Carshalton Athletic finished the season Bostik Premier runners-up after a resolute 2-1 win over Bishop's Stortford, writes James Barrett-Sterling.
Carshalton Athletic 2 - 1 Bishop's Stortford
Bostik Premier League
Saturday 27th April 2019
Last five results: WWWLW
Our 'Man of the Match': Harry Ottaway
Tommy Bradford, Daniel Pappoe, Omar Koroma and Peter Adeniyi came back into the starting line-up, while Danny Dudley and Ola Sogbanmu dropped to the bench.
Both sides knew victory would seal a play-off spot come 5pm so nerves among both sets of fans were jangling before kick-off.
But it was the home fans that settled first as, on two minutes, Pappoe picked out Koroma and the forward made some space in the visitors' area before teeing up Harry Ottaway whom guided a 15 yard shot back beyond keeper Arthur Janata and into the net.
The game continued at a high pace and Billy Bishop was relieved to see a charged-down clearance by Ryan Charles fly wide of the target on eight minutes.
But the Robins keeper was called into more serious action on 19 minutes as Jamie Cureton tussled for a flick-on on the edge of the Carshalton area. The ball broke for the supporting Ben Worman but Bishop got down to parry his low curling effort away. Charles then headed the resultant corner off target.
The Robins doubled their lead not long after that however - neat approach play by Adeniyi saw him take the ball forward through a ruck of opponents before managing to get it into Ottaway's path. The striker squared for Ricky Korboa whom took a touch inside the box before unleashing a firm drive into the top right-hand corner.
But Stortford heads didn't drop - instead they rallied and, from a corner won on the half-hour, Ryan Henshaw's powerful header was parried by Bishop and the ball was bundled in from close range, Sam Robbins claiming the last touch.
Carshalton went back on the attack almost straightaway and Jacob Mendy's deep cross was met by Koroma but his effort hit the near side-netting.
The visitors continued to be a threat from corner kicks and another, in the 43rd minute, was met by an unmarked Henshaw but his header flew wide of the far post.
HALF-TIME: 2 - 1
Bobby Price took an early knock after the break and had to be replaced by Sogbanmu, but Carshalton were looking for a third and it almost came on 54 minutes.
A flowing move involving Ottaway, Korboa, Tommy Bradford teed up Koroma who saw his shot blocked. Korboa got on the loose ball but Janata got down to push away the low shot.
The game opened up and both sides were trying to get forward - Charles saw a shot blocked by Paris Hamilton-Downes, while it took both Henshaw and Robbins to dispossess Koroma as he shaped to shoot inside the Stortford area.
Stortford's big moment came on 68 minutes - a long ball got Cureton away but he stabbed an early effort on goal which Bishop blocked. The striker got a second go but Bishop recovered to dive to his left and deny the ex-Reading and Bristol Rovers man.
Chances kept coming at either end - Charles put a 25 yard potshot narrowly wide of a statuesque Bishop on 73 minutes, while Luke Read went forward a few minutes later, playing a neat one-two with Adeniyi, but his near-post effort didn't beat Janata.
There was almost calamity inside the Carshalton box on 79 minutes as Cureton drove a low cross-shot in from the right, the ball deflected off Hamilton-Downes but fortunately the ball dropped into the grateful arms of Bishop.
Bradford then tested Janata from 18 yards before Ottaway burst through on 85 minutes, but he ignored an unmarked Adeniyi by the penalty spot to hit a blocked effort.
But Carshalton held on to the valuable three points which not only sees them finish second, but be at home for a play-off semi-final against fifth-placed Merstham.
View match highlights (with commentary) and post-match reaction via robins.tv
The semi-final play-off against Merstham is on Thursday 2nd May (kick-off 7.45pm) at Colston Avenue.
Carshalton Athletic: Bishop; Price (Sogbanmu - 47), Pappoe, Read, Mendy; Hamilton-Downes (c), Adeniyi (Dudley - 85), Bradford; Korboa, Ottaway, Koroma (Olomowewe - 73)
Unused subs: Cheadle, Ohman
Goals: Ottaway (2), Korboa (24)
Assists: Koroma, Ottaway
Bishop's Stortford: Janata, Sampayo (Callender - 69), Ogie, Thomas, Robbins (c), Henshaw, Worman, Warman, Cureton, Charles (Mason - 85), Renee