat back four, but unfortunately, some individual mistakes ensured that the wait for a clean sheet goes on. The last one was in early September. 

 

The Moatsiders actually began the game well, and were far more positive in closing down their opponents all over the pitch. For the first 20 minutes, it was a very even contest and both sides had some promising attacking situations, which they failed to make the most of. But in the 24th minute, a Hornets' corner was swung in and, rather than playing to the whistle, Merstham players were guilty of standing and appealing for a hand-ball. Horsham's Charlie Harris didn't wait and took a touch before hammering the ball past Matte Pierson into the roof of the net. You could almost feel the confidence drain out of the visitors and for the remainder of the half, the Hornets swarmed around the Merstham box. Seven minutes later, it was 2-0. A surging run down the right side of the pitch by Dawson wasn't stopped and suddenly Merstham's back four were all over the place, leaving O'Toole with a simple tap-in from six yards. The Hornets could and possibly should have added to their score as chances came and went, with the Merstham midfield really not doing enough to protect their hard-pressed defence. The half-time whistle was something of a relief for the beleaguered Moatsiders.   

 

The Merstham coaching staff decided that changes were needed and Frank Wilson acted at the interval, bringing on Brendan Ocran and Marco Sousa-Pina to replace Madu and Wedgeworth. It looked like an inspired change, as the Moatsiders were vastly improved and suddenly causing the home side all sorts of problems. Ellis Brown was getting into the game and an early fine run ended with a rather tame shot, but it showed the intent of the visitors. Matte Pierson was called into action in the 51st minute to save a header from a corner, but Merstham were looking dangerous at last. Ten minutes into the half and the flying Ellis Brown was brought down just inside the box after a nice give and go. Referee Bradley had no hesitation pointing to the spot and up stepped Omar Folkes to bring the Moatsiders back into the contest. Unfortunately for Folkes and Merstham, his penalty was too high and smacked against the top of the bar. But rather than feel sorry for themselves, the Moatsiders continued to press forward and three minutes after the miss, another superb run by Brown turned the Hornets defence. Brown saw Ocran arriving at the far post and crossed superbly and, with the Merstham sub all alone and three yards out, it was a certain goal. Except it wasn't, as Ocran's effort somehow went wide of the post. Barely five minutes later and instead of being 2-2, the Moatsiders were 3-0 down and the game was over. Sinn'kaye Christie got the ball stuck under his feet as Merstham tried to build from the back. He was dispossessed and two passes later, Smith was firing past Pierson to ensure the three points would be going to East Sussex. Folkes almost pulled a goal back immediately, but his effort was well saved by Bentley. Horsham rubbed salt into the wound when Dawson's effort from 25 yards found the bottom corner, but Merstham didn't help themselves by failing to close the Hornets player down in time. On the plus side, O'Halloran and Potchu Mendes both made encouraging debuts and Ocran and Sousa-Pena helped spark the Merstham second-half revival. But the Moatsiders will need to stop conceding goals, especially soft ones, otherwise it's going to be a long, hard winter.

 

Merstham: Pierson, Smith, O'Halloran, Heisson-Harris, Christie, Richmond, Madu (Ocran 46), Potchu Mendes (Ten-Grotenhuis 68), Folkes, Brown, Wedgeworth  (Sousa-Pina 46).

Unused subs: Rapson, Hayles

 

Man of the Match: James O'Halloran

Tuesday 15th October 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Merstham 1-2 Cray Wanderers

Report by Chris Pullen

Despite getting off to a dream start, with a goal inside the first four minutes, Merstham slumped to their fourth consecutive league defeat as they once again failed to keep a clean sheet. It was a frustrating performance for the home supporters, as the Moatsiders started well, but after scoring, conceded both territory and the initiative to a competent, but by no means outstanding Wanderers outfit. 

 

Cray Wanderers like so many teams these days, build from the back and it cost them dear early on when a sliced clearance fell to Omar Folkes on the right touchline. He drove to the by-line and floated in a dangerous-looking cross. It was missed at the near post by Ellis Brown, but his run attracted two Cray defenders. The ball ran through to Yannick Monga, who had time to control the ball, before side-footing home to put the home side one up. But Cray reacted well, and Matte Pierson in the Merstham goal was soon called into action, producing a flying save to keep out Taylor's effort. At the other end, a Peter Wedgeworth free kick from all of 30 yards brought the Cray keeper into action as he tipped the ball over and from the resulting corner, the keeper again did well to block an Ellis Brown shot.  Merstham boss Frank Wilson had reverted to a 3-5-2 formation, but his two central midfielders began to drop so deep that, at times, it looked as though the Moatsiders had 4 or 5 centre backs. As a result, Cray were under little pressure until they entered the Merstham half and the Moatsiders began to get trapped on their own 18 yard line. Frank Wilson was, however, desperately disappointed with the Cray equaliser. From a Cray throw in on the left of the Merstham defense, an uncontested near-post cross found Taylor totally unmarked six yards out and he comfortably beat Pierson to level the scores after 18 minutes. For the remainder of the half, the visitors largely dominated possession and had time and space to pick their passes, but without really creating any further opportunities, though the ball was in and around the Merstham penalty area far too much for the home sides' liking. But it remained 1-1 at the break.

 

The second half began in similar vein, with the Moatsiders conceding territory and possession and Pierson was soon in action again, with a smart near-post block. But it felt inevitable that all of Cray's possession would pay off eventually and it did so after 57 minutes, but again it was a poor goal from a Merstham perspective. A throw in on the left found Taylor's feet in the box, and the Cray front man rolled his defender far too easily before pulling the ball back to a waiting Pritchard, who fired home from 12 yards. The game really drifted away from the Moatsiders, who couldn't seem to raise their performance levels enough to put the visitors under any real pressure. It was only in the last 15 minutes that they began to put Cray under a little bit of pressure, but failed to carve out a single real goal-scoring opportunity. 

 

Merstham: Pierson, Smith (Madu 65), Wedgeworth (c), Mensah, Christie, Richmond, Ten-Grootenhuis (Evans 73), Heisson-Harris (Wilson 46), Folkes, Brown (Sousa-Pina 79), Monga.

Unused subs: Rapson, Follea

Man of the Match: Matte Pierson

 

Saturday 12th October 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Merstham 1- 4 Leatherhead

Report by Chris Pullen

In front of their biggest home crowd of the season, the Moatsiders unfortunately produced their worst display of the season. It was hard to tell if Leatherhead were really good or Merstham were really poor, but it's fair to say that the Tanners dominated the match from the first minute to the last, and but for Merstham keeper Matte Pierson, the scoreline could have been even worse. 

 

Merstham boss Frank Wilson gave a competitive debut to Frankie Heisson-Harris in midfield, and with EJ Mensah suspended following his dismissal at Enfield, Jesse Boateng filled the right back berth. Right from the opening kick-off however, the Moatsiders looked tentative and uncertain, in contrast to the visitors who quickly gained the upper hand. All too often, Leatherhead players were first to the loose ball and won most of the physical match-ups in all areas of the pitch. As early as the 8th minute Pierson had to be alert to block a close range effort at his near post. From the resulting corner, the ball bounced off a Merstham defender and Pierson did brilliantly to scoop the ball away from the goal line, and thankfully there was no VAR to check how close it was to going over. But in the 15th minute, the inevitable happened and the Tanners took the lead. Merstham failed to track runners from midfield and a quick one-two cut through the Merstham back four, allowing Gregory to draw Pierson before squaring the ball, and Olutade had all the time in the world to side-foot the ball home. Merstham's midfield wasn't offering too much protection to a beleaguered back four, and when the Moatsiders did get the ball forward it was coming straight back. In the 26th minute, a Tanners free kick found their skipper Will Salmon in acres of space and it took another superb Pierson stop to deny him. But it felt like a matter of time before a second goal arrived and in the 34th minute, it duly did. It was a poor goal to concede.A near-post corner created confusion and Pierson could only push the ball down to a waiting Wood, who finished with ease from six yards. Four minutes later and the Moatsiders were, for a brief moment, back in the game. Good work by Omar Folkes and Ellis Brown, saw the Merstham wide-man through on goal. For some reason, Driver, Tanners right-back, felt the need to shove him over and the referee pointed to the spot. Folkes coolly converted the spot kick and suddenly there was a ray of hope - which lasted for all of three minute. A route one attack saw a ball flicked on and Gregory outpaced Boateng before drilling it past Pierson to make it 3-1 in the 41st minute.

 

Frank Wilson made two changes at the break; Bradley Wilson replacing Heisson-Harris in midfield and Christian Madu replacing Boateng, with Ellis Brown slotting in at right back. But unfortunately, the changes made little difference to the pattern of the match. The Tanners continued where they'd left off in the first half - in control. Wood should have made it four just moments after the restart, but blazed over from 10 yards after a sloppy Moatsider pass out from the back. Olutade then spurned another good chance, but in the 57th minute, Leatherhead did get their fourth and it was all too easy. Mensah's run from midfield went unnoticed and with one pass he was clean through with only Pierson to beat, which he did with aplomb. Great Evans did have a rare sight of goal a few minutes later, but his goal-bound shot was blocked by a defender. In the 66th minute, Olutade was guilty of another glaring miss as the Tanners sliced through the Merstham defence once again. With 15 minutes left, Pierson did well to block a close range effort with his foot but for some reason, referee Small decided that constituted a foul and to the disbelief of keeper and defenders, as well as most of the crowd, pointed to the spot. One can only assume Leatherhead were too embarrassed to score as Dsane's penalty was fired well wide and justice was done. It was now a case of damage limitation, and with five minutes remaining Pierson pulled off another fine save to deny Gregory who was clean through again. A bad day at the office for the Moatsiders.

 

 

Merstham: Pierson, Boateng (Madu 46), Wedgeworth (c), Dines, Christie, Richmond, Brown, Heisson-Harris (Wilson 46), Folkes, Evans (Rose 69), Monga.

Unused subs: Ten-Grotenhuis, Hayles.

 

Man of the Match: Matte Pierson

 

Saturday 1st October 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Merstham 1–3 Worthing

Report by Chris Pullen

 

This highly entertaining game, played in torrential rain, could easily have gone either way. The final score is a little harsh on the Moatsiders, as the result was only really settled when Worthing broke away to score a third five minutes from the end. Both sides had a host of goal-scoring opportunities during the 90 minutes, as the greasy surface made it a quick, exciting game to watch.

Merstham started the game well and were soon asking questions of the Rebels. In the opening minutes, Ellis Brown, who had a fine game, accelerated past a couple of Worthing defenders and found Omar Folkes, but the Merstham forward opted to pass when a shot looked like the better option. But Worthing began to get their passing game going and started to look increasingly dangerous. Merstham keeper Matte Pierson, who made a string of fine saves throughout the game, did well to keep out efforts from Pierce and Aguir. But there were some alarming gaps appearing in the Merstham midfield, which the Rebels began to exploit. It was no great surprise when they took the lead in the 24th minute. A Worthing corner wasn’t dealt with and the ball was eventually headed home by Piece after an almighty scramble. Credit to the Moatsiders though, as within two minutes they were level. A chipped ball into the box by Yannick Monga created confusion between the Worthing keeper and his defenders, and as Folkes challenged, the ball deflected off a body and rolled gently into the net. Like any good forward, Folkes claimed it, though it looked as though the final touch came off a Rebels defender. The game became end to end, with both sides looking like adding to their tally. Pierson produced a great save to deny a close-range Kealy header and on the stroke of half time, Rebels keeper Rees excelled by spreading himself to deny Great Evans and then recover to block Bradley Wilson’s follow-up effort.

The second half began as the first-half ended; torrential rain and a glut of goal-mouth action. Wilson tested Rees from range almost immediately, while Pierson added to his repertoire of saves with another excellent stop from a close-range header. While the Rebels shaded the first half, it was now the home side that began to ask serious questions of the Worthing defence, with Ellis Brown a constant threat on the right flank. But the Rebels always looked dangerous on the counter attack. Although puddles were now forming on the playing surface, the pace of the game was relentless. The Moatsiders had a great chance to take the lead when a corner dropped to the feet of sub Eddie Dines six yards out, but his shot was partially blocked and trickled agonisingly wide. The ball just wasn’t running for the Moatsiders in the box and on several occasions, it ran across the face of the goal, tantalisingly close to a Merstham shirt, but no-one could apply the finishing touch. On one occasion it looked like a shot was heading into the net only to deflect off Monga and go wide. With 13 minutes left, Worthing took the lead, rather against the run of play. It was a goal that disappointed Merstham boss Frank Wilson. Worthing’s Aguir was inexplicably allowed to carry the ball from the half way line to the edge of the Merstham box without a challenge. He then slipped the ball to Starkey who calmly chipped the ball over Pierson. Merstham threw caution to the wind and piled forward in search of an equaliser. There were several half chances, and then with five minutes left, Worthing broke swiftly from a Merstham corner with numbers, and Dawes was left with a simple tap in to seal the win.    

Merstham: Pierson, Brown (Madu 86), Wedgeworth (c), Mensah, Richmond, Christie, Wilson (Dines 64), Ten-Grotenhuis, Folkes, Evans (Rose 70), Monga.

Man of the Match: Ellis Brown

Unused subs: Boateng, Lester

Saturday 28th September 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Enfield Town 2-0 Merstham

Report by Chris Pullen

A disappointing result, a disappointing performance and a disappointing refereeing display, summed up a forgettable afternoon for the Moatsiders. 

 

Merstham boss Frank Wilson gave a debut to new signing Great Evans up front and also gave starts to Eddie Dines and Yannick Monga in midfield. The Moatsiders began the game brightly and looked dangerous in the opening ten minute, with Peter Wedgeworth going close in the 8th minute when his rasping drive was tipped over by Town keeper McDonald. Unfortunately, that opening spell proved to be the best of the match for the visitors. As the first half unwound, the home side began to gain control and had a great chance to go in front after 15 minutes when Mo Faal fired wide when well placed. The Town striker was hugely fortunate to stay on the pitch after an altercation with James Richmond, when Faal pushed his head aggressively into Richmond's face. Nine times out of ten that is an automatic red card, but the referee, whom both sides agreed had a poor game, decided a ticking off was sufficient. A few minutes later, Town again went close when Blackman dragged a shot wide after a good Enfield move. The goal that Enfield were threatening came after 24 minutes. Merstham keeper Matte Pierson had just denied Sam Youngs with a good block, but the Moatsiders didn't clear their lines and gave away a needless free kick just outside the box. Blackman took it and although Pierson got a hand to the bouncing ball, he couldn't keep it out. Merstham found it hard to retain possession and all too often the front runners failed to keep hold of the ball, while the midfield were frequently by-passed by too many long balls. The only other action of note came when EJ Mensah picked up a yellow card for a fairly innocuous challenge, which was to prove costly later in the game.

 

At half time, Bradley Wilson replaced Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis, but the change did little to change the pattern of play. In the 50th minute, A Peter Wedgeworth corner deceived everyone and almost crept it at the far post, while at the other end Matte Pierson made a good stop from Faal at his near post. Merstham had a presentable opportunity in the 58th minute, when Evans outpaced the Town defense and was first to a long, bouncing ball. With Town keeper McDonald stranded in no-man's land, Evans lobbed it over him, but failed to hit it properly and the ball was easily cleared. Evans then had the Moatsiders best chance to draw level, when a short pass by Omar Folkes left the Merstham striker with just McDonald to beat, but he shot straight at the keeper who parried comfortably. Faal should really have put the home side two up but blazed wildly over the bar from close range, but the Enfield striker made amends in the 77th minute. A long throw wasn't dealt with by the Moatsiders and the ball ran loose to Youngs on the edge of the box. He completely mis-hit his shot, but it found Faal unmarked and looking suspiciously offside, deflected the ball into the net from six yards. The Moatsiders looked in vain for a flag but the goal stood. It was an eventful afternoon for the lanky Town forward, who had been booked for simulation earlier in the half. His afternoon turned sour just two minutes after scoring, when he rather stupidly kicked the ball away and earned his second yellow card. Merstham had a man advantage for all of three minutes before EJ Mensah was shown his second yellow card for a tackle on the half way line. The referee initially told the Merstham players that he was not booking Mensah, but after being surrounded and harangued by Enfield players demanding a card for the Merstham man, the referee caved in and issued the second yellow, followed by a red, reducing both sides to 10 men. The game petered out but not before both benches got involved in an acrimonious exchange as tempers flared, as frustrations boiled over, largely a consequence of some hugely questionable officiating.

 

Merstham: Pierson, Brown, Wedgeworth (c), Mensah, Christie, Richmond, Ten-Grotenhuis (Wilson 46), Dines (Madu 65) Folkes, Evans (Hayles 72), Monga.

 

Man of the Match: Ellis Brown

 

Unused subs: Boateng

 

Saturday 14th September 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Wingate & Finchley 0-4 Merstham

Report by Chris Pullen

A depleted Merstham dominated this match from the start and could easily have bagged more than the four goals they did score, such was their superiority.

 

Merstham boss Frank Wilson was forced into a number of changes, with Eddie Dines and Liam Smith out and Bradley Wilson suspended. It got worse for the Moatsiders when Chace Jacquart pulled up in the pre-match warm up, still feeling the effects of a knock picked up on Tuesday. He dropped to the bench with Neset Belikli moving into the starting line-up. 

 

Depleted perhaps, but the Moatsiders were certainly not lacking in spirit and right from the kick off, it was the visitors who were on the front foot, playing the game in the Wingate half. In the 6th minute, a Peter Wedgeworth free kick picked out Omar Folkes just outside the six-yard box, who produced a deft flick and found the far corner to give the Moatsiders an early lead. A few minutes later and Folkes tested Blues keeper Shane Gore, who was forced into a smart save at his near post. It wasn't all one-way traffic however and Wingate & Finchey missed a good chance to draw level when Mendy had a free header, but put it too close to Merstham keeper Matte Pierson who made a good stop. Pierson was commanding his box well and came to claim several high balls with authority in the opening half hour. Ellis Brown, playing as a wing back in Merstham's 3-5-2, brought a superb save out of Gore, after an excellent piece of football by the Moatsiders. On the half hour, Merstham had a golden chance to extend their lead when Belikli crossed from the left and an unmarked Yannick Monga somehow put the ball over the bar from six yards with the goal at his mercy. But the Moatsiders weren't to be denied and on 38 minutes, they did make it two. Ellis Brown intercepted a pass on half way and drove forward all the way to the bye-line, despite attempts to bring him down. The wing back drilled in a low, hard cross where Delano Sam-Yorke just got ahead of a defender and flicked the ball into the far corner to give the visitors a 2-0 lead at the break. 

The home side came out with far more intent in the second period and began to ask questions of the Moatsiders defense for the first time. It was ex-Merstham man Roman Micheal-Percil who had the best chance when he blazed wildly over the bar five minutes after the restart. But the Moatsiders still looked dangerous themselves and on the hour mark, a superb strike from Belikli from 30 yards crashed against the underside of the bar, with Gore completely beaten. Unfortunately for Merstham, it came down the wrong side of the line. Pierson was then forced to make a good save with an outstretched right leg just after the hour mark, as Wingate continued to press forward and a minute later a header from a Wingate corner dropped onto the top of the Merstham bar. But in the 66th minute, Merstham made the points safe with a third goal. Omar Folkes did well to hold the ball up, and then turn and run at the Blues defense. Spotting the run of Ellis Brown, he slid a delightful ball into Brown's path who finished comfortably past Gore. A few minutes later and Brown almost had another when he glanced a Belikli cross narrowly wide. Brown was causing the Wingate defenders all sorts of problems and on 72', a Merstham counter attack released Brown, who ran at the backtracking Blues defenders. A lunge by Wingate's Rifat on Brown in the box  was a clear penalty and up stepped Omar Folkes to dispatch the spot kick with authority and make it four for the visitors, to complete a comprehensive victory. The Moatsiders had to endure a series of unpleasant challenges in the last 10 minutes that were allowed to happen by a very lenient referee, but that didn't take the gloss off an excellent team performance.   

Merstham: Pierson, Brown, Wedgeworth (Madu 72), Mensah, Christie, Richmond, Bilikli, Ten-Grotenhuis, Folkes, Sam-Yorke (Boateng 59), Monga (Hayles 88).

Man of the Match: Omar Folkes

Unused subs: Jacquart

Saturday 7th September 2019

Emirates FA Cup

Whyteleafe 1-0 Merstham

Report by Chris Pullen

For the third season running, Merstham failed to get through the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. In fact, the last team the Moatsiders beat in the competition were Ebbsfleet United, which set up the famous tie against Oxford United. Those glory days felt a long way away as Merstham produced a disappointing display in a in very uninspiring and scrappy match. 

 

Merstham boss Frank Wilson recalled Del Sam-Yorke up front and changed to a 4-4-2. With Sinn'Kaye Christie suspended, EJ Mensah moved to centre back and there was a first start for recent signing Nese Bellikli in midfield. The first 25 minutes were very forgettable. The ball was like a proverbial hot potato and spent more time in the air than on the deck as both sides found it difficult to string more than a couple of passes together. On the half hour mark, Leafe scored the goal which was to prove the winner. Omar Folkes was harshly penalised in midfield for a challenge that was very much 50/50 by referee Hurst, who had a very poor game. From the resultant free kick, the ball was played in to Antonio Walker-Bath who was allowed to turn in the box and finished well, giving Matte Pierson no chance. The Moatsiders very nearly replied instantly as Folkes held the ball up well before finding Ellis Brown, whose well-struck shot was only inches wide of the far post. Five minutes before the break, the Moatsiders produced their best move of the match. Chace Jacquart's clever pass released Peter Wedgeworth down the left flank. The Merstham skipper pulled the ball back to the edge of the box where Sam-Yorke was waiting. The Merstham forward struck it well, only to see a Leafe defender come flying out to block it with both arms! It would have been an excellent save by a keeper, but the last time I looked at the rules, blocking a shot like that 99 times out of 100 is a stonewall penalty. Unfortunately for the Moatsiders, referee Hurts decided this was a legitimate way to block a shot and waved the appeals away. On the stroke of half time, Merstham had keeper Pierson to thank for keeping them in the game when he flung himself to his left to and produced a super stop to keep out a close-range header from Walker-Bath.

 

Merstham began the second half very much on the front foot and were much quicker in possession and sharper in the tackle. Whyteleafe were penned in their own half for the first 15 minutes, but for all their possession, the Moatsiders didn't create a really good opportunity. A couple of crosses flashed across the box and Eddie Dines will probably feel he should have done better when he turned and hit one from 10 yards way over the bar. But for all the Merstham pressure it was Leafe who almost added a second, when a swift counter attack found Walker-Bath all alone in the box. The Leafe forward hit his shot well, but Matte Pierson produced a brilliant reflex save to deflect the ball over the bar from point-blank range. Frank Wilson rang the changes and replaced Sam-Yorke and Bellikli for Brad Wilson and Christian Madu on the hour. But despite dominating the game for most of the second half, the visitors didn't register a shot on target. The only time the Moatsiders looked dangerous was from set pieces and with the Leafe keeper looking anything but commanding in the air, it seemed to be the most likely source of an equaliser. EJ Mensah had a free header but couldn't get over the ball and then James Richmond had arguably the best chance, but he failed to make proper contact with another free header from a corner from six yards. Merstham's miserable afternoon was complete when Wilson, who'd already been booked, was shown a second yellow for a foul in added time, despite clearly having his shirt pulled by a Leafe forward.    

 

Merstham: Pierson, Smith (Monga 84), Wedgeworth, Dines, Richmond, Mensah, Brown, Jacquart, Folkes, Sam-Yorke (Madu 60), Billikli (Wilson 60).

 

Man of the Match: James Richmond

 

Saturday 31st August 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Merstham 0-1 Kingstonian

Report by Chris Pullen

The match billed as Merstham past versus Merstham present, was almost inevitably decided by one of the ex-Merstham players from last season’s play-off run. A 59th minute goal by former Moatsider favourite, Tom Kavanagh was enough to decide a very scrappy encounter. K’s certainly deserved the three points on the balance of play and Rob Tolfrey in the K’s goal really didn't have a save to make. Merstham were second-best for the majority of the 90 minutes and it was a performance that disappointed many, especially boss Frank Wilson who said;  “I was disappointed with the lack of intensity from my players. I thought the K’s players showed more desire and just wanted it more. We were poor today.”

 

There was little to write home about in the opening 20 minutes, as both sides largely cancelled each other out. K’s front two of Thompson and Theophanous were proving a handful for the Moatsiders back four, but at the other end, the Moatsiders were making little impression in the final third. A Fabio Saraiva shot from 25 yards went narrowly over, while Chase Jaquert’s audacious volley from 40 yards wasn’t too far wide. Gradually, the K’s midfield started to take control with the ex-Merstham pairing of Beaney and Kavanagh to the fore. A header from Dan Thompson in the 33rd minute wasn’t far away and moments later Reece Hall tested Merstham keeper Matte Pierson with a fierce drive. The Moatsiders seemed to be off the pace and were all too often second to the ball. By the break, the visitors were looking by far the more likely to take the points.

 

Merstham boss Frank Wilson made a change at the break, bring on Charlie Ten-Grotenhuis in midfield, but the second half continued as the first half finished, with K’s on top. The goal that won the game for K’s really epitomized the game. Theophanous made a nuisance of himself and battled to win a ball that the Merstham defence really should have dealt with. The ball ran loose to the edge of the box, where Kavanagh was waiting and the midfielder drilled it into the bottom corner. Delano Sam-Yorke was brought on as the Moatsiders went to two up front, but Ollie Cook and Simon Cooper rarely looked troubled in the K’s defence. Theophanous had a great chance to extend K’s lead on the hour mark, when a quick counter attack from a Merstham corner put the K’s striker clean through, but Pierson, who had another fine match, produced a great block to keep the Moatsiders in the game. A Sam-Yorke effort with 15 minutes left was the closest the home side came, but even that failed to trouble Tolfrey and K’s ran out comfortable winners to secure their first win of the season.

 

Man of the match: James Richmond

 

Goals: Kavanagh 59'

 

Merstham: Pierson, Smith, Mensah (Billikli 65), Dines (Ten-Grotenhuis i 46), Christie, Richmond, Brown, Wilson (Sam-Yorke 57) Jacquart, Folkes, Wedgeworth ©.

 

Monday 26th August 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Folkestone Invicta 3-1 Merstham

Report by Chris Pullen

Take nothing away from Folkestone. They are a good side and probably deserved the three points on the balance of play. But Merstham found themselves on the wrong end of a couple of poor decisions by the officiating team which, as several Folkestone supporters commented afterwards, ruined a good game of football.

It’s a football cliché to say, ‘we were unlucky’, but when you hit the woodwork twice in the first three minutes of the game, you do wonder if it’s not going to be your day. With less than 20 seconds played, Chase Jacquart timed his run well and got on the end of a ball over the top of a static Invicta back line. With the keeper stranded in no-man’s land, Jacquart lobbed the ball over him only to see it hit the far post and rebound to safety. Two minutes later, another ball chipped over the top found Omar Folkes in acres of space just inside the box. The Merstham man caught the ball sweetly on the volley and the ball crashed against the Invicta bar, via the fingertips of the keeper. Del Sam-Yorke wasn’t far away from turning in the rebound. But it wasn’t all one way traffic and after Invicta has survived their early scares, they started looking dangerous, especially down the flanks and Invicta’s left back Paxman brought the first of several fine saves from Matte Pierson as he pushed away a good effort from 25 yards. It was a very open game, with both sides looking dangerous. But it was Folkestone who took the lead in the 18th minute and it started when Paxman made inroads down the left, and drew defenders, which gave Jerson dos Santos the time and space to beat Pierson from close range. Four minutes later, the Moatsiders found themselves two down, and it was a carbon copy of the first goal. Invicta found time and space on the right side of the Merstham defence and this time it was McCann who was put through and slotted the ball past Pierson. Harsh on the visitors, but with Invicta playing three up front, all too often the Merstham back four found themselves in one-on-one situations with the speedy Invicta forwards, which was causing them a lot of problems. But the Moatsiders dug in and some excellent last-ditch challenges prevented Folkestone adding to their tally. But Merstham always looked dangerous going forward and just before the break, the visitors pulled a goal back. The influential Jacquart knocked the ball into Omar Folkes, on the right edge of the box. Folkes did well to turn, hold off a defender and play a perfectly weighted ball into the arriving Sam-Yorke’s path, who calmly side-footed the ball into the far corner from 12 yards. Two-one at the break was probably a fair reflection of the half, although the Moatsiders could have had 2 or 3 goals themselves.

The second half was set up nicely, but it was Invicta that got the all-important next goal on 54 minutes to make it 3-1. With the Moatsiders caught square, Dos Santos timed his run perfectly and drew Pierson before squaring the ball,  allowing Ira Jackson to fire home. Worse was to follow for the visitors four minutes later and ended the contest as the Moatsiders were reduced to ten men. Jackson was chasing another through ball when Sinn’Kaye Christie tapped his ankles from behind. It was a foul and deserved a yellow card without question. To everyone’s amazement however, the referee produced a straight red card for ‘denying a clear goal scoring opportunity’. That is despite the fact it happened 40 yards from goal and two other Merstham players were converging on the forward. Video footage shows James Richmond level with Jackson when he was tripped (who stayed on his feet, which shows how minimal the contact was). When you have Invicta fans and officials telling you it was ‘never a sending off’ and ‘it spoiled a good game’, that probably tells you all you need to know about the decision. Credit though to the remaining ten men. On a blistering hot afternoon and 3-1 down with a half an hour left, it would have been easy to chuck in the towel. They didn’t. Merstham had Matte Pierson to thank as he produced a string of fine saves to deny Invicta who created several good chances with the Moatsiders pushing forward trying to pull one back. With ten minutes remaining, Chase Jacquart dribbled clean through the Invicta defence and was about to shoot when he was brought down. A ‘stonewall’ penalty as the Folkestone officials told us after the game. The referee for some reason not only disagreed, but then compounded his error by booked Jacquart for ‘simulation’! A converted penalty with ten minutes left would have made for an interesting finale. A disappointing result, but luck certainly wasn’t with the Moatsiders on the south coast.  

Merstham: Pierson, Smith (Monga 71), Mensah, Ten-Grotenhuis (Wilson 46) Christie, Richmond, Brown, Jacquart, Folkes (Madu 65), Sam-Yorke, Wedgeworth ©.
Unused subs: Boetang, Bellekli.

Man of the match : Pierson.

 

Saturday 24th August 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Merstham 2-1 East Thurrock United 

Report by Chris Pullen

Merstham fought back from being a goal down at the interval to claim all three points, thanks to two well-taken goals by their two strikers. 

 

Frank Wilson made one change to the starting line, bringing in Peter Wedgeworth in a wide left midfield role, with Christian Madu dropping to the bench. The bench was reinforced by two new signings; Bradley Wilson, who was at Whyteleafe and Lewes last season, and Neset Bellekli, who had a spell at Sutton United. 

 

On a blistering hot afternoon at the Whisky Bible Stadium, Merstham started the game well, and for the first 10 minutes, United found it hard to get out of their own half, although they did register the first shot on target, when a poor defensive clearance went straight to Alex Clark, but his shot was comfortably fielded by Matte Pierson in the Merstham goal. But in the 14', the Moatsiders found themselves a goal behind. An East Thurrock corner was swung into the box and the referee blew his whistle. After several seconds, players and spectators alike realised he'd given a penalty and booked Sinn'kaye Christie for holding. Up stepped United's Frankie Merrifield whose spot kick wasn't terribly well struck, but Matte Pierson had already begun his dive and the ball squirmed under him to put the visitors a goal up. The goal changed the game and it took a while for the Moatsiders to recover from what they felt was a soft penalty. But although East Thurrock had more of the game, they created little and Pierson wasn't really called into action until the half hour mark, when he produced a good save low to his right from a 20 yarder from United's Warren Thomas. Just before the break, Sam-Yorke got a shot on target, but it was a fairly comfortable save for keeper Giddens. One nothing to the visitors at the break, and yet there was a feeling that the Moatsiders could still get something from the game.

 

Indeed they could and it took only 40 seconds of the second half for Merstham to get back on terms. A lovely interchange of passing saw Omar Folkes slide a ball into Sam-Yorke and the big striker tucked it away coolly from ten yards. Goals change games and this one certainly did. Now it was the Moatsiders playing with confidence and authority and in the 59', Merstham took the lead with a fine goal. Wedgeworth spotted Folkes' clever run and curled a ball into his path. The Merstham striker took one touch to control it before swiveling and steering the ball into the far corner from a tight angle. The last half hour was a test of both sides' stamina. United increasingly resorted to the long, high ball, but the Merstham defense, superbly marshaled by James Richmond, dealt pretty comfortably with the aerial assault. The only time the visitors really looked dangerous was from a series of long throw-ins, which lead to a couple of scrambles in the box. But in the end, the Moatsiders were well worth the three points.

 

Merstham: Pierson, Smith, Mensah, Ten Grotenhuis (Wilson 79) Christie, Richmond, Brown, Jacquart, Folkes, Sam-Yorke, Wedgeworth © (Bellekli 90).

Unused subs: Boateng, Monga, Madu.
 

Man of the match : Folkes.

 

Saturday 17th August 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Brightlingsea Regent 0-0 Merstham 

Report by Chris Pullen

This was not a game that will live long in the memory. But a point and a clean sheet away from home with a depleted squad is always a good result and the Moatsiders came close to snatching all three points right at the death. 

 

With Eddie Dines injured and Ollie Bennett away, Merstham boss Frank Wilson was forced to re-shuffle and started Delano Sam-York and Omar Folkes up front in a conventional 4-4-2. Regent registered the first shot on target in the fifth minute, which Merstham keeper Matte Pierson fielded comfortably. But that turned out to be the only shot on target by either side in what proved to be a turgid first half. There was plenty of effort, but a precious lack of quality on show. Regent did have the ball in the net in the 19th minute, but the flag was raised immediately and the goal chalked off. Moments earlier, Merstham centre-back Sinn'Kaye Christie suffered a foot injury, and soldiered on until the half hour mark before he had to be replaced. Peter Wedgeworth joined the fray and slotted in at left-back, with EJ Mensah moving across to fill the gap left by Christie's departure. Neither side really looked like scoring and the Moatsiders didn't attempt a shot until the 41st minute. Though on the stroke of half-time, Omar Folkes got a rare sight of goal but his shot was blocked by a Regent defender. 

 

Both sets of fans were hoping for a better second half, but unfortunately for the spectators, the second half was very similar to the first. However, there were two major talking points. The first came in the 62nd minute, when Sam-York controlled the ball in the box from a flick-on, and jinxed past the last defender. The Regent defender stuck out a leg and down went the Merstham man. To everyone's surprise, the referee waved play-on. The most telling reaction actually came after the game when Regent boss Tom Rothery said he had fully expected the referee to point to the spot, and if it had been down the other end, 'he would have gone mad if it hadn't been given.' Enough said. The Moatsiders did register a shot on target when a Wedgeworth free kick was whipped in and beat everyone, forcing Regent keeper Turner to parry. As the game entered the last 15 minutes, it was the visitors who looked more like grabbing the win. Space was appearing and Chase Jacquart began to pull the strings. Sub Yannick Monga was also creating some difficulties for the Regent back four. With two minutes remaining, Jacquart's shot was blocked by a defender and the ball ran loose to Ellis Brown who floated a ball into the box. A host of players including the keeper all went for it and the ball was touched towards the vacant net, but a Regent defender produced an acrobatic goal-line clearance to deny the Moatsiders and ensure the game ended goalless.   

 

Merstham: Pierson, Smith, Mensah, Ten Grotenhuis (Boetang 88) Christie (Wedgeworth 32), Richmond ©, Brown, Jacquart, Folkes, Sam-Yorke (Monga 76), Madu.

Unused subs: Hayles
 

Man of the match : Mensah

 

Tuesday 13th August 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Corinthian Casuals 0-1 Merstham 

Report by Chris Pullen

Frank Wilson's men celebrated their first three points of the season, thanks to an early Omar Folkes goal. It was a hard-fought victory for the Moatsiders, who could well have put the game out of reach in the opening quarter of an hour, but in the end had to survive a nervous last 15 minutes to hang on for the win. 
 

An unchanged line-up started the game brightly and were rewarded with a goal in the seventh minute. Omar Folkes won a free kick in midfield and Charles ten Grotenhuis spotted Ellis Brown on the right flank and hit a raking 40 yard pass to the Merstham wide man. Brown took the ball down, went past the full-back and cut the ball back to where Folkes was waiting to hammer the ball home. A minute later it could have been two. A terrible header by a Casual defender went straight to the feet of the unmarked Folkes, who tried to curl it into the top corner, but put it narrowly wide. The Moatsiders were on top and it felt like a second goal was coming. In the 13th minute it almost did as a good Merstham move found Folkes with time and space in the box, but he dragged his spot wide. Probably relieved to be only one down, Casuals started to offer a threat going forward, but the Merstham defence did a fine job of keeping the home side at bay and Matte Pierson didn't really have a save to make. As the half wore on, the game became scrappier and both sides were guilty of trying too many  ambitious passes when simpler options were available. 
 

The second half continued where the first half left off. Both teams produced sporadic bursts of good football, but all too often the ball was given away or poor decisions were made. Neither keeper was really tested and Merstham looked fairly comfortable, though a single goal lead is rarely that. As the half wore on, Casuals began to throw men forward and resort to route one. Keeper Matte Pierson did well to block a close-range effort with 20 minutes left, after Casuals for once got through the Moatsiders defensive line, but other than that, he was not called into action. Merstham boss Frank Wilson brought on Delano Sam-York up front and changed his system it to a more conventional 4-4-2. The two front runners did an excellent job of holding the ball and giving the Merstham back four, superbly marshalled by James Richmond, the chance to push up. The Moatsiders always looked dangerous on the break, but failed to make the most of a couple of good opportunities count. As the game headed for added time, Casuals thought they'd won a spot kick, but the referee correctly gave the free kick to the visitors, much to the relief of everyone wearing amber and black. The Moatsiders will play better, but the first win of the season for this new side was hugely important.
 

Merstham: Pierson, Smith, Mensah, Dines, Christie, Richmond ©, Brown, Ten Grotenhuis, (Sam-Yorke 64), Folkes, Jacquart (Bennett 77), Madu (Wedgeworth 77).
Unused subs; Monga, Boeteng

 

Man of the match: James Richmond

 

Saturday 10th August 2019

BetVictor Premier Division

Merstham 1-2 Hornchurch

Report by Chris Pullen

A goal ten minutes from time deprived the Moatsiders of a point, but there were plenty of positives from the new-look Merstham, and they could easily have been two or three up before Hornchurch got back into the game.

With a strong wind gusting around the newly-named Whisky Bible Stadium, it was never going to be an afternoon for the football purist. The ball was in the air too much for the liking of Frank Wilson’s men, and that suited the bigger and more physical Urchins.

Playing with the wind at their backs, Hornchurch started the better and Merstham keeper Matte Pierson made a superb save in the sixth minute, when he turned a close-range header onto the bar. Gradually, the Moatsiders began to settle and in the nineteenth minute scored their first goal of the new season, and what a good goal it was. Ellis Brown picked up the ball wide on the right. Cutting inside, he glided past the full-back and beat a second defender before firing a low left-footed shot into the far corner. The goal lifted the Moatsiders and for the remainder of the half they looked the more dangerous side as they took control of the game. Five minutes before the break, Merstham had a great chance to add a second. A long ball out of defence was well brought down by Omar Folkes, near half-way. His lay off released the flying Ellis Brown. Folkes spun and sprinted forward and with the Urchins defence missing, Brown looked up and played an inch-perfect ball to pick out Folkes’ run. Clear and with just the keeper to beat,  Folkes’ second touch was a little heavy and allowed Urchins’ keeper Joe Wright to rush off his line and block the Merstham man’s shot. On the stroke of half-time, Hornchurch’s Charlie Stimson had a good chance from 12 yards but spooned the ball way over the bar, which meant Merstham went into the break a goal to the good.

Merstham’s Liam Smith had the first shot from distance in the second half with a speculative effort, as Merstham started the second period well. On the hour, the Moatsiders carved out another great chance to stretch their lead. Merstham's Chase Jaquert picked up the ball just outside the box and shimmied past two defenders. Wright spread himself and Jaquert’s close-range shot hit the keeper smack in the face. The rebound fell kindly to Folkes, who was following up, but he blazed over from 8 yards. It was a big moment in the game because barely five minutes later, the Urchins were level. Merstham will feel they should have cleared their lines, but the ball ran across the box to Hornchurch skipper Lewwis Spence, who beat Pierson to make it 1-1. The goal changed the game. Now it was the visitor’s turn to dominate, as the home side repeatedly gave the ball away and began to sink deeper and deeper. Urchins’ went close when Dickson headed over in the 75,  but Merstham were beginning to hang on and a series of last-ditch tackles and interceptions sparked a feeling of inevitability about the outcome of the game. It was no great surprise when Hornchurch grabbed a second with ten minutes left. With no apparent danger, keeper Matte Pierson tried to find Brown with a throw, but it was intercepted by Saunders. With the Moatsiders out of position, the Hornchurch man drove to the bye-line before pulling it back to an unmarked Joe Christou, who had time to pick his spot from 12 yards. With a few minutes remaining, there was a shameful episode when Hornchurch’s full back Parcell went down clutching his face as he pretended he’d been kicked by a high boot. After rolling around on the ground and winning a free kick, he got up and smirked at his teammates, clearly thinking he’d done something clever in deceiving the officials. A Merstham supporter yelled out “You should be ashamed”. Quite.

Merstham: Pierson, Smith, Mensah, Dines, Christie, Richmond ©, Brown, Ten Grotenhuis, Folkes (Sam Yorke 69), Jacquart (Bennett 80), Madu (Monga 69).

Unused subs: Boateng, Wedgeworth.

Man of the Match: Sinnkaye Christie

 

Saturday 3rd August 2019

Pre-Season Friendly

Merstham 1-1 Staines Town

Report by Chris Pullen

Merstham completed their pre-season programme with an entertaining draw, though they will feel that with the chances they created in the second half, they should have cantered to a comfortable victory.  

 

The first half was fairly even, with the Moatsiders having more of the ball, but rarely creating anything of note in the final third. Staines were always looking for the counter attack, but much like the home side, the final ball lacked quality. It was a competitive encounter and the tackles were flying in, as both sets of players looked to cement their places in the starting line ups next Saturday. On the half hour, Merstham created their best opening when Omar Folkes turned and hit a great strike from just outside the box, which was destined for the bottom corner before the Staines keeper got a strong right-hand to the ball to deflect it away for a corner. On the stroke of half time, Chace Jaquart got on the end of deep cross but couldn't get over it and the ball flew high and wide. Nil-nil at the break. 

 

Merstham broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute when Christian Eneremadu was clumsily fouled in the box and Folkes made no mistake from the spot. Merstham were looking far more threatening going forward, but the Swans always looked dangerous themselves on the break. Staines should have equalised ten minutes later, but the Staines player managed to put a free header wide from just six yards. Merstham boss Frank Wilson made a number of changes on the hour mark and switched to three at the back. The Merstham midfield took control of the game and the Swans were indebted to their goalkeeper Denzal Gerrar for a number of fine saves to keep the deficit down to one. First he denied Jaquart from close range and then somehow kept out an Ollie Bennett header at the far post. Merstham really should have killed the game off, but at only 1-0 there was always a chance that the Swans would get back in it and so they did with a penalty of their own with six minutes left, after a foul by James Richmond. Staines almost stole a win when a header came off the foot of the post with two minutes left, but that would have been very harsh on the Moatsiders. Frank Wilson's side is beginning to take shape, just in time for the start of the season.

 

Saturday 27th July 2019

Pre-Season Friendly

Merstham 1-2 Whyteleafe

Report by Chris Pullen

As they did on Tuesday evening, Merstham gave their opponents a two goal lead. Unlike Tuesday however, where it was a sloppy first 20 minutes that cost them the game, Whyteleafe were much the better team for the first hour and deserved their 2 goal lead. It wasn't until the final 25 minutes that the Moatsiders really started to put their passes together and look far more threatening. All of that said, Merstham boss Frank Wilson had to do without several players who would normally be in his starting line up, which as he said, gave the Merstham coaching staff a chance to look at a few new players. One player who did impress was midfielder Chace Jaquart, who was the one who really dragged the Moatsiders back into the game in the second half.

 

The first half hour was quite frenetic, especially for a pre-season game, with both sides showing plenty of endeavor, but with very little quality on show. That meant that neither goalkeeper was unduly troubled as most attacking moves fizzled out in the final third. The deadlock was broken in the 28th minute, when a shot from distance smacked against the Merstham crossbar and it was a 'Leafe player that reacted quickest to get to the rebound, only to be bundled over. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and the Moatsiders found themselves a goal down. Five minutes before the break, they went two down as a nice interchange of passing by Whyteleafe scythed through a statuesque home defence to give the visitors a deserved half time lead. 

 

Merstham improved after the break and a good move down the left saw the ball pulled back to Yannick Monga who somehow managed to put the ball wide from six yards. But the French striker made amends with 25 minutes left when he was hauled down in the box and coolly slotted home the resulting penalty to give the Moatsiders hope with 20 minutes left. At 2-1, it was all Merstham, with Jaquart pulling the strings in midfield. But for two glaring misses, Merstham could and should have drawn the game. But as long as we save the glaring misses for pre-season games....

 

Tuesday 23rd July 2019

Pre-Season Friendly

Merstham 1-3 Farnborough

Report by Chris Pullen

On Saturday, Merstham were two goals up in 16 minutes and cruising. On Tuesday evening, they were 0-2 down in the same time and were at sixes and sevens. But the Moatsiders rallied, improved  considerably as the game went on, and the final score really doesn’t reflect the rest of the game, which Merstham dominated for long spells.

 

But it was a sloppy first 20 minutes that left the home side in a deep hole. Farnborough were quicker to the ball and sharper all over the pitch and scored the opener in the fifth minute with a good strike from distance. That said, the Merstham coaching staff would undoubtedly have been unhappy with the amount of time and space that was available for the Farnborough forward to line up his shot. That became a bit of a theme in the opening 15 minutes, as shots rained in, including one that cannoned off the left upright. The second goal that came on the quarter hour was the result of a couple of missed tackles, allowing Farnborough to score from close range. After 20 minutes, play stopped for a water break and that changed the momentum  of the game completely. Suddenly it was the Moatsiders who were playing with energy and purpose and Christian Madu and Ellis Brown were causing their respective full backs all sorts of problems. Half chances came and went, with increasingly regularity and it was the visitors who found themselves under the cosh. The Moatsiders pulled one back when Omar Folkes’s shot was blocked in the box, but Christian Madu reacted quickest and although his shot was half-blocked, it had enough pace to trickle over the line. For the final 15 minutes of the first half, it was all Merstham and it looked only a matter of time before the equaliser arrived. But Farnborough dug deep and kept their 2-1 lead going into the break.  

The second half got off to the worst possible start for the Moatsiders, as they found themselves 3-1 down within minutes of the restart, when a free kick beat Merstham keeper Max Huxter. The first 15 minutes of the second half was a fairly even contest, with both sides looking dangerous. But gradually the Moatsiders re-established their dominance. The frustration was that time after time, Merstham got themselves into great attacking positions, especially out wide, but crosses into the box were invariably over hit and the great approach work wasted. That said, there were a number of chances and on another day, the Moatsiders could easily have salvaged a draw. But aside from the sloppy first 16 minutes and the frustration of the delivery into the box, it was a good performance, if not a good result. But pre-season is all about performance and establishing a pattern of play, and that is certainly taking shape.       

Saturday 20th July 2019

Pre-Season Friendly

Horley Town 1-4 Merstham

Report by Chris Pullen

This pre-season game was every bit as comfortable for the Moatsiders as the scoreline suggests, as they dominated the game from start to finish. The game was over as a contest as early as the 16th minute, when a Ryan Palmer penalty made it 2-0 to the visitors. From that point on, it was really a case of how many the Moatsiders might get. Merstham very nearly scored in the first minute, when Omar Folkes latched on to a woeful back pass and was denied by a last-ditch tackle in the box that would have had any VAR officials in the referee's ear immediately. But five minutes later, Christian Madu was tripped as he ghosted past his full back and this time the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Folkes converted the spot-kick comfortably. Ten minutes later, a delightful ball from Antonio Simeone was weighted perfect for Omar Folkes to run onto and, as he prepared to slot the ball home, he was bundled over by a Horley defender and again the referee has no hesitation in awarding a second penalty. This time it was Ryan Palmer who took responsibility and put the Moatsiders two up. Merstham could easily have gone into the break three or four up, and there were several delightful passages of play which really deserved a goal. 

 

But the Moatsiders had to wait until the 60th minute before Ellis Brown cut in from the left wing and hit a shot which appeared to flick off a Town defender before going in off the far post. The best goal of the game came in the 76th minute, when Ollie Bennett picked the ball up in the Horley half. As the defenders backed off, Bennett looked up, measured his shot precisely and curled it into the top corner from 25 yards. Town grabbed a consolation goal with 5 minutes remaining when they were awarded a spot kick of their own, although even the Horley players seemed unsure why. But a good work out in the sun for Frank Wilson's men. Stiffer tests await, but there were promising signs of a new side knitting together.

 

Tuesday 16th July 2019

Pre-Season Friendly

Merstham 0-1 Brighton & Hove Albion XI

Report by Chris Pullen

A vastly- improved second half performance should have earned the Moatsiders a draw, but a combination of last-ditch defending and wayward finishing allowed the young Seagulls to return home with the victory.
 

In the first half, Merstham paid their visitors too much respect and sat too deep, allowing Brighton time and space to pick their passes. Possession stats would probably have been 70:30 in the Seagulls favour. For all their possession however, they rarely threatened and were reduced to shots from outside the box. Merstham keeper Max Huxter only had one moment of alarm as he parried a close-range effort. But when they did get possession, the Moatsiders surrendered the ball far too easily and couldn't create anything of note in the final third. Brighton went in front just before the break, when a superbly struck free kick from 25 yards was curled into the top corner.
 

Merstham boss Frank Wilson made some changes at the interval, both in terms of personnel and shape. The biggest impact on the game was the introduction of Eze Ebuzoeme in midfield. He kept the ball and used it well to give the Moatsiders far greater control and began to bring Merstham's attacking players into the match. The Brighton coaching staff had expected their superior fitness to be a factor as the game wore on, but in fact it was Merstham who finished the stronger. As the game entered the final 20 minutes, the Moatsiders looked increasingly dangerous and penned the young Seagulls in their own half. The Brighton keeper made a diving fingertip save to keep out a shot from distance and then blocked a close range effort from Christian Madu. The ball frequently flashed across the Brighton box and on more than one occasion, Merstham players were only inches away from getting a decisive touch. Merstham's Mattie Pearson had to make a brave save at the feet of a Brighton forward after an errant back pass, and the Seagulls keeper had to scramble back towards his own goal and just managed to  hook a goal-bound effort away with only minutes left.
 

As with any pre-season game, the result is less important than the performance, but on the basis of the second half, Moatsider fans will be looking forward to seeing more of Frank Wilson's quickly developing side.

 

Saturday 13th July 2019

Pre-Season Friendly

Walton Casuals 3-3 Merstham

Report by Chris Pullen

An impressive start was the consensus of opinion amongst the Merstham supporters who saw this entertaining encounter. Every manager will tell you that results don't matter in pre-season games, but a draw was the very least the Moatsiders deserved, having dominated possession for large parts of the game. 
 

For the first 15 minutes of the game, Merstham pinned Casuals in their own half, only for Casuals to break away and open the scoring with a goal that looked yards offside. But the Moatsiders continued to play an appealing brand of attacking football, mixing up a short passing game with an occasional long ball to keep the home side guessing. Merstham got back on terms with a penalty, only for Casuals to retake the lead with one of their own just before the interval. 
 

Both sides made a number of changes during the interval and the second half was more like a basketball game with the number of substitutions. Casuals extended their lead ten minutes after the restart, but Merstham looked dangerous every time they went forward, with pace on the flanks and power through the middle. A well worked goal pulled one back, before a second penalty with 15 minutes left ensured the result reflected the game as a whole. 
 

Merstham boss Frank Wilson was pleased with the work out considering how little time he has had to work with the squad. Next up, Brighton & Hove Albion at the Moatside on Tuesday night. 

.

.

.

.

.