Mistakes prove costly for Needham Market and Merstham take full advantage to claim victory
Needham Market 1 Merstham 3
The Marketmen’s unbeaten sequence of seven matches was halted at Bloomfields in this Bostik Premier League match against visiting Merstham.
The mid-table Surrey side, also in good form, just deserved their win, although Richard Wilkins’ side gift wrapped the third and decisive goal.
Any lingering thoughts of relegation for Needham were virtually dispelled by virtue of their midweek success against Burgess Hill, and boss Wilkins deserves much credit for maximising the efforts of his squad in achieving recent vital successes.
As Needham struggled to gain early momentum on Saturday, the visitors took a ninth minute lead when Kershaney Samuels crossed from the left, and with his back to goal, Dan Bennett cushioned the ball on his chest, turned and fired home.
Home ‘keeper Danny Gay made a fine point-blank save from Alex Addai’s rasping shot, and Needham’s ‘man-of-the-match’ Kieran Morphew saved his side with a vital header to deny Reece Hall.
Callum Sturgess sustained an injury on 20 minutes to be replaced by Brandan Ocran, who three minutes later equalised for the home side with a tremendous left foot drive from the edge of the box that flew past the stationery Ashley Jones.
As the game developed into a pulsating affair in front of 255 spectators, Addai released Charlie Penney who brought a fine save from Gay. However, the sheer pace and artistry of the diminutive Addai had been an early warning, and sure enough, Needham were punished when he skipped beyond Jake Dye, crossed low from the byline, setting up Dan Bennett who, on 31 minutes, tapped in from two yards.
Needham skipper Gareth Heath dispatched a free kick only to be spectacularly saved by the high flying Jones, while at the other end Morphew headed off the line from Bennett’s effort.
The second half saw Needham mostly dictate the play, but the visitors were well organised. John Sands should have taken advantage of Ocran’s cross close in, and Jeremiah Kamanzi tested Jones from distance. Disaster struck the home side in the 76th minute when Gay came off his line, out of the area, but his poor clearance set up Penney who planted the ball into the empty net.