Ton up for Saunders’ record breakers - but they miss Richards

Callum Saunders pivotal to Haven's win
Callum Saunders pivotal to Haven's win

Peacehaven reinforced their superiority in the Ryman South, by breaking 100 points for the season, with a 3-1 home win over Merstham.

The ambitious club may have sealed promotion and the championship last Saturday, but the immediate loss of influential defender Craig Richards was devastating news.

Whilst another win was recorded, manager Shaun Saunders cannot be under any illusion that Richards leaves a big void in the team defensively, and equally in attack at set pieces.

Befitting their status as champions, in time honoured fashion Merstham welcomed their hosts onto the pitch with a guard of honour. The hosts that included Wes Mills in again at left back, and with Dan McLaughlin partnering Jones.

Haven had the first chance of the match when leading scorer Charlie Walker and Josh Jones worked well together. From Jones’ cross Walker jumped well to challenge the keeper, who safely punched clear.

The pace of Merstham’s front line was causing problems for the Haven defence, particularly Millis who was turned around several times by Taurean Roberts.

It was from such an attack by the youngster, half way through the first half that found the experienced Tommy Hutchings unmarked in the box. His run and shot went past the despairing Anthony DiBernado, giving the visitors an unexpected lead.

Stirred into life, Haven responded through Jon Marzetti. His mazy run into the box was followed by a shot lifted over the keeper Brannon Daly that just dropped under the bar to equalise.

Merstham came back with an excellent free kick, taken by Hutchings that needed DiBernado to deal with a firm punch.

A little against the play, Haven took the lead just before half time. A powerful run by Callum Saunders through the midfield, found Josh Jones on the left. His shot took a deflection off the unlucky Roberts for an own goal.

The second half was a little pedestrian, with very few real chances. The next goal would be pivotal to the final result. The busy Hutchings was given a glorious chance to equalise, but instead his shot was something of a powder puff effort.

Not needing any more encouragement, Callum Saunders sealed the game with a strong run into the box, and a shot slotted past Daly.

After the match, Peacehaven were presented with the Ryman trophy on the pitch in front of their faithful fans. It was a pity that Richards wasn’t there to join in the celebrations.