Category: Match Reports 3s

3s vs Wandsworth Borough – 15.04.17

Merton 3s v Wandsworth Borough 3s – 1:2

 

The last game of the 3s season produced the, all too familiar, standard fare for the 3s, a one goal defeat, for only the ninth time this season. A multitude of platitudes could be used to describe the events of the 90 minutes, such as we had the better of the game, we didn’t take our chances and we didn’t mark correctly at set pieces.  All true, again….

 

The Dick of the Day nomination was secured even before the scheduled meet time, as Mustard, despite having compiled the ‘90s music’ playlist and ensuring the speakers were fully charged, failed to then bring the said speakers. This resulted in the rather limp alternative of “name the songs in the playlist from listening to the first few seconds” via the speaker of an iPhone 7.  This really got the changing room buzzing.   The 3s welcomed 3 players into the squad, whom have not featured this season; Kieran Lee, Will Wilgoss and Jon Cox.  Thanks to Walshy for bringing Jon down to the club, new additions are always welcome.

 

The warm up was completed, the team was announced and without a doubt, the whole team were internally contemplating just one question ‘Can we?’. It’s a question that lingered throughout and despite some determined probing from Will Willgoss in the changing room at the end of the game, we’re still not sure that we know the answer, which no doubt will mean that Darcy in particular will still be seeking the answer to that question over the summer months.  Darcy, when you find out, please let us know.

 

To the game itself, Merton started pretty well but after 15 minutes or so and against the run of play. A rather innocuous through ball managed to find its way through the midfield and defence, to leave Wandsworth Borough’s striker through on goal, he elected to quickly loft the ball over Kieran, whom had no chance of stopping it.  Our play was gelling at times and not at others, with our greatest levels of productivity arriving through playing our football simple, rather than looking for over elaborate passes, which invariably meant we lost possession.   Our set pieces were a threat, in particular Glenn’s corners, for both the opposition, and us thankfully their breakaway opportunities come to nothing though.  Glenn was put through from a great through ball from Will(go) and raced through on goal, he had the option to shoot or square the ball to DQ.  From having been present at DQ’s last appearance for the 3s, no doubt Glenn made a statistical assessment that DQs shot to goal’s ratio is 16.6% and felt that shooting rather than passing was more likely to produce the goods.  Alas, this was not the case as the keeper made a good save and put the ball behind for a corner.

 

Whilst we came in 1-0 down at half time, optimism was high that a comeback could be achieved due to Neal and Vin marshaling things at the back (which included guiding Walshy in the same way that Jose Mourinho does with Luke Shaw), their threat was pretty much neutralised, and that we were showing that we had the potential to create chances.

 

The second half continued in the same vein as the first, with a few chances coming and going, Iain in particular having a volley well saved at the near post and Glenn having a good individual effort tipped onto the woodwork by the keeper. Not long after this though, Merton scored the equalizer and it came through, (photographer for the day) Max’s new best friend (judging by the amount of photos of him on the club facebook account), Glenn.  Darcy, played a (surprisingly), non-sh*t ball from the right, over the top of the defence to Glenn on the left, who finished well at the far post.  This goal did two things – 1. Cemented Glenn’s position as top scorer for the 3s in his debut season, with seven goals and 2. Gave Darcy a potential answer to the “can we?’ question but it comes down to what the question actually is, as to whether it is actually an answer (As I recall this, I can imagine Will Willgoss fuming right now at the audacity of such a question, I also wonder what new boy Jon Cox made of it all, no doubt Walshy will help it all make sense for him).

 

With the scores level, optimism was high that Merton could go onto get another and finish the season with a win. Can we?  We definitely thought so!  That is until we faced a corner, which came as a result of a great save from Kieran.  Carrying on the theme from the week before, it looked like we didn’t fancy marking a number of the opposition at a set piece, which resulted in an unchallenged player scoring for the opposition.  Mustard was starting to feel really guilty again as he knew inside that his failure to carry out his one job of bringing the speakers, was probably the real reason for this goal being conceded.  Darcy emphatically emphasised this point after the game.  Never again, will he forget to bring the speakers.

 

Some other stuff would have happened in the game but nothing that springs to mind. Therefore it can’t have been memorable enough to justify an inclusion in the match report.  Hang on, there was something…. Kieran demonstrated that Monica Seles (for those not versed in female tennis players from a bygone era, she was a grunter) was onto something and launched a kick with an almighty grunt, which Chris Pap realised very quickly he had no chance of running onto, as it was effectively a shot.  Kieran mentioned afterwards that he was thinking (dreaming?) of Paul Robinson, whatever floats your boat, Kieran.  Oh, and Mustard attempted to demonstrate his tactical nous (akin to Mourinho’s plan v Chelsea on 16/4/17) by informing Iain that he planned to change the formation to a 3-5-2 to push for a goal, as there was only seven minutes remaining, Iain’s calm and measured response was “you’d better hurry up then”.  He then did it, but it was too little, too late.

 

The game finished 2-1, a one goal defeat, an unfortunate trademark to what has been a disappointing season in terms of results but a positive one in terms of team spirit and competitiveness. The expectation is that the 3s will now return to the league that they shouldn’t have been promoted from and will build on the experiences of this season to produce an improved set of results.

 

Post match drinking ensued with pizza, crisps, wine and Neal doing his traditional struggle with downing a pint. A solid number of players stayed until 8pm, which was good to see, although Walshy left earlier than planned, despite having a ‘green card’ as we were too boring for him (didn’t know that him having a permit allowing him to live and work in the US, entitled him to a greater level of excitement than the rest of us, but things must be different in the world of Walshy).

3s season over.  On to the MFC World Cup on 13 May and the Awards night on 27 May.  Over and out.

 

Team: Kieran Lee, Walshy, Neil Davison (captain), Vincenzo Di Matteo, Jon Cox, Iain Evans, Darcy Yates, Graham (Will) Willgoss, Glenn Pittman, Darren Fitzgerald, David Quainton. Subs:  Chris Papastanasiou, Conor Murphy, Mustard.

 

 

Goal: Glenn Pittman

MOTM:  Neal Davision

DOTD: Mustard (for failing at the ‘one job’ he had – bringing the speakers).

3s vs Civil service 4s (Spring Cup) – 08.04.17

A glorious sunny day greeted the first match of our spring cup campaign (technically the second) and took us to take on Civil Service 4th’s.
With the knowledge that we had had three previously tight games against said opposition we traveled to Chiswick hoping for a positive result to keep our interest in the competition alive.
We started the game well and in the first 15 – 20 minutes produced some decent football and had a couple of very presentable chances that had they been taken would have set us on the road to the win we required I’m sure.

That however was as good as it got for us in terms of being competitive in the game.

What followed during the remainder of the half reminded me of the red wedding episode in game of thrones, in short we got murdered.

Through a mixture of poor positional play, non existent communication, ball watching, and an own goal we went in at the break four nil down.

We have lost more than a few this season as I’m sure your all aware but other than when we lost in the cup to a team two divisions below us that we’re bottom of the league this was the worst performance of the season by a margin.

With nothing but pride and perhaps a flickering dream of an unlikely comeback the second half got underway.

We produced a more solid performance in the second half and credit should go to man of the match Lofty who put in a performance full of composure, commitment and no little skill that was an example for the rest of the squad.

Again we created two or three good chances after the break that could have produced a consolation goal but in truth we were never really in any sort of control of the game and as the match drifted towards its inevitable conclusion civil service took advantage our weary legs and added a fifth with about ten minutes left on the clock.

A day best forgotten.

Team: Bridgeman, Rist, Di Matteo, Pearce, Welch, Iglesias, Evans, Mustard, Pitman, Fitzgerald, Zhurbiy, White, Benham, Chris (apologies Chris I’ve no idea what your second name is)

3s vs Old Parkonians – 18.02.17

Merton III XI    vs  Old Parkonians IV XI      Sat  18th Feb

The Great Escape…..???

A beautiful spring afternoon presented itself to Merton’s 3’s at the Hood. After the sheer stupidity of the vandals earlier in the week, Merton wanted to bring back some pride to the fortress that was the Hood.

Old Skool Rhythm and Blues was playlist of choice, and the music came flowing out of the (pointlessly smashed) dressing room windows.

Merton were in good spirits following the successful 2 wins on the bounce, unheard of this season!

The opposition was a much changed team of Old Parkonians with only 1 or 2 familiar faces from the team we played previously. Also the average size of these players was a little concern, but this didn’t put off Merton, who were focused on getting the all important 3points needed, to keep their fears of relegation at bay.

Pleasantries exchanged, the game kicked off. Old Parkonians had the better first 10min, but then Merton found their stride. A lovely interchange between Darcy and Glen saw Fitz clean through. 1-0 and Merton hadn’t even broken a sweat.

Merton continued to dominate for the rest of the half, with countless chances created and some even captured on film by the eagle eyed Mr Noble. However, Merton were unable to convert any, which has been the story of the season. On the positive though, as the great ‘Wayne Shaw’ once said, (whilst eating a pie) “Shooting off target is the start of something great… once you know your off target, you are half way there to shooting on target, which is a real game changer”.

Not much else happened in the first half of note, Mustard decided to take a throw in from the wrong pitch and wondered why he could only throw 2m in distance. Mr Happy continued to shout words of encouragement to the rest of his team mates and Ricki’s dog watched on from the sidelines, basking in the sunshine, dreaming of hotdogs.

Half time came and went with all the classic cliches that you have all read a million times before! Big push in the first 10min, Next goal is vital etc.

The 2nd half started much like the first, with Old Parkonians starting stronger and Dan making a number of good saves. Merton finally found their passing boots again and began to knock the ball around nicely. A few more missed opportunities came and went, before Fitz was maliciously brought down by the oppo keeper. Clear pen.

After much debate, the clubs leading penalty taker set the ball down. A whistle went, boom… goal…. cue celebration. However, it was a whistle from the other game. The ref made Darcy take the penalty again…. boom. Goal. Neatly slotted into the same corner as the previous penalty. “Nerves of steal”, some were heard saying on the side line.

Meton now had a 2-0 advantage and it stayed this way until the 83min.

As mentioned, the Old Parkonians had a significant height advantage, with every player being 6’2″ plus. On the other hand, Merton’s tallest player was probably Glen or Neal who are an impressive 5’7″ at best. I’m not sure why it took the oppo so long to work this out, but when they did, Merton were in trouble.

After 8 consecutive corners, with Merton unable to clear their lines, an oppo player broke free and whipped in another cross, which was nodded into the goal. 2-1.

Oppo now had the wind in their sails… 88min went past, 89, 90min and another set of 4 corners came Merton’s way. An exact replica of the first goal made it 2-2.

Heart break for the boars who’s defence had been solid until the 83min.

The game was restated with only seconds left on the clock… tick tock… 5mins later,  oppo broke down the left, crossed the ball into the back post, which was promptly put back into the mixer for the striker to score another header. 2-3.

Merton looked by far the better team for 83mins, however like the majority of the other games this season, they found a way to mess it up and lose it.

Some harsh, but fair, words were exchanged in the dressing room, which left each player looking at his own commitment and fitness levels for next season.

Everyone returned to the bar for a beverage and to let off some steam.

Last game of the season Sat… Can Merton 3’s turn over a new leaf this side of Spring?

Goals: Fitz, Darcy

MoM: Dan
DoD: Darcy

3s vs Old Parkonians – 04.02.17

Our story begins with a handsome man from the regions that, for the purposes of this match report, we shall call ‘Bill Baylor’. Though long since departed for foreign shores, Bill once played sports with a host of friendly folk at a club that, for the purposes of this match report, we shall call ‘Burton FC’. 
 
Burton was full of so many attractive men that one of its many fraternities was known as ‘Team Attractive’, and they were renowned for dazzling lady people as well as any opposition sporting outfits that they played and defeated. Bill was undoubtedly the most attractive member of Team Attractive, for he dazzled the most brightly. And yet, another attractive (and in this case intelligent) member of Team Attractive, who for the purposes of this match report we shall call Dave Wayne-Tonne, was somewhat confused. 

“Why,” enquired Wayne-Tonne over a perfectly chosen beverage. “Why is Bill, the finest of swordsmen and a clear Southern Amateur League Senior Division 1, so often seen squiring lady people that one might objectively say are Southern Amateur League Junior Division 3?” 

“DW,” replied Bill. “Why did you say ‘Bill’ just then and not ‘you’?” 

“Good question,” said Wayne-Tonne. “I think it’s because this is a made-up story forming part of an somewhat off-kilter match reportthough a story itself based upon many truths.” 

“Ah, then I shall answer,” said Bill, placing his hand on Wayne-Tonne’s awesome shoulder. “You see, making love to beautiful ladies is much like scoring goals. I do plenty of both, but you’ve got to accept that occasionally you will have a a bit of a mare. The thing is, if you keep putting it out there and your balls end up in the right place, you have to consider that a success.” 

********** 

Though its message is somewhat esoteric, I was reminded of this story at halftime during Merton 3s’ not-at-all-epic 3-2 defeat of some numpties from Essex. 

“We’re playing REALLY well,” Mustard was telling the team, playing at manager for the day after giving himself the cold shoulder. “I don’t know how we’ve not scored more goals.” 

“I need to go and do a Jason Puncheon,” I (DQ, for those not keeping up) said, galloping towards the ref’s changing room for a quick ten-bob-bit. And it was on that run, and during those runs, that the story came back to me. You see I’d scored the goal that had put us 1-0 up, but really by that stage should already have secured the match ball. Twice the Ukrainian Menace, Denys, had put me through, and though once the ‘keeper saved well the second time he really didn’t have the chance. I blame the pitch.  

The favour was returned on a quick break, but this time the UMD himself dragged wide, before finally the partnership struck some sort of gold via a dainty throughball and tidy outside-of-the-boot finish. 1-0. Lovely. 

Bored of watching his teammates making like an unlucky Monopoly players and repeatedly passing chances, Andrew Holder Ross then chinned one of the weighty Parkonian players’ elbows. Somewhat unsurprisingly AHR’s chin came off worse, and he departed the pitch worse for wear.  

Holder Ross was to return in the second half. The same cannot be said of Parkonian’s best player who appeared to break his wrist on the post during a goalmouth scramble. The scramble came from a corner generated by one of the many fine saves Dan made on the day, ensuring him a couple of MoM votes in the bar. 

I was to receive no such votes. Returning from the halftime relief, not knowing whether I’d missed out on any of Mustard’s keener tactical insights, I joined 10 other determined men on the field of battle ready to enjoy a ten minute brain fart that saw us 2-1 down and making more mistakes than Donno trying to do a healthy food shop. 

One chubby chancer wandered through and poked home apologetically before a corner a few minutes later resulted in a handball that Vin assures everyone in no way touched his arm. Slow motion replays reveal that, in fact, one of the Italian Stallion’s enormous moobs swayed majestically across his bicep and thwatted the ball away. But you couldn’t blame the ref for giving the penalty, nor Dan for not saving it. 

My time to shine. Still giving the defence a glorious old runaround I shaved the post when one-on-one and grazed a header somewhere in the direction of the corner flag. Realising the folly of my ways, next time round I lay the ball back on the left-hand edge of the area and Jordan, who had woken-up after a slumbersome first half, proceded to curl the goal of the season into the top bag. 2-2. The jolly Scouser went on to win MoM and in no-way stick to stereotype by stealing my shower gel. 

The UMD was so excited by the goal that, rather than score when given the ball on the goal-line by a galloping (and returning) Holder Ross, dummied it, lay down beside it admiringly, and punched it twice without putting it in the net. How he wasn’t sent off no-one really knows, but word is the ref really loves a hard-smoking and hard, smoking eastern European. 

I scored again. May have been offside. Who cares? I celebrated two minutes later by Porborskying the keeper and, sadly, the bar, and, with the very last move of the game, aiming another delicious Glenn cross (there were quite a few) over the left-hand corner of the goal. 

A 3-2 win, and a bunch of ruddy heroes involved. Notable shoutouts for the wonderfully complainsome Ricky, who caused many a defensive problem in the first half (both the oppo and Conor); our Hispanic friend and the UMD’s married couple arguments that go on the entire time they’re on the pitch together; Iain, for not knowing what E.T.A. means when questioned about arrival time, but also largely dominating the midfield; and Cookie for returning and not getting sent-off or arguing with anyone. 

“I haven’t got time for this,” said the Bristolian battler, without a hint of irony, after Conor’s dual with Parkonians’ ‘solid’ left winger boiled over a bit. “Why do people argue on football pitches?” 

********** 

“Nah, she was terrible mate, so was yours,” Baylor said to Wayne-Tonne, as he ushered the recently boffed, and sore-yet-satisfied vixens out of his doorway. “But a score’s a score, always never forget that.” 

Wayne-Tonne nodded, for he knew it was true, and he slept like a man that had missed enough chances to earn ‘Dick of the Day’, yet had the satisfaction of knowing that he alone ended the match with two goals on the scoresheet. 

3s vs Old Wilsonians – 28.01.17

There were no late goals which we lost by, no last minute pull outs, noone called Joe (with or without beard) in the team and we WON, so you’d be excused if you are unsure if this really is a 3s match report. But it is!! And we won a game!!!

As DOTD for non football related issues I felt aggrieved at receiving this weeks vote. However as I sat down to write this report, I felt myself enjoying being able to report on a result which has been long overdue but more importantly completely deserved!
A wrong postcode given to Darcie to my own house wrapped up the DOTD nominations pretty convincingly although both Andy (power shot towards our goal) and Jordan (unforgivable foul throw) had some mentions during the voting process.
Hard rock was the official music of choice and Mustard took this literally during the morning’s bean ritual…  the hard theme filtered through to the physical and mental attitude the team took into the game……
With a good warm up and the knowledge that we have been producing some really good football in 2017 we were ready for action.
The pitch was in good condition albeit a bit lopsided but the sun was low and was cause of concern.
We sent Mustard up to the toss with a clear instruction to shoot away from the Sun which he immediately failed to deliver and we were switched round.
Starting with a 4-5-1 formation we tried to get our passing game going putting together some real good passages of play. We identified that the flanks were an area we could exploit early on and Glenn and Andy along with the full backs provided excellent out balls with Glenn in particular getting in behind their defence on a number of occasions.
We pushed for an opening goal and apart from a brief 10 minutes where Vincenzo got done then faked an injury, asked to be subbed then quickly recovered from the embarrassment and was fine again….. we were looking very strong playing nice expansive football. A number of half chances came and went with Darcie somehow managing to head over from all but 2 yards.
0-0 at half time but we were on top and our first half performance meant that we knew the content of the half time talk. It was no different from the usual ……
“Well done lads”
“We can go on to win this”
“They are there for the taking”
“We have been here before”

Then a more in depth analysis from Fitz with his note pad which was a welcome change from the normal cliche crap we all say every week followed by Welchie repeating everything Fitz said! We were pumped!

We dominated the second half from start to finish and pushed immediately to get the important goal. With the Sun causing their defence problems(well done Mustard for losing the toss) we pushed on and grew in confidence.

The first goal was a thing of beauty… possibly the best team goal of the season.

Starting with a tactical substitution to put two up front with Mustard making way for Chris Papps. The ball broke down in with our left back, Jordan ‘Lad’ played it neatly into the middle then it was sprayed across to the right back, Dan pinged a peach of a ball 40/50 yards into Glenn who found space behind their defence. Their goalkeeper decided he was Neuer and tried to steam out being pipped to the ball by Glenn who sent back across the box for Papp’s second touch of the game and it couldn’t have been an easier finish. 1-0!

They responded with a bit of pressure resulting in some strong defending(fouling) and some good saves from our ever reliable Dan. We held strong and stuck to our passing game.
By this time Ricardo was annoying them and biting at ankles and we were looking comfortable.

A free kick just outside the box had Glenn’s name all over it and he stepped up and delivered a bit of a worldie/keeper should’ve done better free kick.

2-0!!! And now the party started… the lads on the side were cheering every pass, tackle, shot and anything else which helped push the guys on!

The defence done a great job keeping a clean sheet with some good old fashioned tackling going in proving we really work hard for each other!
This resulted in a bit of a scuffle as Wilsons became more frustrated. A bit of handbags after a very very soft tackle in the middle(still not sure it was a foul) was uncalled for but to be honest the ref missed a few on Saturday which could’ve resulted in the book coming out, A UFC move was put on Mustard during the first half resulting in a calm down chat to the oppo captain. Don’t worry mustard I got him for you!
It all blew over pretty quickly and we saw the game out comfortably.

The whistle went, it felt like
We won a cup, we celebrated like the happiest relegated team in history of football and enjoyed every minute of it…..
The boars now march on to somehow complete the greatest relegation escape ever. It’s not in our hands but we can do our bit in this league still!
If we play like we have been and get the luck which is due we can escape!! However much more importantly …. it is about keeping the amazing spirit we have alive and enjoying our time together! It’s strange that I have enjoyed this season so much considering the results but it’s been a good craic and one that isn’t finished yet!

MOM; Jordan
DOTD; Darcie for talking too much! Ok not really Neal D (again)!

One step beyond!!!!!! Da da daaaaa da da da da da!!!!

3s vs Old Owens – 14.01.17

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

 

 

 

Goal: Walshy

MOTM:  Walshy

DOTD: Mustard (for a foul throw and alleged dive).

3s vs Nottsborough – 07.01.17

Nottsborough 4s – 6

Merton 3s – 3 

2017 had arrived and with it some extremely cold and wet weather but following what was by all accounts a great occasion for the New Years Day memorial game, the weather certainly did nothing to dampen the optimism amongst the lads that the 3s could turn their season around. A string of closely contested games before the Christmas break had brought no reward and we found ourselves locked in to a relegation battle as we entered January. 

An uncharacteristically late confirmation of the squads from Lofty left everyone in suspense as the clock ticked by on Friday morning, but when they finally came in the excitement at the prospect of a strong result was only fuelled further with a strong 3s squad which, despite some notable absentees called up to the 2s, contained a returning Vin and the man mountain Mike Todt who’d earned another call up following a strong showing including a goal for the 3s earlier in the season.

Game day arrived and the news broke that the reliable Dan R’s sofa had been safely delivered and he was on course to make the game. Unfortunately however, others weren’t quite so keen to make the game and failed to show face (or notify) despite the close proximity to the Hood leaving the 3s with a bare eleven for a tough away fixture at title challengers Nottsborough.

The game kicked off with Merton in solid 4-4-1-1 shape with Fitz given license to get forward and support Denys up top. A very respectable pitch gave the team an opportunity to get our foot on the ball and play our passing game which had the positive impact of seeing Merton start the game the faster for a change, Frankie on the left and Mustard just inside him in particular were causing problems for the opposition. 

Around 5 minutes in to the game came the first incident of note. Denys’ hold up play drew a challenge around 20 yards out and saw the defender play the ball back to the opposition goalkeeper who duly picked it up. As the referee blew up for a Merton indirect free kick on the edge of the 6 yard box, Mustard and Denys’ were on the same wavelength and charged to the spot of the infringement leaving everyone else in their wake. On their arrival a quick free kick saw Denys square the ball to Mustard who duly passed the ball in to the net. Genius. Oh no, hang on, wait. In a moment I can only compare to the infamous Henry/Pires passing penalty, Mustard had inadvertently overrun the spot of the free kick (or Denys had taken too long to take the free kick, it depends who you ask) and their quick thinking had been ruined by a lack of composure on execution as the referee blew up for offside. 5 minutes in and dick of the day was surely sewn up already.

The score may have been 0-0 but the opposition were clearly rattled as Merton continued to press and surge forward with numbers almost every time we had the ball. The attacking play did leave Merton exposed on the counter attack occasionally and Dan in goal was forced in to a couple of top class saves to prevent a goal against the run of play before Merton were finally able to take the lead at around the quarter hour mark. A ball was whipped in from out wide and the Nottsborough defence’s ineptitude at dealing with the arial threat was exposed, the ball not sufficiently cleared resulting in some penalty box pinball. While Mustard and Denys engaged in a spot of mud wrestling with their respective defenders (claiming penalties) it was left to Fitz to rifle the ball home from close range, and this time the goal stood. 1-0 Boars and Fitz’s first goal for the club.

The game continued in a similar fashion for the next 15 minutes or so before a Nottsborough counter drew a cynical but necessary challenge from Dan R in the middle of goal around 20 yards out. After what seemed an age with the opposition changing goalkeeper, the referee finally allowed the kick to be taken and a low skimmer across the wet surface and around the wall left Dan in goal disappointed he hadn’t made the save. 1-1.

Unperturbed, Merton continued to play in the same fashion and posed further problems to the Nottsborough defence. By this stage however, the opposition were starting to come in to the game more and it was certainly a game with the attackers on top. 40 minutes in and Merton won a free kick on the right hand side around the half way line. Sensing an opportunity, Mike hurried forward to pose the opposition further threat in the air. Dan swung a great ball in towards the far post and although it eluded Mike who had drawn attention from the defence, Frankie was able to win the header at the back stick and loop it back across goal. What should have been a regulation catch for any normal sized goalkeeper turned out to be too tall a task for the diminutive opposition keeper at the time, who could only haplessly flap at the ball leaving Mustard the simplest of finishes from close range. 2-1 Boars. 

Disappointingly, hopes of getting in at half time with a lead were dashed almost instantly as a great individual run from an opposition midfielder yielded a goal when he cut through our midfield like a hot knife through butter, side stepped Vin and slotted home neatly in to the bottom corner from the resultant 1 on 1 with Dan. 2-2 when half time arrived.

The lads came in at half time feeling hard done by not to have a lead following what had quite frankly been the best half of football the Merton 3s had put together all season. We knew we needed to come out firing early in the second half and get a lead, as with a bare eleven the final 20 minutes were always going to be a challenge. 

Unfortunately, Nottsborough began the second half strongly, presumably buoyed by the fact they were level despite being outplayed during the first period, and after a period of early pressure and a string of corners the hosts took the lead for the first time in the game. The SAL Junior Div 2’s answer to Adebayo Akinfenwa picked the ball up in the centre of the park and bulldozed his way to the edge of the box (with Dan later quoting “I just bounced off him for their 3rd goal”) where he squared to a teammate who finished low in to the corner from around 12 yards out. 3-2 Nottsborough.

For the next 20 minutes or so Merton came back in to the game but were never able to regain the dominance shown in the first half and it was relatively even affair. Some more great stops from Dan in goal along with some resolute defending kept the Boars in it before Merton’s first real opportunity of the second half arose. Some lovely footwork from Dan picking the ball up at right back and cutting inside past two opposition players before sliding a great ball through to Fitz who’d made a great run in behind and thought he found himself through on goal. That was until the opposition’s last man savagely scythed him down on the edge of the box (think Sol Campbell’s never ending slide tackle but more man and less ball). To the dismay of every single boar, the referee failed to give the decision (perhaps not wanting to dirty the new red card he got for Christmas) and waved play on. 

From this point on the lack of substitutes and soft ground began to take its toll on Merton’s legs and before long it was 4-2 with the Nottsborough forward finding too much space on the penalty spot and drilling one in to the corner. Swiftly afterwards it became 5-2 as the little opposition midfielder, now relieved of his duties in goal, picked the ball up a full 30 yards out and drove a high dipping ball towards goal. Dan back-pedalled rapidly and rose to get a hand on the ball sending it skywards before landing on his back on the goal line. Time seemed to stand still at this point as the ball dropped and the lack of any attempt to get up from Dan left the rest of the team to assume another top save had been made and the ball was dropping over the bar. This was not the case however, as the ball dropped under the bar and over the line to the bemusement of pretty much everyone, Boars and opposition alike. Not least Dan who claimed landing on his back had left him momentarily in shock and stopped him from moving as the ball dropped down over him. Perhaps the dick of the day vote was opening itself up again after all.

5-2 became 6-2 not long after as the fight had seemingly been knocked out of Merton by the time we entered the final 10 minutes, a run down the wing from the oppositions star man (AKA “the lad in the blue boots”) left three Merton players for dead before cutting inside and slotting home at the near post from close range. Nottsborough continued to pile on the pressure in the final ten minutes but unwilling to concede a seventh Merton battled away in defence and with Dan able to make another couple of top saves (sore back eh?) it was the Boars who were able to have the last laugh. Merton were awarded a foul on the half way line in a similar position to that from which we had scored our second and once again Dan Rist, who had been having a strong game going forward all day, stepped up to take it. Not keen on delegating responsibility for scoring a consolation to any of the lads in the box, Dan stepped up with a goal of the season contender (also his first goal for the club) bending the diagonal ball across and finding the top corner off the underside of the bar – think Ronaldinho free kick against England in the 2002 World Cup, but from the half way line.

And with that came the final whistle, a day that had started out with so much promise (and plenty of new boots) for the 3s had ultimately ended in defeat, as have so many other close fought games this season. But a strong performance from the lads for 70 minutes is something we can take heart from for the rest of the season, with the opposition skipper commenting post game that we were the best footballing side they had faced all season and with a bit more fitness or some substitutes available it could have been a different story. 

Man of the Match – Dan R

Dick of the Day – Dan B

Scorers – Fitz, Mustard, Dan R

Darren Fitzgerald and Dan Rist at the Wandle for Ryan Gresty’s birthday – both scored their first goals for Merton today. Dan’s was a screamer from the halfway line, Darren’s a clinical finish in the bottom corner. Well done lads!!

3s vs Carshalton – 17.12.16

Carshalton 3s v Merton 3s – 1:0

With the 3s up against top of the table Carshalton and on a run of defeats by one goal, a tough game was to be expected. Additionally, amateur football wouldn’t be amateur football without a late squad change occurring somewhere across the club – this time it was the turn of the 3s, with two players pulling out on the day (one with an unexpected and understandable reason and one, inexplicably, less than an hour before the meet time). With late changes to the squad required, Lee Lenihan answered the call up to don the keeper’s gloves and Walshy, who came along just to watch the game, had thankfully bought his kit and became 13th man. Walshy’s addition to the squad was seemingly lost on Mustard, as during the pre match team talk, he kept referring to the good 12 man squad the 3s had. Walshy leading the warm up seemingly wasn’t memorable enough to enter Mustard’s mind that he was part of the squad. Mentally, a number of players already had decided their DOTD vote at that point.

The game itself was standard fare for Merton 3s, a tight, hard fought game with few clear cut chances, decided by one goal. Both defences played well, with Merton’s led by Alan Clowes, at centre back. Carshalton marginally shaded things in the first half but as the game grew on, Merton 3s came more and more in to the game. Lenners kept a first half clean sheet but injured his hamstring and was replaced at half time by 13th man, Walshy.

Jason Thomas was brought down when through on goal – the ref reached to his pocket for his cards and gave a yellow. Carshalton’s goal was scored mid-way through the second half – it came from a long throw that was aimed at their central midfielder who held off a challenge and knocked it back to a striker to give Walshy no chance from six yards. Jordan had a couple of (half) chances to score, but wasn’t able to make the breakthrough. To the amusement and the adulation of the spectators, Walshy raised the entertainment levels by displaying, on a couple of occasions, his juggling skills whilst shutting out their attackers. Emmanuel was lively when he came on and started to stretch their defence but the 3s still weren’t able to create the chances to properly test the keeper.

Given that Merton were playing against the top of the table team, it could be considered that this was a credible score but as per most of the games this season, the 3s have held their own in terms of competiveness and if a few things had fallen differently, results could have been different. There’s a lot of positives within the Merton 3s squad and they need to find a way to make the marginal improvements to turn one goal defeats into points.

Team: Lee Lenihan, Dan Rist, Jack Rowe, Alan Clowes, Conor Murphy, Iain Evans, Neil Davison, Mustard, Jordan Cox, Jason Thomas, Denys Zhurbiy. Subs: Walshy, Emmanuel Amoakoh

MOTM: Alan Clowes

DOTD: Mustard (for forgetting that Walshy was a late addition to the squad).

3s vs Civil Service – 10.12.16

Merton 3’s vs Civil Service 4’s 10/12/16

It was named the “Relegation Battle” in the build-up, and was set up to be a season-defining game for the mighty 3’s before a ball was kicked. With Civil Service 4’s sitting in sixth place on 10 points and Merton down in 8th with 3, a win here would potentially kick-start what has been an up and down season for the team, with good performances but a knack of dropping points in the latter stages of games.

Another trait of the team this season has been starting slow (something which Darcy and Neal were keen to avoid before this game). Unfortunately this was on show again last weekend with Civil Service winning a corner off the first play of the match. This was the theme for the first 15-20 minutes, with the Boars defending well and trying to play the ball on the floor but struggling to get a foothold in the game.

However, it was our boys that struck first, and it was mainly down to the effort that our front three of Joe, Denys and Frankie were putting in, running hard and applying pressure. The Civil Service back 4 was ropey at best, and midway through the first half Frankie managed to put Merton 1-0 in front with a nicely slotted goal.

The Boars seemed to grow in confidence after this and started to pass the ball around nicely and create some chances for the remainder of the half. The most notable of these was highlighted several times post-game by Denys, with Frankie breaking through and having an opportunity to square the ball for a Denys tap in. Frankie chose to take on the shot himself, shooting wide of the target and causing Denys to roar in frustration and cast his DoD vote in Frankie’s direction. Our back four were excellent leading into half time, with Jordan in particular putting in a fantastic performance keeping the pacey Civil Service winger quiet and setting up some of our more lengthy spells of possession.

The second half kicked off and provided the reason for DoD. Iain played a delicious ball to big Andy’s feet, who then resembled something akin to Bambi on ice rather than a proud Boar, skidding on his backside and allowing the ball to trickle out for an opposition throw in. Keeping in mind Andy had only just entered the fray after spending the first half warming the bench, this was a first touch (or lack of one) that nobody was forgetting. “It’s a studs day” was the bitter sentence murmured after this unfortunate incident.

This may have been somewhat foreboding for what was to come in the rest of the half for the 3’s. Industrious, hard-working, but ultimately slipping up at the wrong moments.

The Civil Service 4’s spent most of the 2nd half applying immense pressure to our guys. Their gigantic centre-back was very vocal as they began to assert their dominance over the game, shouting “Their right-back is leading a charmed life, pump everything down that channel.” Needless to say, this only inspired Neal D to continue his hard work at right back.

Despite some admirable effort from our Boars, the knack of conceding goals continued. The first goal from the visitors was very scrappy, bouncing around the box, ricocheting everywhere before eventually being tapped home. As we tried to get ourselves back into the game, Neal nearly managed to get himself sent off with a crunching challenge, however the referee generously chose the colour yellow. 16-year-old Dylan made his debut and put in a good shift, giving us an outlet down the right hand side, and our midfield of Darcy, Iain and Jamie continued to try and make things happen, however we just could not create chances to get back in front.

Then the inevitable happened, and the visiting team managed to bag another scrappy goal off a defensive error with little more than 5 minutes left in the game. The wild celebrations from the Civil Service showed how hard they had to work for this result, but that didn’t make it any easier for our 3’s to take. A really good effort from the whole team, but just not quite enough quality in the end to see out a result. Hopefully we can cut out these slip-ups and climb the table as we move into 2017 and the latter half of the season.

3s vs Old Wilsonians – 03.12.16

Merton 2-3 Old Wilsonians

This Saturday’s game was led by minute of silence to commemorate the members of Chapecoense FC, who died in a horrific air crash a week ago. Both teams showed their respects before kick off.

With the usual 3s formation (4-5-1), Merton started the match well, pushing for goals with the super fast wingers Glen and Emanuel and not that fast Denys up top. It did work out quite well as a lot of chances were created and lots of ball possession for the home team. And first shot on goal came from Darcy but that wasn’t that dangerous for opposition goalkeeper, few chances for young Emanuel went nowhere as well. Under such a pressure from Merton, we didn’t have to wait long, as Darcy picked the ball from a rebound and hammered it into the top corner, 1-0. Worth saying that our defence with Ben and Alberto was doing well, controlling the game; one of their clearances were picked up by Mustard, who dribbled the ball on the left side up to the oppo goals and only the bar saved them from the 2nd goal.

After the break Merton were looking for a much needed 2nd goal and as a result of constant attacking Neil’s cross was headed by a Wilsonians defender into their own net, 2-0. Having scored 2 goals Merton relaxed a bit and it cost them. The oppo keeper cleared the ball and it was picked up by their left midfielder who made his way towards the Merton goal and coolly lobbed Darren (goalkeeper), 2-1. With being 2-1 up Merton missed a couple of good chances for the 3rd goal, the best one from Denys, tried to lob the keeper but didn’t hit the ball properly, as a result, a throw in for Wilsonians and DOM.

Wilsoninas increased their tempo and pressure over Merton and one of their free kicks ended up with a cross to the box where one of the oppo players headed a ball into the net, 2-2.

Nobody wanted to draw or lose the game, as both teams started counter attacking football. The luck was on Wilsonians side, once again a set piece, crossed into our box and goal, 2-3.

Sad but true, another loss for 3’s:( Onwards and upwards though.

Team: Darren, Alberto, Ben, Mustard, Dan, Neil, Darcy, Ian, Glen, Emanuel, Denys, Jordan, Alex

MOM – Dan, Ian, Neil

DOM – Denys