Category: Match Reports 1s

1s vs Polytechnic – 06.01.18

W e were home to Polytechnic in the cup which in fact involved us playing away at their ground because
the Hood was very wet.
We had a strong squad of 14. Everyone was there in plenty of time, which doesn’t mean on time for Jonny
and Chaz, but still in plenty of time. The pitch was in good condition and the sun was out. What could go
wrong?
We started well against a div 1 side who won the treble last year. They had us under pressure but we were
defending well. That quickly ended. Harrison fluffed a clearance against their midfielder which put him
clear behind our back line. Siri looked at him approaching, thought about coming, looked at him again,
thought about coming again, looked for a third time and then came. By now it was a 50/50 which ended
with the midfielder being upended and the ref awarding a penalty. Probably the only time in Siri’s everyday
life that he wished he’d come early.
Our stuttering star redeemed himself with a fantastic double save and we lived to fight another day. But
not for long!
About 15 minutes in Poly had yet another corner which again was brilliantly delivered. They hit the post
and then there was a goalmouth scramble which ended with a very hard shot from about four yards out.
I was stood on the line and instinctively lent towards the ball and then even more instinctively bent my
elbow, which the ball then hit. Penalty number two and a red card for me!
Siri didn’t save this one.
The rest of the half was a fantastic rearguard action. Browner stepped into centre back to superbly cover
both the loss of me and the seeming loss of Harrison’s ability. To be fair this was his first bad game in a
Merton shirt. Van dropped well in to right back, a sign of the future, and everyone ran their socks off. At half
time it was still just the 1-0 and we felt confident of more of the same in second period.
Unfortunately this confidence lasted no more than five minutes. Poly scored their second and the third
came a minute or two later. Not great times to concede and that was effectively our afternoon over.
Jimbo, Crusher, Jordan and Charlie ran themselves into the ground. Sam had a perfectly good goal disal-
lowed. Jonny and Charlie got clear a couple of times but couldn’t allude the Poly keeper . Glenn, Chaz and
Wilgo all came off the bench with the sort of enthusiasm that identifies true Merton men. Three or four
goals down with only 10 men but on they all bounded and made good contributions. Once piece of skill by
Glenn was roundly applauded by the Poly bench.
The game finished 6-0 but weirdly most left the field pleased with their performances and heads held high.
Team: Siri, Browner, Harrison, Clappers, Jordan, Jimbo, Crusher, Sam, Van, Charlie, Jonny. Subs: Glenn, Wilgo,
Chaz.
MOTM: Browner. DOTD: Clappers

1s vs Norseman – 25.11.17

Merton FC 2

Norseman 0

So after last weeks successful trip to North London, the 1s returned home looking to build on the back of an excellent all round performance.

Norseman were a team who had been promoted the season before and similar to Merton, have had an up and down campaign lying just below the home side in the league.

The 1s couldn’t call upon last Saturday’s man of the match, Chaz. Missing out due to injury and unfortunately won’t be available for selection until closer to the New Year. On top of this both Vanny and Rat also were away this weekend, which led to a few changes and some new faces.

Florian and Hens both called up for their first appearances of the season, with the former starting on the right wing and Hens making an impact from the bench.

After switching to 4-4-2 at Old Fincheians, it was back to Clappers’ go to formation of 4-3-3, looking to win the battle in midfield and provide support for Charlie up top on his own.

Certainly, the coldest fixture of the season so far for the boys, with Harrison warming up in a large overcoat and big woolly hat; but they’d soon warm up running around on a heavy surface at the Hood.

The first half was very much a war of attrition, with neither side wanting to hand over any sort of advantage to the opposition. The away side looked to put some pressure on the Merton back four with the best play coming from their centre mids and a marauding centre half. However, they never created any clear chances as the home side again demonstrated why they have the best defence in the league. Browner showing he’s a fully converted full back winning his headers and getting up and down the wing well, the same could be said for Jordan on the left who linked well with Johnny and was able to start a number of Merton attacks. Not to mention the great effort and running in midfield from Craig Usher who displays similarities of the Duracell bunny.

Overall, the first 45 minutes was a tale of poor quality in the final third and a number of very niggly fouls across the pitch. No surprises it was 0-0 heading into the break.

After a positive team talk at half time from Clappers, the boys knew the game was for the taking, needing to keep better possession of the ball and continue to frustrate the opposition.

Despite Norseman coming out for the second half positively, it would be Merton who broke the deadlock on the 55th minute mark. The home side had had some success last weekend with set pieces and their opener made it look all too easy. A free kick near the half way line was lobbed to the back post by Jimbo (no sign of the hat this week) finding Clappers unmarked with a great header back across goal for Charlie to grab his fourth in as many games from 2 yards out.

It was a great time to take the lead but there was a lot of time left and the away side felt they were well in with a chance just the one behind. The next goal would be crucial.

And it would be the boys in yellow who not long after taking the lead would double their advantage. Maybe no surprise that it was from a dead-ball situation, but there were plenty of shocked faces in the manner of how it came. A freekick just over 20 yards out, with Jimbo stood over the top of it, who the week before had something similar and let’s just say the ball is still rising. However, this week the result would be emphatic as a crisp strike saw the ball serve and fly into the top corner in off the post. TOP BINS!

An excellent way to pull further clear of Norseman and take away a lot of their sprit. The remaining half an hour saw a far more open game, with credit to Siri who made a number of great saves down to his right to keep Merton’s advantage to two. Hens came off the bench to provide a really solid outlet on the right-hand side and no shock that Charlie was industrious in his running, even helping out in defence.

Unfortunately, the game ended on a slightly sour note, with Norseman having a player sin binned for the last 10 and another booked for a shocking tackle on Charlie. Yet nothing would spoil another fantastic team display and yet more 3 points for the home team who climb to fifth in the table.

Squad: Siri, Browner, Harrison, Clappers, Jordan, Jimbo, Usher, Willow, Florian, Johnny, Charlie, Hens

MOM: Jimbo for the freekick

DOD: Jimbo for celebrating his freekick like Cantona    

1s vs Wandsworth Borough – 11.11.17

1s v Wandsworth Borough AFA Surrey/Kent Cup

We didn’t know what to expect in this game. WB had beaten Old Parks in the last round. Some of my other football friends play for Old Parks and always tell me how good they are. Yikes!

We played really well in the first half and went in at half time 1-0 up. New guy Aaron, well he’s not new because he plays for the 4s but he was new to us but you know what I mean, scored our goal with a cheeky lob. Aaron’s like a younger, better looking, version of me.

I got kicked and pushed over a lot in the first half. I wish Al was still here to look after me.

WB came out much better in the second half and we were nowhere near our first half levels. This meant we were 2-1 down after 20 minutes. We played better in the last 25 minutes but couldn’t break WB down.

I thought I played well but I got DOTD for trying a scissors kick. I’m the only person in the team that could pull this sort of skill off. Well maybe Aaron “the younger, better me” could.

Sorry it’s short but I’m not very funny or great with words.

Ivan Gladkow aged 34 3/4

Team: Siri, Rat, Harrison, Clappers, Browner, Jimbo, Crusher, Sam H, Me, Charlie, Aaron. Subs: Will Low and Chaz

1s vs Old Finchleians 18.11.17

1s Match Report – 18th Nov 2017 – Away vs Old Fincheians FC

Another away game in very north London. There are always a few complaints about the 1.5 hr travel time, but I’m pretty sure that in reality no one has anything better to do. And it allows the potential for a multi-stop stop drinking tour on the way back down the Northern Line if a win eschews, so its hardly all bad. A strong incentive to get a victory if ever I heard one.

After 20 minutes of Arsenal vs Spurs in the host’s bar, we headed to get ready. In an oddly coloured light-pink dressing room, Clapper’s decided an old-fashioned 4-4-2 was the way to go on a narrow, long pitch. Chaz got his wish to start up-front as part of a heavy weight combination with Charlie, but one that has more pace than you would expect looking at them. Rather than try to match the strength of their big, blond lad in central midfield, the decision was taken to back the agility and dancing skills of the sub-6 foot duo of Big-Hat Jimbo and Usher (yeah, yeah). They would have to cover the ground of the usual 3 men between them.

We spent the team talk reminding ourselves of how to play 4-4-2, a formation that has nose-dived out of fashion to a similar level as Clapper’s wardrobe. I was a little sceptical about the plan. But in fairness, it worked very nicely indeed in the first half. Their centre backs, maybe used to marking one upfront most of the season, could not handle our front two. They were able to receive balls to feet/ chest, turn and slot through balls into either one another or the wingers. At the other end, the old man defence (average age 34, even with mid-twenties cube-head that is Harrison it in) was holding out well enough, aided by Jordan playing more like a left wing back at times and covering an awful lot of very wet ground in the process.

An early one on one chance was spurned by Charlie after an excellent Chaz turn and through ball, but we eventually got our deserved lead. A hard, low cross from the right by someone was met by a sliding threesome (and it was an excellent day for a slide) of Charlie, Jordan and one of their defenders. Jordan is honest enough to admit it was not him that got on the end of it, Charlie is not, but I think we all know that it was the defender that actually applied the tidy finish. About ten minutes later and we were two up: a splendid free kick delivery to the far post from Big-Hat Jimbo was pulled back by a sliding Chaz to arrive at Clappers feet who duly slotted it away.

Half time was spent reminding ourselves that we had put in a similarly good first half the previous week and ended up losing. Perhaps as a result, we scored a third shortly after the break when Jordan put away another good right wing cross. But we had only delayed the on-set of complacency and in a 15 mins period we went from comfortably coasting at 3-0 up to nervously hanging on at 3-2. The first of their goals came from a quick-ish-ly taken corner that arrived at a completely unmarked Finchleian. Siri did well to keep out the initial header but could do nothing about the rebound. No one was eager to admit the lapse of marking, so lets just blame it on Van – it was probably his fault somehow.

Their second was also poor defensively. A high ball should have been cleared, but ended up with their left winger who bore down on goal. Everyone was expecting Rat to throw in a tackle at some point, but it never came – apparently a Shakira standard hip sway from the winger was the cause. The finish into the far post left Siri with little chance.

While it was a bit nervy after that point, we did manage to pull out of the tailspin and actually had the better chances for the rest of the game. With just about the last kick of the ball, a goal shaped cherry was put on top of the cake. Someone did a very good job of closing down the keeper, the attempted clearance rebounded off him and into Charlie’s path, who cooly slotted home. More finishes like that would be appreciated for the rest of the season.

Credit goes to Old Finchleians’ hospitality. The club house does not look up to much. But it has very good hot showers that were thankfully received on a cold, dark, wet day and it serves an excellent tea (sausages, beans, hash browns – a double helping for Chaz, obv). A good start to the multi-stop celebratory drinking tour that duly took place. Pit-stops were taken at Kentish Town and Waterloo before arriving at Earlsfield.

Coming out worse from the drinking games were probably Harrison (who is only slowly getting better at them) and Chaz (not EJ’ing an 8 pint jug early in an evening is really school boy). Someone anointed them as Merton’s Bebop and Rocksteady, and I doubt that duo were very good at drinking games either. Marks also go to (i) Clappers for starting a game of categories with “Numbers under 20, to my right, starting with 20” (Doh!), and (ii) Jordan’s attempted ‘disguise’ so his TfL employers don’t recognise him during the shinangans on the Tube.

Drinking continued with the help of Todt’s birthday celebrations. One of those post-win sessions that ends with everyone slurring how much they love everyone else (or was that just me). Sore heads the next day, but worth it. There is a high quality spirit in the squad at the moment and it feels like this win could be the start of a push up the league as long as the right people keep on making themselves available. So watch this space.

MoM: Chaz. Faced by his towering performance, their centre backs didn’t really know what to do. Could this be the start of a great Merton centre-forward career? A nod goes to Clapper’s two-up front call and to the centre mids for making it work. Jimbo managed to pull out a cracking game after one of the worst training session performances I have seen earlier in the week.

DoD: Browner. 3 votes were enough as no obvious candidates were available. Two votes were harshly given for a foul throw. One much more justifiably for a ludicrous attempted 30 yard full-back to full-back cross-field ball that was beautifully visualised but not so beautifully executed. Don’t think I have ever tried one of those before in a 10+ year Merton career, and I might leave it in the locker for a while after this. But at least you benefit from a semi-literate match report rather than Van struggling to do it again.

 

1s vs The Warren – 04.11.17

Saturday saw the 1’s take on The Warren in the SAL Cup. After a disappointing result the week before it was pivotal for the lads to get back on track with a win against a team struggling in the league below.

Merton dominated possession early on without creating any clear cut chances. The central midfield trio of James, Crusher and the other person that played in midfield got themselves on the ball as frequently as possible and broke up play when required. Woody, playing up top for the first time all season, was industrious with his runs in behind and his physical play in the air. However, the majority of Merton’s good play came out wide. Van, struggling for pace in his old age, relied on guile and experience to beat their below average left back and whip in crosses, and EJ dribbled, dribbled, dribbled and dribbled until he could dribble no more.

Despite having the majority of the play, Merton would eventually fall behind. A cross was whipped in from the right and their striker turned past Harrison’s flailing leg and finished neatly in to the top corner.

Unperturbed by this sudden injustice, the lads continued pushing forward and would eventually get the breakthrough before half time after a smart finish by Van. It’s been a few days since the game so I can’t remember much about the winning goal, however I know Charlie scored it to break his duck for the season and it happened in the second half.
The last 25 minutes saw us sit back and try to sit out the game; a ploy that only worked thanks to the heroics of Siri who made 2 or 3 excellent saves to make sure we could avoid extra time and advance to the next round.

 

MOM – Siri: kept us in the game in the second half

DOD – Harrison: jealousy of my good lucks and talent

1s vs Crouch End Vampires – 28.10.17

Crouch End Vampires 1 – 0 Merton FC

 

This weekend saw the 1s make their third lengthy trip to north London against bottom of the table Crouch End Vampires. The game represented a great opportunity for the lads to gain three points and move up to fourth in the table after a number of decent league performances that so far had only led to five points.

The team welcomed back the likes of Jordan Cox and Harrison Ryle into the starting 11 after missing the game at Oilers and it was a first appearance for Gabby starting on the right wing.

Possibly because of Storm Brian the weekend before, the groundsman clearly hadn’t got round to giving the pitch a well needed trim; as it represented something like Chris Waddle’s mullet back in the 80s.

During the early parts of the first half it was a messy encounter with neither team really getting the ball under control and producing any signs of true quality. Crouch End in particular seemed to set up with no real structure in front of the standard back four, but it meant they were pressing high up the pitch and not allowing Merton to move the ball around in their usual style.

With the game quite frantic, it lead to few chances but without doubt it was the home side that enjoyed the better of play and created the better openings. A number of pop shots from 20 yards not finding the target. However, after a sloppy pass from James Gray in the middle of park just before the half time whistle, the Vampires had a real sight of goal only to be denied by a great last-ditch block from Harrison seeing the ball go wide of the post.

At half time the travelling side knew they had to produce something better if they were going to get anything out of the game. But it wasn’t the worst result to come in at half time 0-0.

The start of the second half certainly saw an improved Merton side who were having better possession in the right areas of the pitch and restricting the home team to very few chances. Much down to the work of Harrison and Rat on the right side of the defence.

On the hour mark, with Merton trying to press down the left channel an interception and subsequent long ball had the away side backpedalling. It was Gray who chased his man into the corner flag but with a rush of blood hacked him down giving a needless freekick; also receiving a yellow card. From the resulting cross it was The Vampires captain who leapt highest, as he had done throughout the game, to header home the opener.

It was real blow for the visitors who had been better in the second half but a fully deserved lead for the home side.

The remaining stages of the game were much more open as Merton pushed for an equaliser and Crouch End playing on the counter attack finding more space.

With around ten minutes to go a great piece of play from Sam Pritchard sees him bring the ball down on his chest and attempt a lob on the volley from the edge of the box. It looked certain to find the net but a great fingertip save onto the underside of the bar kept the Vampires ahead. 

Unfortunately, for the travelling team the game petered out with the result remaining 1-0 to Crouch End who secured their first win of the season.

 

Man of the Match: Harrison Ryle. Made several important challenges

DOTD: James Gray. THAT TACKLE!

 

Line Up: Siri, Rat, Harrison, Clappers, Jordan, Gray, Sam Harvey, Sam Pritchard, Gabby, Ivan & EJ

Subs: Browner and Adam

 

 

1s vs Alleyn Old Boys – 30.09.17

BI weekly catch up part one

 

Woody Misses his penalty, everyone else scores theirs, subsequently gets dotd and then doesn’t write the match report. Harrison still hasn’t learnt about the EC rule and drinks 4 pints for it. 7 before 7 is still a possibility.

Part two

Merton welcomed Alleyn Old Boys to the Hood after dispatching West Wickham in the cup the week before. I feel bad for Simon, scores the winning peno and doesn’t even get a match report to do him justice.If only the glory of him pointing to his stomach after scoring could have been captured.

With everyone on time and Kerns/Siri running late as per, we kicked off holding our own for the first 15 minutes or so. In my time for Merton, I think i’ve only ever conceded one worldie, the amount of penos and shit goals i’ve let in makes me question life sometimes. This game was no different, 1-0 down, ball to the back stick was half cleared and slotted in from about 7 yards out.

Alleyns had a lot of the ball in the half and the penalty to make it 1-1 came out of the blue, blatant push in the back, Sam Harvey slotting it to the keepers right to make it all square. This seemed to push Merton up the gears as the passing got quicker and more direct, this probably led to the second goal, or Sam perfecting his ‘bobble ball’ technique ( just think about Stan Collymore and his goal against Tim Flowers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN2F6WQk8zk)

2-1 and Merton pushing for a third were pegged back almost instantly by Siri imitating his inner Claudio Bravo and coming for a cross that wasn’t really there and subsequently headed into an empty net.  2-2 at half time and Van instantly letting everyone know that Siri went from MOTM last week to DOTD this. Such a team player.

The second half was low in quality, Alleyns defended pretty well and we didn’t really have many clear openings. 15 minutes into the second half Alleyns cut down the left, reserved the ball and delivered an overhit ball to the back stick with their winger did well to knock back into the box straight to their forward who tucked in from 3 yards out.

Merton 1s first loss of the season. All in all a good performance against a pretty good team, but a couple of mistakes costing us. However the style of football has certainly changed from last year, with the long ball being replaced with a more fluid passing style. Carrying on these sort of performances against div 1 teams into the league will see us pushing for promotion/the league.

Motm – Sam Harvey

Dotd – Siri

1s vs Old Lyonians – 16.09.17

MERTON FC 2
Old Lyonians 1

The 1s stepped out at the hood for the first time in the 2017/18 season against an unfamiliar opposition in Old Lyonians. Even more unfamiliar was the position in the front three given to resident American and usual left back Will Kearns, not to mention the encouragement given to Browner to maraud forward when possible.
The men in yellow started well, forcing Lyonians onto the back foot during the opening exchanges. Merton looked assured on the ball with Sam and James working the ball from side to side as we waited for an opening. The persistence paid off when Jonny (who had an excellent game) was fed in by a marauding Browner down the right, after ghosting past his man he squared to an incoming Kearnsy who, favouring the moulded cleat, tapped in for his maiden Merton goal. 1-0. Lyonians struggled as any attempted attack was easily dealt with by Clappers and Harrison at the centre of the Merton defence. We continued to work the ball up the field, and dominated possession in the final third. Chances kept coming as Charlie saw a diving header go narrowly wide, and Kearns just unable sort his feet out to convert a rebound off the keeper. For a period, it seemed Merton were toying with their opposition. The second came from a clever Woody freekick, who fired low into the box for an unmarked Sam to stroke home, 2-0. Wanting to make a game out of it, Merton decided to engage in some haphazard set piece defending, failing repeatedly to clear our lines before their man on the edge of the box scuffed a weak shot past the vision obstructed Siri. ‘We only concede shit goals’ was the cry in the bar afterwards.
The second half began with extensive Merton possession and pressure. This was, however, not converted into chances as we struggled to find the final pass. Van was subbed on for Woody in a like for like midfield dad substitution, with Woody taking over in the Merton Creche, EJ and Robert (benched for their extreme lateness) came on for Jonny and Browner. We poured forward in numbers, special mention to Jordan who once again put in a huge shift, and the defining chance to seal the game eventually came. After a frenetic attack, the ball was eventually squared to Charlie who, swinging a tired right leg, was unable to make contact with the ball with the goal at his mercy. DOD sewn up in one action. Clappers made sure to throw his hat into the ring for DOD by subbing himself on with 30 seconds to go, only to barge over a Lyonian player, giving the opposition a chance to equalise with a dangerously placed free kick inside the Merton final third. The threat was successfully dealt with, and Merton were deserved winners. Overall, a very solid performance early in the season, taking the unbeaten 1s to 4 points from 2 games. The new recruits provided another positive; Harrison looked imperious at the back, while Sam controlled the play in the middle with some smart touches, James marshalled the space in front of the back 4, and EJ and Robert provided spark on the wings.
MOM – Shared between Harrison and Jonny
DOD – Charlie
We look forward to the return fixture later in the season.

1s vs Crouch End Vampires – 01.04.17

A combination of cars, trains, taxis and mums transported the Merton men to Crouch End for their Southern Amateur League semi- nal cup matchup against the Senior Division I, Crouch End Vampires. The winner would earn a date in the nals with Senior Division I leader Polytechnic. The men (with the exception of Woody) arrived to the grounds on time, but before the kit, which was unfortunately stuck in tra c in Max’s car and arrived about half an hour before the scheduled kick-o . The team’s pre-match locker room banter (not to mention youth and style) naturally improved with the absence of Van, who was rumoured to be curling his young boy while posing for pictures at a wedding in Ibiza. The temperature on the day was pleasant, not too hot or cold and the sun shone down on the thick Crouch End pitch, which was spacious. In contrast to the gale force winds faced in Merton’s prior two outings at the Hood, the wind blew just softly enough for Siri’s punts to hang in the air and carry but not strong enough to disrupt play. Kick-o was delayed by around fteen minutes due to the ref and two linesmen’s late arrival. One of the late linesmen, who had a witty sense of humour, came over to Merton’s side to do the pre-match equipment check and ordered Siri to tape over the white of his socks that were showing. How lucky were Merton to have two linesman for this cup semi- nal! Despite the delayed start and team’s sluggishness of late, the Merton men came out strong when the whistle blew. The forwards pressured the Vampires o of the kick-o and nearly created an opportunity on goal early. Clappers’, lling in for a slew of injured central mid elders, played alongside Will Low and Sam in the middle and proved to be a dominant force in the middle, especially in the air. Merton had momentum and the best chances of the rst half. Chaz took a free kick from just outside the upper right edge of the eighteen yard box that hooked around the wall but struck the left post and ricocheted away. To end the half Charlie had a breakaway, but the keeper denied him, pushing the ball behind the goal to the right. Crouch End’s forwards, wingers and playmaker (#10) tried through balls, dummies, switching positions and everything they could muster to crack Merton’s defence but managed little for their e orts. Chaz’s aerial assaults and Kearnsey’s stingy man-marking impressed. It seemed like Merton really wanted this one. To start the second half Kiran replaced Johnny at left wing but otherwise Merton’s line up remained the same. Not long into the second half it became clear that a more sluggish Merton form, similar to their form of late had returned. Crouch End came out with a new level of intensity and dominated possession. A silly foul gave Crouch End a free kick from just outside the Merton eighteen yard box but fortunately for Merton, #10’s strike nearly missed wide left. Shortly after, a through ball slipped past Merton’s central backs to a wide open #9, but Kearnsey ran him down and contained him giving time for the rest of the defence to recover. Merton needed to wake up. Kiran showed ashes of brilliance on the left wing, using his speed to get by the right back on several occasions, and Chaz headed a corner into the right post, his second post of the afternoon. But it was a Crouch End corner with around 10 minutes remaining that crushed Merton’s SAL cup nal hopes. A corner from the left side of the goal bounced into a crowd, inside the six yard box, and the loose ball was knocked into the Merton right corner. Another terrible goal conceded. After the corner Bosher and Woody came on to give Merton a boost of energy, but spirits and energy levels were low. Merton only mustered a few chances in the nal ten minutes, primarily led by Bosher down the right wing. Kearnsey earned a yellow card running down a streaking right back and grabbing his arm in the process. A cheeky, o the ball attempted trip of the Crouch End #9 a few minutes later earned Kearnsey his second yellow, a seat in the locker room for the nal minute of the match and the meaningless second Crouch End goal and dick of the day honours. What a pleasure it is to play with two linesmen, who can see everything! Chaz’s two posts, leadership and stellar defence earned him his second straight man of the match. Honourable mention for man of the match with two votes went to Clappers for his solid play in the middle of the pitch.

MOM: Chaz (2nd week in a row)

DOD: Kearnsey

Starters: Siri, Kearnsey, Connor, Chaz, Browner, Clappers, Will Low, Sam Harvey, Johnny, Charlie, Tom Rowe. Substitutions: Kiran, Woody, Bosh

1s vs Actonians Assoc – 25.03.17

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. In other words, for the second week running it was blowing a gale down at the not-so-fortress Hood.

Brilliant drying conditions for clothes, and indeed football pitches. As a result, the mini-mud peaks and bunkers of the upper pitch had turned into crusty mud divets, the pitch had turned ultra-bobbly. The chances of playing decent football anywhere near the middle of the pitch had evaporated – I would love to see Iniesta and Xavi play their tunes on this particular instrument.

But then the winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator, so one should not complain.

Everyone was largely on time, so well done for that. And congrats to Kearnsy who had celebrated his birthday the night before. A good excuse for turning up bleary eyed, but it is difficult to tell with Kearnsy due to his permanent extra-enthusiamo American exterior. Less so with Charlie, who turned up looking a light shade of green. Meanwhile, on the fashion front, Vanny had decided to finally put his winter denim Bon Jovi outfit into the closet, but had obviously got a bit confused and accidentally pulled out his camp-rodeo comboy outfit. Unfortunately for him, he was the only person to turn up in fancy dress.

You might tell by this stage that I don’t really want to talk about the actual football match. The 1s are heading towards mid-table mediocrity, where the points don’t matter that much. We are not used to this – in the 10+ seasons I have been at the club, we have only been in this position once before. And we don’t seem to be reacting to it well.

But it does allow some room for succession planning. So Clappers started on the side line for the first time in my memory, with Sam taking over the captain’s arm band. His first coin toss for the club resulted in us playing into the wind (which was going diagonally across the pitch) in the first half.

The football was pretty horrific to watch. We struggled to pass our way forwards on this pitch, and high balls were blown back by the wind, so our best avenue out seemed to be low-ish long balls into the corners, where Johnny in particular looked like he might have the better of his man. But then (as Rat insisted on shouting at least 5 times) horrific football was fine by us as long as we went in nil-nil at half time as we would be playing with the elements in the second half. For 44 minutes and 55 seconds that is exactly what we achieved. The new Chaz-Browner centre back partnership was mopping up everything that made it through the midfield line of Wilgo, Van and Sam, which was not much.

Just one more long throw to defend and it would be mission accomplished. But the Chaz-Browner partnership fell apart for a crucial 5 seconds. Chaz called for it, the wind took it, it flicked off his head, hit Browner on the shin and nestled firmly into the far corner. The first goal a Merton player had manged from open play in over 200 minutes. The half time whistle came 10 seconds later. Wind (and Browner) 1 – Merton 0.

Playing with the wind in the second half, we duly dominated in terms of territory, but in truth we failed to adapt to the conditions. Charlie was holding it up well, but then lacked decent options to then pass it off to. A few times we got in crossing positions, but crosses were overhit with the wind, and underhit against it, and we simply don’t have much pace to open up teams over the top.

The only real opportunity came from a corner. Rat whipped in an excellent delivery (probably the only such one of the day), and Chaz steamed onto it. He met it beautifully from about 7 yards. Anywhere but at the keeper and it was in, but it of course then went straight at him, and he palmed it over well. I struggle to remember another shot we had on goal. I struggle to remember another shot they had on goal. So either it was a terrible match or my memory is just poor. Giving credit where it is due, their defence played very well.

We had one final chance. With 10 seconds to the final whistle, we had a free kick inside their half. Rat had had enough of seeing more junior players overhit the free kicks straight out. These youngsters just don’t have the experience to adapt to the windy conditions. So he marched over to the free kick, shouted everyone away, stepped back, strolled up, and duly overhit it with the wind straight out. Wind 1, Rat 0. Summed things up nicely – we were certainly not the ablest navigators in these conditions.

And the showers were cold, so a pretty rubbish effort all round. The possible exception was the 5000-miles-away Tilley whose post-match photos from Vegas were far more entertaining that the match. Apologies to Snooks, Max, and whoever else turned up to watch on the side lines for this dross. But apparently the 6s match on the next pitch was a lot more eventful. So now you have wasted your time reading about this non-event, I suggest you turn to their report.

Someone other than Browner needs to locate their scoring boots for the season defining semi-final of the cup next week.

MoM: Chaz – almost no one left with much credit, but he formed a solid (apart from 10 seconds) partnership at the back, and was decisive throughout. Including when his attempted 35 yard back pass in the second half went out for a throw on next to the corner flag, thus providing a small amount of entertainment.

DoD: Browner – one OG and one nil means there is one obvious candidate for dick of the day. And the rest of the team lacked the imagination to vote for anyone else. I complained bitterly at the injustice, but at least (for almost certainly the first time) both MoM and DoD penalty pints went down in one. Centre backs may not be cool, but at least they can drink.