Only three players from the side which drew in the league against landlords Corinthian Casuals on Saturday kept their places, as a much-changed team returned to the United Business Group Stadium to take on it’s tenants Kingstonian.
Maxwell Bartlett played the full ninety while Frankie Perry came on for his competitive debut alongside Worsdell. U18s and Academy Captain Owen Spicer did likewise. Kyle O’Brien being the other teen starter with Reuben Livesey-Austin also named on the bench.
In fact it was Bartlett who featured heavily in the first two chances of the evening.
Firstly, after ten minutes, when he got down the left to send in a great low cross that goalkeeper Serine Sanneh just got to ahead of an incoming Dajon Golding.
Then, by taking a long Will Seager pass over the top in his stride before finally firing goalwards, only to hit the side netting from a tight angle.
K’s responded through the visitors old Merstham nemesis Walter Figueira, back from a spell in Ireland, who flicked a ball into the path of Dan Ajakaiye on the edge of the penalty area. Sadly, a heavy touch led to the chance, literally, running away from him and Male could gather safely.
An opening period lacking in opportunities concluded on the stroke of half-time, thanks to a typical run by Marvin Armstong coming to an end via Ollie Cook’s block.
A change of ends almost got underway with a goal for the hosts, a lightning-quick counter-attack, led by former Hastings man Ajakaiye who was denied by a sliding blue shirt. Figueira took up the mantle; a deflected effort into the side netting resulting in a corner.
It required a tremendous tackle by Beresford to halt Jason Banton in his tracks and supply Golding with a sight of the target that he couldn’t keep low enough, eighteen yards out.
Debutant Bartlett had a glorious chance to open the scoring when Dean Cox picked him out with a delightful delivery, little more than an hour into proceedings; the young striker heading a tiny fraction over the apparatus.
Shortly afterwards, Banton seized on a ball that somehow made it’s way across the area, though frustratingly watched O’Brien deflect his attempt behind for a flag-kick.
The same player almost contributed to the scoreboard at the other end of the pitch, when he lost possession in midfield to Bartlett who was able to release Golding to, ultimately, flash a shot inches past the far post.
Another trademark driving charge through the centre of the park by Armstrong led to an early attempt flying wide, as we entered the last ten minutes of a cup tie which still looked like it could go either way.
Rhys Murrell-Williamson climbed off the subs bench to dance his way into the penalty box but fail to test the ‘keeper.
Improvisation became the next method for the home team to try, following Seager’s foul on Ajakaiye which earned the ex-Hoops centre-half a yellow card and his old teammates a dead ball situation.
Fortunately for the guests however, set-piece specialist Fabio Saraiva’s effort at catching out Male from near the halfway line proved fruitless, as his quick-thinking simply saw a goal-kick be the final outcome.
Penalties were drawing ever-closer when Club Skipper Darren Budd’s pass allowed Golding to practically reach the byline before locating replacement Perry. Although Sanneh pulled off a fine save to keep the midfielder out, he was powerless to prevent fellow youth team/Academy product Worsdell burying the rebound from close range at the back stick, to open his account for the Senior side.
That wasn’t quite that though, as there was still enough time for the long, outstretched left leg of Pat Webber to extend itself at the last second to frustrate a clean through Ajakaiye, who seemed certain, otherwise, to score.