Category: Match Reports 4s

4s vs Polytechnic 8s – 16.09.17

Polytechnic 8s vs. Merton 4s
SAL Junior Division 4 South
Saturday 16th September 2017

After last weekend’s opening defeat, it was important that we went brought the three point’s home against Polytechnic 8s.

We were able to welcome Michael Gubby back in goal with Sonny Kennedy and Michael Vogt back and named in the starting line-up and on the bench respectively. Unfortunately we were with Dom Plumridge however had a squad capable of getting the result that was needed.

It was clear from the outset that this was a game that was there for the taking and the result proved that.

The first half seemed to go by in a flash in which we went in four goals to the good. Going in just one goal to the good is rare for this team!

We stated the second half as we did the first, one the front foot and not going the host a sniff of the ball. It didn’t take long before we were able to add more to our tally with the score at 7-0 in our favour with 10 minutes to go which included a hat trick from Adam Collings.

The opposition were able to find a consolation however after Dan Gridley found himself in the sin bin following a dispute with the ref. Two sin bins in successive games isn’t good enough and something that we need to work on.

With Dan having kicked the ball out of play for a corner before leaving the field of play, we were unable to track men which allowed an easy header to find the back of the net. This was something that Gubby wasn’t happy about as the clean sheet would have helped towards the Golden Glove award he hopes to win come the end of the season.

We managed to dent the oppo a little more with one final goal courtesy of Matt Sheeve so record our biggest ever win of 8-1.

Next week we are in Chiswick again to face IBIS Eagle in the hope that we can move this performance forward and claim another three points.

FINAL SCORE: Polytechnic 8s 1 – 8 Merton 4s
SCORER(S): Adam Collings (3), Aaron Loftus (2), Sonny Kennedy, Michael Vogt, Matt Shreeve
Adam Collings – Hat trick Hero

DOTD: Dan Gridley – Sin binned

STARTING LINE-UP: Michael Gubby (GK), Joe Plumridge, Dan Gridley, Michael Elgar, John Gridley, Edward Plaistow (Capt.), Akram Choudhury (Matt Shreeve), Sonny Kennedy, Aaron Loftus, Ryan Burchell (Michael Vogt, Adam Collings

4s Report 09.09.17

The new season was upon us, and the Merton 4s had good reason to believe that this would be one where they were more than just relegation fodder. That said, the restructuring of the SAL leagues meant that the Yellows found themselves in a division which was unlikely to be much easier. First up was Old Salesians Reserves – a team who had embarrassed us by a score of 6-1 last season in the Cup.

Determined not to let history repeat itself, Merton made an excellent start. The first few minutes saw them absorb a few dangerous attacks from the visitors with a solid shape, and what followed was a barrage of opportunities at the other end. Chance after chance came thick and fast, with Dom, Matt, Adam and Bill all going close, as the lads played the ball around with aplomb. It seemed only a matter of time before the breakthrough came in what was a brilliant passage of play.
But, as was typical of last season, the goal came entirely against the run of play. Salesians benefited from a mix up on the left, and the finish was pure. 1-0, and a gutting blow. 
One soon became two, although this time it was down to pure bad luck (and a pinpoint finish). Ed did well to intercept an attack on the left, and got a decent boot on it to make the clearance. Unfortunately, it struck Akram, ricocheted into the path of the Salesians centre forward, and his curling left-footed finish from range snuck into the top-left corner of the goal.
Despite the further setback, Merton began to settle down, and once again enjoyed an impressive spell, where chances and half chances accumulated. But, yet again, they were undone at the other end – this time a mix up between Dan Gridley and Mike leaving their striker to pick up a bouncing ball, and in a 2 v 1 situation, Merton suddenly found themselves 3-0 down.
It was inexplicable really, given how the game had gone. Had the scoreline been reversed, it wouldn’t have flattered Merton, who had enjoyed by far the better of the game. Yet they had no choice but to soldier on, knowing that getting a goal back before half time was essential if they were going to harbour hopes of mounting a comeback.
Finally, they were the beneficiaries of some luck, as a mix up between keeper and defender left them exposed at the back. Dom latched onto the loose ball, and showed his usual composure in a one on one with the keeper, slotting it past him with ease and grace.
3-1, and Merton had something to build on. That was how it stayed until the break, and, as the manager said, that was probably the best half of football this team had put together in a long time. Sounds crazy at 3-1 down, but it was true.
It was going to boil down to who scored next, and Merton nearly did exactly that right from the kick-off. But, for some reason thereafter, they just weren’t at the races. The simple passing, intelligent through balls, and generally playing football on the deck, which had served them so well in the first half, suddenly when missing, as they began to aimlessly hoof it long. 
The momentum of the game changed as a result, as Salesians began to produce waves of pressure, and it soon told, as they carved open the Merton defence to score the crucial fourth goal. It further deflated an already-flat 4s team, although they were robbed of the chance of an instant reply, as the oppo goalkeeper produced what can only be described as a rugby tackle on Dom in the box. The ref was unsighted, and didn’t give it. An absolute stonewaller if ever there was one, but it wasn’t to be.
Dom then became the first man to grace the sin bin for dissent, albeit that his comment was pretty innocuous. Nevertheless, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and after Bill’s lob over the keeper struck the side-netting, it was all Salesians, as Merton had no choice but to gamble with three at the back.
They scored another two goals, and probably could have had more, as Merton were basically just waiting for the final whistle. It finally came, with a 6-1 scoreline to digest in the end. Obviously a disappointing result, but plenty of positives to take from a spirited, quality-filled first half. They’ll need to rekindle that – and consign what was a poor second half to history – when they face Polytechnic 8s next week.
Team: Frankie Kalogirou (GK), Ed Plaistow (c), Mike Todt, Dan Gridley, John Gridley, Mike Elgar, Akram Choudhary, Adam Collings, Matt Shreeve, Will Toms, Dom Plumridge
Subs: Aaron Loftus
MOTM: Akram (special mention to John Gridley for a good performance too)

4s vs Ibis Eagles (Spring Cup) – 08.04.17

Merton 4s vs. Ibis Eagles 4s
SAL Spring Cup
Saturday 8th April 2017
FINAL SCORE: Merton 4s 2 – 9 Ibis Eagles 4s
This week saw Ibis Eagles visit Joseph Hood in the final fixture of the Spring Cup.
On a personal level it was embarrassing day as only 4 regular 4th team players making themselves available in myself (Edward Plaistow), Frankie Kalogirou, Akram Choudhury and Kieran Lee, who on this occasion was forced to be an outfield player. Had it not been for the help of Darcy Evans and the majority of the 5th team (who had all played 90 minutes already) we would have been up s**t creek!
With this being a dead rubber having already lost our first 2 games of the tournament, all I asked from those that stepped onto the field was to give it their all. I believe that is what they did until tiredness started to show. This was evident but only going in 1-0 down at the break was.
The second half was all Ibis. Easily finding their passes as the tired legs started to show. At 5-0 down, Darcy found the back of the net to give us some consolation however the visitors found another 4 goals to add to their tally before Frankie tapped in to double the Merton tally after the keeper had tipped away my (Edward Plaistow/Scholesy) curling effort. 
As I’m writing the match report it is worth nothing that our tally could have been tripled after I (Edward Plaistow/Scholesy again!) hit the bar with a sublime chip from 20 yards after finding the keeper stuck to his near post.
All in all it was a disappointing day and end to the season. I just hope that next season my players will be more committed than me! 
Starting Line-up:- Sam Singer-Ripley (GK), Delman Babaker, Darren Avey, Steve Burchell, Edward Plaistow, Frankie Kalogirou, Darcy Evans, Akram Choudhury, Dwayne Bedford, Clive Corrigon, Dulanie Richards
Subs: Luke Newman
Man of the Match: Akram Choudhury
Dick of the Day: Could go to all the regular  4s (apart from Joe Plumridge and Aaron Loftus who told me the week before they wasn’t available) but has to go to John Gridley for deciding a day at the seaside is more important! 

4s vs Old Wokingians (Spring Cup) – 01.04.17

Another glorious Spring morning dawned for the 4s’ second game of the Spring Cup at Woking on Saturday. Or so it seemed, until a potent bucket of rain descended upon what was already a fairly poor (and small) pitch. The lads who were there took refuge in the change rooms. Others were heading anti clockwise down the M25 at the time. And Kieran did his standard bi-monthly no-show.

Anyway, with the help of Tiago and DK, the 4s just about managed to assemble a starting XI in time for kick-off, and with a sub to boot. Mikey Elgar stepped in as goalkeeper, and it immediately became clear how impressive a keeper he was. Aside from his enormous kicks, his command of the defence, communication, handling and speed off the line were superb, and that confidence permeated through the rest of the team, who made a solid start to the game.
In particular, Sonny was tremendous in midfield, perhaps looking to make amends for his no-show the week before. Either way, his engine and work rate was unreal, and with Akram doing a solid job cleaning up behind, Merton were as solid as they’ve ever looked.
In truth though, it was a tight game where the two teams largely cancelled each other out. The smallness of the pitch was such that goalkicks were pinging from one end to the other, and there were moments where it might have felt like a Tony Pulis/Sam Allardyce showdown.
But Merton just about shaded it, creating the better chances, and snuffing out any attacks. The last five minutes of the half were going to be crucial though. The Yellows pressed forward, with the belief that they could find the goal they just about deserved. A goalmouth scramble, but Wokingians cleared. A long-range effort from Dan Gridley, but it went wide. A half chance for Dom, but it didn’t quite fall for him. 
Just no joy. And then, with literally the final attack of the half, disaster struck. Merton were caught cold on the counter. Their striker took it down well, his turn of pace was even better, and in the blink of an eye, he’d toe-poked it past Mikey to make it 1-0 to the hosts. It was a tremendous individual goal, but a bitter blow for Merton after putting in such a good shift.
The talk was still positive at the break, but they were a visibly deflated outfit once the second half got under way. They were by no means poor, but the intensity had dropped just enough that Wokingians were able to claim the ascendancy in open play.
Yet although Merton were beginning to spend a bit too much time in their own half, Wokingians didn’t necessarily carve out much in the way of clear goalscoring opportunities. The Yellows eventually began to lift themselves too, and offered a bit more going forward. But like their opponents, they just weren’t able to create clear chances for themselves.
It was just that kind of game. The skipper then darted off to join the Hollywood ranks, so wasn’t able to give a first-hand review of how the last 15 minutes unfolded. But apparently the game remained tense, tight and with two evenly-matched teams not able to add to the scoreline.
So, 1-0 it finished, and another unfortunate reverse to add to the collection. Difficult to explain really – what more could the Yellows have done? It was by no means a poor performance. Anything but. It’s just been that kind of season, but the lads continue to keep the spirits up and their heads held high. Plenty of credit due for that. Let’s finish the season strong in our final game now.
Team: Mikey Elgar (GK), Ed Plaistow, Joe Plumridge, Mike Todt, John Gridley, Akram Choudhary, Sonny Kennedy, Frankie Kalogirou, Dan Kelly, Dan Gridley, Dom Plumridge
Sub: Tiago Carvalho
MOTM: Sonny Kennedy
DOTD: Kieran

4s vs West Wickham -25.03.17

Merton 2-4 West Wickham

The last day of winter was also the first of the Merton 4s’ Spring Cup campaign. It’s been a disappointing season which has sadly ended in a second relegation in a row. But results haven’t always reflected performances, and here was a good opportunity to put that right, and get some momentum going in order to finish on a high.

“High” being an interesting choice of word, as it may or may not have accounted for two absentees on the day – one of whom was good enough to call in “sick” 2 hours before kickoff, the other entirely uncontactable. We won’t mention names, except to say that, surprisingly, Kieran wasn’t one of them!

Anyway, onto the football, and a decent squad of 12, including some firepower in the form of Denys and wily cunning from the old warhorse Conor Murphy, took to the pitch and electing to go into the wind first up. The theory was that with a bit of grind and damage limitation, the Yellows could set themselves up nicely for a second-half assault.

And that’s pretty much how it went. This was actually decent stuff from the home side, despite adverse conditions and a poor pitch. Don’t get me wrong, free flowing football was at a premium, and this surely would have made for a woeful spectacle for any onlookers. But Merton were working hard, communicating well, and even looking very dangerous on the break occasionally.

Understandably, West Wickham with the wind at their backs enjoyed the better of territory and possession. Yet Kieran didn’t have a save to make. Which is why the opener, on about the half hour mark, was a bit disappointing to concede. In truth, Merton were a bit sluggish in closing down on the left, the ball bobbed about on the fringes of the box, and a very useful left-footed finish was applied into the top-left corner. 1-0 WW.

Although it was hardly cause for panic. A 1-goal deficit into that wind was about par if Merton could hold it to the break. Yet they went one better (it seemed). With minutes remaining in the half, a superb ball from Aaron fed Dom. He still had plenty to do, but beat a defender and slotted it under the keeper with aplomb to make it 1-1.

Celebrations, but with parity at the break now imminent, Merton shot themselves in the foot. A header was lost in the air, and the ball fell to their striker, who was in oodles of space. Kieran darted out to thwart the danger, but there was nothing he could do. 2-1, and the half time whistle went.

A disappointing blow, no doubt. But this was still a very respectable score line, and Merton should have been able to kick on from there with the wind now at their backs.

But, quite frankly, they never got going in the first 15 minutes of the second half, and, but for a decent early chance for Dom, Wickham were much the better side. The third goal was a tad unfortunate – a cross/shot that wickedly got caught up in the wind, and Kieran’s parry couldn’t keep it out. Kieran was perhaps a bit more accountable for the fourth goal, as he was unable to claim a loose ball that he’d come off his line to take.

That said, given the mediocrity of the all round second-half team performance, being 4-1 down was probably not much worse than Merton deserved. In fairness, the lads began to play much better for the final quarter of the game thereafter, and put a lot of pressure on the visitors. There were countless half chances upfront and plenty of goalmouth action, but the ball just wasn’t quite falling for them. Eventually they got one back, with a blatant pull in the box, which, for some reason the Wickham players saw fit to argue about.

Anyway, once all that died down, Dom stepped up and tucked his penalty away, perhaps slightly fortuitously, under the keeper. 4-2, and 10 minutes to go.

Merton kept up the pressure, and half chances continued to come thick and fast. But this seemed destined to be another one of those days. Another game that got away – one where, for the majority, Merton had played more than decently, but, due to silly errors, had left them departing the pitch shaking their heads in defeat. Still, plenty to build on, and hopefully with a full squad, a win lies in wait at Wokingians next week.

Goals: D Plumridge (2)
Team: Kieran Lee (GK), Ed Plaistow, Joe Plumridge, Mike Todt, Conor Murphy, Will Harrison, Mikey Elgar, Frankie Kalogirou, Aaron Loftus, Denys Zhurbiy, Dom Plumridge
Sub: Akram Choudhary
MOTM: Conor Murphy
DOTD: the two men mentioned in paragraph 1

4s vs Lloyds Warren – 25.02.17

Lloyds Warren 3s vs. Merton 4s SAL Minor Division 2 South Saturday 25th February 2017

After last weekend’s impressive display at home against Bank of England, plus the return fixture back in January where we triumphed 9-2, we knew that another three points was the only result. Knowing this, we approached the game like any other, with the mind-set that it could go against us and we could end up on the losing end.


The focus was there as it was still mathematically possible to stay up depending on other results. We had to ensure that we won this game for that to come to fruition however.


We were without our skipper Mike Todt this week as well as Michael Vogt with John Gridley also missing through injury. We did however welcome back Ryan Burchell and Mikey Elgar.


We started the game well and we on the front foot from the off. Frankie was like a man possessed in the middle of the park, winning each and every ball that he challenged for and doing well with it when it was in his possession. He did so well in fact that he won a free kick on the right by-line. Aaron Lotfus stepped up from more than 30 yards out to bury the ball into the back of the net, something that he predicted the night before.


Not long after the restart were we able to double our lead through Dom Plumridge. After a ball into the box failed to be cleared from Dom’s initial effort, he buried it to the keeper’s bottom right at the second time of asking. 2-0 and cruising.


Not long after doubling our lead, Dom picked up a freak injury when claiming the ball after it had gone out of play. Our job was going to be a lot tougher without our talisman but we knew we had capable replacements on the bench. Jake replaced Dom in a straight swap.


It remained 2-0 going into the break and it was a lead that was sell deserved.


The second half started with the opposition opting for a change in keeper however this did not seem to change the outcome as we increased our tally by a further two goals with Dan Gridley scoring with a free kick from the left and Frankie getting on the scoresheet for the first time this season with a high looping effort from 20 yards that the keeper could do nothing about.


4-0 was the final score. A second win on the bounce however was not enough to stay in the league as Civil Service won. Unless Bank of England and Old Wilsonians loss their remaining games (both whom still have Lloyds Warren to play) we will be situated in Division 3 and facing back to back relegations.


Our league position doesn’t justify our performances throughout the season. We have been unlucky in most of the games we have lost. Next season you will see a more determined Merton 4s with only one aim…..promotion and a league title!            


FINAL SCORE: Lloyds Warren 3s 0 – 4 Merton 4s SCORERS: Aaron Loftus, Dom Plumridge, Dan Gridley, Frankie Kalogirou MOTM: Frankie Kalogirou


STARTING LINE-UP: Kieran Lee (GK), Ryan Burchell, Mikey Elgar, Joe Plumridge, Edward Plaistow, Frankie Kalogirou, Will Harrison, Chris Outred, Sonny Kennedy, Dom Plumridge, Aaron Loftus

SUBS: Dan Gridley, Jake Hewitt

4s vs Bank of England – 18.02.17

Maybe it was just the warmth and sunshine. After all, it would seem ridiculous on the face of it that a team who’ve lost five games on the bounce – especially with the latest being a 6-0 reverse at Polytechnic – should have reason to feel confident. But then again, this was a team who’d started to play some really good football recently, and therein lay the main reason for them feeling confident as they set foot in their hallowed turf at the sadly-vandalised Hood for this clash against mid-table Bank of England.

Even a teensy snafu with the kit being locked inside the clubhouse – thus ruling out any chance of a meaningful warm-up – could dent the good feeling and mirth as the Merton 4s embraced each other. Eventually, the key arrived, the AC Milan-style kit was quickly donned, and the lads took to the field under clear skies and warm temperatures.
The game kicked off, and was almost breathless right from the off. End-to-end stuff, with both teams showing plenty of endeavour. BOE certainly had the better of the exchanges in the first 15 minutes, with a right-footed shot that went wide of the left post, and another from range which Kieran tipped wide. They might have done better from a free header at a corner later on too.
But to focus on that would be an injustice to Merton, who were not only far steadier at the back, but offered plenty going forward too. The midfield engine, spearheaded by Sonny and Will, provided a good base, and when the ball was played out wide, the home side looked particularly dangerous. They got themselves into good positions too, but, as has been the case over the last few weeks, their finishing wasn’t clinical.
In the last 10 minutes of the half, two crucial things happened though. At one end, Kieran made an outstanding reflex save when their striker looked sure to score. And then at the other end, in the dying minutes before the break, Mike Vogt sent a superb cross-field ball to Aaron. He nudged the ball down, it fell kindly, and he lashed it home with that deadly left boot from 10 yards out to make it 1-0.
Delirium for Merton, and what a way to go into the interval. Nothing but positive vibes were shared, but there was a determination in them to make it count. In the reverse fixture against these opponents, Merton had enjoyed the same half-time score, but shot themselves in the foot by going on the defensive.
This time though, they took the game to the oppo as soon as the whistle sounded for the resumption. Aaron was running riot on the right wing, and Merton enjoyed plenty of possession. And it stemmed almost entirely from Sonny, who was nothing short of outstanding at the heart of the midfield. His work rate was relentless, and Bank of England could hardly get a kick. Merton delivered wave after wave of attacks, and should have really scored earlier than they did.
In fact, they should have been given what was a stonewall penalty as well, but the ref – who it must be said was otherwise superb – seemed to bottle it on a foul that would surely have been called anywhere else on the pitch. Nevertheless, Merton were not to be denied, and eventually, after many goalmouth scrambles and missed opportunities, the second goal arrived. Aaron’s delivery was meekly parried by their keeper, and the ball bobbled around and eventually landed on the head of Dom. He had the simple task of nodding it over what was left of the defence, and the ball nestled gloriously in the net.
2-0. Merton had their crucial second, and Dom his first of 2017. May the floodgates now open.
More importantly, he’d now set Merton firmly on course for victory. He might have had another a few minutes later, as a delightful through ball had him one on one with the keeper. It wasn’t to be though, as the keeper thwarted his effort with a good block.
On the flip side, Bank of England did have one dangerous attack, which came from a Merton error. However, Kieran timed his charge off his line to perfection, and the combination of his presence and Will cleaning up meant that the visitors had been snuffed out.
Indeed, the final 10 minutes were a masterclass in game management, as Merton maintained their grip on their opponents to see out what turned into a relatively comfortable win. But it was comfortable only because the lads had worked their socks off, chasing everything down for the cause, and pulling in the same direction for each other. All 13 players who set foot on the field had played their part, and, even if long overdue, had finally patched it all together to put on a display of which we’ve known we’re capable all along.
Let’s use it now and finish the season strong. There’s plenty more good things to come from this team. Saturday was the proof of the pudding.
Goals: Loftus, D Plumridge
MOTM: Sonny Kennedy

Team: Kieran Lee (GK), Ed Plaistow, Mike Todt, Joe Plumridge, John Gridley, Will Harrison, Michael Vogt, Chris Outred, Sonny Kennedy, Aaron Loftus, Dom Plumridge

Subs: Dan Gridley, Frankie Kaligorou

4s vs Polytechnic 6s – 11.02.17

As the snow tumbled down, 13 men who, by Saturday, don the mighty yellow, expectantly checked their phones that morning, with the text from Scholesy that the game against Poly would be called off seemingly a racing certainty.

But it never came, and an almost reluctant Merton 4s slowly gathered in the change room. The late arrival of the manager meant the kit was hurriedly put on – not that anyone really fancied a warm up anyway.

Given the adverse conditions, the pitch was in surprisingly good nick, and after some encouraging performances in recent weeks, Merton said about asserting themselves.

But the first couple of minutes were almost a perfect microcosm of the 4s season so far. For about 120 seconds from the kick off, they pinged the ball around beautifully, getting ball to feet, and building two very dangerous attacks in the process.

It didn’t yield a goal though. Well, not for Merton anyway. One hoof upfield from Poly, a mix up in defence, and the hosts gleefully poked it home. And just like that, a deflated Merton were 1-0 down.

The lads kept their heads up though, and, impressively, they kept playing football. After 15 minutes, it is fair to say Poly had barely had a kick, and yet were 1-0 up. Not only had Merton bossed the midfield, but they’d opened up their opponents down the wings a number of times too.

Yet they were always vulnerable on the counter, and that’s how Poly’s second came about. Their striker got in behind, and Kieran initially made a fine save. Unfortunately, he lost his footing a touch on the follow up, and his palmed second save could only send the ball over his head and rolling agonisingly into the net. 2-0 Poly.

And still Merton kept going, as the midfield continued to have the better of things, with Sonny and Akram doing a fine job in the middle of the park. But then came a nasty injury to Chris Outred, as he clashed heads with a Poly player as both went in for a full-blooded header. And full blooded it was, as an astonishing amount of the red stuff came from Chris’s forehead. After a few minutes of checking for concussion and performing some relatively amateur first aid bandage work, Chris was escorted from the field. We do wish him a speedy recovery.

The third and fourth goals came just after half time, although this scribe was in the clubhouse attending to the wounded at the time, so no details of how it happened are currently available.

There is no fun in getting a battering. But credit to the Yellows, they kept going, and still continued to produce some pockets of good football. That said, Poly were by now the more dominant side, and as injuries accumulated for Merton, they became very stretched.

Poly’s 5th goal came about from some good interplay down the left, although the shot which finished it was something of a worldie. It left Kieran with no price whatsoever. The same could not be said of the 6th goal though, as Merton were caught out trying to play it from the back.

At the other end, Ryan Burchell made a good run that almost yielded a goal, while Danny Gridley also made a fine surge upfield, which led to a decent chance.

But it wasn’t to be, and the final whistle mercifully sounded to end a bitterly disappointing day. After a result like that, the acid test was going to be just how acidic the recriminations were in the change room. Yet nothing of the sort ensued. Instead, the lads shared frustration, but took pride in the quality of football they produced. True, the sloppy goals they continue to give away, and their profligacy in front of goal are a big concern. Yet in amongst all that is also some very, very good football. It’s time to convert that into a result against Bank of England next week.

MOTM: Sonny Kennedy

Team: Kieran Lee (GK), Ed Plaistow, Joe Plumridge, John Gridley, Dan Rist, Dan Gridley, Akram Choudhary, Chris Outred, Frankie Kaligorou, Sonny Kennedy, Dom Plumridge

Subs: Clive Corrigan, Ryan Burchell, Mike Todt

4s vs Old Wilsonians – 04.02.17

Merton 0-3 Old Wilsonians

After a heartening performance against Carshalton the week before, the Merton 4s had every reason to feel positive going into this relegation 6 pointer at Old Wilsonians. Despite the dire weather predictions, the game went ahead under sunny skies.

There were a couple of absentees, with Mike pulling out due to a ‘back’ problem, while Kieran Lee’s non arrival was almost half expected, given his birthday celebrations the night before. But all in all, a pretty strong squad took to the field, and they began the game well, despite being into the sun and up the slope. Aaron, as ever, was very incisive on the wing, while Will Harrison did what he does best in midfield – the ideal screen for any defence.
Unfortunately, the breakthrough came at the other end, and somewhat against the run of play. Merton might have done better to clear their lines, which allowed the Wilsonians left winger time and space. He got in behind the defence, and ended up one on one with stand-in keeper Chris Outred. His finish was clinical, and with that, the hosts led 1-0.
It knocked the wind out of Merton’s sails, and they were fairly poor the next 15 minutes. Wilsonians’ second was deserved, albeit a worldie from 30 yards out.
At 2-0 down, Merton came back into the contest though, with the wings bearing fruit. The flashpoint came a few minutes later, as Frankie was played in. He took the ball well, beating one defender in the box, before being savagely smashed in the face. It was a blatant penalty and a red, but that was almost beside the point. Frankie was writhing in agony, and somehow the ref waved play on! Wilsonians nearly scored at the other end before sanity eventually prevailed and play was halted.
Frankie gingerly made his way off the pitch, and in some pain too. Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery.
It was all Merton at this point, but with five minutes to go until half time, another worldie from outside the box made it 3-0. Chris had no chance, as their little forward turned into space and shot in a flash from 25 yards. Incredible goal, but at 3-0 down, it was now a long way back.
Credit to Merton, they put in an excellent second half display, pretty much in keeping with the performance against Carshalton. But, like the week before, the Yellows were guilty of flagrance in front of goal, and they spurned a number of golden opportunities to haul themselves back into the game.
They gave as good as they got right to the end, but were unable to get on the scoresheet. A real shame, and the final result all but condemns them to a second relegation in succession. But this is a team starting to play some good football, and there is now a great opportunity for them to string some results together and build the confidence that’s just lacking a bit. This team will be back, you can bet your bottom dollar on that.
MOTM: Aaron Loftus

Team: Chris Outred (GK), Ed Plaistow, Dan Gridley, Joe Plumridge, John Gridley, Will Harrison, Michael Vogt, Frankie Kaligorou, Sonny Kennedy, Aaron Loftus, Dom Plumridge

Subs: Mikey Elgar, Lee Lenihan

4s vs Carshalton – 28.01.17

Merton 1-2 Carshalton

For a somewhat beleaguered 4s outfit, who’d won just once in their last 6 games, the prospect of table-topping Carshalton seemed a grim one – particularly after last week’s poor defeat to relegation rivals Old Wilsonians.

Nevertheless, a strong-looking squad diligently did their warm ups, waiting patiently for the men in green to arrive. And they waited. And they waited some more. Eventually they sauntered up the King George’s ‘turf’ 20 minutes late, protesting that they’d been sent the wrong venue by Merton’s fixtures secretary. Apparently the ref had seen evidence of this misleading email too. Merton were dubious (justifiably so in the end, as Mark Chappell later confirmed in the clubhouse). But it meant, at the time, that the Yellows had to let things be, and start the game at Carshalton’s leisure.

Perhaps that added extra inspiration though, because Merton started the game with a bang. With the sun and the wind at their backs, the hosts were simply all over the oppo. On a pretty poor surface, they were playing it on the deck, using the wings and barely letting Carshalton get a kick. Will’s return was hugely notable, and his impact was profound. And upfront, Mike Vogt was simply excellent, making incisive runs and putting in plenty of delightful through balls.

The breakthrough was fortunate, but no more than Merton deserved. A tame ball appeared to have been safely gathered by their keeper. But with barely anyone watching – other than a prowling Sonny – he coughed it up out of nowhere. A gleeful Sonny pounced, and slammed it home into an empty net. 1-0, delight for Merton.

The next 20 minutes were a contrast of high quality and frustration. Merton didn’t just carve out chances. They carved out great chances. Sonny later found himself one on one with the keeper on the edge of the box, but blazed over. Frankie, in a similar position, then forced an incredible save from their keeper. And then later Frankie found himself with a free header at the far post, but unfortunately steered it wide from point blank.

There were some other decent chances too, and on another day, Merton would have been out of sight. But failing to take your chances often can come back to haunt you, and it did so here just before the break – albeit in desperately unfortunate circumstances. An incoming ball was missed by both attacker and defender. Kieran, who initially took a knock, bravely got up and hacked away what seemed like a decent clearance. Sadly, it struck Will in the mid section, and ricocheted into the path of the Carshalton striker, handing them an equaliser on a silver platter. Outrageously unjust, no one to blame, but whichever way you cut it, the score was 1-1.

A disbelieving Merton trundled off for the half time interval, incandescent that their best performance in recent memory had yielded so little fruit. But now was the time to make it count. With the wind now in their faces, could they do it?

From the get go, the intensity never dropped. Yes, Carshalton grew into the game, began to enjoy the lion’s share of possession and spent the greater amount of time in the Merton half. But so solid was Merton’s shape, and so relentless was their work rate, that this scribe barely remembers Kieran having a save to make.

Yes, he had some good interventions with the occasional parry here and there, came off his line well; while Carshalton also skewed a few long range shots. But the best chance of all actually came at the other end.

Merton won a free kick. The delivery caused havoc in the area, with Mike eventually flicking it on to Dan Gridley, who was just a few yards out. Unfortunately with the rising ball on the bounce, his shot just cleared the cross bar, and it stayed 1-1.

And with about 10 minutes to go, the sucker punch came. A throw in was flicked on to a Carshalton player, but it seemed fairly harmless with the lad a good few yards outside the area. Alas, he lashed it home into the bottom left corner, leaving Kieran no chance at all. 2-1 Carshalton, and absolutely cruel on Merton.

But in keeping with their performance, they never gave up. With 5 minutes to go, a stricken Dom came on for Mike, as they threw everyone forward. And in the dying seconds, a through ball scuttled it’s way through to Sonny. He carried it forward into the box and was one on one with the keeper. Surely….

No. It just wasn’t to be. Sonny did everything by the book, sending it low and to the keeper’s right. But somehow, with perhaps the power of some Deity looking down, the keeper thwarted it.

And that was it. The final seconds ticked by, the final whistle went, and Merton had to leave the field digesting one of the most unjust defeats you’ll probably ever see. But they also did so with their heads held high. It dawned on them that they’d just outplayed a team who are running away with the league. This is how the Merton 4s know they can play. So can they do it in the rematch against Wilsonians next week? If they do, then three points will almost be guaranteed.

Goals: Sonny Kennedy
MOTM: Will Harrison

Team: Kieran Lee (GK), Ed Plaistow, Mike Todt, Chris Outred, John Gridley, Will Harrison, Akram Choudhary, Michael Vogt, Frankie Kaligorou, Sonny Kennedy, Aaron Loftus

Subs:  Joe Plumridge, Dom Plumridge, Dan Gridley