Strong First Half Display Is Enough for K’s
In the cut and thrust world of the Ryman League a comfortable win is rare. Even at hapless Lewes, bottom of the league on just seven points, it took a last-ditch Ricky Sappleton strike to stave off a frustrating drop of points. But, for once, Tommy Williams’ men did things the easy way in seeing off Merstham.
The job was done by half-time. Although the visitors had the best of the early pressure, including hitting the bar following the corner, they never looked like recovering once Ks took the lead.
The first goal was a fine one. Lee O’Leary took advantage of Merstham’s high defensive line to lob a ball over the top and Sappleton used his strength to hold off the defence and beat the goalkeeper.
The Merstham offside trap failed again when Pico Gomez got in behind the defence following Max Hustwick’s ball over the top, but this time goalkeeper Josh Smith bailed them out with a fine save.
The advantage was doubled just before the half hour mark. Gomez was again involved with a fine run before laying the ball off to Dan Bennett. A fine dummy from Bennett completely wrong-footed Smith before he blasted home from close range.
The game was wrapped up just before half-time when Gomez beat Smith with a fantastic powerful header following a Bennett free kick. Two first time visitors to Kingsmeadow, fans of Arsenal and Everton, were remarkably impressed by all three Ks goals.
There was nearly a fourth when Sappleton again got behind the defence and beat Smith. He was awarded offside, probably correctly, although the lateness of the lineman’s flag did nothing to inspire confidence in the decision.
The second half was far less dramatic with both sides going through the motions. Merstham perhaps had the better of it but Sam Page was particularly effective in holding together a makeshift defence rocked by the unavailability of Alan Inns and all three of the left-backs in the Ks squad.
Phil Page grabbed an injury-time consolation for the visitors but it came too late to cause any panic and Williams’ men are now up to third in the league.
Match report by Simon Grier.