It was a much changed team this Saturday, with various people missing for many different reasons. Luckily, we had good players to come in & we were very confident of extending our unbeaten run of 1 game. However, the first half was indeed a very strange affair; it started with 2 bad injuries, with Andy Bitmead falling awkwardly on his wrist [and his left hand too, much to Mrs Bitmead’s despair], and an opposition player dislocating a knee cap and damaging his ligaments. He left in an ambulance, and we all wish him a speedy recovery.
Now, for the action.
It would not be an understatement to say that we completely dominated the first half. Apart from hitting the outside of the post from distance, which Kieran had well covered, our defence marshalled by two men in the middle of outstanding beauty, kept them well at bay. Kieran could be seen at half time on ebay buying a deckchair, much was our dominance. At the other end…well, Dulanjie kindly requests not to be reminded in writing. His first opportunity was a chance he wonderfully created for himself. He picked the ball up out wide, skipped past a couple of defenders and had the goal at his mercy. Swinging at the ball with real intent, his effort sailed marvellously high and wide putting us 6 runs ahead. His second 1 on 1 was not as easy, however. Played through by Dwayne with a ball that was reminiscent of his assist last week, he latched on and had just the keeper to beat. He was fast off his line however, rushing Delanie into a lob that went agonisingly wide. Sensing a pattern? Enter Ryan.
There were two times when Ryan had golden opportunities in the first half. He had indeed seen Delanie’s first miss which confused him greatly. One on one with the keeper, he smashed high and wide for 6, putting us 12 runs ahead. His second, much like his first, was a 1 on 1 from a slightly tighter angle; we might well let him off that one. The closest he came was when the ball hit him and sailed just over the bar with the keeper beaten! Even papa Burchell got in on the act! The ball bounced to him in the 6 yard box, and under pressure, Steve calmly put it out for a corner goal kick.
Thank the lord for Andy Bitmead.
Somewhere in between, Andy decided that enough was enough. He knocked the ball round their right back, and latched onto it himself. Arriving just before their centre back, he knocked it past him too to leave himself with a 1 on 1 – surely not? With confidence, he hit it towards the bottom corner, leaving the keeper with no chance. I asked the referee if we could convert our 12 runs into a goal, however the motion was cruelly denied and we went in at half time 1 – 0 ahead.
We started the second half strongly, and we knew this may well be our day when Ryan found the target! His effort, however, was well saved by a rather strong keeper. I am sure Delanie missed a couple more in the second half too; however he has left me with so many to remember that I must had given up trying by that time. Luckily, a tragic defensive mistake would allow us back into the game. Their defender played it back to their keeper, who looked nervous, as if he shouldn’t pick it up. This was, in fact, reiterated by their defender shouting “DON’T PICK IT UP!!” Of course, he picked it up. The same defender realised that it was indirect [a bright spark this one] and told his players to move off the line as Bitmead couldn’t shoot. They didn’t budge, and Bitmead hammered it at one of their players on the line. It deflected in to give Merton a deserved second.
They through the kitchen sink at us, and in truth created quite a few chances from it. There were a lot of shots from range, they hit the post, and missed one really good chance from inside the box. Our task could have been made easier when that man Delanie had a golden opportunity 1 v 1 with the keeper, but this time decided to gently pass it to him. There must be a rule that only one person can score per game that I’m not aware of, however there will be other times when we need those goals so best to save them I guess! They did, however, score one just a couple of minutes from the end. We played the offside trap, and from looking across the line, the man was definitely offside. The referee was not sure therefore could not give it, and he squared it to their other striker who chipped Kieran to ensure a nervy ending. A pinball in the six yard box looked to be heading for the corner of our net, however Kieran acrobatically jumped at the ball and held with two players steaming in on him to save the 3 points for us. A much, much tighter game then it should have been, but a well-deserved win.
This week’s MOM, as elected by the team, was a fantastic Andy Bitmead. He soldiered on with a dodgy wrist, and proved to be the difference between the two sides with a commanding all-round performance. Also worthy of a mention is the whole of our defense who as a collective were superb, with Steve Burchell marshalling it well and Josh Fitzgerald-Smith putting in a very mature performance for a young man. Clive provided a very effective shield in front of the defense, and although chances were squandered, Delanie did very well to create them, as well as putting their defense under great pressure throughout the game.
Very good performances all round. A win next week will succeed our points tally for last year, so that is certainly the aim – and how better to achieve in then at home in front of our thousands of cheering fans?
Our under 14s held their third game at home ‘THE HOOD’ with strong spirits after coming from 2 nil down to draw 3-3, kept up their strong spirits and pulled through a convincing 5-0 win against Rocks Lane. Right from the start of the whistle our U14’s kept possession despite Rocks Lane being well organised. But just a few minutes away from the end of the first half U14’s took the lead & that followed through into the second half with some quality goals & even a Free-kick outside the 18yard by our U14’S Captain Joe! Congrats to Mattia, Safwan & Bruno who even netted twice on the day but even a bigger congrats to Jamie for getting his first clean sheet.
Merton supporters gave their usual great support and held a great environment which was supported by the opposition in which ended in a well runned & enjoyable game.
Article by an amateur photographer who follows grass roots football and was at Merton vs Alexandra park, click on picture to have a read.
Merton 9 vs 2 met police
Todays Youth Results.
U9s beat Met Police 8-2.
U11s no game, U14s beat Rocks Lane 5-0, and our U15s drew 4-4 with Bedfont Eagles.
Our U13s won their Surrey cup game 3-1 away against Beacon Hill with a hat trick from Marcus (pic)
It was a good performance against strong opposition who provided splendid hospitality and welcome from a very nice well run club.
1s draw 1-1 against Old Finchleians with a late equaliser and some good fortune.
3s lost 3-2 to Carshalton (2 great goals from Glenn just not enough).
6s lose heavily to strong Carshalton side watched by the Quinlan family (Merton Legends Martin played with his dad watching -pic)
Result of the day with Clive’s 5s winning 2-1 at Old Actonians and Lenners and Chris Dodd coming back to the Hood to bring the news.!!! (pic)
Merton 9. Mitcham park colts 1
First away match for the new under 9’s team at mitcham park Merton came away convincing 9-1 winners.
Mitcham kicked off and Immediately lost possession to a very fired up merton team who attacked goal and forced the first save of the game within a minute. Merton dominated and the home team where unable to get out of there own half. On the fifth minute the ref stops the game at the instruction of mitcham park secretary, who announced they had fielded the wrong team.
After some delay the match eventually started with the correct mitcham team and to the credit of the Merton boys all the drama did not put them of the stride. It was same again as Mitcham where pinned back in there own half and not long before the goals started flying in.
Best moment of the match voted by our pitch Marshall Winta, was when Darius dispossessed a mitcham player on the halfway line, blazed down the right beating defenders along the way to the touch line and put over a perfct cross for Tom playing in only his second competitive game to strike home beautifully on the half volley.
Overall, a great team performance, Merton dominated and outclassed mitcham park colts with skill, effort, determination and discipline. 4 boys on the scoresheet with only 1 shot on target against, which went in!!!
Mitcham park colts manager summed up the Merton team performance.
“Great effort, great minds, great teamwork”
Despite the torrential storms that hit the UK on Friday, we arrived in Chiswick with the pitches in good
nick, playing to our Barcelona-esque style. We did, however, arrive in dribs and drabs due to serious
traffic around the Mortlake area – rumour had it that a still-drunk Big Chris was still partying in the
middle of the road from Thursday night, such was his level of rowdy drunkenness. Not an ideal start.
As the clock hit 7pm, the ref arrived and the game was on. Both teams took a while to get going, feeling
like a start of the season clash. It would be Merton, however, who would who would hit first. The ball was played through by Dwayne, agonisingly close to the defender but yet just out of reach. Knowing the race was lost, the defender went tumbling in a manner that Ashley Young would be proud of – dramatic, and screaming as if he’d have joined Clive in his regular “shower fun times” sessions. With Dulanjie just to beat the keeper, he calmly slotted home to put the 5s one-nil up. Cue the probing from Ibis Eagles. They began attacking with some purpose, putting the ball in the box at every opportunity. Luckily, the rear-guard action of Darren & Lenners, men who are used to their fair share of probing, dealt with it stupendously. It was, in fact, the 5s who had the best chance to make it 2, with Dulanjie one-on-one again. Perhaps too confident second time wide, he scuffed his effort which tamely rolled into the keeper’s arms. Not too long after, a cruel deflection was to undo our good work. They sent a corner in, which was again very well defended. The ball broke to the edge of the box, where one unfortunate [but very good looking] fellow toe-punted it straight to the opposing player outside the box. He took a touch, and let fly with an effort that deflected cruelly off Lenners for a goal that their pressure arguably merited. Lenners OG, 1-1 at half-time.
We knew that the game was there for the taking in the second half. After another cagey start from both teams, the 5s were to spring ahead again, with a second halfsubstitute instrumental in the build-up. Aaron Ackerman picked up the ball from our own half, playing it through towards the left. Dulanjie managed to latch on to it just before it went out of play, and drove inwards. Too fast for their defense, Dulanjie found himself in front of goal, only at a very tight angle. A keen eye for tight gaps, Dulanjie managed to squeeze it between the keeper and the near post to make it 2-1. They piled on the pressure in order to find an equaliser, however we defended resolutely all over the pitch, resulting in them not creating a clear cut chance in the last 30 minutes of the game. It was only down to Richard thoughtfully deciding that 2 was enough that we did not win by more; maybe less Gareth Bale, more Gareth Gates on this occasion. He’ll gladly save them for when we need them, and we played out the 2-1 victory to put ourselves within 4 points of equalling our points total from last season.
Those who bemoan young people for not voting may have a point, as only 3 nominations were received. Such was the difficult task of picking a man of the match, it resulted in a three-way split. Dulanjie wins one for his two goals, Aaron Byrne for his impressive balance between first-half offense and second-half strong defensive work that saw us see out a victory, and Darren Avey for being an immovable object, winning everything in the air despite their bombardment. Many more people are worthy of a mention; Delman and Josh ensured nothing came down the wings, Dwayne and Aaron got good assists, Miguel impressed with his composure in the middle when coming on and Sam in goal managed to deal well with all that came his way comfortably. This was a very strong team performance, on to next week!