Merstham match report
match report by Simon Grier
It wasn’t an entirely convincing performance but Ks put an end to their mini-slump with a 4-1 win over Merstham.
Confidence wasn’t as high as you might expect in a team leading the league, after a bitterly disappointing FA Cup exit to Horsham. And it was the visitors, managed by ex-Ks assistant Frank Wilson, who had the best early chance when Dylan Adjei-Hersey forced Rob Tolfrey into a good save.
Nyren Clunis should have been able to settle the nerves on 14 minutes but he miskicked when Bryant Akono Bilongo’s low cross had given him a great chance.
Akono Bilongo volleyed over from a corner before Chace Jacquart, another ex-K, forced Tolfrey to save from close range.
Clunis was quick to make amends for his earlier mistake though, playing Daniel Ajakaiye in with a fine through ball on the half-hour mark. His eighth goal of the season came by expertly dinking the ball past outrushing goalkeeper Toby Bull.
The lead lasted a mere five minutes though. Despite a letoff when Tolfrey saved well from John Ufuah, the goalkeeper was beaten when no-one got a touch on a Jacquart inswinger and it snuck inside his far post.
Ks missed a great chance just after the break when Gus Sow couldn’t find the target after Ajakaiye did well to dispossess Reuben Collins in his own box.
The home side scrambled back into the lead on 56 minutes though. Four players went down in the box following a Kenny Beaney corner and with the referee seemingly having no idea who’d fouled who, he simply allowed play to continue. Simon Cooper’s shot was cleared off the line and Ollie Cook bundled home the rebound.
Hayden Bird’s side missed a goal opportunity to seal the game when Rhys Murrell-Williamson did well to create himself some space in the box but he fired straight at Bull, with Ajakaiye not getting a clean hit on the rebound.
But on 83 minutes the game was wrapped up when a half-cleared corner found its way back to the taker, Kenny Beaney. His low cross was inviting for Cook who slammed it home at the far post.
Substitute Jason Banton won an injury time penalty which Cook was desperate to take – answers on a postcard as to whether a defender has ever scored a hat-trick for Ks. It was first-choice taker Sow who stepped up though, sealing the win by again expertly finding the top corner.
Ks will now try for a third time to win against Horsham – if Wednesday’s game survives the petrol crisis – before a run of three consecutive away games that will really test whether their credentials as promotion contenders are real.
Subs: Jason Banton (for Rhys Murrell-Williamson, 77m), Declan Skura, Juevan Spencer, Aaron Lamont (for Kershaney Samuels, 77m), Teo Kurtaran (for Nyren Clunis, 85m)
Merstham: Toby Bull, Troy Williams, Jude Mason, Ayman Gharbaoui, Reuben Collins, James Richmond, Dylan Adjei-Hersey, Tahjae Anderson, John Ufuah, Chace Jacquart, Serge Makofo.
Subs: Bertie Lloyd, Kyrell Palmer (for Reuben Collins, 80m), James Dickson (for Ayman Gharbaoui, 76m), Charlie Greenwood, Omar Folkes (for Tahjae Anderson, 57m).
Goal scorers: Daniel Ajakaiye (30m, 1-0), Chace Jacquart (35m, 1-1), Ollie Cook (56m, 2-1), Ollie Cook (83m, 3-1), Gus Sow (92m pen, 4-1)