Report by Chris Pullen
A spectacular strike by Tom Kavanagh sparked a second half fightback by the Moatsiders, after being a goal down at half time. It really was an early candidate for goal of the season, but Kavanagh's goal was followed by two more superb late goals to clinch a well-deserved victory.
With Michael Abnett out after picking up an injury at Dorking, Manager Hayden Bird brought in Gus Sow at full back, but otherwise it was the same side that had picked up four points from the previous two outings.
Merstham began the game well and inside 5 minutes, Reece Hall looked like he wanted to try and repeat his goal at Dorking as he cut inside from the left wing and fired in a right-foot which went narrowly wide. But it was Potters Bar that almost opened the scoring in the 14th minute. A long, raking, diagonal ball found Kegan Cole in loads of space. Seeing Chris Haigh had come off his line, the Town striker hit a deft chip, which looked like it had beaten the Merstham keeper. But Haigh moved his feet quickly and arched backward to brilliantly tip the ball over the bar. In fact the Merstham back line looked strangely vulnerable to long balls in the opening 25 minutes, and Town's Bradley Sach was not far away when another long diagonal caused more problems. On the half hour mark, Merstham almost took the lead when a well-struck Fabio Saraiva free kick from just outside the box, flicked off the wall and Town keeper Berkley Laurencin did well to adjust and save with his legs. Ten minutes before the break however, Merstham found themselves a goal down. A slide-rule pass inside Gus Sow found Derwell Wynter, who curled his finish wide of Haigh's left hand to open the scoring. From that point on, Potters Bar seemed content to shut up shop and began to waste time, which referee Ryan Head did little to stop. Merstham went into the break a goal down, having not played badly, but not having played especially well either.
Boss Hayden Bird also felt his side could do better and his team talk at the interval certainly put some renewed vigoury into the Moatsiders at the start of the second period, though it was still hard to see where a goal might come from. Then on the hour mark, a slick Merstham move found Reece Hall, who laid the ball off to Tom Kavanagh. It really was a trademark Kavanagh strike and the ball screamed into the top corner from all of 35 yards. The bar was still rising as it hit the net with the Town keeper rooted to the spot. The goal transformed the game. Suddenly it was all Merstham and Potters Bar were pushed back into defending with 10 men behind the ball. Some cynical fouls and persistent time-wasting won them few friends at the Specsavers Stadium. Beaney and Hall made way for Davies and Lubango, as Merstham shuffled their pack. But for all their possession and clever passes, the Moatsiders couldn't fashion a clear-cut opening. That is until three minutes from time. Left back Tom Bird collected the ball wide on the left and with the defenders backing off, he did what most defenders are inclined to do and had a pop from distance. But what a strike it was. It flew into the Town net from a similar distance to the Kavanagh effort, glancing off the left-hand upright, with the Town keeper once again a spectator. Strangely, the visitors were now in a hurry to get the game re-started. But two minutes into added time, Kershaney Samuels put the icing on the cake with a third. Picking the ball up half way inside his own half, and with Town having committed plenty of players forward, Samuels began running at the remaining, retreating defenders. On and on he went, until he got to the edge of the Potters Bar box. It's fair to say his effort wasn't quite as sweetly struck as those by Bird and Kavanagh, but no-one cared as the ball bobbled into the far corner to secure Merstham all three points.
Merstham: Chris Haigh, Gus Sow, Tom Bird, Kenny Beaney (Calum Davies 59), Ollie Cook, Simon Cooper, Kershaney Samuels, Tom Kavanagh, Dan Bennett, Fabio Saraiva, Reece Hall (Alberto Lubango 59).
Unused subs: Tutu Henriques, Michael Abnett, Ben Harrison
Man of the Match : Tom Bird
Updated 12:25 - 22 Sep 2018 by Jeff Barnes