Thurrock 1 Merstham 1
Report by Mike Tongue
Thurrock welcomed Mestham to Ship Lane for the first meeting between the two teams.
Thurrock got off to a dream start opening the scoring in the third minute. Dennis Oli got onto a loose ball and used his strength to hold off a defender before picking his spot and slotting home past Craig Haigh between the Merstham sticks.
Two minutes later the lead is nearly extended, Oli wins a header by the tough line and Charlie Stimson takes the ball to the bye-line and flashes the ball across the face of goal inches ahead of Joel Nouble who stretches but can’t get a toe to the ball.
Remi Sutton covers as Merstham probe forwards and shepherds his man into Anthony Furlonge to clear to safety. Sutton is soon down the other end of the pitch to send the ball in from the left wing, Oli flicks the ball on and Furlonge loops a header just over the bar onto the top of the net.
Thurrock soak up a period of sustained Merstham pressure before Reece Morgan wins the ball and finds a direct ball for Oli to chase but Haigh is smartly out of his box to deny. Sutton presses forwards again and a fierce shot/pass finds Oli who can’t get the ball into a shooting chance. Mertsham break down the left wing and a fiery ball in is met at the near post by Sahr Kabba who tucks the ball past Jake Jessup to equalise.
A massive kick from Jessup sets up Thurrock’s next chance, Ronnie Winn wins the second ball and sets Joe Christou who sees his solid shot blocked. One final chance of the half as Adetayo Osifuwa pings the ball down the line for Stimson who finds Furlonge who can’t keep his header under the bar.
A fiery start to the second half. Another Merstham break down the left wing but Youssef Bamba blazes over. George Winn wins the ball and carries the ball from his own half deep into Merstham’s half before being bundled over out on the touchline level with the box. Oli wins another header nodding to Christou who in turns picks out Stimson. Stimson moves the ball to get more space which gives Haigh the opportunity to grab the ball from his feet. Merstham get Kabba into a shooting position and Jessup is down well to save.
Thurrock move into the ascendancy and the chances mount up. Joel Nouble has a shot from the edge of the area saved, Reece Morgan who man-marked Ryan Hall like a second shadow all game, wins the ball, plays into Stimson and continues his run through the middle. Stimson is alive to the movement and plays first time into Morgan’s path to carry the ball to the edge of the area before being bundled over. Morgan again leaves his man to sprint into space and this time is picked out by Ronnie Winn and sends in a teasing cross but no one can get on the end .
Joel Nouble finds another gear and comes alive running from the half way line to Merstham’s box before being stopped in his tracks by three defenders. Shortly after Nouble sets off on another mazy run and this time gets a shot away agonizingly beyond the far post.
Mark Stimson refreshes the two up top with Leon Antoine returning from injury and Bobby Vaughan coming on for Charlie Stimson and Dennis Oli and they soon link up as Antoine flicks towards Vaughan who is beaten to the ball by the keeper. A final chance in the last minute. Ronnie Winn corner is cleared to Osifuwa who sends the ball to the far post, Nouble squares to Vaughan whose shot slides past the post.
Thurrock: Jake Jessup, George Winn, Remi Sutton, Anthony Furlonge, Adetayo Osifuwa, Reece Morgan, Joe Christou, Dennis Oli (Bobby Vaughan 77), Charlie Stimson (Leon Antoine 77), Ronnie Winn, Joel Nouble.
Scorer – Dennis Oli (3′)
Merstham: Chris Haigh, Michael Abnett, Nathan Gordon, Jake Hutchings (Tom Kavanagh 43′), Tutu Henriques, Stephan Hamilton-Forbes (Dan Bennett 56′), Alex Addai (Reece Hall 67′), Sean Bonnett-Johnson, Sahr Kabba, Ryan Hall, Youssef Bamba.
Scorer – Sahr Kabba (28′)