Merstham Match Report
match report by James Maw
Kingstonian battled to a second successive win to kick-start their Isthmian Premier League season with a 2-1 triumph at Merstham.
The victory at the Whisky Bible Stadium against Hayden Bird's former side saw K's move within three points of second place (for what it's worth).
For the second game running, K's went ahead in the first five minutes. And for the second game running the early goal came from the head of a K's defender.
Just as Ollie Cook had done against Wingate six nights previously, Harry Osbourne headed in a corner to put K's in front before the opposition could settle into the game.
Osbourne created space for himself by making a darting run to the near post and nodded in Kenny Beaney's corner for his first goal of the season.
Kingstonian were dominant for much of the first half, and could have been two up when Kadell Daniel slipped through Corie Andrews, only for our No 11 to be denied by on-rushing Moatsiders keeper Matte Pierson.
Moments later, Andrews turned provider, teeing up Elliott Buchanan on the edge of the box, but our No 9's shot was deflected wide.
The continued pressure told on 39 minutes when K's doubled their lead - Andrews once again exploiting space down the right, and expertly squaring for Buchanan to net his second goal in as many games.
Yet just when it looked as though it could be a comfortable evening, a thunderous long range strike from Merstham's Calvin Ekpiteta beat Rob Tolfrey and cannoned back out off the underside of the crossbar.
The first half ended in real end-to-end fashion, with Andre Coker denied when through one-on-one with Pierson, and Tolfrey pulling off a superb save of his own to ensure K's went in with their two-goal lead in tact.
The second half provided nowhere near as many clear-cut chances at either end, although it was certainly no autumnal walk in the park. And when a rare slip from Beaney put Ekpiteta through on goal on 66 minutes, Merstham's No 10 gave Rob Tolfrey the eyes and slotted the ball in the near bottom corner to half the deficit.
Merstham's tails were up, but a resilient defensive performance was enough to keep our hosts at arm's length - which is the very least you want in these days of social distancing. Simon Cooper and Ollie Cook, in particular, were in imperious form.
Andrews had the ball in the net late on - bursting through and delicately dinking the ball over the opposition keeper - but he was denied a goal of his own by the linesman's flag.
Merstham: Matte Pierson, EJ Mensah, Jake Hill, Potchu Mendes Calucane, Sol Patterson-Bohner, Bertie Lloyd, Joedon Gugas-Cowin, Ryan Healy, Bobby Mills, Calvin Ekpiteta, Yannick Monga.
Subs: Dylan Cascoe (for Ryan Healy, 82m), Lynden McGugan (for Potchu Mendes Calucane, 84m), Pierre-Alexandre Morin, Karim Kamhouri (for Jake Hill, 75m), Barry Hayles.
Kingstonian: Rob Tolfrey, Harry Osborne, Fabio Saraiva, Simon Cooper, Ollie Cook, Tom Kavanagh, Andre Coker, Kenny Beaney, Elliott Buchanan, Kadell Daniel, Corie Andrews.
Subs: Tom Richards (for Andre Coker, 72m), Dominic Vose (for Elliott Buchanan, 72m), Jerry Puemo (for Kadell Daniel, 90m), Omarr Lawson, Juevan Spencer.
Goal scorers: Harry Osborne (4m, 0-1), Elliott Buchanan (39m, 0-2), Calvin Ekipiteta (66m, 1-2)