Carshalton Athletic’s dreams of back-to-back promotions are over after a late Merstham goal saw them lose 2-1 at home in their Bostik Premier play-off semi-final.
Kershaney Samuels goal 11 minutes from time gave the Moatsiders victory after Robins’ player-manager Peter Adeniyi had equalised for the home side following Walter Figueira’s opener.
Merstham had finished three places behind Carshalton in the table but only by a point and now go through to face Tonbridge Angels for a spot in next season’s National League South.
Despite Carshalton making much of the early running at Colston Avenue, it was Merstham who took the lead with almost their first touch of the game in the second minute.
The Robins had only themselves to blame, centre back Luke Read sold a back pass too short for goalkeeper Billy Bishop and Figueira nipped in to fire home from 10 yards – his 17th of the campaign.
Carshalton were rattled by the early goal and Merstham had the wind in their sails as defender Ollie Cook had a header cleared off the line.
But the home side did sort themselves out and were soon level.
Following an attacking move started by striker Harry Ottaway, the Robins worked the ball out to the right where Bobby Price flashed in an early cross steered home by Adeniyi.
Buoyed by the equaliser, Tommy Bradford started to enjoy pockets of space and his cross-shot on 24 minutes left keeper Amadou Tangara stranded but crashed back off the post.
After the break Merstham enjoyed two early openings, but Figueira and Kenny Beaney fired their long-range efforts narrowly over the bar.
Price continued to pose a threat for Carshalton down the right and a neat exchange with Ottaway led to an early cross by the Robins’ right-back which flashed just past the post.
As both sides struggled for rhythm and fluency in attack and the game headed toward extra time, the away side struck.
Moatsiders’ front man Figueira laid the ball into Samuels 25 yards out and he drove a low strike past Bishop, who could only parry the ball high into his own net.
Things went from bad to worse for the Robins when Omar Koroma was sent off on 84 minutes after picking up a second yellow card for dissent.
Down to 10 men, Carshalton spurned a golden chance when Bradford fired wide after being played through from Adeniyi’s knock-down.
In added time the Robins created one final opportunity but Ricky Korboa was stuck in two minds on the edge of the area before planting a tame shot just wide.
The final whistle came only moments after to bring the curtain down on Carshalton’s season.