On a night where the weather made White Water Rafting a challenge, Worthing struck twice in the final quarter of the contest to go home with maximum points.
- Folkes (26')
- Pearce (24')
- Starkey (77')
- Dawes (85')
Alfie Young kept his place from Saturday’s win against Kingstonian, for his first start of the season, meaning a place on the bench for Mason Doughty; who was joined there by the fit- again, Lloyd Dawes.
Amid the wind and rain, Ricky Aguiar offered early hope for the visitors but his low, twenty yard drive from a half-cleared corner was easily dealt with by home goalie, Mattie Pearson.
Shortly after, Ollie Pearce headed over a Reece Myles-Meekums cross and Merstham hit back through a deflected effort by Reece Hall.
Callum Kealy tried his luck from a partially cleared corner that saw Pierson gather safely before Ross Edwards forced the Moatsider’s number one into his first meaningful action of the evening, as the ‘keeper threw himself to his right to impressively prevent his team going behind.
Reds then had two bites of the cherry as we reached the midway point of the opening half.
Pearce picked up possession and drove forward, only to see his attempt blocked; the same fate which befell Kealy as he tried to follow-up.
Two minutes later, however, Ollie had his goal. A recycled corner was played back into the danger area by Aguiar, headed off the line twice and finally bundled in from almost on the goalline by our number ten.
Unfortunately, that lead didn’t last very long with the usually unflappable Roco Rees coming out to meet Dan Bennett’s delivery into the box, missing it altogether and gifting an equaliser to former Worthing forward, Omar Folkes.
Another powerful run by Pearce ended with a shot just wide, then his low ball into Ricky was cut-out by Pierson; who had to be alert at his near post to keep out Danny Barker’s neat flick to Ben Pashley’s cross.
Pearce and Pierson were having an intriguing battle that went up a notch when the former caused the latter to claim his strike that followed an unsuccessful penalty appeal.
The hosts created an opportunity through Yannick Monga’s back header to a deep free-kick culminating in a deflected effort from Folkes, which preceded a well hit but well over half-volley from distance by Barker.
Rees kept out Ellis Brown not once but twice before the eventual flag-kick saw Great Evans denied by a sea of red shirts in the area.
The early exchanges after the turnaround started with Roco holding a low long-ranger by Brad Wilson and Ollie being frustrated by Pierson again, after he’d muscled his way between Sinn’Kaye Christie and James Richmond.
A halfway line breakaway by full-back, Brown moved on to Wilson who, in turn, teed up Monga only for the final attempt to be dragged the wrong side of the upright.
Pearce got his head to Ross’ centre but also missed the far stick as he directed the ball back across the target.
Captain, Peter Wordsworth fired over and Evans pulled wide until play swung the other way with sub, Dawes landing his header on top of the net and that man Pierson, for the upteenth time, stopping Meekums’ at the near post.
Rees got his gloves dirty when he pulled off a full-length save to prevent Wedgeworth’s free-kick from finding it’s mark; with Folkes’ follow-up drifting across the face of goal and evading the far upright.
A ‘Ricky Rasper’ flew inches above it’s intended target before a Merstham mix-up at the back almost resulted in Richmond slicing the ball into his own net; his ever-reliable number one there to save his blushes at the expense of a corner.
The home team then enjoyed a late flurry of flag-kicks that, ultimately, proved fruitless. The last of which lead to a quick counter-attack that reached it’s conclusion via a measured Meekums through ball slipping in Starkey. He shimmied left then dinked right as Pierson was finally beaten for a second time.
Not happy with their lot, Worthing made the points safe when another fast break – on the right – produced a lovely backheel off the boot of Meekums and Pearce was away, into the penalty area. He laid the ball across to Dawes who swept home from close range.
Fittingly, the last word of the evening went to the imperious Pierson, as he parried Lloydy’s blockbuster for a corner but, no further goals were forthcoming and Reds rose to seventh.