Merstham 1 Enfield Town 4
The outcome of this match, coupled with results elsewhere, left Town in 7th place, five points off the play-off places with games in hand. They recorded a resounding win, taking maximum points at Moatside for the first time since April 2016, in tricky conditions and with some good goals to boot. Town were without Shaun Okojie, who was still recovering from a hamstring problem.
The pitch was in reasonable condition considering it had been waterlogged in midweek, and Town set about their business with a swirling wind making control difficult. The Moatsiders, in deep relegation trouble, looked nervous at the back early on, and the visitors soon began to capitalise.
The influential Lewis Taaffe, operating on the left, floated over a diagonal ball crossfield and Marc Weatherstone rose to nod it on, but Ken Charles was tackled by Emmanuel Fernandez just as he was about to shoot. Sam Hatton drove forward and had a firm effort blocked before Town took the lead in clinical fashion with nine minutes gone. Lyle Della-Verde played in Hatton on the right flank, the full-back’s cross to the near post was only half cleared and Charles latched onto the loose ball and had it in the back of the net in an instant from close range.
In the 14th minute Lewis Taaffe fired narrowly wide with a low effort which made use of the wind while, at the opposite end, Calvin Ekpiteta shot just over. But the visitors doubled their lead following a foul on Sam Youngs out on the left touchline by Fernandez, for which he was cautioned. Taaffe’s tantalising free kick was punched away by home keeper Matte Pierson, but only as far as Youngs, who controlled the bouncing ball superbly and drilled it low through a crowd of players into the back of the net.
Ekpiteta was more wayward with his next effort for the hosts, while Bricknell headed over from Charles’ accurate cross after he had beaten Ellis Brown. It looked as though Omar Folkes was about to pull one back for the home side when he slid in at the back post, but the ball ended up the wrong side of the woodwork from a Merstham perspective.
In the 28th minute, Nathan McDonald did well to stand up to and block Chace Jacquart and, at the other end, a Bricknell piledriver was initially parried by Pierson before the home stopper grabbed the ball fractionally ahead of the onrushing Charles. McDonald produced a top-drawer save from close range to deny Shola Ayoola around the half hour mark, with the hosts working up a head of steam at this point, and a flowing home move from right to left involving Ekpiteta, O’Shane Stewart and Folkes ended with another key save from McDonald ten minutes before the break.
After Weatherstone had nodded a Della-Verde free-kick off target, it came as no great surprise when a cross from Brown was flicked on and Ayoola threw his side a lifeline by converting the chance. Bricknell had the ball in the back of the home net as the half ended, but Weatherstone had been flagged offside as he nodded Taaffe’s free-kick into the striker’s path.
Half-time: Merstham 1 Enfield Town 2
Any thoughts that the Surrey side might have had about getting an even better foothold in the game effectively came to an end five minutes after the break. After Bricknell had a snapshot saved and Della-Verde had fired wide, shortly afterwards Pierson could only palm away a Bricknell cross from the right. Della-Verde, with plenty to do, controlled a difficult bounce brilliantly and hooked the ball into the net off balance from twelve yards.
Although there were a further 40 minutes to play, Town rarely looked in trouble from that moment on, and played some good stuff for the remainder of the second period. Bricknell had a couple of efforts which, on another day, may have increased the lead but, apart from another good save from McDonald from a free-kick it was difficult to recall many other chances of note for the hosts. After the late substitutions routine had begun for both sides, and with only five minutes of regular time to play, Della-Verde played in Bricknell who had the presence of mind to remain fractionally onside and, in the clear and with only Pierson to beat, he shot into the bottom corner to the keeper’s right to complete a very satisfactory individual, as well as team, performance. There was just time for McDonald to keep out an effort from Brown, but the full back had been flagged offside in any case.
Merstham: Matte Pierson, Ellis Brown, James O’Halloran, Emmanuel Fernandez, Edwin Mensah, Eddie Dines (Marco Sousa-Pina 77), Chace Jacquart, O’Shane Stewart, Shola Ayoola, Omar Folkes (Bobby Mills 65), Calvin Ekpiteta. Unused subs: Barry Hayles, Yannick Monga, James Richmond. Booked: Fernandez, Folkes, Stewart.
Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Sam Hatton, Josh Urquhart, Scott Thomas (Ryan Blackman 71), Marc Weatherstone, Jon Muleba, Lewis Taaffe (Junior Mubiayi 80), Sam Youngs, Billy Bricknell, Ken Charles, Lyle Della-Verde (Bobson Bawling 88). Unused subs: Glenn Wilson, Joe Payne. Booked: Taaffe.
|22/02/2020||3:00 pm||Pitching In Isthmian League Premier||2019-20|