Merstham ended Wingate & Finchley’s three-game winning streak after coming back from one goal down at the Harry Abrahams Stadium, writes Nikhil Saglani.
Ryman League Premier Division:
Wingate & Finchley 1 Merstham 3
Saturday, 20 February, 2016
Both sides had chances in the opening two minutes. First, Ellis Brown fired just wide for Merstham from inside the area before Kristian Campbell headed Marc Weatherstone’s header from a Tommy Tejan-Sie corner off the line.
But Tejan-Sie didn’t have to wait long for an assist as Antone Douglas flicked the midfielder’s cross into his own net after seven minutes, giving Wingate a deserved early lead.
However, Wingate’s lead lasted a mere three minutes. A ball played in behind evaded Brad Hewitt and Weatherstone, Charlie Penny rounded Bobby Smith in the Wingate goal and tapped home for 1-1. Penny made it 2-1 only five minutes later, converting Aaron Hopkinson’s cross over Smith with a deft flick.
Clever build-up play nearly brought Wingate level on 17 minutes, but Billy Healey could only scuff his shot wide after Karl Oliyide’s chested through ball found the in-form striker inside the 18 yard box.
Alex Addai was causing Campbell plenty of problems down Merstham’s left, the defender often needing Aaron Hopkinson’s help to double up on the tricky winger, who fed Healey on 28 minutes, but the striker was tackled just as he was about to pull the trigger.
After a quiet spell, Fabio Sariava tested Smith in the Wingate goal, but his curling effort was comfortably caught. Smith was out again quickly on 38 minutes to prevent Penny’s hat-trick in a move that was a carbon copy of the visitors’ equaliser.
The visitors were piling on the pressure in the closing stages. Sariava hit the crossbar on 41 minutes with a curling right-footed effort and the ball fell to Michael Abnett, whose shot rolled just wide of Wingate’s right-hand post.
Within seconds of the restart, the visitors were handed a penalty for an alleged foul by Ola Sogbanmu. Penny made no mistake from the spot and sealed his hat-trick. Tommy Tejan-Sie limped off the pitch five minutes into the half after a heavy challenge from Abnett, who escaped a booking from the referee.
Tommy Cummings’ free-kick was met by the head of Brad Hewitt, but he could only direct his header across goal into the hands of Merstham’s Smith. Mark Goodman’s cross from the right side found Healey on the six yard line but his header was met by a scrambling Smith, who just kept the ball in play.
Karl Oliyide hit the post on 76 minutes, after being played in one-on-one by Healey. Merstham nearly made it 4-1 after 87 minutes, but Smith saved Ellis Brown’s charging run and shot with his legs and caught Aaron Rhule’s tame header. Rhule then shot wide after tricky footwork got him past Sogbanmu.
Weatherstone was sent off in the final minute for an alleged raised arm on Merstham’s Brown. But the Blues were unable to find a way past a Merstham side who were insistent on stopping every Wingate attack, making 11 fouls in the second half, seeing two yellow cards for time wasting, too – and the three points went back to Surrey.
Bobby Smith, Mark Goodman, Tommy Cummings, Ahmet Rifat, Marc Weatherstone, Brad Hewitt, Alex Addai, Ola Sogbanmu, Billy Healey, Karl Oliyide, Tommy Tejan-Sie (Leon Fisher, 51)
Subs: Jack Read, Karl Stevenson, Orlando Joao & Jack Metcalfe
Josh Smith, Michael Abnett, Kristian Campbell, Antone Douglas, Simon Cooper, Kershaney Samuels (Tutu Henriques, 45), Ellis Brown, Tom Kavanagh, Charlie Penny, Fabio Sariava (Callum Willock, 45, Aaron Rhule, 81), Aaron Hopkinson
Subs: Landre Azeez & Isaal Nehemie
WingateTV with Bobby Smith: