Merstham 1 Leatherhead 2 Three in a row for Sandmann
New Leatherhead manager Mike Sandmann made it three wins in a row as Tanners edged an evenly contested match 2-1 at the Moatside on Boxing Day.
Kiernan Hughes-Mason tucked away an 85th minute winner for the visitors after Tomi Adeloye had put them ahead on 69 minutes. Fabio Saraiva’s leveller for Merstham two minutes later set up a pulsating final twenty minutes with both sides going all-out to attack.
Merstham had the better of the few chances created in a tight first half. Saraiva tested Louis Wells with three fiercely driven shots from the edge of the penalty area. The Tanners keeper did well to deny the Moatsiders sharp shooter on each occasion, clinging on to his first two efforts before turning the third behind for a corner.
Merstham came out for the second half with all guns blazing, as they pressed forward in search of an opening goal.
Charlie Penny fired wide from a tight angle on 49 minutes and two minutes later Merstham’s midfield dynamo failed to control Saraiva’s headed cross, stabbing the ball over from close range.
Leatherhead grabbed the lead against the run of play after 69 minutes. A cross from the right found an advancing Adeloye in front of Merstham keeper Colm McAdden and the Tanners striker buried it from close range.
The goal spurred Merstham forward and they levelled within two minutes. The Tanners defence could only half-clear a Moatsiders attack as Saravia drilled home from twenty yards.
Saraiva missed a chance to put Merstham in front on 73 minutes, heading Michael Abnett’s deep cross straight to Wells.
On 85 minutes Leatherhead scored what turned out to be the winner. Adeloye won possession on the right and found Hughes-Mason with a fine delivery to score from close range.
Adeloye should have added a third for the visitors two minutes later, but somehow managed to fire over Ryan Mahal’s well-weighted cross from right in front of the goal.
Well into stoppage time Leatherhead’s Sam Blackman – making a welcome return after two and a half years in America – made a delightful mazy run, jinking his way past two Merstham defenders before firing wide from the edge of the box.
The Moatsiders almost nabbed a very late equaliser with the last attack of the match. Aaron Hopkinson sent a probing delivery across Leatherhead’s goalmouth from the right, but Phil Page was unable to control it and his header sailed over the bar.
Merstham: Colm McAdden, Michael Abnett, Isaac Nehemie, Simon Cooper, Tutu Heniques, Merrick James-Lewis, Tom Kavanagh, Fabio Saraiva (Aaron Hopkinson 90), Calum Willock (Phil Page 69), Charlie Penny, Aaron Rhule (Charlie Knight 63)
Unused subs: Reece Hall and Antone Douglas
Leatherhead: Louis Wells, Adam Cash, Adam Green, Paul Semakula, Steve Watt, Jerry Nnamani, Alex Brown (Sam Blackman 79), Chris Kinnear, Tomi Adeloye(Stephen Okoh 90), Kiernan Hughes-Mason, Kaka Dembele (Ryan Mahal 62)
Unused subs: Josh Gallagher and Kyle Bailey