A late strike for Merstham saw Carshalton’s season come to an end in the Bostik Premier play-off semi-finals, writes James Barrett-Sterling.
Carshalton Athletic 1 – 2 Merstham Bostik Premier Play-Offs Semi-Final Thursday 2nd May 2019 Attendance: 1,151 Last five results: WWLWL Our ‘Man of the Match’: Bobby Price
Team news It was the same starting eleven that began the win over Bishop’s Stortford last weekend, but Kalvin Morath-Gibbs and Christie Pattisson came back in among the substitutes.
Kick-off Much like the Stortford game, there was an early goal at the same end of the pitch but this time it didn’t go the way of the Robins.
Luke Read was first onto a long clearance but his attempted back pass to Billy Bishop was under-hit. That gave top scorer Walter Figueira the chance to nip in and he drilled his 19th of the season in to give the visitors a perfect start.
That was the catalyst for a pulsating opening 20 minutes as both sides tried to gain the momentum – Harry Ottaway had an effort blocked on the edge of Merstham’s area, while Roman Michael-Percil fired over on 15 minutes.
But Carshalton restored parity just two minutes later – a sweeping move began as Ottaway chested the ball down for Tommy Bradford on the left. He cut infield and, via Ricky Korboa, the overlapping Bobby Price was played in. He low centre was met by Peter Adeniyi at the near post and he impudently flicked the ball beyond Amadou Tangara and inside the far post.
That spurred the home side on and Bradford lined one up from 20 yards a minute later, but he shot straight at Tangara.
And the diminutive playmaker came even closer on 24 minutes – he was picked out by Read on the left and he angled an inswinging cross into the area. It flew just in front of the incoming players but, as Tangara was left rooted, the ball cannoned off the far post. Price then tried a placer from 18 yards but the keeper had recovered to save it.
The visitors came closest next as, on 28 minutes, a spell of pressure around the Carshalton box ended with Michael Maynard-Abnett putting a potshot straight at Bishop.The full back was then caught a little late by Omar Koroma a minute later and the forward picked up a booking.
The tempo of the game dropped a little after that and the only other chance of note came on 41 minutes as Carshalton won a free kick about 25 yards from goal. Curiously, Daniel Pappoe stepped up but his effort didn’t trouble the Merstham goal.
HALF-TIME: 1 – 1
Merstham created the first chance of the second-half as Ben Harrison and Tom Kavanagh teed up Michael-Percil. He was outmuscled off the bar but Figueira, quick as a flash, got on to the ball and put a shot over Bishop’s bar from 20 yards.
The Robins responded as play was allowed to continue after Ottaway was fouled and Price and Korboa broke down the right – the former galloped on and his cross just needed a touch as it whizzed across the six yard box.
Carshalton kept pushing – Adeniyi was almost in one-on-one on an Ottaway through ball but Tangara was alert enough to win the race, while a Bradford cross just alluded Ottaway and Price, on his weaker foot, spanked a shot over from the edge of the area.
But neither keeper was being asked enough questions as the clock ticked down towards what seemed to some inevitable extra time.
That was until, on 79 minutes, Figueira spun on a pass from Harrison to get away from Read and he teed up Kershaney Samuels. The midfielder tried his luck from 20 yards and, although he got something on it, Bishop couldn’t prevent the low shot from bulging the back of the net.
The atmosphere around Colston Avenue deflated but the men in red didn’t let their heads drop – Pattisson was thrown on for Read, but suddenly Koroma was dismissed for a second yellow card (it’s been subsequently learned it was for dissent) and Carshalton’s plan to play four up top was scuppered.
But they did create two more chances before the final whistle – Bradford came on to an Adeniyi flick inside the Merstham box but his half-volley flew inches wide of the near post.
And, in added time, a low Pattisson cross was helped on by sub Ola Sogbanmu but Korboa’s cross-shot was too in front of Adeniyi and not on target at the back post.
Match highlights (with commentary) and post-match reaction will be available via robins.tv
Thank you for all your support this season – enjoy the summer and we go again in August!
Carshalton Athletic: Bishop; Price, Pappoe, Read (Pattisson – 81), Mendy (Sogbanmu – 86); Bradford, Adeniyi, Hamilton-Downes (c); Korboa, Ottaway, Koroma Unused subs: Morath-Gibbs, Ohman, Olomowewe Goal: Adeniyi (17) Assist: Price Booked: Koroma Sent off: Koroma
Merstham: Tangara, Maynard-Abnett, Harrison, Cooper (c), Cook, Kavanagh, Samuels (Hutchings – 87), Beaney, Figueira, Sow (Savaira – 67), Michael-Percil (Bennett – 67) Unused subs: Davies, Henriques Goals: Figueira (2), Samuels (79) Booked: Sow