Category: Match Reports 2s

2s vs Carshalton – 24.02.18

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


2s vs Hampstead Heathens – 17.02.18

Hampstead Heathens v Merton 2s




Scorers: Wilgo, Dan Rist, Haydn Dance



Going on the name of the oppo, Team Handsome assumed yet another north London away day was in store. But in an SAL first, we were grateful to be playing in Lewisham in bright sunshine. 


It was a bright start from Merton, too: Dan Rist, on the left, pinged an arcing cross-field ball to Wilgo running beyond his marker on the opposite flank. The skipper cushioned a first-time header beautifully into Ackers’ path, in space 10 yards out. Sherbs in goal was already audibly celebrating the only possible outcome. But Ackers found only the post. 


He made up for it two minutes later with a flicked header from a Conor throw-in. Heathens’ keeper couldn’t deal with the looping ball in the sunlight, palming it only as far as Wilgo, who cushioned a volley home from close range. 


Things started getting tasty soon after, Man of the Match Haydn the first to suffer a full-frontal assault and a four-inch gash across his knee. That this continued as a theme for the remainder of the game was apparently of little interest to the referee, who completely ignored – among others – a stone-bonking DQ penalty shout, Conor being pole-axed and Gresty being kicked five feet in the air. He was, however, very keen on seeing that Sherbs took a little time out in the sin bin for asking politely about the first on that list. 


That alone was enough to earn Merton’s number 1 Dick of the Day (as nailed on an award as we’ve seen, with turning up nearly an hour early and unsettling the squad and wandering out of his area ball in hand among Sherbs’ other offences). He was still furious three days after the final whistle.


It should have been all over bar the scything come half time. Wilgo could have made it two when through on goal but for an excellent save. Then there was that nailed-on DQ penalty. Gibbo and Rayner injected a little more zip after half time, the former’s wild shoot-on-site policy worthy of a DotD nomination. Dan Rist did make it two, having all the time in the world to cut in from the left and pick his spot at the near post and sorting it out for us all. Thanks Dan.


With around 20 minutes to go, a Haydn notched Merton’s third with a close-range volley from a corner. Conor made an excellent save while replacing a sin-binned Sherbs while Rayner did an excellent impression of a brick wall as a fill-in left-back. Conor was having none of that when subsequently restored to his usual spot, and gave away a penalty. 


It finished 3-1, and Merton third in the table. 


Team: Sherbs, Conor Murphy, Peter Quainton, Haydn Dance, Joe Grew, Ryan Gresty, Dom Preece, Dan Rist, Wilgo (c), Ackers, David Quainton; Gibbo, Chris Rayner

2s vs Reigatians – 03.02.18

A match report in Limericks…

There was a young man called Dan Rist
Who had a foot just like Rocky’s fist
He shot from far out
The ‘keeper had doubts
And when it went in he was pissed
Ben Cook is a fine looking fellow
With a countenance not at all mellow
And when one heavy touch
Proved a bit much
He was lucky to walk away with a yellow
There once was a fine handsome team
A well-oiled and good looking machine
But in the AFA cup
They ran out of luck
And that was the end of the dream

2s vs St James Old Boys – 13.01.18

4-3-3, we know how to play, get stuck in.”

Ah, the tactical nuances of non-league football. Merton 2s merrie men nodded sagely, for they would line-up with four men at the back, three in midfield, and three up front. And they would get stuck in.

Captain, leader, ginger, Graham Willgoss led the getting in of the stuck by expertly bringing a Dan Rist ball under his spell, inviting the entire defence one way, dancing the other, and then sitting down the ‘keeper for good measure. 1-0. 

St. James stroked the ball about and had a territorial advantage for the whole first half. They didn’t however, create a great deal of clear chances. They had one notable effort, cleared by Joe Grew before it crossed the line. Admittedly, goal-line technology may well have said otherwise, but we don’t use it, so tough titties.

Captain, leader, Grumpole of the Bailey, Willgoss had another chance and stuck it straight at the ‘keeper. Maybe we’d rue it.

We didn’t rue it. Team Handsome took far greater control of affairs in the second half. Nick rip van Tiddlywinkle – adhering to some sage advice to stay a bit wider in the front three – took a terrible first touch, a heavier second touch, and a toe poke into the back of the net. Liquid football from the Socceroo. 

More attacks, a corner, an Ackerman header, a goal. 3-0. Easy street. So easy, in fact, that Ackers passed-up an easy chance, missed a penalty (quite possibly because it wasn’t a penalty, though one should be aware of the searing run that made it by the typically All Action Dom), and then set through DQ from a one-two after a a lovely move fully expecting the fourth goal of the day. The silver sub dinked the goalie, but the ball met the bar rather than the net. Wasteful.

St. James’ scored! That was silly. No matter, Merton 2s held out reasonably comfortably and all was well. Hell, it was better than well, as Ryan Gresty – absolutely toweringly superb for the full 90 minutes despite the fact he wears a sports bra – picked up man of the match and Captain, leader, later for his own team’s meet time, Willgoss convincingly won DOtD. Lovely stuff.

2s vs Old Blues – 25.11.17

Peter Quainton is four inches over six feet tall. 


“May I suggest putting him on the posts, he’s never headed a ball in his life,” says David Quainton, today’s substitute and Team Handsome legend.


Team Handsome legends Graham Willgoss and Alex Herbert nod sagely. PQ shall defend the post at corners. Merton 2s will play an attacking 4-3-3 with an emphasis on making the Old Blues look like ancient greys.


This decision happens long before the arrival of Gibbo, who turns up ten minutes before kick-off having decided the logical thing to do before a match in west London is spend the night in Manchester. Sporting his usual ragged and slightly startled appearance, akin to that of a student runner sat alone in a pub after a day on the set a Kevin Spacey production, Gibbo nevertheless tears into a helpless and admiring opposition like Dan Rist’s chat up lines on a night at the Exhibit.


Rist forms part of a let-the-ball-bounce-and-we’ll-sort-it-out-later defensive duo with Joe Grew. Towering. Imposing. These are just two of the words that will never be used to describe Team Handsome’s centre-backs, but sound reading of the game and no-little skill on the ball make for an incredibly effective pairing. To the left is the wingback’s wingback, Lofty, who may be a fish out of water but performs like the star of the latest episode of Blue Planet 2; erm, a fish in water.


Peter Quainton heads the ball.


We’re two minutes into the game, it must be some kind of accident. At right-back, he’ll probably be called to do it again. Grew looks surprised. Herbert in goal is astounded. Willgoss shouts encouragement from his attacking position on the right of the front three. At least it sounds like encouragement. Sometimes it’s hard to know. Words like ‘quality’ and ‘better’ are accompanied with the odd muttering curse. It sounds encouraging. It’s probably encouragement.


Willgoss subsequently proves it’s a good week for the bastard offspring of James Hewitt, not by getting engaged to an absolute smoke show, but by steaming past two players and tucking the ball in with his left peg. A cracking strike, it begins with a driven ball from PQ. The duo link up throughout the match, owning their side of the pitch.


Soon the lead is two. Alongside Gibbo, Dom and Darcy are smashing holes in the Old Blues midfield. Perhaps Darcy just enjoys not running around after a small human, the product of his own testicles, at the weekend. Whatever it is, he’s playing extremely well and tidily tucks away the second of the game from a(nother) Willgoss assist.


3-0 follows. It’s Nick, bounding in like Mitchell Starc with the new ball after watching the entire Merton front six get involved in the move. On the front foot, he smashes it for six into the top corner, and at halftime the game seems already won.


Peter Quainton heads the ball.


Our boy clears it off the line. Again. Sherbs is dizzy with excitement. So dizzy he drops the next simple cross, says ‘no’ more times than an aspiring actress at a Miramax party, and safely regathers. Ancient Grey Quainton is on the pitch, is fouled in the area, the ref ignores it. The referee, displaying less mobility than Prince Phillip at the cenotaph, is miles away. He misses fouls all day. He does not miss, however, a scrote who endears himself to absolutely no one by being a mouthy little trollboy all game, getting sin-binned (the second Old Blues player to do so) and then complaining about it so much that he receives both a yellow and red card. His presence is about as welcome as pneumonia at an old folks home.


By this point another three goals have been scored. Two to Old Blues, who rally as Merton tire, and one to Gibbo with a crisp strike from the edge of the area (assist: Wilgo). Benham, buzzing around relentlessly up top as ever, should have a goal of his own. He thinks he has it after tucking away the rebound after Wilgo hits the underside of the bar, but a shocking offside call at the moment the ball caresses the back of the net denies him that which he deserves. It is not the only poor offside call of the match. 4-2 it remains.


Peter Quainton is laughing.


Having secured joint MoM alongside bubbly, fuller-figure, goalscoring presence of Darcy, the teetotal talisman has given his pint to his older, handsomer, brother for downing.


“See, I can head the ball,” he says, as DQ dispatches his beer and contemplates a second having not even having managed to last a whole half without tweaking an injury. Sherbs, entirely too happy about this prospect, is reminded of just how many times he said ‘no’ when dropping the ball. For the fifth time this year, DotD is his. A proud record, and a proud victory for Team Handsome.


Team: Sherbs, PQ, Joe Grew, Dan Rist, Simon White, Darcy Yates, Dom Preece, Michael Gibson, Nick van W, Wilgo, Tom Benham; DQ 

2s vs Old Thorntonians – 18.11.17

Old Thorntonians 1-2 Merton 2s

(a), 18/11/2017

Perhaps the most satisfying moment of a rainy, cold Saturday afternoon the other side of Wimbledon Common was Thorntonians’ centre back imploring his teammates to work harder with the shout of “they want it more”. We really did.

Driven forward by a relentless midfield trio of Dom, Gibbo and Darcy, Merton were hungry. Snapping into tackles, pressuring their opposite numbers, forcing mistakes and breaking at pace. We’ve missed this.

For our finest example of pace, look no further than Tom Benham. Direct and menacing, Tom was a weapon. His goal broke the deadlock, from a Dom Preece cross of real quality, right to left. Tom’s appreciation of space gave him the time to control and finish. That was just for starters. TB didn’t stop running all afternoon.

Merton continued to press, EJ’s mix of free spirit, strength and skill causing the opposition all sorts of problems. On the right, Wilgo was finding plenty of joy and creating chances. It was the captain’s inch-perfect through ball that dissected the defence for Merton’s second. Darcy made it possible with a perfectly-timed run. Wilgo picked him out. Darcy’s flick gave it the finish the pass deserved.

Thorntonians pulled one back before the half, courtesy of a questionable offside decision (more on that later). But this game was about character. And Merton had plenty of it.

As the cup tie became more end-to-end in the second half, Conor, Dan Rist, Joe Grew and in particular Pearcey were heroic at the back. Each produced a manful display that ground out what Max rightly called an epic win. Joe Grew made some serious yards down the right, too.

A short paragraph must be given over to the referee, whose performance – and what a performance – is perhaps best described as flamboyant. Explaining his interpretation of the offside rule before the game would have been amusing were it not for the erratic 90 minutes of officiating that followed.

Last word, though, goes to Lofty. Having travelled the furthest, our side’s most senior member volunteered to go in goal and then produced a performance to be proud of. The final 20 minutes alone saw Lofty make at least five saves or catches that saved Team Handsome. Handsomest among Lofty’s stops was the iron wrist he used to tip over a swirling, goal-bound drive. Truly a Merton Man’s performance.

Merton 2s: Simon White, Joe Grew, Dan Rist, Paul Pearce, Conor Murphy, Dom Preece, Darcy Yates, Michael Gibson, Graham Willgoss (c), EJ, Tom Benham. Subs: Ben Cook, Andy Holder Ross

2s vs Old Finchleians – 11.11.17

Old Finchleians (h) 0-3

Let’s get the positives out of the way first.

Good, hope that didn’t take up too much of your time. On to the match, which was to Merton 2s’ confidence what Kevin Spacey is to future box office success.

Merton surged into a 1-0 deficit courtesy of Joe Grew’s face when Finchleians began with the bit between their teeth. Wicked deflection, Sherbs had no chance.

Still, the men in yellow could look to the unstoppably chirpy and puppy-like EJ for some bounce. He spent the first half gallivanting up and down the right side with something that looked like purpose, but squandered the best chance when through on goal after a delicious Wilgo through-ball.

That was about as good as it got for Team Handsome.

Clowesy got sent off. Early doors, second half. It was absolutely a red: a ‘tired dad’ kind of challenge when the quickest guy on the pitch was through on goal. Something of a farce followed in the form of a discussion as to what exactly constituted being ‘away from the pitch’; the Joseph Hood changing room car park was eventually deemed suitable. Clowesy watched on from afar, mercifully away from the field of play, many wished they could have joined him.

We conceded twice more: once was a tip-toe around Sherbs, who made a tired dad kind of attempt to stop it happening. Up top, DQ made a tired old man attempt at scoring goals. Dom got a bit angry. EJ smiled. Cookie managed not to get a booking. Yes, there we have it, the positive. Cookie managed not to get a booking. And Merton were out of the cup.

Team Handsome: Alex Herbert, Dan Rist, Joe Grew, Alan Clowes, Conor Murphy, Graham Willgoss (c), Andy Holding Midfielder Ross, Dom Preece, David Quainton, EJ, Michael Gibson, Ben Cook, Peter Quainton

2s vs Hampstead Heathens – 28.10.17

Oct 28: Merton Res v Hampstead Heathens


D Quainton

A lot of huffing and more than our fair share of puffing just about got Team Handsome the result they deserved against Hampstead Heathens. In the end.

Playing a home game after what felt like a season-long exodus (‘What do you mean we’re not playing in north London this week?) was clearly such an unfamiliar experience that Merton struggled to click into gear early doors. Free-kick conceded in the danger zone after two minutes. A less-than-solid wall. 0-1.

Merton might have controlled the game from that point onwards, but could not break down the composition of the Heathens’ chemistry on a day when the Joe Hood pitch was not exactly an oasis. You’ll have to ask Sherbs in goal how the away side went two up from a corner when it looked for all the world like a routine catch was on the way. Still though, our number one redeemed himself late on, throwing himself to his left to repel a ferocious drive and preserve a point. Merton cleared. That was much more like it, Alex.

In between that faux pas and moment of redemption, David Quainton pulled one back with a header from a Dom Preece cross. Wilgo then latched on to a Woody through-ball to scuff a cross along the six-yard box. The Heathens defence were having none of that, however, and returned the ball to Merton’s skipper, who shifted the ball from his right to his left and (finally) slotted home. Relief.

Dom Preece and Dan Rist could walk off the pitch with their heads held highest, sharing as they did the Man Most Handsome award. Woody was also a typically robust presence, full of quality on the ball.

Dick of the Day went to Joe Grew for any number of sins witnessed by Mustard, dressed as He-Man for his birthday, and his band of increasingly merry men on the touchline.

They will have enjoyed a game played in good spirit on both sides but, in all likelihood, little else. On to next week.

Alex Herbert, Joe Grew, Dan Rist, Paul Pearce, Peter Quainton, Conor Murphy, Wilgo (c), Darcy, Dom Preece, Chris Wood, David Quainton, Andy Holder Ross, Nick Van W, Chris Rayner

2s vs Old Owens – 21.10.17

Old Owens (a) 14-10-2017


Merton has never been a club to put too much stock in omens. But when, as skipper, your referee for the day asks if you’re wearing yellow while your entire team is standing around you, all of you resplendent in the very shade Merton has made famous in every corner of London, well… you have to wonder.

Especially when the man in black has then somehow managed to make a complete muddle of the coin toss. Long day ahead? You bet.

This is not the forum for complaint, however. You can draw your own conclusions as to just how wildly inconsistent the man in the middle’s behaviour was during the game.

Instead, a few Merton highlights.

Dom Preece put in a hell of a shift in the middle of midfield. Outshining the energy of Craig Usher and Ryan Gresty is no small feat, but our man did exactly that.

Ahead of him, David Quainton led the line with Tom Benham admirably. Benham’s goal – twisting the defence inside out after latching on to a precise Peter Quainton through-ball – was joyous. Having sat the defender down for what seemed like a third time, Tommy B rattled the ball high past the keeper with his left foot. From the look of determination on his face immediately afterwards, he drew no little satisfaction from doing so.

Sherbs in goal was as reliable as ever. He could do nothing about the penalty (the ref was possibly only sorry he couldn’t take it himself), and made two or three excellent stops.

Dan Rist exudes a style and presence all of his own. Man of the match here, his delivery was pin-point from all over the pitch, and he even found himself on the edge of oppo area to force a fine save from a stinger of an effort. Also worthy of mention is his fondness for the over-elaborate dummy at centre-back. Gets ‘em every time.

Special mention, though, for Peter Quainton. Off the bench after less than 10 minutes, Pete podiumed for Man Most Handsome from right wing-back. Affecting the game when you have the best player on the pitch to mark is one thing. Coming off the bench to show the rest of the lads how it’s done is quite another. Well played.

There was something of a spiteful playground atmosphere about the whole affair, hardly helped by the coin toss cocker-upper. A long way to go for little reward. But this was a game, in the end, that was not without its lighter, brighter moments. In yellow.

Herbert (GK), Grew, Rist, Cook, Rayner, Willgoss (c), Preece, Usher, Gresty, D Quainton, Tom Benham. Sub: P Quainton

2s vs HSBC – 07.10.17

AFA Cup 1st round: HSBC 2-4 Merton (2-2 FT)

Last season, Team Handsome’s effort across three cup competitions could be summed up like this: not pretty; didn’t get very far. Three matches and three losses – clearly some work to do.

Still, a  trip east-ish to play a bunch of bankers in this year’s AFA cup offered a chance to redress the balance and even the hope of securing some silverware.

Imagine a carpet, but the carpet is made of grass and it’s really nice grass and everyone likes playing on it. That was the pitch. No doubt buoyed by the un-Hoodness of the playing surface, Merton 2s tore into HSBC while also achieving the remarkable feat of actually talking to each other during the match and keeping the team shape.

The onslaught was spearheaded by Chaz, a kind of footballing Hurricane Irma who scored the opening goal with a Tim Cahill-esque header from a fine Dan Rist cross (adapting finely to a midfield berth). A momentary loss of shape through substitutions and EJ’s inability/refusal to throw a football saw HSBC equalise, but there was always the sense Team Handsome would pull through. It just took a while.

Ackerman, splendid until a late injury that will keep him out for a few weeks, strode through in the second half, played in ageing lothario DQ who left a defender on his backside and who handed the ball to Chaz on the edge of the area. Chaz’s in-no-way-scuffed shot found the bottom corner. 2-1.
Sadly, another collective bit of pony defending saw another HSBC goal and extra time beckoned.

Ackers’ last contribution, before accelerating one hip flexor too many, was to watch an HSBC defender sit on the floor and to roll the ball into the corner of the net. 3-2, and in truth Merton were very much in control. The scene was set for Chaz’s hat-trick. Pearce, once again defending stoutly, released DQ who ran the length of the pitch.

Ian Lewis, supportive as ever from the sidelines, was screaming for the pass to EJ – magnificent after the earlier defensive snafu – DQ duly obliged by giving it to Chaz instead. Chaz could’ve scored straight away but decided to turn a defender before doing so. And why not? Why. Not.

That was more than enough for man of the match, although special mention must go to Adam Crawshaw in centre midfield who had an absolute stormer, often closing down the entire opposition on his own (and loudly demanding some assistance while doing so). Todger of the Tag? Step forward Alex Herbert, for turning up late with the kit. Again. He’s on for the hat-trick on the 14th.

Line-up: Alex Herbert, Gabriel Draghici, Conor Murphy, Alan Clowes, Paul Pearce, Joe Grew, Chaz Martin, Dan Rist, Chris Rayner, Lewis Ackerman, David Quainton. Subs: Adam Crawshaw, EJ