The woodwork together with determined defending saw Boro’ gain a valuable point at in-form Merstham
In a lively encounter Boro’ battled well against a Merstham side in a run of form who had, only a month ago, left The Rushmoor Community Stadium with all three points after a 3-0 victory.
Boro’ got the game away at 3:02pm on a pitch which, while on the narrow side, had nonetheless dried out pretty well and provided a bounce which was to deceive both sides on occasions.
After just 5 minutes Boro’ had a reasonable shout for a penalty when Vastsuk appeared to be tripped just inside the area. From my viewpoint it was impossible to be certain, but Referee, Mr Killip, was a good 25 yards behind play and his Assistant clearly wasn’t going to intervene. In similar circumstances I’ve seen a penalty given more often than denied.
Bufton, who had retained his place following his recent good performance against Leiston, made a good save when he saw the ball late after a shot through a group of players.
When Boro’ broke away Vastsuk got the ball in the net but was flagged offside.
Abnett saw his effort rebound off the bar, then a Kavanagh shot from distance was comfortably dealt with by Bufton.
When Jenkinson mis-kicked a clearance Merstham were able to get in a cross from the right which was headed over.
Samuels was booked for encroaching at a free kick and from the re-taken kick Smith got a header on target but it caused no problems for his namesake in the home goal.
Merstham were pushing hard and took the lead on 23 minutes when a good cross from the left was clinically finished off by Saraiva. Merstham 1-0 Farnborough.
Jenkinson’s free kick which curled in towards the back post was claimed by Josh Smith near the angle of post and bar.
Boro’s efforts were not to be denied for much longer and when Charlie Allen won a corner on the right a well taken kick from Hallahan saw Jack Smith power home a header from 8 yards on 29 minutes. Merstham 1-0 Farnborough.
Smith was soon in action at the other end when he cleared off the line after Bufton had been wrong footed by a deflection.
Then two minutes later, the same player was cautioned for a foul just outside the area.
Saraiva’s free kick re-bounded from the crossbar to become the second such let off for the visitors.
Merstham were calling the tune for the remainder of the half and Bufton saved them from falling behind again when he tipped an effort from Abbnett over for a corner just before the interval.
HALF TIME: Merstham 1-1 Farnborough
A half which saw both teams playing some decent football, but the home side dominating for most of the 45 minutes.
The second period started at 4:04pm with the home side continuing to drive forward, but Boro’ had a decent chance on 47 minutes when Barnes-Homer brought a good diving save from Josh Smith following a Boro’ free kick.
Boro’ replaced Hallahan with Adeniji on 56 minutes.
With the home side now very much in the driving seat two chances fell to Charlie Penny in quick succession. The first saw him collect the ball well on the left but fail to take advantage, then a good cross from Abbnett gave him a headed chance which Bufton dealt with comfortably.
Jenkinson, playing at left back in the absence of the recalled Freddie Grant, did well to head clear under pressure, then Saraiva shot wide from 20 yards.
Merstham made a double substitution on 77 minutes when Samuels and Abbnett made way for Brown and Willcock.
Brown soon made his presence felt with a good run down the right but a poor cross/shot drifted over for a goal kick.
Boro’ had by no means given up and a fine long ball cross field from Jenkinson found Oyenuga on the right, but unfortunately he appeared to lose his balance and his attempted cross drifted out for a goal kick.
When Boro’ won a corner on the left a poor kick failed to get past the first defender.
Saraiva blasted another chance which took a deflection and went over for a corner. The resultant kick caused several anxious moments for the Boro’ defence with the ball flying around their 6 yard box and defenders blocking efforts by any legal means possible.
During this frenetic few moments Bufton at on stage appeared to have grabbed the ball while on the ground only to have it kicked from his grasp. It was impossible to see whether by attacker or defender, but the keeper injured a hand in the process and needed treatment before he was able to continue.
The announcement of a minimum of 4 added minutes signalled extended efforts by both sides to try and get a winner.
Vastsuk had an effort turned round for a corner by Smith and then with time all but up, the Merstham skipper, Simon Cooper drove forward and his effort was deflected onto the bar by Bufton and cleared.
FULL TIME: Merstham 1-1 Farnborough
While Merstham dominated for much of the game, Boro’ deserved their point for a dogged defensive display and for continuing to hit the home side on the break whenever they could.
The corner kick and strike for their equaliser was alone worthy of a share of the points.
We now face two more tough home games this week, East Thurrock on Monday and Grays Athletic next Saturday.
With East Thurrock currently 2nd and Grays in 9th place, anything we get will be massive in the quest to avoid a double drop. Let’s get as many as we can down to cheer them on.
Match Report by Tony Duff.
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