Town keep foot on gas
Merstham 0 Enfield Town 4 (Whitely 2, Nehemie og, Ottaway)
Town moved into fifth position in the table after this comprehensive result, although both Dulwich Hamlet and Kingstonian have games in hand as the Ryman League season enters its final fortnight. Whatever the result permutations elsewhere, a Town win next Saturday against Needham Market at the QES will keep their play-off possibilities alive going into the final round of matches on 23rd April.
The Moatside pitch held up reasonably well considering there had been overnight rain and pre-match family funday activity on certain areas. Town had a fine start, tearing straight into the attack, and Corey Whitely was impeded near the edge of the home penalty box by Kershaney Samuels. Whitely, brimming with confidence, grabbed the ball himself and curled the consequent free-kick past keeper Josh Smith’s left hand with just over a minute gone.
Merstham’s Fabio Saraiva had a free-kick blocked and then Whitely fired well wide at the opposite end, but most of the next half an hour or so was spent in the middle third with neither side testing the goalkeepers too much. Tyler Campbell, reprising his recent role as a wing-back, was booked for bringing down Aaron Rhule in full flight. Indeed, Campbell had a lucky escape when he committed another foul shortly afterwards, but referee Neil Morrison lectured the Town man without producing a second card. At this point Campbell and Mickey Parcell swapped positions, with the latter moving from midfield to full-back.
Parcell then fired well over from distance and Harry Ottaway toe-poked the ball wide after a determined run through a packed defence. The Moatsiders’ Tom Kavanagh dragged a shot just wide ten minutes before the break.
Half-time: Merstham 0 Enfield Town 1
Early in the second period, Samir Bihmoutine was caught in possession in a dangerous position but recovered well to get in a vital tackle. Whitely again had the ball in the back of the Merstham net in the 51st minute, but the linesman had already flagged for an infringement. Five minutes later, McDonald made a great save to keep out a free-kick whipped in by the hosts and, thankfully for Town, Charlie Penny headed the rebound wide from close range.
After 58 minutes, Ottaway battled for what looked like a lost cause deep inside Merstham territory, and was rewarded for his efforts when he won the ball and played it low into the six-yard box, where former Aston Villa youngster Isaac Nehemie turned it into his own net. It was all one-way traffic now, and Whitely made space for himself to fire in past Smith on 65 minutes. Two minutes later, it was game, set and match as Ottaway gathered a great pass from Billy Crook, glided past Smith and carefully sidefooted the ball into the net.
There were further opportunities for both sides before the final whistle but the travelling fans were able to enjoy the rest of the game knowing the points were in the bag. Ottaway had another great effort just veer away from the angle of crossbar and post at the last moment, and then Mark Kirby was far too high with an attempt following an Ottaway flick-on.
The visitors’ clean sheet was threatened, firstly when Penny couldn’t connect with a cross from Antone Douglas and subsequently when Rhule skied the ball horribly when well-placed. After further unsuccessful efforts from both Kavanagh and Rhule, the final chance of a late consolation goal for the hosts came and went when Penny somehow contrived to head the ball against the bar rather than steering it home. Town finished the game with ten men after Whitely had come off as a precaution after receiving a knock.
Team: Nathan McDonald, Tyler Campbell, Alfred Mugabo (Nathan Livings 57), Claudiu vilcu, Mark Kirby, Samir Bihmoutine (Jandir da Cruz 80), Mickey Parcell (Jordan Lockie 69), Billy Crook, Bobby Devyne, Harry Ottaway, Corey Whitely. Unused subs: Imedd Kartita, Vance Bola. Booked: Campbell.