Blues Frustrated at Merstham
Despite leading twice Blues could not maintain their advantage against a spirited Merstham writes The Mariner.
MERSTHAM 2-2 GRAYS ATHLETIC
Grays were down to the bare bones on Saturday losing Jay Leader and Tommy Cummings to illness in the morning and the unexplained absence of DD Dumaka leaving just four subs which included Mark Bentley and Glen Little not the best preparation for what was a game they would have looked to claim three points.
Considering the amount of rainfall in the last few days the Merstham playing surface was in surprisingly good condition as the teams kicked off and it was Merstham who forced the first corner in the opening minutes .
Joao Carlos was looking lively in the opening stages and it was from his cross Blues opened their account.Kenny Beaney played a sweeping ball into the path of Carlos outstripping his fullback his cross found the onrushing Bradley Fortnum-Tomlinson who made no mistake prodding the ball home to put Blues one up on 6 minutes.
The lead lasted barely two minutes as Blues old problems surfaced again, the ball was given away cheaply in midfield allowing Merstham to break quickly, Sarabia ran at the Blues back line drawing Lamar Johnson he coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
Despite the setback the ease with which Grays were getting behind the hosts back line was providing ample goal scoring opportunities but as in previous games they were not taken allowing Merstham to mount their own pacy counterattacks.
Blues were tending to drop deep allowing Merstham time and space on the ball and only some timely interceptions kept the scores level.Roman Michel-Percival was becoming increasingly influential using his pace he was leading his fullback a torrid time, one pacy run led to a great cross into the path of Correy Davidson his header hit the inside of the post and was scrambled clear.
Blues were guilty of some loose passes in midfield allowing Merstham to dictate proceedings.They nearly went in front following a free kick on the edge of the box the ball was eventually claimed by Johnson at the second attempt following a goalmouth scramble.
Carlos and Percil continued with their good work out wide on the flanks winning a number of corners which Blues failed to capitalise on.
Merstham could have gone in front in the opening minutes of the half a quick break and cross saw Sabia with a clear sight on goal fortunately for the Blues Johnson was alert and blocked his effort.
After the early fright Blues began to enjoy a good deal of possession using Percil who was continuing to outwit his fullback,a good run and shot led to a corner,the kick was cleared to find Sean Cronin he played in a deep cross headed away only to find Beaney who made no mistake to put the Blues back in front.
Merstham stung by the goal nearly got back on level terms when a wicked cross flew across the Blues goal fortunately without an opposing forward getting a touch.The hosts came close again shortly after when a header fizzed just over Johnson's bar.
Corey Davidson was looking dangerous with some penetrating runs he won a freekick when he was unceremoniously upended by Mersthams centre back,Beaney's free kick was blocked but then moments later a mix up between keeper and fullback presented a half chance for Percil but he couldn't get enough purchase on the ball stabbing it agonisingly wide of the post.
At the other end Johnson did well to claw away another dangerous cross as Merstham continued to press forward they should have been on level terms when a free kick led to Kavanagh heading over when well placed.
Blues had a great shout for a penalty when Tomlinson appeared to be pushed in the back as he powered forward but the referee waved play on.Merstham quickly countered winning a corner,Blues switched off as the hosts took a short corner the ball was fired across the box and was only half cleared to Kavanagh who made no mistake to bring the scores level with just six minutes to go.
The closing minutes saw both sides searching for the winner without creating a goal scoring opportunity with the rain having the final word.