With no Clowesy or Cookie, Joe Grew looked set to partner Pearcey at CB, only for a late call up to the 1s to scupper that plan. Rayner and Wilgo had already been moved to the 1s earlier in the week, giving the reserves squad something of an unfamiliar look this week. Mike Stone (a centre midfielder still battling the label of CB Gresty gave him 18 months ago) moved to CB in a back four of Murphy, Pearcey, Stoney and Welch, with Sherbs jetting in on the morning of the game from Antigua to reclaim goalkeeping duties. Big Dave Scott and (former) lucky charm Alberto started at CM, with DK and Ian Evans out wide. DQ and JT continued their always ever older forward partnership, with Emmanuel and new recruit Adam on the bench. A family full of eccentrics, some might say. Sadly, rumours of a Lofty return proved unfounded, but we hope to see him back soon.
DOTD: Connor Murphy, whose ongoing feud with the opposition winger saw the referee threaten to send them both to the children’s playground where they belong. I really wish he had, it would have been brilliant. An amateur league version of being sent to the stands.
Merton 1-2 Carshalton
For a somewhat beleaguered 4s outfit, who’d won just once in their last 6 games, the prospect of table-topping Carshalton seemed a grim one – particularly after last week’s poor defeat to relegation rivals Old Wilsonians.
Nevertheless, a strong-looking squad diligently did their warm ups, waiting patiently for the men in green to arrive. And they waited. And they waited some more. Eventually they sauntered up the King George’s ‘turf’ 20 minutes late, protesting that they’d been sent the wrong venue by Merton’s fixtures secretary. Apparently the ref had seen evidence of this misleading email too. Merton were dubious (justifiably so in the end, as Mark Chappell later confirmed in the clubhouse). But it meant, at the time, that the Yellows had to let things be, and start the game at Carshalton’s leisure.
Perhaps that added extra inspiration though, because Merton started the game with a bang. With the sun and the wind at their backs, the hosts were simply all over the oppo. On a pretty poor surface, they were playing it on the deck, using the wings and barely letting Carshalton get a kick. Will’s return was hugely notable, and his impact was profound. And upfront, Mike Vogt was simply excellent, making incisive runs and putting in plenty of delightful through balls.
The breakthrough was fortunate, but no more than Merton deserved. A tame ball appeared to have been safely gathered by their keeper. But with barely anyone watching – other than a prowling Sonny – he coughed it up out of nowhere. A gleeful Sonny pounced, and slammed it home into an empty net. 1-0, delight for Merton.
The next 20 minutes were a contrast of high quality and frustration. Merton didn’t just carve out chances. They carved out great chances. Sonny later found himself one on one with the keeper on the edge of the box, but blazed over. Frankie, in a similar position, then forced an incredible save from their keeper. And then later Frankie found himself with a free header at the far post, but unfortunately steered it wide from point blank.
There were some other decent chances too, and on another day, Merton would have been out of sight. But failing to take your chances often can come back to haunt you, and it did so here just before the break – albeit in desperately unfortunate circumstances. An incoming ball was missed by both attacker and defender. Kieran, who initially took a knock, bravely got up and hacked away what seemed like a decent clearance. Sadly, it struck Will in the mid section, and ricocheted into the path of the Carshalton striker, handing them an equaliser on a silver platter. Outrageously unjust, no one to blame, but whichever way you cut it, the score was 1-1.
A disbelieving Merton trundled off for the half time interval, incandescent that their best performance in recent memory had yielded so little fruit. But now was the time to make it count. With the wind now in their faces, could they do it?
From the get go, the intensity never dropped. Yes, Carshalton grew into the game, began to enjoy the lion’s share of possession and spent the greater amount of time in the Merton half. But so solid was Merton’s shape, and so relentless was their work rate, that this scribe barely remembers Kieran having a save to make.
Yes, he had some good interventions with the occasional parry here and there, came off his line well; while Carshalton also skewed a few long range shots. But the best chance of all actually came at the other end.
Merton won a free kick. The delivery caused havoc in the area, with Mike eventually flicking it on to Dan Gridley, who was just a few yards out. Unfortunately with the rising ball on the bounce, his shot just cleared the cross bar, and it stayed 1-1.
And with about 10 minutes to go, the sucker punch came. A throw in was flicked on to a Carshalton player, but it seemed fairly harmless with the lad a good few yards outside the area. Alas, he lashed it home into the bottom left corner, leaving Kieran no chance at all. 2-1 Carshalton, and absolutely cruel on Merton.
But in keeping with their performance, they never gave up. With 5 minutes to go, a stricken Dom came on for Mike, as they threw everyone forward. And in the dying seconds, a through ball scuttled it’s way through to Sonny. He carried it forward into the box and was one on one with the keeper. Surely….
No. It just wasn’t to be. Sonny did everything by the book, sending it low and to the keeper’s right. But somehow, with perhaps the power of some Deity looking down, the keeper thwarted it.
And that was it. The final seconds ticked by, the final whistle went, and Merton had to leave the field digesting one of the most unjust defeats you’ll probably ever see. But they also did so with their heads held high. It dawned on them that they’d just outplayed a team who are running away with the league. This is how the Merton 4s know they can play. So can they do it in the rematch against Wilsonians next week? If they do, then three points will almost be guaranteed.
Team: Kieran Lee (GK), Ed Plaistow, Mike Todt, Chris Outred, John Gridley, Will Harrison, Akram Choudhary, Michael Vogt, Frankie Kaligorou, Sonny Kennedy, Aaron Loftus
Subs: Joe Plumridge, Dom Plumridge, Dan Gridley
Lloyds Warren Res (A) 12/12/2016
Lloyds Warren Res (H) 21/01/2017
I was trying to find out what the ballyhoo Lloyds Warren stood for exactly and, aside from a bunch of pages dedicated to amateur football scores, the main results seemed to concern opinions as to why the not un-rich octegenarian Warren Buffet should buy Lloyds Banking Group. It’s because, apparently, the bank with the horse is very much the UK version of Wells Fargo. I bring this up because:
A) I well like the movie Fargo
B) We had to go well far to play Lloyds Warren in the first of a double-header separated only by over a month, Christmas, New Year, two football matches (one cancelled), and the general downfall of western civilisation.
Still, unbeknownst of our fate we ploughed on to Beckenham for the first fixture, this time mercifully without Chris Rayner chirping about how some dogs can run as fast as trains. The squad, what with it being December and the Herbert working season, was shorn of quite a few of its talents. Willgoss, for example, was combing his ginger mane; Cookie was retired/suspended/still in Infernos; Dan Kelly was recreating Apocalypse Now; and Ryan Noble-Gresty was trying to fix his ankle using sticky-back plastic, Smash, and cheese strings. He didn’t make the second fixture either so we can only assume he failed.
Anywho, we had a great match didn’t we? All blood, sweat, and the aging gears of Jason Thomas pounding the ground up-front like Paul Pearce pounds the ladies in Magaluf: a lot of effort, a red face, quite a bit of tutting before eventually scoring largely due to the ineptitude of someone else.
In this case, that someone else was DQ, dummying missing the ball at the near post after some excellent work by Glenn down the right. Glenn, of course, is less than half big Jase’s age, and almost exactly four times younger than the combined age of the front two. The JT/DQ partnership created a geriatric record bettered only in the second match against Lloyds Warren by Merton Reserves’ very own Statler and Waldorf playing up top again.
It was a tough old win in fairness, the 1-0 victory courtesy of some stoic defending and the combative midfield presence of Big Dave Scott and Slightly Smaller Mike Stone. We left with our heads, and Conor Murphy’s magnificent facial hair, held high.
And then we waited. Hours passed into days and long nights. Winter came and bit the soil. Dan Kelly returned from south east Asia. There he’d watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. He said it was his dream, his nightmare: crawling, slithering along the edge of a straight razor. Then he remembered that ‘Nam was years ago, pulled himself together and dug his heel into Merton’s turf.
‘How’s the ice, Dan, gone yet?’
‘I love the smell of Deep Heat in the morning. Smells like victory.’
‘Yes, but is the pitch playable?’
‘Some day this war’s gonna end.’
‘I’ll just ask the ref.’
The ref, diminutive but excellent, responded in the affirmative and despite the efforts of Jack Frost and the protestations of the whinny git of a manager that seemed to accompany Lloyds Warren this time around, a match was afoot.
It was a pretty stupid match for at least the first ten minutes. 22 grown men prancing around literally like Bambi on ice struggling for grip.
Struggling for a different kind of grip altogether was Lloyds’ manager, suggesting that slide tackles should not be allowed, making about 37 first-half substitutions, and regularly annoying his captain through the spouting of general nonsense. None of this prevented Lloyds Warren from taking the lead, largely due to a defensive snafu which we’ll politely just blame on the pitch.
The pitch got better, and so did Merton. Alan Clowes, manager for the day and eventual man of the match, organising a solid old Conor/Clowes/Pearce/Alex back four that spent the remaining 80 minutes repelling attacks with such ease it almost suggested the opposition wasn’t very good.
But they were good, Merton Reserves were simply better, equalising before half time with Big Jase slotting home following a through-ball from DQ. Quainton had received the ball from none other than Christopher Rayner, who took his mind off swift canines for long enough to provide a spiffy old corner in the second half which Andrew Holder Ross gleefully headed shouldered home. 2-1. Perhaps it should’ve been more, because plenty of opportunities slipped by, none more notable than Ez, arriving later than his fixture availability messages, but sadly missing the ball altogether.
By the end things were starting to get chilly again and Ez was complaining that his toes were getting ever-so-cold, so the ref’s final whistle was welcome. As were the three points. Six points I mean. Six delicious points against Lloyds Warren Buffet, such is my understanding. Now that’s a return you can bank on. Avoid cliches like the plague, that’s what my Mum always said.
Old Thorntonians away 21/1/17
We turned up for this cup quarter final full of optimism. We were on the back of a good run of results and had a strong squad. Sadly it wasn’t our day.
The pitches were in very good condition but the frost made them very hard and probably only just about playable. As the cliche goes “The same for both sides” and certainly this wasn’t the reason we lost.
We started well and put Old Ts under a lot of pressure resulting in a serious of corners. Woody was sending in some good deliveries and eventually one was shouldered home by Chaz. We continued to flow forward and one particularly good move saw a great cross from Van that Jonny just couldn’t get on the end of. 2-0 with our backs up could of seen us run away with the tie but equally we could of easily prevented their two goals.
A poor clearance was followed by some poor tracking and then finished off with a poor tackle. A poor team effort. This left their, very unpleasant, left winger free to send in his cross. Unfortunately his cross turned into a fluke that sailed into the far top corner. A few minutes later and we were 2-1 down. A long throw was flicked on to their centre forward who had the freedom of the six yard box and he smashed home.
Then came a mad few minutes. Some handbags escalated from nothing into two people being sent off for punches in a matter of minutes. Both reds were entirely justified but out of keeping with the rest of the game. Once everyone had calmed down, their manager and bar man had left the pitch, the last five minutes of the half were played out with no further incident.
The second half consisted of us applying lots of pressure, but perhaps without too much invention, and Old Ts defended it very well. Despite our pressure we couldn’t find the equaliser and the game ended 2-1.
The result was compounded by the aforementioned very unpleasant left winger, who was their man to see red, spending the second half stood on the sideline abusing our players and offering to “smash in” anyone who answered back. An unnecessary embarrassment for Old Ts who other than him were a well organised, fair and hospitable club.
The poor result coupled with the red cards made for a pretty depressing afternoon which isn’t what we look forward to all week.
Onwards and upwards.
Line up: Siri, Kearnsey (TR 70), Chaz, Clappers, Rat, Sam, Woody (Tills 80), Tills (Jonny 60), Jonny (Browner 45), Bosh, Van
Today’s results were pretty mixed, but the 1s led the way, getting back on the horse with an excellent 2-1 win over Ibis. Tilley and Elz with the goals after going 1-0 down. 2s had a day to forget, going down 4-0 with Sherbs MoM…Brilliant stuff from the 3s, who had an excellent 2-0 win at Old Wilsonians. The 4s put in an inspired display, going down 2-1 to table-topping Carshalton. A few chances went abegging, but a good performance. The 5s pulled off a comprehensive 5-0 win over HSBC, with Andy Bitmead smashing a hat trick. The 6s went down 7-2 to a strong Old Sutts team in the Cup. No game for the 7s this week. Well done all round chaps!
More pics from the day at Joseph Hood. Pic 1 features 1s mom Rat, captain and first goalscorer Tilley, and Elz the match winner! Good win lads..notably the 1s DoD Chris Rayner, not in the pic but has banked a quick pint for next week!
Twos Mom and DoD also pictured…Connor won Dod after being told by the ref to go and play in the childrens playground…a first….
Today’s results (very belated).
The 1s unfortunately went down 2-1 in a ‘spicy’ cup game against Old Thorntonians. 2s pulled off a good 2-1 win, with goals from Jase Thomas and Andy Holder Ross. 3s went down 4-2 on one of the dodgy WCE pitches, while the 4s went down by the same score line on another. 5s, 6s and 7s games all called off on account of frozen pitches, and/or oppo failing to gather a team. Perhaps not the best set of results, but once again a good turnout at the Hood for apres footy.
The first game of 2017 for the 4s finally came to pass, albeit with a bit of pitch shuffling required. Ambitiously scheduled to play at the Hood, the fixture against fellow relegation rivals Old Wilsonians was then moved to the delightful Wimbledon Common Extensions. However, upon arrival, the designated pitch was truly awful. Fortunately, there were an array to choose from, and after various inspections, play was declared possible on the furthest one, which was bathed in sunlight.
Onto the game then, and the Merton squad looked a good one, with only a couple of notable absentees. The formation was a sort of 4-5-1, albeit with a few nuances to it. Anyway, with the sun at their backs, sporting an AC Milan-style kit (with very ‘snug’ shorts), Merton faced the kick off in a confident mood, and immediately had the ascendancy in the game. Despite the poor surface, there was some good passing on the deck, and Aaron and Mike Vogt were providing excellent outlets on either side.
Chances and half chances came thick and fast, and Merton deservedly took the lead about 15 minutes in, with some good buildup in the midfield, and then a fine through ball sending Mike Vogt on his way. He still had plenty to do, but his finish in the top right corner of the net was pinpoint. 1-0 to Merton, and no more than they deserved.
The lads continued to work hard, but a cruel blow was struck soon after. Wilsonians hit a ball down the left-hand touchline which went out by a good few yards, before curling back in. Merton understandably stopped, in expectation of the throw. But the ref, who hadn’t seen it, waved play on. A brief shambles in the box ensued, before a blocked clearance landed at the feet of the fortuitous Wilsonians striker, and he swept it home from point blank.
1-1. An entirely underserved equaliser, but unfortunately it changed the flow of the game. The visitors were suddenly dominant, and Merton, sans an injured Miley Elgar, were under the cosh. There was an air of inevitability about the second, although, credit to Wilsonians, it was an excellent team goal, finished off clinically between their two strikers, who shared an impressive exchange of passes.
2-1, and the worry was that the floodgates may open. But with a little over five minutes to go in the half, Merton were handed a lifeline out of nowhere. Having been under a lot of pressure, they produced an excellent team move, and after a series of Barcelona-esque passes, Aaron was put through on goal, and dabbed home in clinical fashion. 2-2; a fine goal to boot, and it gave Merton a wave of confidence as they finished the half strongly.
The chat was positive at half time – something that wasn’t necessarily the case during the game itself – and there was genuine belief that this game was there for the taking. Rightly so, because once play got underway, Merton made a number of chances for themselves: Ed with a good run down the byline put in a dangerous ball, but no one could finish. Frankie put a powerful header just over the bar. And while Aaron’s deliveries were superb, it was an attempted direct free kick which nearly found its way in at the near post.
But for all their chances, Merton weren’t necessarily dominant, and Wilsonians were very much in the game too. And unfortunately it was they who made it count, as, midway through the half, Merton were unable to clear their lines after an oppo counter attack, and Wilsonians lashed home a resultant shot that bounded into the net, despite Kieran getting a good hand on it.
3-2 it was, and it’s fair to say the heads dropped somewhat. That said, Merton kept going, and a couple of good chances, and many more half chances, continued to accrue. Merton gave as good as they got. With a little under 10 minutes to go, the hosts then had little choice but to go for broke, eventually going with three at the back. Initially, it gave them good forward thrust, but it left them open at the back, and the killer blow arrived a few minutes later. With a massive overlap, the Merton defenders initially did well to close their opponents down. But the interception fell kindly to a Wilsonians players, and he put it away into the bottom corner.
4-2, and that’s how things stayed, with the game petering out, and no clear cut opportunities thereafter. As the final whistle went, there was a clear sense of disappointment in the ranks. This was a relegation 6 pointer, and Merton had come off on the wrong end of it. More than that, it was a day where, despite a woeful pitch, they had actually played some decent football at times. Thus all the more frustrating to not get a result. Hopefully though, the good things get taken into next week. They’ll need to, because Carshalton lie in wait!
Team: Kieran Lee (GK), Ed Plaistow, Mike Todt, Joe Plumridge, John Gridley, Mikey Elgar, Chris Outred, Michael Vogt, Sonny Kennedy, Aaron Loftus, Dom Plumridge
Subs: Frankie Kaligorou, Joe Vaughan, Bill
Merton 3s v Old Owens 3s – 1:2
With Merton 3s embroiled in a relegation battle and playing the team directly above them in the table, this was considered to be a crucial and winnable game, especially given that the 3s won a hard fought game against the same opposition (or so we thought) earlier in the season.
With the inclement weather ruling all but one pitch at The Hood out of action, this match was switched on Saturday morning to Wimbledon Common Extensions (WCE). Arrangements were put in place to ensure that everyone could get to WCE in time for the 1pm meet. Unfortunately though, things did not go to plan as an accident on the A3 significantly delayed Neal’s arrival, but to add to it, he was transporting Mustard, Denys, Chris (returning for his first competitive game this season) and crucially, the kit. Denys spotted an opportunity to depart from the static car and use an overhead bridge to take the kit to the waiting team, who were no doubt also missing the delights of the pre-match Motown playlist. Everyone had arrived by 1.40 and the team was able to get onto the pitch in time for a quick warm up and team talk ahead of kick off. Walshy was keen to stress that we needed to be aware of the sticky pitch and to not take any chances on it. Oh how we should have heeded his words….
The opposition, whom appeared to have none or possibly just 1 player from the reverse fixture, kicked off. However within a minute, a Walshy through ball had put Glenn through with a good opportunity. Similar to how Andrew Cole took his first chance for Man Utd on his debut v Blackburn Rovers in January 1995, Glenn lashed at it and the ball went high, wide and not so handsome past the near post. Good positive start though we thought; we’re going to be able to cut this team apart! One minute later, we were a goal down. The sticky pitch had either caused Jack to get his foot stuck in the mud or caused the ball to bounce differently to what he expected. Either way, he didn’t connect with the ball and a routine ball forward by Old Owens had found it’s way straight through the defence to allow their striker a clear run on goal to round Dan B and slot home. On reflection, not such a great start.
Within five minutes, it was 2-0. Neal played the ball to Mustard in centre midfield and the sticky pitch had claimed its second victim as Mustard was unable to move the ball out of his feet, was disposed and within a few passes, Old Owens had created another goal scoring opportunity and scored it. Poor Dan B must have been feeling Claudio Bravo at this point, 2 shots, 2 goals.
We needed to get a grip of the game and started to do so, led by the hard working Neal (Streetboy) Davison in the middle of midfield. Merton were awarded a free kick midway inside the opposition’s half, near the touchline. Judging by the week before, this was definitely within Dan Rist shooting territory. Dan, probably conscious that the opposition keeper would have heard of his wonder goal exploits from the week before, elected to cross the ball instead and found a stooping (or perhaps stumbling?) Walshy, whom guided the ball home with his head to make it 2-1. He was very excited and celebrated with a few fist pumps of sort and it was now game on.
Merton 3s being a single goal behind is definitely something that we’re used to, coming back to get the points from this position, we’re not used to so much, although we had done it against this club’s 3s earlier this season, so there was definitely room for optimism.
Getting the goal had inspired us further and we started to play better and created a few chances, one with Glenn putting a great ball in for Denys, who didn’t seem to fancy taking a shot, which allowed the defender in to make a tackle. Another opportunity saw Iain through on goal, but from a wide angle, which prompted him to try and chip the keeper but he couldn’t get enough elevation on it to go above the keeper. As the game progressed, some challenges were getting a little tasty and the opposition also had some lively chat, including some very witty banter, such as referring to Vin as a JCB and Walshy as a “long streak of p*ss”.
In the second half, the game petered out a little and there wasn’t a great deal in terms of goal mouth action. The opposition did hit the post, Dan B made a great save with his legs and he also took the opportunity to have a wholesome laugh at their striker’s attempted overhead kick, where he’d failed to connect with the ball. We brought on Joe Squires and Chris Pap to try and find a different way of breaking them down but we were unable to test their keeper. There was still time for Mustard to be penalised for a foul throw (although the author definitely disagrees with the decision) and after receiving a long throw from Iain in the penalty box in the last minute, to be accused of diving after going down under pressure – the general consensus was that if it had occurred anywhere else on the pitch it would have been a foul. However as it wasn’t given, it was determined to be a dive by the players and adding that to the foul throw, the lateness and being involved in the opposition’s second goal, Mustard had no doubt cemented his position as DOTD – not a good day.
The game finished 2-1, which is the seventh time this season that Merton 3s have lost by the odd goal. At times we’ve been unlucky, other times the opposition have simply been better, we’ve always been competitive but there are areas as a team we can improve on, such as better levels of fitness, tracking back more, increased availability and a bit more composure, especially when it comes to finishing. All of these things are within our gift to work on and they could be the difference between losing the game by the odd goal, to winning the game by the odd goal.
Team: Dan Bridgeman, Dan Rist, Jack Rowe, Vincenzo Di Matteo, Walshy, Iain Evans, Neil Davison, Mustard, Glenn Pittman, Darren Fitzgerald, Denys Zhurbiy. Subs: Chris Papastanasiou, Joe Squires
DOTD: Mustard (for a foul throw and alleged dive).
14 January 2017
Merton 7XI v Old Salesians 3rd Score 7 – 1
After snow on the Thursday, we half expected the game to be called off, however with hard work behind the scenes and moving the game to the wonderful Wimbledon Common Extension, the game was going to be played.
Typical of WCE the traffic on the A3 was very bad and whilst we managed to get most of the team there on time along with the referee unfortunately Old Sales were late, which gave us time to watch the 3rd team play!
The game kick off about 20mins late with a slight change to the normal back line, we started strongly and soon were creating chances which there keeper managed stop. This cause a slight worry as Old Sales began to gain in confidence and they were playing some good football yet our defence line, which included Scott, along with the Midfield held tight and Mike G in goal only make a few simple stops. Were those early miss going to cost us.
We did eventually make a break through with a good goal by Malcolm K., we then took some control and a couple of goals from George B, whilst Malcolm K took a rest (sorry gave a sub a run). This did stop Old Sales and there good football eventually broke through our defence and they finally scored.
In the second half we needed to make our dominance count since we have a habit of conceding two goals a game and we soon did score a 4th by Callum, followed shortly by a second goal from Malcolm K. and a hat trick from George B. We made further substitution and whilst Old Sales didn’t lay down they did create a few chance with Mike G make a good save we did have advantage of the slight slope.
We created several more chance and from a rare corner Dave G. hit the cross and shortly afterwards he also hit the same spot form the 18 yards, he was thinking it wasn’t going to be his day, Dave G connected with a pass a hit a shot from 25 yards.
We managed to not conceded, so apart from the first game against Carshalton, we didn’t conceded two goals and we now a positive goal difference if only for a week, as we face Carshalton next weekend and being the second highest scoring time in the division.
MOM – David Goulding for his strong work in the midfield
DOD – Nobody had a bad game although Tom Roberts was nearly 20 Minutes late and possible Malcolm for having to borrow a pair of gloves to play the game.
Mike G., Scott S., Dan A., Tom J., Martin Q., Billy G., David G., Malcolm K., Callum F., Jon T., George B., with Trey M., Tom R. and Noor E. starting on the bench