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Match Report
Ryman Premier League - 2016/2017
Canvey Island 2
R. Blackman (56), G. Sykes (65)
Merstham 2
C. Willock (45), S. Cooper (74)

Canvey Island and Merstham played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at a foggy Frost Financial Stadium on Saturday.

A draw was a fair result in a match that swung one way and then the other, with Merstham nearly grabbing all three points late on.

Manager Danny Heale included a new face in his squad in the shape of 17-year-old winger Luca David-Wrightman who joins on a loan from Aldershot Town.

The visitors created an opportunity inside the opening minute when former-Dulwich Hamlet midfielder Xavier Vidal played a good ball through for winger Alex Addai to run onto. Addai hit the target with a low shot from the right which Lewis Moore was able to beat away.

Canvey imposed themselves well in the opening 20 minutes, forcing a string of corners and looking dangerous with balls over the top of the Merstham defence without seriously testing goalkeeper Phil Wilson.

Nothing of note really happened until the 32nd minute when Mitchell Gilbey went down inside the area under the challenge from left back Kristian Campbell. However, referee Christopher Francis was not convinced and waved the calls for a penalty away.

On 38 minutes George Sykes was played in behind the Merstham defence, but Phil Wilson did well to close the striker down and force him to look for alternative options rather than shooting. Sykes cut the ball back for Mitchell Gilbey who was fouled 20 yards from goal in a central position.

Alfred Mugabo stepped up and struck a low free kick through the wall which was saved by Phil Wilson.

The Gulls had another chance on 44 minutes when Tambeson Eyong stole possession inside his own half and set off on a trademark marauding run down the right wing. Eyong got to the touchline before pulling back a good cross which found George Sykes, but his first time goalbound shot was blocked by defender Simon Cooper.

Having played well for the opening 45 minutes, Canvey shot themselves in the foot by conceding an avoidable goal in the first minute of additional time. A free kick was cleared as far as Mitchell Gilbey 25 yards from goal, but instead of hooking the ball to safety he opted to take a touch and gave possession back to the Moatsiders.

Play was worked back into the danger area and for Alex Addai on the left. He was tackled by Steve Sheehan but got a slice of fortune to maintain possession, crossing underneath the crossbar for striker Calum Willock to head home from point blank range.

Canvey equalised on 56 minutes when Ryan Blackman opened his account for the club, looking up and drilling an accurate shot in via the inside the post from just short of 25 yards.

The Gulls then took the lead nine minutes later when Phil Wilson dropped a corner under pressure from Callum Ibe. George Sykes collected the ball with his back to goal and managed to loop it into the goal with an overhead kick from close range.

This goal got Canvey’s tails up and they went in search of a third, with midfielders Alfred Mugabo and Ryan Blackman both having low shots from outside of the area kept out by Phil Wilson.

However, as the game went on Merstham started to look increasingly dangerous. On 72 minutes a corner to the back post was met by the head of captain Tutu Henriques, but his effort went straight down into the ground before bouncing over the crossbar.

The visitors did equalise two minutes later when a low cross from the right was smashed in from close range by Simon Cooper after the defender had stayed forward following a corner.

Having survived a penalty appeal earlier in the match, Merstham then had a call for one of their own on 78 minutes when Michael Abnett went down under the challenge of Jake Pitty. However, just as he has earlied in the match, the referee signalled that no offence had been committed.

The final ten minutes of the match saw Canvey on the back foot and Merstham pushing for a winner. Calum Willock and Alex Addai both hit the target, but on both occasions Lewis Moore did very well to save diving low down to his right.

The closest they came to nicking the victory came in the second minute of injury time with a header from a corner which was thankfully cleared off the line.

George Sykes Goal