Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Sam Adams Freekick

Two Points Unnecessarily Lost

A big hand to Simon Rudkins, the phenomenal groundsman of The U’s, whose hard work allowed the pitch to pass the inspection at 11am. United had lost 2-0 to Merstham earlier this season, but with 9 places and 20 points separating the two sides, United were favourites to walk away with three points, regardless of their current form. Frankie Sawyer makes his first start at the Pilot Field since returning last week and is re-joined by Trevor McCreadie, who has been recovering from a knock he suffered a couple of weeks ago. Liam Willis was at the Pilot Field to report the action.

United got off to a perfect start, scoring after only two minutes. Straight from the kick off, United won three corners, scoring from the third. Sam Adam’s cross went to the edge of the penalty area towards Tom Vickers, whose drive at goal was turned in by Frankie Sawyer, for his first goal since returning home.

A nasty tackle by Henriques on Danny Ellis saw him rightfully cautioned, for the first card of the game. From the freekick, United added the pressure on to the Merstham defence, with a wonderful move. A well-worked give-and-go between Josh Jirbandey and Sam Adams allowed Adams to cross in towards Trevor McCreadie, whose first time effort was just over Daly’s crossbar.

With tackles flying in left, right and centre, Tim Olorunda was the first United player to be booked, closely followed by Merstham’s Thompson. Merstham grabbed an equaliser with thirty-five on the clock. A nice freekick from Roberts in to the United penalty area found the head of Henriques who nodded well and beyond Pelling.

United v Merstham - players waiting

United didn’t have to wait long to regain their lead, less than two minutes in fact. A wonderful ball through to Frankie Sawyer from Tom Vickers allowed Frankie to steer the ball beyond Brannon Daly to give United a lift just before half time. United nearly went further ahead only a couple of minutes later. A searching ball found Trevor McCreadie, whose shot was smartly saved by the outrushing Daly. During an exciting last few minutes of the half, ex-United player Aaron Rhule managed to round Josh Pelling and was destined to equalise, if only Josh Jirbandey hadn’t been on the line to steer the ball away.

The second half saw little action to begin with. United had the majority of the ball and were starting to look dangerous, without playing prolifically, but any mistakes from United looked to be punished, with Merstham pressing hard. Merstham found themselves in possession in midfield, and came forward in numbers – a cross from Roberts from the right found the head of Saraiva, whose header was tipped on to the bar from Josh Pelling. Another superb chance for Merstham – a Hutchings effort was saved excellently by Pelling. More Merstham pressure saw them put the ball in the net from a Hutchings freekick, only for the linesman’s flag to save United. United’s first changes of the game saw Kenny Pogue come on for Trevor McCreadie and Tom O’Connor replace Danny Ellis. However, it seemed to be only a matter of time until Merstham equalised. An excellent ball from Saraiva played Hutchings in for the shot, which was exceptionally saved by Pelling, but he could do nothing about the rebound, which was turned in by Saraiva, who’d been dangerous for the entirety.

Josh Oyinsan replaced Olorunda for United’s final substitution of the game, and deep into four minutes of added time, United got a freekick in a very dangerous position, just next to the ‘D’ of the Merstham penalty area. Sam Adams lined up to pull the trigger, and pull the trigger he did. Adams managed to beat the ball, and beat the goalkeeper, but not quite beat the goal – the ball smashed against the left hand post, and cleared just as the referee blew his whistle for full time.

United saw this more as two points lost, rather than a point gained. Hythe Town make the trip along the coast on Monday night, and United will be going in extra hard for three points.

United starting XI: Pelling, Jirbandey, Cruttwell, Olorunda, Judge, Kelly, Ellis, Adams, Sawyer, McCreadie, Vickers.
United subs: Pogue, Henson, O’Connor, Camara, Oyinsan.

Merstham starting XI: Daly, Carter, Johnson, Cooper, Harwood, Henriques, Roberts, Thompson, Hutchings, Saraiva, Rhule.
Merstham subs: Tucknott, Gunner, Jalsany, Powell, Ashton.

Liam Willis is also Hastings United Programme Co-Editor.

Posted 07:53 Monday, Feb 17, 2014 In: Sport

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