Matt Ferdinando was the super-sub on Saturday when his close-range header earned Eastbourne Town a point.
This was his first goal of the season, following a long lay-off after a serious injury in a car accident last year.
And it was him and Ryan Storrie who proved to be masterstroke substitutions by boss Danny Bloor.
Bloor said, “We’ve been forced to play Ryan at left-back but he’s far better as an attacking option.
“The balance in the side is far better with Owen Kessack at left-back, and Ryan further up the field.
“I’m frustrated because Owen is a quality left-back but hasn’t been doing it for us after being one of the best players in pre-season.”
Ferdinando’s 67th minute effort cancelled out Merstham’s second-half lead.
Roscoe Dsane put them ahead in the 52nd minute when the ball ricocheted off his knee into the net.
After a dart into the box on the left, his shot was blocked by Kieron Thorp at his near-post but rebounded back towards him as he fell forward.
Two minutes earlier, Thorp turned a fierce rising shot over the bar from Fabio Saravia, and before kickoff, received the Fans’ Player of the Season Award for a consecutive year. Guest mascots from Stone Cross F.C. under 12s provided a guard of honour for the popular stopper.
His defence was organised throughout and dealt comfortably with the threat of Merstham’s Sam Tucknott, who netted twice in the reverse 3-0 fixture.
Town had gone close to taking the lead through Sam Crabb in the 32nd minute, when he capitalised on hesitant defending by Adam Moriarty and James Evans on the edge of the box.
After stealing the ball, he turned back towards goal and sent a daisy cutter onto keeper Dave Wilkinson’s left-hand post.
But the introduction of Ferdinando proved the difference as he reacted first from six yards to head in after Wilkinson turned away a Danny Curd blast from the right.
Curd went through again in the 87th minute from a Kessack 40-yard defence-splitting pass, but smashed his early shot straight at Wilkinson.
This was a strong performance from Town as they enjoyed the Saffrons for the final time this season, even after a 15-minute delay while Merstham were forced to put on Town’s away red strip to avoid a clash.
Eastbourne Town: Thorp 7, Denton 7, Kessack 7, Elliot 7, Fogden 7, Summerbell 7 (Storrie 62’), Davidson 7 (Watts 79’), Kirkwood 7, Curd 8, Crabb 8, Geard 7 (Fernando 62’)
Subs not used: Brooks
Bookings: Denton, Kirkwood, Geard
Referee: John Taffe
Mom: Sam Crabb – was a lively threat throughout
ABOVE Town striker Danny Curd looks to pounce as the Merstham goal keeper palms away a Town effort