Merton 2nd XI 5 – 2 Weirside Ranger 2nd X/XI
Revenge is a dish best served cold, and it is cold, very cold… well actually it was a bit Spring-like if we’re being totally honest.
Anyway, after a cruel 1-0 loss first time around, Merton won the return fixture in style.
To whet your appetite for what is to come, I can promise Bromance, Banana shots, potentially illegal goals, and a naked Holly Wil…hang on, scratch that last, belongs on a different thread.
With Mustard making a welcome return to the 2s alongside Neal, Glenn, Dan and Dan, there was the delight of a pre-game playlist of energising songs to look forward to. After a bright start, Rock DJ prompted a few groans and Dan (K) then proclaimed listening to it was akin to water-boarding… to the guy that it turned up had picked the song. Awkward.
On the pitch, Merton lined up 442 and were raring to go. Weirside lined up with just 10 men, while their first team boasted a full complement of substitutes a full 5 yards away on the adjacent pitch. Over-confident? Did the two side really hate each other? Could they just not count? All was revealed later.
Merton went at the oppo from the outset, with Glenn in particular looking both classy and threatening down the right wing.
After some early pressure, the DQ/DK axis up top yielded the opener. DK managed to win a header and force a pass on to DQ, who returned the favour and played DK in on goal. So far, so good. As pretty much every player, and most definitely Andy Holder-Ross, waited for DK to ‘just score already’, DK, convinced he was offside, decided to do… nothing.
Minutes passed. Tumbleweed rolled by. The hitherto frozen defence and keeper came to the belated conclusion that they could move, and closed in to make the tackle. At this point, DK decided, offside or not, he’d take action, and as enough time has elapsed for DQ to run into the box, he squared the ball to DQ ten yards out to apply the finishing touch.
To me. To you. In a moment of chuckle-brothersesque synchronisation, DQ took aim… and squared the ball back to DK. To me. To you.
AHR had a small apoplectic episode.
DK thought this was a lovely gesture and decided it was probably time for a shot, given there were now approximately 13 players inside the penalty box and the half time whistle might beat him to it at this rate. He sent a left footed (strike is probably too strong a word but it’ll do), strike towards the bottom corner.
DQ watched DK shoot, thinking what a lovely time they had had. Probably. Or he may have been thinking, not for the first time, that he had chosen the wrong song earlier and it really should have been McAlmont and Butler for the uplifting track. These decisions can really haunt you.
Anyway, the shot lollopped along towards the bottom corner, only for the keeper’s big right mitt to temporarily stop its progress. So DQ decided he had better pop the ball in the net, given he had an open goal for a few yards out.
Andrew Holder Ross was not amused. Pearcey, on the other hand, lovely Pearcey, came and called both frontmen heroes, if just for one day.
If any of those still reading are thinking that was an inordinately long description for one goal, then you now know what it was like to watch.
1-0, and Merton continued to press. Mustard was hungrily snapping up loose balls, Glenn was having a whale of time tormenting his full back, AHR was, well, angry, and poor old Rayner was shouting a lot for the ball and not really seeing much of it. When he finally did get the ball, he delivered an absolute peach of a cross to the far post, only for it to be utterly wasted by falling to DK. For most people it would have been a poor miss. DK headed it over and felt a bit pleased he had made contact.
Better was to come however, as more nice link up play by DK and DQ saw DQ this time played in on goal. DQ saw the supporting DK outside him and squared the ball like a scholar and a gentleman for DK to crash home. Lovely forward play, and Pearcey came up, called them heroes again and muttered something about a bromance. AHR just muttered something.
The footballingly simpatico and handsome front duo were beginning to resembe the great goalscoring partnerships of bygone eras: Dalglish/Rush. Bergkamp/Henry. Chas/Dave. Jedward. Alas, in keeping with time-honoured tradition, Lofty hooked DK after scoring and after just 30 minutes of magic, and the DQ/DK axis was done for the match. Manny came on in his place and Darcy also replaced AHR. Which gave him plenty of time to tell DK exactly what he thought of the first goal.
At this point, Weirside had noticed their first team had players to spare and were formulating a cunning plan to swipe one of them, so a third goal before this happened would have been handy indeed. And so it proved, Manny robbing the ball out of nowhere and playing in DQ. No square ball this time – instead he opened up his body and passed the ball ever so crisply into the bottom corner. Think early Michael Owen. Except Ravenelli grey. And around 17 years older.
3-0 at HT.
Weirside did indeed start the second half with 11, but it was Merton who extended their lead early in the second half. Manny had already missed a good chance when he once again robbed an oppo player and bore down on goal. A good tackle or maybe an interception later, he had recovered the ball and had it on the touchline just inside the box. Eschewing a cross with his left foot, he instead turned 270 degrees and chipped the ball up with his right with a sort of Phil Mickleson bunker flop shot. The ball bananaed away and then back towards goal, and perhaps with half an eye on the onrushing DQ, the keeper could only help the ball into the top corner. 4-0.
Manny had time to play in DQ one more time, only for him to blaze over before being replaced by DK for the final half hour.
Weirside then got one back with something of a sympathy penalty after a swift counter. Cookie looked to have got back to make a good tackle but the referee was having none of it.
The game had got a bit scrappy at this point, but a fine ball from Dan (full back, also excellent throughout) saw DK get in behind the defence down the right wing, and from this move Merton restored their four goal advantage.
Looking up to see only Manny in the box, DK nevertheless decided to cross low and hard into the box. The keeper went to snap this up only for the bouncing ball to tw*t him in the face as he went to pick it up. Manny daintily wandered past the disorientated keeper and knocked the ball in from 2 yards. 5-1.
Or so we all thought. Clappers on the adjacent pitch later swore the ball went wide, through the side netting and then into the net. Manny was unavailable for comment. Dubious goal??
At this point, Cookie had had enough of pretending to be a centre-back and got himself involved in some midfield action. A late tackle (on him), a bit of wrestling and a lot of swearing later he and a Weirside player were being told off by the ref. Said referee was distinctly heard saying no cards were necessary, only for Cookie to get bored and wander off the pitch, leaving a proffered hand and then a yellow card in his wake. Lofty came on in his place to guide the team through the last quarter.
There was still time for a bit more incident. First, Manny almost had a hatrick late in the game after nice work from Darcy and a flick on from DK, but a fine one handed stop denied him.
Then, with just a few minutes to go, the otherwise excellent Mustard wound up (and massively telegraphed) a throw in in-field only to spanner it up royally and concede the foul throw. That’s DotD sown up, literally everybody said to themselves.
Everybody, that is, except Neal, who from the resulting throw-in waited until ball was in the box and beautifully shielded before taking a 5 yard run up and shoulder-charging the Weirside player in the back. For the second time the referee pointed to the spot. Blatant doesn’t even begin to cover it. Dan got a hand to the pen, but it still snuck in. 5-2.
A thumping victory, made all the sweeter when back in the changing room Pearcey asked Mustard when his song was going to be on… as it was playing. This was pointed out with some amusement to the somewhat shamefaced Pearcey.
Pearcey, Mustard and DQ shared MotM spoils, and despite Neal’s best efforts, Mustard also doubled up with DOTD for that throw in. A pint of wine (plus sambuca) was polished off with not only aplomb but also approximately seven bags of steak crisps.