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Merstham
Hampton & Richmond Borough FC
Sat 21 Jul 17:30 - Friendly Full time

Beavers Record Pre-Season Win, As Dickson Doubles Tally

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A Beavers team still unfamiliar to most fans took to their fourth pre-season friendly, taking on Merstham in The Jacob Sylvestre Trophy.

With three charity games taking place at Surrey FA / Dorking Wanderer’s new Meadowbank Football Ground, the Beavers settled in for a 5.30pm kick-off in the picturesque setting.

The new 3G pitch made for a slow start, with neither team gaining a strong foothold within the first 10 minutes – with both teams creating opportunities from long balls.

Merstham’s Tommy Kavanagh was well beaten by Zak Joseph in the fifth minute, and had to pull his shirt back to catch him up. The free-kick from 35 yards was taken by Miller-Rodney, with his delivery nearly finding its way in from a looping Dickson header.

The Beavers lined up in what looked like a 3-4-2-1, with full-backs Tyrell-Rodney and Mavilla pushed high to cause problems. In the first 45 minutes however, this shape allowed Merstham their best chances. The Merstham full-back found himself the wrong side of Tyrell Miller-Rodney early on, but the dangerous cross managed to evade any Merstham attacker.

The system change certainly bought its benefits though, and patient build-up from Hampton found Miller-Rodney in space, but his left-footed effort was turned behind by the Merstham goalkeeper, with the corner coming to nothing.

Two of Hampton’s best chances came when skipper Josh Mcleod-Urquhart stepped out of defence. In the 23rd minute the defender did just this, playing an inch-perfect pass to Dickson, who took a killer touch – only for his effort to lack the conviction to see him steer it in.

The next ten minutes saw Dickson really come into the game, dropping deep to control the tempo, but the forward was left frustrated at not being able to find the back of the net. Good work pressuring Merstham’s back line saw him create opportunities, with Merstham recovering well each time to their credit.

As the game rolled on, a late challenge from Corcoran saw him receive a lengthy lecture from the referee. It was a moment of welcome leniency from the referee, for a challenge which could well see him receive his marching orders in a competitive fixture.

Just before half-time, The Beavers thought they found the breakthrough. More stellar work from McLeod-Urquhart sees him picks out Uchechi, who slid in Dickson with a clever reverse ball. Dickson took a touch wide, and buried it – only to see it flagged for offside.

However, just when the Beavers thought they’d found the breakthrough, Merstham reminded them they were not just here to make up the numbers. A dangerous Merstham counterattack sees them strike the woodwork, before their second is put behind for a corner. The deep inswinging corner is a dangerous one, but the Merstham header drops behind for a goal-kick.

The Second Half

The second half started with the Beavers on top, with Chris Dickson pioneering a beautiful move. Two clever flicks with Joseph saw Uchechi released on the edge of the box arrive with plenty of time, but the resulting effort ballooned over.

For all of Merstham’s great defensive work however, they were undone by simple attacking football. Joseph’s direct ball was taken well by Dickson in the centre, who played a looping, difficult effort with his next touch, which eventually dropped into the net. It was a deserved goal for Dickson, who had been the best player on the pitch at this stage, making a handful of himself.

Just before the hour mark, Merstham had their chance to get back into the game, as a goal-kick found its way into the path of their left forward. Lovelock rushed out to save well, ensuring the Beavers kept their lead.

Zak Joseph had the chance to double the lead, after Uchechi’s well weighted ball found him in acres of space. Joseph’s first touch was a good one, allowing him room for an effort – but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper.

Chris Dickson’s last involvement in the game saw the forward close to doubling his tally. A great touch saw him round the Merstham defence, but he couldn’t quite wrap his foot around the ball, and his effort flew just wide.

An influx of substitutions saw seven changes with, Burns, Kamara, Lucien, Roberts, Deakin, Wichelow and Jelley all introduced for the final twenty minutes.

In truth, the changes didn’t allow for much fluidity, and Hampton’s dominance from the first 70 minutes didn’t allow them the second goal they deserved.

With ten minutes remaining, Merstham thought they may have equalised, as a superb curling effort from range nearly found its way in – but keeper Charlie Burns got down excellently to tip it round his post.

The game finished 1-0, providing the new look Beavers with the chance to get crucial minutes in the bank ahead of the season start on the 4th August, and work on a new system.

Reaction

Talking to the media team afterwards, Gary McCann described the formation change as “a work in progress”, with the switch to the 3421 as “enforced on us due to personnel.”

To catch up on the whole post-match interview, click here.

Man of the Match: Josh Mcleod-Urquhart. The centre-back looked at home on the right of the back three, dictating play with his ability to play out from the back. Think Harry Maguire, without the massive forehead.

We're back in action Monday night at Leatherhead FC - we hope to see you all there. Come on you Beavers!

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