Chertsey Town considerably weakened their already tenuous grip on the Combined Counties League title chase after surprisingly falling to middle of the table Mole Valley SCR who made full application of their resources during the club’s first ever visit to Alwyns Lane.
The Chertsey players were busy throughout the game but without fashioning a product; the visitors were full value for their win.
The encounter indeed proved to be an unlucky thirteenth as Town had just completed a record equalling twelve straight league wins but the attempt at an outright watershed achievement was a victory too far.
Chertsey may have enjoyed a one goal interval lead but it was an unconvincing one which gave way to three reverses after the interval that justified the overall balance of play.
Mark McGibbon returned to the side after injury to replace Trevor Charlery. Lee Weemes made his first start in Chertsey colours after five appearances on the bench and made a creditable contribution, without setting the world on fire, pushing out Leike Saku from his start. The changes made no profound effect as the whole side was unable to spark a much needed win.
News of leaders Guildford City drawing their match compounded the Alwyns Lane frustration for a Chertsey win would have put them back on top with City only having just the one game in hand.
Even when only facing ten Mole Valley men for the final ten minutes after James Brown blew his own trumpet once too often for the referee’s liking and was given a second yellow card, made no difference as Town struggled to break through.
A myriad of corner kicks were won and Valley’s goalkeeper was often forced into a sweeper’s role but direct shots at goal were few and far between.
At the other end, Craig Bradshaw was mainly employed in mopping up benign crosses into his box but was called onto made a couple of telling saves before the interval. One was a photogenic mid air dive for a deflected strike and the other that was literally more down to earth.
Most of Chertsey’s corner kicks were deflected away on the near side by defender Aaron Bogle but one was made to count although it did have an air of mystery about it as it dropped down just inside the near post to almost everyone’s surprise.
The ball was delivered almost along the left hand goal line by Tom O’Regan.
Marcus Moody connected the rear of his head with the ball which then somehow rolled down his back and off Bowden’s foot.
This touch of good fortune, just before the half hour, is just the sort of thing needed to turn games in your favour but it did not trail blaze any Chertsey dominance.
The home side may have won the possession and number of corner kicks competition, but this apparent advantage looked unlikely to be turned into goals by the time the interval whistle was blown.
A glorious opportunity was opened up immediately after the break when Dan Bennett hit the ball wide from a good position which might have paved the way to another Chertsey success but the moment was gone and led to a reverse of fortunes that commence on 56 minutes.
Defender Simon Cox became tangled on the ball leading to Holden stealing, then hitting it across the face of the Chertsey goal.
The ball hit the inside of the post and looked from distance as if it was going to still give the opportunity for a clearance, but instead it just rolled along the line for five yards before drifting over for a deserved equaliser.
Further Chertsey misery was inflicted in the 70th minute despite being on the attack.
An attempted long throw into the Mole Valley penalty area was intercepted and hoofed up field where Daryl Cooper-Smith was lurking.
With just two touches and in space, he floated the ball over a hopelessly exposed Bradshaw and saw it nestle comfortably in the Chertsey net.
This was now a serious situation for Chertsey’s title hopes. Substitutions were made to change the pattern but although they pressed towards the Mole Valley penalty area, no breeches could be effected.
Effectively, the game was then up good and proper on 77 minutes when the ball was powered towards the Chertsey goalmouth.
Although the shot was parried, the ball popped up conveniently for Jayde Spence who, just a couple of yards out, could not help but put his head on to the rebound and seal Town’s fate.
Chertsey had two creditable penalty appeals for hand ball dismissed, one in each half, but could not cite the disappointment of their appeals being turned aside as reason for defeat.
Dan Papali was unlucky not to reduce the arrears five minutes from the end when his powerful shot crashed down off the cross bar, to be cleared away.
A better turn of good fortune at either end at those key moments might have produced a different end story but had Town got anything out of the game it would have been more by luck than judgement.