It was an important three points for Merstham in their battle to reach the play-offs as they inflicted Tonbridge’s first defeat of 2019 in what was a tight game. On the first day of the season the hosts had inflicted a somewhat straightforward 3-0 defeat on the visitors. This afternoon was to prove a very different outcome and an endorsement of the progress being made at the Specsavers Stadium.
Angels largely dominated the first period but ended up a goal down at the break. After five minutes for the home side a Sonny Miles header drifted just wide and on 20 minutes following good work between James Folkes and Adem Ramadan, Chinedu McKenzie saw his effort deflected for a corner.
Five minutes later playmaker D’Sean Theobalds set up Ramadan but the wide man’s effort was wide. Tonbridge Striker Tom Derry forced two good saves from Merstham goalkeeper Amadou Tangara in the 31st and 34th minutes but it was the Moatsiders who took the lead in 39th minute when a cross from the right was converted by Walter Figuera - it was the visitors’ first effort on target. On 43 minutes Figuera might have doubled the advantage but in stoppage time Joe Turner for Tonbridge had two chances to level.
The second half saw the visitors come much more into the game with a particularly good spell of pressure around the hour mark. With just the one goal in it the home side were still very much in the game but simply couldn’t create any real momentum to their play which of course played into the Moatsiders hands.
In the 80th minute Miles did produce a strong header and with Tangara for once beaten there was a desperate Merstham block right on the line, but in truth it was about the only real moment of quality for the home side during the second half. Late on Turner had one last opportunity to restore parity but there was somehow an inevitability that it was not to be Tonbridge’s day.
Afterwards, Angels boss, Steve McKimm had to admit his team had lacked that little bit of creativity to break down a stubborn and well drilled Merstham defence. “I’m not going to criticise them for lack of effort because I think that was there for all to see. We didn’t take the chances we made for ourselves in the first period and paid for that with a secondnd half performance that lacked that bit of intensity."