I’m on holiday this week, so after a trip to the Isle of Wight last weekend, I decided to drive a little way again, to Merstham, near Caterham in Surrey, for this evening’s Isthmian Premier League fixture at the Whisky Bible Stadium, home of Merstham FC.
The Whisky Bible Stadium holds 2,500 people at capacity, with seating for 174. Merstham’s record attendance is 1920, achieved in 2016 for the FA Cup first round match against Oxford United. The ground has a small car park but I found free street parking on the road outside. The unusual name comes from the sponsorship deal the club have with the Whisky guidebook, replacing the name of the Moatside ground.
The Whisky Bible Stadium boasts a clubhouse, refreshment stand, club shop and two covered seated stands. It also has covered standing behind the goal.
Coming into the game, Merstham FC really needed the three points, sitting in eighteenth place and just a point above the drop zone. Corinthian Casuals came into the game on the back of a losing streak, but comfortably safe in mid table security, some 12 points above the danger of relegation places.
Korrey Henry started for Merstham FC, having top scored this season with 13 goals in the league. There was a decent crowd of 287 in attendance on a chilly, but dry, Spring evening.
The first thirty minutes was contested as fiercely as expected, from a home team with everything to play for. Both sides created chances, although the build up play for Corinthian Casuals with Peter Ojemin and Ben Checklit on the left side, began to exploit some space, as the half proceeded.
The first goal came in the 36th minute when Corinthian Casuals’ Jerry Nnamani headed in from a corner. Unfortunately two minutes later he left the pitch injured, replaced by Mo Diallo.
At half time the score was still 0-1 to the away side. Merstham FC went in knowing they needed something more, to get the points they needed from the game.
After a brief rally early on Casuals came back and in the 50th minute went two up through another headed goal, this time by Jack Knight.
In the 77th minute Corinthian Casuals put the final nail into Merstham‘s chances in this match when Benjamin Cheklit made it 3-0 with a curving shot which just squeezed over the line, despite the efforts of Ohman in the Merstham goal.
Merstham FC did try and secure a goal to claw themselves back into the game, with Luke Cook and Korrey Henry looking dangerous at times, however too often the ball went sideways or backwards, at the crucial moment.
As the whistle blew, it was Corinthian Casuals whose supporters went away celebrating. For Merstham FC, they have to fight on, to ensure their safety in the games that remain.