Merstham 2 Blues 1
Blues fall to disappointing defeat on their travels
Leiston came into this game on the back of two straight defeats, but still in a decent position of third in the table writes Craig Cooper. Leiston had Patrick Brothers still out with injury and Regan Pelling unavailable but Tom Bullard was back after he missed Saturday’s game with Billericay to captain the side.
On a still, mild night, Leiston started off on the back foot, with Merstham applying pressure in the first minutes of the match. The first chance of note went to the hosts when Dan Bennett went past the Leiston defence and had his shot well saved by Ashlee Jones with the follow up effort cleared off the line by Joe Jefford. Leiston would have their first good chance when Matt Blake took the ball into the box but his shot was just over the bar. Another good move shortly later by Leiston saw Matt Blake get in again, but his effort was well blocked and the resulting corner saw Matt Blake again have a chance, but his header was cleared off the line. Both teams looked good going forward and Merstham had a header just wide from a corner. Before the half ended, Conor Hubble shot from outside the box, but Josh Smith made a decent stop to push it to safety. Merstham then had efforts after turning Ollie Brown and Joe Jefford that just went wide on both occasions of Ashlee Jones’ left hand upright. The final action of the half saw a header from a corner that Jones dealt with comfortably.
Merstham would take the lead just five minutes into the second half. Leiston lost the ball in the middle of the park and Alex Addai took aim from thirty-five yards and withAshlee Jones off his line saw his shot sail into the back of the net. However, Merstham’s joy would be short lived as good link up play between Gareth Heath and Niko Muir-Merchant saw the latter place a pin point ball to Seb Dunbar who’s effort was well finished inside home custodian Smith’s bottom left hand corner. A third goal was to be scored two minutes later, when a long ball wasn’t cleared by the Leiston defence and this left Tom Howard to take aim on the angle of the box to float an effort high and past Ashlee Jones into his top left hand corner. Leiston would have a good chance of their own moments later when Matt Blake did well to get his head to a Ollie Brown cross, but his effort was well saved with Seb Dunbar’s effort well blocked. The play was held up for some minutes before Smith made way for Abnett and home captain Simon Cooper would go in goal. Matt Blake would work a good chance inside the box, but this was easily saved by Cooper and from that moment the game changed. Efforts started to be fired in on the Leiston goal with regular occurrence, with Ashlee Jones having to make some super stops to keep Leiston in the game. Ibrahim Fofana then saw himself collect two yellow cards in three minutes as he was shown his marching orders and Leiston did have a chance when a free-kick into the box wasn’t dealt with by Merstham, but no Leiston player could pounce on the loose ball. The final chance fell to Matt Blake but his chance was hit well over and after seven minutes of added on time, the home team could celebrate a win that looks likely to keep them in the Ryman Premier Division for another year.
FT - Merstham 1 Blues 2
Merstham - Smith (Abnett 65 mins) Cooper, Campbell, Samuels, Henriques, Gough, Addai, Howard (Vidal 80 mins), Fofana, Bennett, Hall (Kavanagh 72 mins). Subs not used - Folkes and Douglas.
Blues - Jones, Brown, Dunbar, Hutchings (Francis 73 mins), Jefford, Bullard, Ainsley, Heath, Blake, Muir-Merchant, Hubble (Blades 84 mins). Subs not used - Cole, Schaar and Beckwith.
Man of the Match - Ashlee Jones.
Attendance - 163