First's hold Chertsey
By Gary Brigden
Sutton Common Rovers became the first side to stop the Chertsey Town train in the league, when an Ollie Twum goal gave them a share of the spoils on Saturday.
It was a fairly cagey opening, with the visitors having the better of possession, but apart from a half chance for Dale Binns, Rovers keeper Ollie Ellaway was relatively untroubled.
Binns was causing Rovers a few problems down the flanks with his attacking trickery, but the backline was holding firm, and at the other end neat play between Phil Page and Josh Uzan ended with Page being bundled over, but Uzan's free kick was easily held by Nick Jupp.
Matt Farrell saw a half chance comfortably gathered by Jupp, before Chertsey started turning the screw. Andrew Crossley did well on the left, but his delivery was well defended by Malachi Robinson.
Jake Baxter fired into traffic on 28 minutes, and saw referee Alperen Nayir wave away his half hearted claims for handball, and on the half hour Binns did superbly to get beyond both Johnny Akoto and Matt Tanton, and his dangerous ball into the near post was well cleared by Guy Baskerville.
Chertsey made the most of their dominance and took the lead on 34 minutes. Binns again was instrumental in the goal, his ball into Baxter was well set back to Andrew Crossley who fired low beyond Ellaway for 1-0.
Binns then fired a looped effort inches over Ellaway's crossbar on 38 minutes as Chertsey went for the kill. Rovers were struggling to get a foothold in the game, and the table topping visitors looked comfortably in control of the game. Just before the break, Page went into the book for reacting badly to a challenge by Kevin MacLaren.
Half time came with the visitors 1-0 to the good.
Darren Salmon and Donovan Rennalls run the changes at the break with Callum MacLean and Jordan Gallagher replacing Akoto and skipper Aaron Bogle. However it was Chertsey who started brightly and a low shot by Binns was comfortable for Ellaway.
The scores were level on 50 minutes, when Gallagher twisted left and right on his way passed Lewis Jackson, and his dinked cross found the diminuitive Ollie Twum at the back post and he headed home the equaliser.
Gallagher was starting to have more of an influence on proceedings, tempting MacLaren into numerous fouls around thirty yards from goal, and from one a header from a Chertsey defender went just wide of the left hand post.
Ellaway saved superbly from a low Crossley shot on 62 minutes, and two minutes later another foul by MacLaren saw him into the book.
Midway through the half and a superb crossfield ball by MacLaren found Binns but his shot went over the crossbar. Back at the other end and neat link up between Gallagher and Page ended with a low driven cross-shot by Page being well saved by Jupp.
Farrell put a free header from an Uzan cross over the crossbar, and after a quick break a low cross by Binns forced Baskerville into a last ditch clearance.
Matt Ferdinando replaced Uzan on 76 minutes, and his first impact was to get beyond Mason Welch-Turner but his low cross was well cut out by Michael Peacock. A minute later and Ferdinando talked his way into the notebook.
Rovers went close to snatching the lead five minutes from time, when Ellaway released Adam Allen who found Twum, his cross was half cleared and Gallagher saw his shot block.
The final chance fell to Chertsey, quick thinking from a late corner caught everybody out, but to Rovers relief the Chertsey player planted a free header wide of the right hand post.
Overall a draw was probably a fair result although both sides will feel the could have won it. It was though an excellent advert for the Combined Counties league, lots of good play in a game that was well contested without ever overstepping the mark.