got the game under way, and for the first five minutes both teams seemed
lively enough, writes Aaron Ayres.
The home side had to make a change however when, on seven minutes, centre-forward
David Smith picked up a leg injury and was replaced by Darren Brown.
A few minutes later a freekick by Michael Cassar reached Steffan Ball ,
who beat Gary Donovan down the right wing, but his right-foot volley went
The game seemed to be settling into a pattern that favoured the visitors,
although a high cross by Shane Suter gave Dean Hill little chance to
control, allowing Rhod Davies to break and shoot, although it went well
wide of Danny Twyman’s goal.
Rams finally took the lead in the 20th minute, when another run
down the wing by Ball ended with a superb cross that Shaun Welford headed
Five minutes later a great run by Suter put Ball through 1-on-1 with
‘keeper Colin Harris, but Harris just got to the ball first. A few
minutes later the Rams had yet another chance, when Warren Schulz turned
and volleyed in the area, but Harris just managed to tip the ball over at
On 35 minutes Merstham had worked a good ball down the right, when the
cross hit Cassar’s hand as he closed to challenge. The referee did not
see it as ball-to-hand however, and Craig Vernon made no mistake with the
resulting penalty to level the score.
The Rams continued to look the stronger side and on 39 minutes a long
throw by Simon Pettit reached Suter on the edge of the box, his left-foot
volley being denied by another fine save by Harris.
A couple of minutes later Ball was clearly shoved after beating the
defender into Merstham’s area, but Suter’s freekick was tipped over
Merstham nearly caused an upset three minutes into stoppage time, however,
when a clear handball by Davies was ignored by the referee and the
Merstham number 10 was allowed to continue down the left wing. This
wrong-footed the usually solid Ramsgate defence, and Davies’ cross went
unchallenged across the Rams’ goal, beyond the reach of Twyman, but
hooked up over the bar by substitute Brown from only a couple of yards
the interval, Michael Yianni replaced the injured Dean Hill, and Ramsgate
kicked off the second half with renewed vigour. With his first touch
Yianni surged forward and, resisting three clear fouls where the referee
sensibly decided to play the advantage, laid the ball back to Mark Munday,
whose cross was met with a driving shot by Suter to give the Rams the lead
again within a minute of the restart.
Within three minutes the Rams extended their lead when a flick-on header
from Welford was forwarded by Ball to Suter, whose half-volley gave Harris
Merstham continued to battle however, and in the 53rd minute
their 3rd corner in quick succession finally cracked the
staunch defending of Liam Morris and Ollie Schulz, and came out to Vernon
on the edge of the area, who did well to find Davies, although he put the
ball over Twyman’s goal.
Within a minute Davies conceded a free kick in the Ramsgate area when he
followed-through on Twyman who had thwarted a Merstham attack and had
gathered the ball, leaving the Ramsgate ‘keeper on the ground for a few
again started to dominate again, and on 62 minutes a cross by Suter found
Munday’s head, but the ball went just over the crossbar. The Rams kept
the pressure up, and within a minute Welford had again beaten two
defenders but his shot went just outside the post.
In the 65th minute a challenge by Merstham’s Jamel Carr sent
Morris to the ground just outside Ramsgate’s area, but the referee gave
the decision to the home team. The opportunity was wasted, however, when
Carr’s free kick went well clear over the bar.
Within a minute Suter nearly secured a hat-trick with another volley,
following good build-up play by Ball and Welford.
12 minutes remaining, Ramsgate made a double substitution, with David Cory
replacing Welford and Ben Laslett replacing Warren Schulz.
Suter nearly added to his tally again when Yianni picked up the ball in
the middle of the park and switched it to Suter on the left, whose
right-footed lob beat Harris but just missed the top far corner.
Merstham had another good chance in the 80th minute, when a
good run by Davies saw him through on Twyman, who stood up well and
parried Davies’ volley at point-blank range, and also managed to beat
Davies to the loose ball, which he smothered.
Ramsgate completed the scoreline in the closing minutes when an Ollie
Schulz goal kick was flicked on by Ball to Cory, who fired the ball home
decisively for the Rams’ fourth.
Ramsgate will travel to Croydon Athletic - also nicknamed the Rams - in
the first qualifying round on Saturday 10th September. The Surrey
side beat Redhill 4-2 on Saturday.