Rob Laney pulled Keith Rowland’s men from two goals down to secure a 3-2 victory at The Maurice Rebak Stadium – ending a run of four straight games without scoring - but The Blues would have been wondering when their countless efforts would pay dividends.
Inside four minutes, Joe Kizzi tussled with Alex Addai in the area giving Daniel Bennett the opportunity to tuck his spot kick low into the bottom left corner. Ahmet Rifat hit a long-range half-volley just over the upright a minute later – and on 13 minutes, Tommy Tejan-Sie’s cross was volleyed towards goal by Luke Ifil who was denied by Chris Haigh.
With 17 on the clock, Stephan Hamilton-Forbes slid in at the far-post connecting with Reece Hall’s free-kick from the right flank to double The Moatsiders advantage. Haigh spectacularly stopped Sean Cronin’s point-blank header with 19 minutes played, prior to saving Nathan Mavila’s low shot from the edge on 34 minutes.
Kizzi’s looping header from Keir Dickson’s free-kick hit off the woodwork five minutes on. Marc Charles-Smith’s strike on the turn was parried by Haigh on 41 minutes. Seconds later, Kizzi headed home Dickson’s free-kick but was controversially ruled offside before the break. Two minutes after the restart, Rifat was denied by Haigh after meeting Dickson’s set-piece.
Four minutes followed when Kizzi headed another Dickson delivery just wide. On 52 minutes, a carbon-copy Kizzi and Dickson combination saw the former send his header onto the roof of the net. Reece Beckles-Richards’ long-range strike was palmed round the post in the 55th minute – and Haigh pulled off a marvellous diving save to his right to tip the strikers 20-yard piledriver away on the hour.
Kizzi diverted Dickson’s corner wide seconds later, before Laney struck his own luck with 67 played - just two minutes after being introduced. Sinn'Kaye Christie intercepted Cronin’s through-ball on the edge, which the substitute broke onto and poked past Haigh. On 74 minutes, Tejan-Sie sent his pass out wide to Ifil, whose cross to the back-post saw Laney power his header across to equalise.
The comeback was complete when Laney popped off to Ben Pattie from afar, who rolled across into the bottom corner seven minutes from time. With two minutes remaining, Simon Cooper’s header was bound for the bottom left corner, until Shane Gore pulled off a phenomenal one-handed stop to ensure all the spoils stayed in north London.
WingateTV: Rob Laney and Ahmet Rifat post Merstham: HERE
Report by Khalid Karimullah