Merton Reserves 2-2 Carshalton (h)
Scorers: Graham Willgoss, David Quainton
Team Handsome’s bare XI versus a Carshalton side looking to go top of the league: this was always going to be a tussle.
But then that’s a quality Merton Men can guarantee. Exemplified by Conor Murphy’s Man Most Handsome performance, the home side twice came from a goal down for a deserved draw.
Conor’s cohorts in defence were equally magnificent, with Joe Grew sorting out anything that came his way, Haydn imperious and PQ once again reminding everyone why he’s made the right-back spot his own.
Darcy and Dom in the middle of midfield crunched into their challenges time and again. Both also found scope to seek out Sherbs, in goal, from midfield while kicking against the wind. We can only assume they were hungry for more life-or-death 50/50s. And what a pleasure to have Pearcey back in the side. He showed this was exactly his sort of game, too, battling hard and showing no little skill in the right areas (but more of that later).
For his part, Sherbs not only remembered to stay in his box with ball in hand, he made one of the saves of the season to keep out a fine free-kick. Seeing the ball late as it arced over the wall, our man threw himself to his right and got an all-important strong wrist to it. PQ was alive to the subsequent danger, and his challenge was enough to put the onrushing winger off. Sherbs puffing out his cheeks as the ball finished up in the side netting was an absolute picture.
Up top, EJ was a pleasingly constant niggle and a persistent threat. DQ, meanwhile, had his best game in ages. It was the older Quainton, in fact, who set up Merton’s first equaliser. Sort of. A Conor throw-in from the left, and DQ tussled as only he can (like Mustard, but fairly). The resulting melee saw the ball bobble around the six-yard box before an attempted clearance by Carshalton rebounded off one of their own players and looped up for Wilgo, who volleyed home from eight yards.
Merton might have twice taken the lead at 1-1. Wilgo collected a Conor pass and skinned the right-back to pull the ball back to Pearcey, but his effort was well saved. Later, a Wilgo-Darcy-Wilgo pinball combo was cleared off the line three times. Frustrating. As it was, about as unsporting a Carshalton side as have visited the Hood instead scored in typically unpleasant fashion.
EJ was having none of that, however, and took the game to the oppo, working the ball into dangerous areas every time he received it. One such foray forward found Pearcey six yards out. Then, something wonderful happened: Pearcey and DQ agreed that one nawty back-heel deserved another. First, Pearcey’s, deliberately, to DQ. Second, DQ’s, to sweep the ball into the corner of the Carshalton net. Lovely.
Boys, if we score a more delightful goal this season, I can’t wait to see it.
Team: Sherbs, Conor, PQ, Joe Grew (DOTD), Haydn Dance, Pearcey, Wilgo (c), Dom Preece, Darcy, EJ, DQ