PITCHING IN ISTHMIAN LEAGUE
SOUTH CENTRAL DIVISION
SATURDAY 4th MARCH 2023
MERSTHAM 1 UXBRIDGE 1 (HT 0-1)
Uxbridge made their first ever visit to Weldon Way, home of Merstham, on Saturday, looking to increase the gap between themselves and the relegation places. Although it would take a dramatic run of results to drag the Reds into the bottom four. For long periods the men from Middlesex dominated proceedings without ever really testing Filip Chalupniczak in the Moatsiders goal. Two changes were made from the side that lost narrowly at Northwood the previous Tuesday. David Sota replacing Lewis Patrick and Eitel Goueth came in for the injured Kensley Maloney.
The game exploded into action straight from the kick off. Jordan Ireland shot over in the 2nd minute and two minutes later Noe Vendrells goal for the home side was chalked off by the assistants raised flag. Alex Witham was next to try his luck with a twenty yarder that found the mid-drift of Chalupniczak. Merstham broke straight up the other end and Player/Manager Peter Adeniyi saw his shot from distance fly high over the crossbar. The home side had a great chance to take the lead in the 11th minute. Vendrell’s far post cross was met by the fast arriving Bryan Zepo, who could only stretch and divert the ball over the bar. Moments later Josh Andrew found Anthony Mendy with a ball down the side of the Moatsiders defence and the in-form strikers lob was just wide of the target. A breathless opening with chances at both ends, but no goals. Alex Witham, and the whole stadium, are still trying to work out how he missed the opportunity to put the Reds in front halfway through the first half. Alan Hedley and Goueth played some superb one touch passes which saw the former break into the area. His attempt was blocked and it ran across the face of goal into the path of Witham, who somehow side-footed wide of an empty net from seven yards. This miss didn’t effect the Reds and a minute later they did take the lead. Goueth out-paced the full-back and delivered the perfect cut-back for Mendy to expertly side-foot home. This appeared to take the energy out of the game and for the remainder of the half chances were at a premium. Uxbridge dominated possession but the closest they came to extending their advantage came five minutes from the break when Ireland’s twenty yarder was deflected for a corner. Half-Time 0-1.
The second period was a story of what might have been. The Reds were well on top for the majority of the play but only managed one shot on target for all their excellent approach work. Chalupniczak stretching to claim Hedley’s deflected shot in the 58th minute. Mendy found himself in good positions on several occasions, however his attempts were all blocked by some resolute defending by the home side’s defence. With the game heading towards its conclusion, the failure to add a killer second goal proved fateful to the Reds ambitions of returning to Honeycroft with all three points. With the game well into its 90th minute a clever ball clipped over the top caused confusion and Reds skipper Andy O’Brien was adjudged to have handled by referee Oliver Kaya. Reece Deakin, with his sides only attempt on target, kept his cool to beat Henry Grad from the spot. Full-Time 1-1.
The stats sum-up the feeling of what might have been. Attempts on goal: Uxbridge 14 – Merstham 7. On Target: Uxbridge 3 – Merstham 1.
With nine games left, starting with Tuesday’s home match against local rivals Ashford Town (Middlesex), there is still the opportunity for a top half finish. Apart from the top two (Basingstoke Town & Walton & Hersham) and the resurgent Guernsey there is very little between the rest of the division in the current form table. COYR…
Uxbridge Line-up: Grad, Andrew, Sota, Paris, O’Brien, Jackson, Ireland, Hedley, Witham, Mendy, Goueth. Subs Used: Patrick for Ireland & McGuinness for Goueth. Not Used: Mughal, Gill and Evans.