Vital point for U18s
Title still wide open
A sparkling free kick from 20 yards into the top corner from Jack Fenton ensured that Tonbridge Under-18s secured a point from this vitally important top of the table clash with Merstham.
Two previous encounters between these teams have yielded thrills, spills and goals aplenty. This game took on a different look but was, nonetheless, just as absorbing.
Tonbridge were missing a genuine striker and, despite their best efforts, the makeshift pairing of Ollie Baker and Alex Bishop struggled against a powerful central defensive pairing with Mothibi Penn-Kerana outstanding.
At the other end, Tonbridge have suffered at the hands of Anwar Transwes and Emmnuel Omrodre already this season but an outstanding display from Callum Adonis-Taylor managed to just about keep the shackles on the pair.
The opening quarter hour signalled that this would not be the goalfest of the previous encounters but after 16 minutes it was the visitors that made the breakthrough after Tonbridge had failed to clear the ball following cross into the box. The ball fell at the feet of Ryan Doherty who stabbed it past Henry Lovering from around six yards.
Tonbridge responded well and Baker was thwarted by a last ditch tackle by Penn-Kerana after being put through.
Merstham took the honours in the first half with Doherty planting a couple of chances over the bar and Adonis-Taylor doing exceptionally well to stop Transwes in his tracks when the pacey winger looked to be going clear.
Tonbridge’s best chance of the half fell to Louis Pateman, but his effort following a corner was deflected safely into the goalkeeper’s clutches.
Tonbridge made two substitutions in the early part of the second half with Liam McCreadie replacing Bishop and Jack Bray on for Harvey Killick.
They were rewarded just past the hour mark when Fenton's perfectly executed his free kick from the left side of the box.
The game became very open with Merstham’s pace on the break proving dangerous. Transwes tested Lovering at his near post and following a Tonbridge attack, Doherty raced clear and struck the bar before the ball was scrambled to safety.
Both sides produced a couple of chances in the last 15 minutes but the defences held firm for a fair result.
In a four team tussle at the top, Merstham have the title in their own hands but with themselves, Maidstone, Tonbridge and Ashford all having to play each other there is still plenty to play for in the last six weeks of the season.