Month: October 2016

4s vs Civil Service – 29.10.16

Merton 5 – 0 Civil Service
 

It was a sombre week for Merton Football Club, with the tragic passing of Nick Papanastasiou. All teams wore black armbands and observed a minute’s silence before their matches as a mark of respect. It certainly put many things into perspective.

 
That said, for a steadily improving Merton 4s outfit, it also provided ample inspiration to put in a good performance, and to try and go a small way to honouring Nick’s memory. Civil Service were the oppo, a team who had already beaten Merton 4-1 earlier in the season, but the hope was that, on home turf, things would go differently this time around.
 
And, unlike pretty much every game this season, Merton came out of the blocks flying. The hunger was there for all to see, 50-50 challenges, duels, and second balls were all going the way of the mighty Yellow, and, to boot, they were even keeping it on the deck and playing football. Chances accrued too: Ryan Burchell narrowly blazing over the bar while both Dom and Sonny had a few half chances in the box.
 
But for all Merton’s superiority, the goal stubbornly refused to come, and Civil Service nearly pulled a fast one at the other end, as a long-range effort ricocheted off the corner post. 
 
It would have been a grave injustice – not entirely out of keeping with the story of the season – but Merton soon went up the other end and put things right. Some excellent build-up play saw Sonny receive ball to feet, and, from the left-half of the box, he swotted it into the right corner with aplomb. 1-0.
 
One very soon became two. Dom beat the offside trap to get on the end of a through ball, and, as he rounded the keeper, the gloveman bundled him over with a woefully mistimed dive. The ref had no choice but to point to the spot, Dom stepped up, and duly dispatched it into the bottom left corner. 2-0, and the lads were buzzing.
 
Key to the performance already was the clever use of rolling subs, and one of those, Noor, turned provider for the third. His delivery from a corner was right on the money, and Sonny’s volley from close range was never going to miss. 3-0. Scenes. Johnny Gridley said it best at that moment: “Pinch me, I’m dreaming.”
 
At the break, there wasn’t really much to say, other than to keep it up. To not switch off. To keep the hammer down. This is a team who’ve conceded a three-goal lead before, so remaining clinical was crucial.
 
And, by and large, they did just that. Everyone to a man, subs included, did their job superbly, and the visitors barely got a kick. The fourth goal took about 15 minutes to arrive in the second period, but it was a beauty. Dom did extraordinarily well to beat the offside trap again, and somehow carved out a cross from the byline. Waiting in the wings was Danny Gridley, and from point-blank range, he duly smashed it into the roof of the net. 4-0. Unbelievable.
 
You could probably make the argument that Merton’s intensity dropped off a bit thereafter. But not by much. Civil Service might have scored from a free header at a corner, while on another occasion Kieran came off his line to collect a through ball and got lobbed – waywardly though. He made amends anyway with a fine reaction save from a volley at a corner.
 
That was about as good as it got for the away side though, and in truth it was Merton who had the greater chances. Jake, making a welcome return, unfortunately fluffed his lines when it may have been easier to score. Both Dom and Sonny missed some late chances too.
 
But the icing on the cake eventually arrived with a few minutes left on the clock. Once again, it was composed build-up play which set the foundation, and Dom latched onto a through ball. One on one with the keeper, there really was only going to be one outcome, and he calmly dinked it into the left corner for his second and Merton’s fifth.
 
That’s right. 5-0. And a perfectly just scoreline really. The final whistle went soon after, and the boys rightly rejoiced. What a thoroughly comprehensive and impressive performance this was from start to finish. Special mention to Kieran for playing 180 minutes on the day without conceding (he kept a clean sheet for the 6s too), but this was as good a team performance as you’re likely to see.
 
Savour the moment, and remember what this feels like lads. Let’s make sure this isn’t a one off, and sets the tone. Because a memorable season awaits if this sort of form continues.

Team: Kieran Lee (GK), Ed Plaistow, Mike Todt, Joe Plumridge, Will Harrison, John Gridley, Chris Outred, Dan Gridley, Ryan Burchell, Sonny Kennedy, Dom Plumridge

Subs: Noor Emad, Robert Tye, Jake Hewett

Goals: Sonny Kennedy (2), Dom Plumridge (2), Dan Gridley

MOTM: Will Harrison

DOTD: No one. Can’t give it after a game like that

Under 15s vs Whitton Wanderers – 30.10.16

Merton FC 4 – 2 Whitton Wanderers 
 
On a cold, foggy morning Merton tried to continue the good performance from the following week against Kingstonians. 
We started extremely strong, moving the ball around at ease and dominating the play. It was only a matter of time; when we scored our first goal. Both strikers battling for the ball, Bradley finally taking control and rolling it underneath the keeper. Lead fully deserved and this saw the team grow in confidence and kick on in the game. We continued to pressurise Whitton when they had possession making it difficult for them to get out of their own half, Bradley capitalising again and scoring his second of the game. 
We continued to keep our shape well and moved the ball around confidently, gaining praise from onlooking parents from the game behind us. The boys at this point looked extremely confident on and off the ball and continued to play with a confidence that they had developed the week before. 
Whitton had a corner, and from the corner we hit them on the break. Bradley having the confidence to turn and run at the back line and finish past the on rushing keeper. 3-0 and Merton looking very strong. 
Big smiles all round and this was looking like it was going to be an excellent day for the side. 
Whitton began to get a foothold in the game but didn’t really test Esteban, who volunteered to go in goal for the first half. 
Half time and it was a clear message of continue what we had produced in the first half. 
Second half began and we had to make changes, one being Tommy in goal. Changes to the team effected the flow of our game and we began to look sloppy and panic on the ball. The message wasn’t getting across to settle down on the ball and don’t panic! 
Whitton grabbed a goal back after some sloppy defending from our back line, allowing Whitton player to get himself out of a tight space with 3 players surrounding him. 
Frustrations grew and Merton couldn’t get their game going again, sloppy passes, tackles and general all round play affected the flow of Merton. 
We reverted back to Sam and Bradley up top and it paid dividends – Sam finishing off a neat move to secure the game. 
Great 1st half performance, sloppy 2nd half. But a win. 
Wanted to mention the impeccably observed minute silence for Nick from the adult side who sadly passed away in the week. The players are proud to wear the badge, as was Nick. Thank you to Whitton for respecting this and joining us in the respectful minute. 
 
15s-30-10-16

Youth Results – 30.10.16

A really strong weekend for Merton was brilliantly rounded off by the Youth section today, who made it three from three.

The U13s beat Worplesdon Rangers 4-3, which, after being 3-0 down after 15mins, is a fantastic result.
The U14s emphatically beat Bedfont Eagles 11-0.
A good win too for the U15s, who beat Whitton Wanderers 4-2.
U9s & U11s didn’t have a game today.

Congrats all, and well done!

Some brilliant goals and a minutes silence showing respect and mourning Nick (pic of U13s)
Some brilliant goals and a minutes silence showing respect and mourning Nick (pic of U13s)

Adult Results – 29.10.16

Today’s Results.
A day of mourning the Loss of Nick P, his 3s and all our teams paid tribute to him at the start of their games. We were pleased to welcome Chris and Nicks’ friends on this sad day. The 1s drew 0-0 with HSBC in an unpleasant encounter. The 2s lost 1-0 away at Weirside. The 6s won 2-0 against South Bank in an early Kick off. Scott Shew scoring both goals in a good win. The 3s unfortunately lost 3-1. The 4s pulled off an impressive 5-0 win, and the 5s got back to winning ways with a 2-0 win.

012

Pete wins an aerial battle
Pete wins an aerial battle

010 09 08 07

The 1s silent at the start of their game.
The 1s silent at the start of their game.
1s game. Woody heads goalwards.
1s game. Woody heads goalwards.
6s on the attack
6s on the attack
Two Goal Scott the 6s hero in their 2-0 win
Two Goal Scott the 6s hero in their 2-0 win
The 3s stand in tribute to Nick and remember him.
The 3s stand in tribute to Nick and remember him.

1s vs EBOG – 22.10.16

After the disappointment of last week’s away defeat, we were keen to change said fortunes around. Back to the fortress Hood. Both Sam and Jonny on time, a good omen right? Even before starting the warm up, news of an Injury on the far pitch meant a 15 minute delay to the start of the game. Thus a chance for us to go through Clappers dynamic warm up. Why so many squats? Why do the lines cross? No wonder I shout at him.

Personally, from last week’s performance, the main reason we came away empty handed, aside from Woody/De Bruyne/Aguero and pals penalty antics was the lack of bite all over the pitch. We welcomed back Sam, Tilley and Nick in the midfield which was a needed boost.

The emphasis was to start quickly and make sure we competed physically. However the first 15 minutes belonged fully to EBOG. They passed the ball very quickly and were direct in their play. Their number 10 made some incisive runs, but just couldn’t finish. Siri with a couple of blocks one on one.  I think the general consensus was that it would only be a matter of time before they scored as we could not get a foot hold in the game. However this eased as we started to play the ball around more. Both Jonny and Milo found success against their opponents and Charlie had the beating of his man every time. Charlie had a glimpse of goal in the first half and was probably unlucky not to hit the target when he had a little more time. Chaz scoring from a free header from 5 yards out would have been the icing on the cake, however as against IBIS, he has a tendency to head wide.

While the first 15 belonged to EBOG, the rest of the first half definitely belonged to us. They started to give away needless fouls and get on the referees back which only worked in our favour. Come half time, the message was to go again. Keep up the same intensity. Shout out to Nick for being a calming influence on the side line for Harrison.

Again we started the second half brightly, the three up top all providing great out balls. However we started to fade from around 55 minutes in and EBOG came back into the game. Again their number 10 had the beating of our back four, but couldn’t put countless chances away. (See Ballotelli vs Manchester United 2014). The game became very open and we started to create clearer cut chances. Chaz picking up the ball from a throw at right back forced his way to the right wing, laid the ball off to Jonny and made the run into the box, Jonny found him with an inch perfect ball and from 5 yards out he ballooned over. Typical Chaz. EBOG created a couple more chances, but were dealt with by Siri/the back four.

The last 15 minutes were all about Merton. Again from another corner Chaz staying up top, chested the ball down and re-enacted Frank Sinclair vs Barnsley, only to be denied by the bar. The chances were coming thick and fast, Jonny again ghosted past their right back and with three lining up on the penalty spot, tried to beat the keeper at the near post. James also impressed in his cameo as he often does. He was unlucky not to curl past the keeper with the last kick of the game.

Overall a good point earned, as both teams could have won the game, but a feeling that we probably had done enough to nick it. Every player put in a shift against the best opposition so far this season. Very much an improved display from the week before. Many positives to take forward. Man of the match was Chaz. Very well deserved as he has put in a number of strong performances recently. DOTD was a difficult one at first as there were no real mistakes/errors. Missing two chances from 5 yards out is cardinal sin though, so Chaz has the fortune of also being DOTD.

Team : Siri (GK), Kearnsey, Chaz, Clappers, Browner, Sam, Tills, Woody, Milo, Charlie, Jonny

Subs : James Laughton, Nick

2s vs NUFC Oilers – 22.10.16

Merton 2-7 Nottingham University Oilers

Following two very unfortunate and undeserved cup defeats in three weeks, Merton went into yet another cup game on Saturday against Nottingham University Oilers. Despite knowing the quality of the opposition, the Boars approached the match in good spirits, eager to take their last chance at a  cup run this season.

Unfortunately they never really got going, and found themselves 1-0 down within minutes of the kick-off following quick, intricate build up play from the opposition. It was a pace of play that, in truth, Merton struggled to keep up with for most of the first half, and although at times looking like they might grab a foothold in the game, ended up 3-0 down at the break with few arguments offered.

That being said, it is a testament to the spirit and burgeoning togetherness of the group that words at half time were calm rather than angry and encouraging instead of critical. An improved early second half performance saw, after conceding a fourth goal, Merton get one back as Ben Cook – who shrugged off a back injury to play a good spell in midfield – lofted a lovely ball over the top of the defence that Wilgo put away with aplomb. A birthday goal for the Merton captain.

A reshuffle of the team due to injury then saw the Boars rather lose their shape for the remainder of the game, and caution was well and truly thrown to the wind. Three more goals were conceded before Glenn pulled another back with a wonderfully creative / incredibly lucky (depending on who you ask) cross-come-shot that was planted in the top corner. Further chances to add some respectability to the score-line were spurned after yours truly missed a difficult header from a great Wilgo cross and then five minutes later somehow failed to score from six yards out as the ball was fired across from the right wing. Was I still feeling the effects of having been hit in the bollocks following what can only be described as a valiant, self-sacrificing and brave block in the first half? Who can definitively say? Me, and yes I was.

So, a disappointing result overall against a team that simply outclassed us on the day. Nonetheless, we left with spirits in decent fettle and with determination to kick-start our league campaign next week. Onwards and upwards

Man of the Match: Glenn, who’s goal was considered “genius” by enough people to win him the honour

Dick of the day: Me, mostly for the miss, partly for getting hit in the bollocks

7s vs Crouch End Vampires – 22.10.16

22 October 2016
Report by Martin Quinlan

Merton 7XI v Crouch End Vampire 6th Score 5 – 1

So, a new beginning for Merton with a 7th XI for the 3rd time since 1978-1979, and for those like me, who played in the 1978/79 team! As it happens it was against Crouch End Vampires (CEV).

The team generally turned up on time and it was just a case of working out who played in each position in the classic 4-4-2. One advantage Dan was A providing a goalkeeper, Jon, and the rest of the team seemed to sort itself out through until just before kick-off when we had to do a quick reshuffle.

My preparation was also hampered by trying to find a complete/clean yellow kit, but we ended up starting our new beginnings in Blue.

Once the game started, we soon settled as a team and played some good football with a strong central midfield pair of David and Andrew and two youngsters Billy and Emmanuel the wing. The defence was solid: Femi, Dan, Tom and Martin, which meant Jon in goal had little to do, and Malcolm and Scott up front. We created several chances before finally breaking the deadlock after about 20 minutes with a good move finished by Emmanuel. For the rest of the half we were on top, even making 2 subs. We scored 2 further goals: a header from David G, and a shot from Scott.

At half time we made further changes which initially set us back a bit as we took time to settle again and Crouch End Vampires did find their feet a bit. Once we did settle we did play well again and scored again with a goal – Billy off Malcolm; a father and son scoring in the same match.

We were then forced into changes after a clash of heads between Dave G and a CEV player; both having to go off. Since CEV only had 11 players we loaned them Emmanuel for a few minutes. Scott scored a cracking second goal or was it a cross? However I wasn’t watching as I was considering further changes. CEV did get a consolation goal.

In general it was a good team performance although there are things to work upon, as we did get overrun a bit in midfield at times, however CEV did play a very attacking formation.

Many thanks to Ed Plaistow and Mike Todt for refereeing, however you are better as players! Big up to Emmanuel for helping CEV briefly; in fact he played for 3 teams on the day, none in yellow, and also to CEV for coming down from North London and staying for a few drinks.

If we are added to the league the opposition will be tougher in most cases and we will even get to play our 6s for second time in just over eleven years. However, Saturday represented a great start, and a perfect launchpad for this new-look team.

Team: Jon T., Femi S., Tom R, Dan A., Martin Q., Emanuel, David G., Andrew D., Billy G., Malcolm K., Scott S.
Subs: Dusan B., Tiago C.

Goals: Scott 2, Emanuel, David & Billy
Miss of the day Dave with sore head

We didn’t do MOM & DOD this week but will in further weeks.

5s vs South Bank Cuzco – 22.10.16

For those of you who regularly visit the flying fives’ reports to read about how much we’ve won by in the following week, look away now.
It had been 2 weeks since we had played as Polytechnic 9s unhelpfully called off last week. We played today like we had taken the two weeks off and gone to Ibiza, pulling an all-nighter before finally returning back to our home of Merton with puke down our shirt, blinded by the sunlight and still trying to find our friend named “Doug”. It was a performance that was reminiscent of last year, and one that we must be focused on reversing in the next game.
Their first goal saw the oppo player run onto a bouncing ball from just outside the 18 yard box. With Lenners committed, the player lobbed him from the left hand side to make it 1-0 after approximately 25 – 30 mins. Shortly after, they capitalised on a bit of luck. An attempted through ball hit our player and rebounded kindly to their player, who hit a lovely strike from 25 yards out that he won’t do again anytime soon. The third was also a happy blend of catastrophic & unlucky. A slide tackle to block the cross rebounded off our defender, hit their player and fell kindly in the box. A good cross ended up at the feet of their striker, who scuffed what should have been an easy tap in. As the ball painfully slowly approached the line, Steve Birchall got to the ball and went to clear. Unfortunately, the clearance hit Lenners on the back of the head and went in for Lenners’s second own goal of the season. Despite the luck attributed to goals 2 and 3, they deserved the 3-0 lead at half time.
The second half started a little better, with Merton calving out our first half chances of the day. The game was marred, however, by an incredibly unfortunate, serious looking injury afflicted to Tom who was having a very good game at an unfamiliar left back position at the time. We all wish him a speedy recovery, and he will be missed whilst away. The game petered out without much incident after, with both teams creating half chances, however the game ended 3 – 0.
In writing this report, I have realised how refreshing it is to be bitterly disappointed by a defeat where last season it almost felt like an expectation. We have performed incredibly well as a team throughout this season and next week provides us as a shot at retribution against a Poly 8s side that will prove to be tough opposition.

Under 13s vs Old Coulsdon Colts – 23.10.16

Merton FC Vs Old Coulsdon Colts Blazers
This was a league match at home. It was a hard match. They had quite a few players who were very good. We did not play that great in the first half as we did not communicate with each other. We all played a lot better in the second half we pressured and got more stuck in but we did not get tight enough to there players. The score was 2-2.The goal scorers were Keiron and Daniel. Keiron scored an open goal going past the keeper.Daniel scored a goal by a free kick cross by Theo then which lead to a half volley in the six yard box. One of there goals were from a free kick that should of been a foul because they were blocking the keepers sight. There second goal was from a goal kick which went through the midfield and then past the defence then it was a one on one with the keeper and

slots it away. Man Of The Match was Theo are CAM.
Match report by Milo (keeper).

milo

A tribute to a true boar

This weeks edition of the Merton Way is dedicated to Nick Papanastasiou, a true boar who we sadly lost last week in a tragic accident whilst he was on his travels in Vietnam.

Those of us that knew Nick would agree that you will never meet a more happy-go-lucky guy whose big cheeky smile and positivity never failed to lift those around him. The outpouring of love from the 100s of messages and photos posted on his Facebook page are testament to this. “Loyal”, “One of a Kind” “Talented” “Charming” “Energetic” and “Intelligent”, are just a few words that help to paint a picture of the kind of guy he was.

“Nick the rebel – the only one not in a polo shirt! He should have been fined”)
“Nick the rebel – the only one not in a polo shirt! He should have been fined”)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
For someone of his age, Nick was a fountain of knowledge in a wide range of subjects, but undoubtedly his passion was in fitness and nutrition. He spent many hours explaining to me and anyone who would listen the benefits of eating the diet of a caveman and the best ways to “jack” your testosterone levels through exercise and eating animal fats! He is the only player I have ever known to do a 2 hour Olympic lift and squat session the night before a big game, cycle 7 miles from home to the match at the Hood on a Saturday afternoon and still be the freshest player on the pitch. When most players are struggling to walk after a game he would just hop onto his bike, usually to a friend’s BBQ for some meat (no carbs). I would challenge someone to remember a time off the pitch where he wasn’t holding a protein shake or a packet of pre-cooked chicken from Sainsbury’s.

“pre-match squats”
“pre-match squats”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As far as his football goes, Nick could really play – even when he was turning up after a heavy night at Fabric, running on fumes, with only after half an hour sleep! He had excellent movement, a great pass and could find the back of the net when half a chance presented itself. The 3rd of October 2015 springs to mind, where, away to Merton 3’s rivals Old Parkonians, we were approaching half time, when Merton, against the run of play took the lead with Chris P, Nick’s brother playing his part by nudging the goalkeeper (who had run miles out of goal for some reason) off the ball, which then fell to Nick, who still with a lot to do lifted the ball over the stranded keeper from 35-40 yards for a delightful finish to put the Boars 1-0 up at half time. It’s a shame this exquisite goal from Nick wasn’t emulated by the team in the second half and Merton ended up well beaten at 5-1 when the final whistle went. Nonetheless a memorable goal that is etched into the minds of the Merton 3s dream team of 14/15.

“The Merton 3s dream team of 2014/2015, Nick bottom row, second from left”
“The Merton 3s dream team of 2014/2015, Nick bottom row, second from left”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

in-action

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a friend and a teammate he had a great personality, excellent banter and was completely loyal. I’ve shared so many great memories with Nick, the infamous weekend in Berlin, Copenhagen, Skiing in Les Deux Alps, and Flaine to name just a few. He really knew how to live life to it’s full, seek adventure and find the funny side to everything.

On the Merton 2 and 3s WhatsApp group the heartfelt tributes in response to the premature loss of our friend has been overwhelming and it’s clear that Nick will be sorely missed. His bother Chris has expressed a wish to do something within the club to commemorate Nick at some point in the future but in the meantime we will be holding a minute’s silence before all games on Saturday as a mark of respect.

Last week we lost a brother, a great friend, a teammate and a true boar. Let’s show our respect by going out there this week and making him proud. We will observe a minute’s silence before all games at the weekend as a mark of respect.

I’m going to miss ya buddy

Tom Benham