Stuart Grabs Win For Plucky Blues
Blues win for the first time in five Writes The Mariner
Blues put behind them their dismal performance at Harlow last week with a much improved display against a Merstham team who had won so convincingly at Lowestoft in midweek .Blues welcomed back Nathan Campbell and Lartey Sarpong to the starting eleven and they made a fine contribution to the win.
It would have been a brave man who tipped Blues to register a victory given the nature of their performance in the opening twenty-five minutes which could have seen the visitors home and dry but for the heroics of Amadou Tangara who made a number of vital saves to keep the Blues in the game.A tactical reshuffle changed the course of the game and saw the Blues register a well deserved victory.
Merstham started brightly and could have been in front inside the first three minutes when Kavanagh blasted over when well placed,Tangara then made the first of many vital saves when he denied Hall who was left with a clear sight of goal and just seconds later he was again called into action making another vital save.
It was one way traffic at this stage with Merstham allowed far too much time and space but Blues did have a rare opportunity and could have gone in front when good work by Sarpong saw him feed Kieron Bishop who sent in a fierce drive which crashed off the upright the ball eventually falling to Stuart who brought a good save from Makeisi.
The half hour mark saw Blues weather the storm as they forced their way back into the game, they were now enjoying a share of possession as they began to find their rhythm thanks to the tactical changes,the midfield became more involved and was giving more protection to the back four.
Tangara was still the busier of the two keepers though and he and Joe Payne came to Blues rescue when the keeper made a point blank save only to see the ball fall into the path of Fofana, with the goal at his mercy he was only denied by a brave block by Payne.
At the other end Sarpong had a half chance close in on goal but the ball got stuck under his feet and the chance was lost, but then Matt Baxter could have opened Blues account when his fierce volley brought a marvellous one handed save from Makeisi.
Blues had the advantage of the wind behind them in the second period and it wasn't long before they created the first opportunity of the half when good work down the flank by Payne saw him feed Joao Carlos who tested Makeisi but the keeper did well to hold on to the ball.
It was now the Blues who were asking all the questions ,Merstham who had looked so assured in the opening half hour were now coming under increasing pressure . The urgency and energy that was so absent last week returned and allowed Blues to play with more fluency and put together some neat passages of play. Harry Watkins was a hive of industry ably supported by Jamie Stuart who once again was as combative as ever.
Payne came close to ending the stalemate when he just failed to connect with a low cross from Baxter the ball just eluding the young defenders head as he stole in on the six yard line.
Merstham were still looking dangerous on the break and once again Tangara had to be on his toes when he made another smart stop to deny Folkes but it was the Blues who were enjoyng the territorial advantage and winning the decisive battle in midfield, Bishop was working hard up front using his pace to good advantage.
Vidal came close for the visitors when he set off on a pacy run and unleashed a special strike that just fizzed over the crossbar.Merstham sub and ex Blue Addai should have put the visitors in front within seconds of coming on when he failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy and for a short period looked dangerous every time he was in possession but Blues rode out this brief period of pressure and made the vital breakthrough.
In the 75th minute Bishop latched onto a through ball from Stuart and delivered a wicked low cross into the area which was met by the onrushing Stuart who bravely bundled the ball home under pressure from the visitors rearguard.It was a just reward for the Blues manager who had worked tirelessly throughout the game.
The same player could easily have increased Blues advantage after a quick break by Carlos but he failed to see the unmarked Stuart in the area and the chance was lost.
The goal stunned the visitors and stung them into action, Addai had another opportunity to get them back on level terms but he blasted wildly over and then a free kick was well defended by Blues as they rode out the final minutes to record a hard earned but deserved victory.
The win and performance more than made amends for the debacle the previous week at Harlow and was warmly applauded by the Blues faithful , the win also provided a welcome boost to the teams confidence as they face a daunting task away to Dulwich on Monday, however Blues have made a habit of upsetting the odds against more fancied sides,Bognor comes to mind and as they say football is a funny old game so anything is possible.