Now it’s starting to get serious. The number of games left is getting close to single figures, and the real “six pointers” are lining up on the fixture list.
This, folks, is what we fiddle about from August to nearly March waiting for, and at last we have one coming up – 3rd placed Tonbridge on 52 points v 4th placed Merstham on 51 points. A positive result for either team is a six point swing, as by 5pm on Saturday 23rd February Tonbridge could be 4 points clear of Merstham , or 2 points behind them. Please, not a draw!!
The Angels welcome the men from the land of the weasels, or some such olde English guff. Actually, it’s the men from a sprawling council estate hard by the M25 near Reigate which, against all reason, has produced a play-off standard team from a population of about seven fit and healthy adults. One of the joys of non league football, and Accrington, is how such places can achieve this triumph of will, of hope against expectation, and I take my hat off to the volunteers, committee, players and all those that have helped achieved it. That and the money from last year’s FA Cup run. I hope they are having the time of their lives, except for this weekend when I hope we see a repeat of the straightforward opening day 3-0 drubbing which Tonbridge handed out way back in August.
That result was the prelude to the Angels’ flying start to the season. If it was not for the car crash of results at the tail end of 2018, their concern would be whether Dorking were closing in on them at the top, instead of peering wistfully up at the Wanderers on the summit. Equally, a start like that for Merstham could have signalled a long season of strife, especially as they were tonked again the following Tuesday, but they shrugged it off and have set about being party poopers for the big boys with gusto.
Merstham come into this match on the back of a little wobble, with only one win in their last four league matches, while the Angels have rediscovered their wings and are unbeaten in nine, including seven wins. The arrival of Tom Derry already looks a potent addition to the forward line, so home hopes will be high that their goal-shyness in big games at Longmead wont re-emerge today. The Merstham goalscoring threat is spread around the team, which gives a clue to their success – all round teamwork and commitment. Hopefully this will encourage the somewhat travel averse Surrey supporters to swell the crowd on the day.
It makes for a well balanced and intriguing game, of proper significance to the play off possibilities of both teams, as we get to that dog eat one man and his dog stage of the season. Walk out music…..