Jekyll and Hyde form continues
By Ken Brazier
Enfield Town 2 Merstham 3
Three defeats in four games against lower-table opposition punctuated by a thumping success at a close rival is hardly the sort of consistency required to edge into a top five spot come April, although there are still 39 points to play for.
After Harold Joseph had been off target early on in this game from a Mark Kirby headed flick and Merstham’s Marc Okoye had cleared off the line under pressure following a ball into the danger zone by Samir Bihmoutine, both Bobby Devyne and Karl Oliyide had had efforts off target and saved respectively. But the hosts were awarded a penalty on 22 minutes when Oliyide was brought down by Kristian Campbell. Billy Crook made no mistake, tucking away the spot kick low to keeper Josh Smith's right.
The lead was short-lived, however. Dan Bennett equalised for the Moatsiders when he ran through the inside-right channel and finished with aplomb after 25 minutes. The visitors were causing all sorts of problems down the Town left, and Dean McDonald shot just wide with ten minutes of the half remaining. At the other end, Oliyide had a left foot effort wide of the mark from Mickey Parcell's pass.
Half-time: Enfield Town 1 Merstham 1
Within the first ten minutes of the restart, Oliyide was thwarted by a great tackle from Okoye, and then Smith came out to block a first-time effort from the same after he had been played in by a ball over the top of the visitors’ back line by Crook.
Disaster struck from a Town perspective in the 56th minute when Dean McDonald found himself with a free header following a cross from the Merstham right to beat his off-balance namesake Nathan McDonald in the Town goal.
Again, there was a swift response from the conceding side, this time when Bihmoutine chased what looked like a lost cause to the byline and pulled the ball back into the danger zone while one or two visiting defenders switched off, and Oliyide applied the finishing touch.
There followed a relatively flat period, although Town looked the more likely winners at this point; Harry Ottaway blasting over and Devyne having another effort saved. But, with three minutes plus added time to go, they committed defensive suicide by giving the ball away in a dangerous position, and Dean McDonald found himself in the clear to finish coolly for the winner.
There was still time for Olyide to throw himself at a cross from Devyne from the left which, on another day, he may have made contact with and rescued a point. But it was not to be, and Merstham returned home delighted to have pulled away from the relegation places with three precious points. Town now have three tough away trips in succession which will shape the outcome of their season.
Enfield Town: Nathan McDonald, Jon Muleba, Samir Bihmoutine, Harold Joseph, Mark Kirby, Percy Kiangebeni (Scott Shulton 65), Mickey Parcell (Tyler Campbell 72), Billy Crook (Blake Thompson 80), Karl Oliyide, Harry Ottaway, Bobby Devyne. Unused subs: Ricky Gabriel, Nathan Livings. Booked: Kiangebeni.
Merstham: Josh Smith, Simon Cooper, Kristian Campbell, Kershaney Samuels, Marc-Anthony Okoye, Tutu Henriques, Dan Bennett (Xavier Vidal 86), Tom Kavanagh, Alex Addai (Reece Hall 86), Dean McDonald, Michael Abnett (Dan Hector 46). Unused subs: Tom Howard, Rae Bailey-Allen. Booked: Addai, Smith, Cooper, Samuels.