ENFIELD TOWN’S struggles against teams in the lower reaches of the Ryman Premier Division table continued on Saturday when they were beaten 3-2 at home by Merstham.
Although Town had enjoyed a 5-1 victory over Wingate and Finchley in their previous outing, that was a rare bright spot in a miserable run of results which has dealt a big blow to their play-off hopes – with this latest defeat being their third in four matches, all against teams who are facing a battle to stay up.
The hosts struck first through Billy Crook, but Dan Bennett equalised soon after and Dean McDonald put Merstham ahead early in the second half.
This time Town hit back almost immediately through Karl Oliyide and the match seemed to be heading for a draw until McDonald struck again four minutes from time to give Merstham a win which saw them climb out of the drop zone.
Town began brightly and Harold Joseph stabbed over from close range inside two minutes after a Crook free-kick had been helped into his path by Mark Kirby.
A Samir Bihmoutine cross caused havoc in the visitors’ box, while Bobby Devyne volleyed over from 20 yards out following good work from Harry Ottaway.
Oliyide, making his home debut, was then thwarted by Merstham keeper Josh Smith after finding himself through on goal, but the pressure eventually told as Town took the lead midway through the first half – Crook confidently scoring from the spot after Oliyide had been brought down in the box by Kershaney Campbell.
However, Town’s lead only lasted for three minutes as Bennett beat the offside trap and easily outpaced the defence before slotting the ball beyond the despairing dive of keeper Nathan McDonald.
The hosts failed to find the same fluency again after being pegged back as Merstham grew in confidence, and the visitors almost went ahead ten minutes before half-time through a Dean McDonald shot which flashed just across the face of goal.
And the match turned in the visitors’ favour during a dramatic 60 seconds of action ten minutes into the second half.
Devyne put Oliyide through on goal, only for the striker to be superbly thwarted by Smith and, within seconds, Merstham broke down the other end of the pitch where Alex Addai delivered a terrific cross which was headed home by an unmarked Dean McDonald.
Town produced a perfect response to this though as they were back on level terms just two minutes later – Samir Bihmoutine chasing what appeared to be a lost cause and preventing the ball from crossing the byline before pulling back for Oliyide to score from close range.
The hosts generally looked the more threatening side after equalising and a Devyne cross was headed over Crook.
They rarely looked like scoring though and were undone late on when they needlessly conceded possession on the edge of their own box and Xavier Vidal played the ball through to Dean McDonald, who scored with another composed finish.
There was still time for Town to come close to snatching an equaliser, but Oliyide was just unable to turn in a Harry Ottaway cross as they fell to a damaging defeat.
Enfield Town: N McDonald, Muleba, Joseph, Kirby, Bihmoutine, Kiangebeni (Shulton 65), Crook (Thompson 80), Parcell (T Campbell 71), Oliyide, Ottaway, Devyne. Subs: Gabriel, Livings.
Merstham: Smith, Cooper, K Campbell, Samuels, Okoye, Henriques, Bennett (Vidal 85), Kavanagh, Addai (Hall 85), D McDonald, Abnett (Hector 46). Subs: Howard, Bailey-Allen.
Booked: Addai, Smith, Kiangebeni, Samuels.