Play-off chasing Leiston suffer third defeat on the spin

Seb Dunbar, right, who netted a second-half equaliser for Leiston at Merstham tonight.

Seb Dunbar, right, who netted a second-half equaliser for Leiston at Merstham tonight. - Credit: Archant

Merstham 2 Leiston 1

Ollie Brown, on the ball for Leiston at Merstham during tonight's Ryman League clash in Surrey. Pict

Ollie Brown, on the ball for Leiston at Merstham during tonight's Ryman League clash in Surrey. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Leiston suffered their third defeat on the bounce, inside eight days, at the hands of Merstham in Surrey tonight.

All three goals came in a five-minute spell at the start of the second half.

Alex Addai lobbed keeper Ashlee Jones with a sublime 25-yarder to put the Moatsiders in front on 50 minutes.

Seb Dunbar equalised just three minutes later, bursting onto Niko Muir’s through ball to clip over keeper Josh Smith from close-in. It was a neat finish from Leiston’s left-wing back.

The two teams before kick-off at Merstham tonight, Leiston in the blue shirts

The two teams before kick-off at Merstham tonight, Leiston in the blue shirts - Credit: Archant


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However, Tom Howard netted what proved to be the winner in the 55th minute, curling a delightful shot into the roof of the net from the left-edge of the box.

Leiston stay third in the table, but are failing to make their games-in-hand count, following the recent defeats at Bognor Regis and Billericay, and now Merstham.

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Glenn Driver’s men remain in with a good chance of making the play-offs, but they must stop the rot soon.

The visitors had to show the best of their defensive qualities to deny their Surrey hosts an early lead, on eighth minutes.

Keeper Jones parried Ibrahim Fofana’s shot at point blank range, down at his near post, and although Dan Bennett looked odds on to bury the rebound, his shot was cleared off the goal-line by Joe Jefford. That was a terrific defensive effort from the centre-half.

The visitors showed first on the quarter-hour mark, danger-man Matt Blake turning to lash a 20-yarder only just a foot over the bar.

Blake had two more chances in quick succession. A goal-bound drive was deflected wide by defender Tutu Henriques, and his header from the ensuing corner was cleared off the goal-line.

However, it was Merstham attacker Bennett who squandered the best chance of the first half, steering his short wide from close-in at the near upright, with the goal beckoning.

Leading scorer Blake was denied again in the 32nd minute, as his well-struck shot from the edge of the box stung the hands of keeper Josh Smith.

But it was Merstham who finally broke the deadlock, via Addai’s sublime lob just five minutes into the second period, the first of three goals in a five-minute spell.

Dunbar’s 53rd minute equaliser was quickly wiped out by Howard’s screamer.

Blake was close to poaching an equaliser on the hour mark. His powerful header was parried at full length by Smith, and Dunbar’s follow up from the rebound was cleared off the goal-line.

Home keeper Smith was injured midway through the second period, and had to be replaced – Merstham had no substitute keeper, so right-back Simon Cooper donned the gloves, and was soon making a smart save from Blake’s fierce shot.

But Leiston failed to really test Cooper during the closing 20 minutes, Blake blazing wide in stoppage time.

Squads

MERSTHAM: Smith (sub Abnett, 65), Cooper, Campbell, Samuels, Henriques, Gough, Addai, Howard (sub Vidal, 80), Fofana, Bennett, Hall (sub Kavanagh, 72). Unused subs: Folkes, Douglas.

LEISTON: Jones, Brown, Dunbar, Hutchings (sub Francis, 72), Jefford, Bullard, Ainsley, Heath, Blake, Muir, Hubble (sub Blades, 84). Unused subs: Cole, Schaar, Beckwith.

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