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Rampant Moles Make It Ten Unbeaten

by Andrew Finch

Banstead Athletic 2-3 Molesey

    

    Molesey made the familiar trip to Merland Rise to take on Banstead Athletic in buoyant mood following their recent run of form that has seen them take 26 points out of a possible 30 and gatecrash the top five.

Merland Rise has become a happy hunting ground for the Moles in recent times following their pre-season success in the David Wilson Trophy and a last minute victory over Epsom & Ewell back in October. 

However, Epsom’s landlords had held the Moles to a goalless draw back in late summer and a recent spate of new signings had seen an upturn in their league form, including an impressive victory over big-spending Chertsey Town just ten days previously, which meant it was to the Moles’ enormous credit that they took control of the game from the first whistle, and other than a ten minute spell in the first half, always looked the more likely victors’.

Moses Spencer came in for Sam Lampard and Andy Graves returned from suspension at full-back in the only changes to the side that beat Croydon seven days previously, and it was Graves who had a hand in what should have been the opening goal inside the first couple of minutes, as he floated a free-kick in from the halfway line.  Lewis Ackerman competed with home keeper Paul Brady and flicked a header beyond him into the net, although the ref ruled that he had gained an unfair advantage in doing so.

The Moles were on the attack again shortly afterwards, James McShane pulling a free-kick back to Dan Coombes on the edge of the box, however with time on his side Coombes scuffed his effort into the ground.

Rob Lewis met a McShane corner with seven minutes on the clock but planted his header into the ground from close-range, which spun over the bar, and despite the early chances there were several warning signs at the other end, with Sol Patterson-Bohner getting behind the Moles backline on more than one occasion, although he failed to trouble Wester Young in goal.

Banstead had obviously done their homework on Moles dangerman McShane, with two players doubling up on him when ever the ball went out wide, however they could do nothing about his dangerous set piece deliveries, and it was from his corner on 17 minutes that Lewis stuck his head where boots were flying to power the away side into a deserved lead.

A swift counter-attack instigated by Farid Ebrahim-Zadeh and involving Coombes, Ackerman and McShane resulted once more in McShane picking out Coombes on the edge of the box.  His connection was sweeter this time but Patterson made the first of a hat-trick of goal-saving interventions by sticking out a leg and diverting his effort around the post.

Any hopes Moles’ fans might have had of seeing their side rack up a cricket score were undone when Banstead equalised on 22 minutes.  Ex Mole Craig Prendergast squeezing his way to the byline and cutting back for Patterson-Bohner to stab home from close range.

The game then became more stretched, with Banstead having their best spell of the game; however Patterson came to their rescue again on 34 minutes, instinctively turning Rob Lewis’s header over the bar with McShane once again the provider.

The Moles were back in front five minutes before half-time, and for the second Saturday in a row it was by virtue of a wonder strike by Arnold Tawonezvi, as he collected a throw from Luke Elliott deep inside the Banstead half, lost his footing, retained the ball, was fouled, retained the ball again – with the ref playing a fine advantage – before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner of the net with Brady not even in the same post code to give Molesey an interval lead.

The Moles began the second half in the same way they started the first, with Ebrahim-Zadeh and Tawonezvi both missing chances to extend the Moles’ lead.  McShane saw a free-kick hit the side netting, before Patterson saved his side once more, blocking Lewis’s goal-bound header.  Shane Sinclair also got in on the act moments later, blocking an effort from Spencer that appeared destined for the back of the A’s net.

Patterson-Bohner found himself bearing down on goal with an hour gone with the Moles’ centres halves in hot pursuit.  The ex Chertsey man did well to get his shot away, and Young did exceptionally well to turn it around the post.

Molesey got the third goal their play deserved midway through the half when McShane took advantage of some casual defending by Patterson and substitute Danny Lawrence to poke the ball away from then and drill a cross across the six yard box towards Ackerman.  There was still plenty for Ackerman to do, but with impish precision he guided the ball with a Cruyff-style flick into the far corner.

More casual defending allowed Ackerman to charge down an attempted clearance ten minutes later, with the ball falling kindly to Tawonezvi, however after controlling the ball on his chest he shot high and wide when well placed.

Substitute Ross White gave Banstead a ray of hope with an 89th minute header beyond Young and into the far corner, and after substitute Owen Bent missed an opportunity to restore the Moles’ two goal cushion, hearts were in mouths when Ross Chalke curled an effort towards goal in the dying seconds.  Young got a hand to the ball, and although it looked like the ball was going to drop in the six-yard box, Young had got enough on it to turn the ball over the bar and ensure the three points returned to Walton Road.

 

Line-up:  Wester Young, Andy Graves, Luke Elliott, Joe Yeates [C], Rob Lewis, Dan Coombes, Farid Ebrahim-Zadeh (Paul Gough 70), Moses Spencer, Arnold Tawonezvi (Owen Bent 86), James McShane.  Subs (not used) Owen Bent, Mickey Hughes, Eddie Koboah