Blues’ first ever trip to Merstham ended in a draw with a goal apiece as they played nearly half the contest a player short after Jordan Wescott was red carded two minutes after the break for denying a goal scoring opportunity. Stortford did very well considering that they were a goal down at the time but Isaac Nkosi equalised with ten minutes to go to bring home a point and keep the current unbeaten run going.
Stortford did very well considering that they were a goal down at the time but Isaac Nkosi equalised with ten minutes to go to bring home a point and extend their unbeaten run to seven games..
A draw was the least the Blues deserved at the Specsavers Stadium as they had been the dominant side in the opening half but had not capitalised on their territorial supremacy and then gone behind to a goal just before the interval that saw a final pass to the goalscorer who looked at least two or three yards offside.
The Stortford squad included Olly Miles on the bench and the substitute, five days short of his 17th birthday, was to come on late in the game to make his league debut. Midfielder Hector Kypriano, on loan from Leyton Orient, was in the starting team and also making his league debut.
For the first half hour Stortford were on top and the Moatsiders were pinned in their own half for long periods.
In the fourth minute Ryan Charles slipped the ball forward to Jamie Cureton but home keeper Amadou Tangara came off his line quickly to gather the ball. Then Charles hit a post after an attack but an offside decision had already been made.
Blues came their closest in the 18th minute when Jack Thomas was fouled 25 yards out and Cureton struck an excellent free-kick that hit high up on the inside of Tangara’s left hand upright and rebounded clear.
The visitors continued to have the better of the exchanges but just past the half-hour mark they lost possession near the halfway line and Tom Kavanagh delivered a through ball down the middle for livewire striker Walter Figueirato but his shot went narrowly wide of the target.
In the 39th minute Cureton tried a 25 yard effort on goal that went over the bar after Merstham central defender Ollie Cook had played a loose pass but then two minutes before half-time the hosts took the lead. Another through pass, this time towards the right flank, seemed to find Figueirato in an offside position but no flag was raised by the linesman and although the striker’s first shot was well blocked by Patrick Ohman the keeper could do nothing to stop a second acute angled low shot from entering the net
Matters got worse for Stortford in the 47th minute as Wescott pulled back Figueira as he was about to run into the box and referee Adrian Harris issued a red card for denying a goal scoring chance after consulting with an assistant The resultant free-kick taken by Kershaney Samuels deflected off the defensive wall for a corner.
Four minutes later another Merstham free-kick, this time from Fabio Saraiva, produced a fine save from Ohman diving to his right to parry away the ball.
Understandably the Moatsiders had most of the possession and threatened to increase their lead with Saraivo shooting wide of the near post after Tom Bird’s cross from the left. However the Blues defence, with the central pairing of skipper Sam Robbins and Nkosi looking very steady, were coping well.
In the 72nd minute Stortford came near to levelling the scores when Thomas and Nkosi combined for Cureton to shoot at goal but his attempt was too close to Tangara.
The Blues then had an escape three minutes later as Saraivo, at the far post and connecting with a Bird cross, shot over the bar from five yards when it looked easier to score.
Miles replaced Cureton in the 76th minute and within a few minutes had a hand in the equalising goal with, not for the first time in recent weeks a long throw from Chris Gregan playing a big part. The defender’s throw into the middle was nodded on by Miles and after a scramble it was Nkosi who netted with a shot from close range for his first Stortford goal
Two minutes from the end a glancing header by skipper Simon Cooper flew wide of the far post following a Saraiva corner and in added time Ohman once again ran quickly from his line to grab the ball before Figueira could threaten but otherwise Stortford hung on comfortably to a deserved point.
STORTFORD: Patrick Ohman; Jordan Wescott; Chris Gregan; Jack Thomas; Sam Robbins; Isaac Nkosi; Ryan Charles (Lewis Byrne-Hewitt 66); Johnville Renee; Jamie Cureton (Olly Miles 76); Hector Kyrianou (Dan Humphreys 53); Alfie Mason.
Unused substitutes: Toib Adeyemi and Sam Baffour.
MERSTHAM: Amadou Tangara; Michael Abnett; Tom Bird; Simon Cooper; Ollie Cook; Jake Hutchings; Kershaney Samuels; Tom Kavanagh (Reece Hall 84); Walter Figueira; Fabio Saraiva; Calum Davies
Unused substitutes: Gus Sow, Tutu Henriques, Josh Antonio and Ben Harrison.
Referee: Mr Adrian Harris