Merton 8-3 Kew
The in-form Merton 4s have been on a fine run, although it had, of late, been halted. Not by losses or draws, but instead by an unusual 3-week gap between games. So an inconsistent Kew side, who had registered three wins to date, represented something of a dangerous prospect, especially when just 11 Merton players arrived in time for kick-off. The setting was idyllic though. Cool, calm conditions with just enough moisture about to slick the surface. As games at the Hood go, this was about as conducive to free, flowing football as you’ll get.
The first 15 minutes didn’t see many chances accrue, but Merton were clearly in control of proceedings, pressing high up the pitch, passing the ball around beautifully, and maintaining a very solid shape. Mick Elgar was commanding the defensive line with aplomb, Bill and Sonny were pulling the strings in midfield, and Aaron Byrne, filling in from the 5s, was already beginning to look a threat.
The much-deserved breakthrough came, albeit in fortuitous fashion. A ball over the top found Dom, who managed to beat the offside trap. There was no denying that the ball struck his outstretched hand as he brought it under control. Nevertheless, you can only play to the whistle, and, in its absence, it still needed a good finish. And given the decisions which have gone against this side over the past season or two, no one in yellow was complaining. 1-0.
The rest of the half was, quite simply, a blitzkrieg. The second goal came just short of the half-hour mark – a skewed clearance finding Bill in the box. He still had a bit to do, but thundered it into the net with his left foot. If that was good, then what happened next was even better. Again it fell to Bill’s left foot, albeit considerably further out this time. Nevertheless, he once again provided a clinical, ruthless finish, and now Merton were flying at 3-0.
The fourth goal was one of the best of the day. As the ball fell to Mikey in defence, Frankie saw space up the right flank early, and made a rampaging run. The long, crossfield ball was pinpoint; although Frankie’s first touch wasn’t. Nevertheless, he benefited from a lucky ricochet off the defender, and then lobbed the keeper in sumptuous fashion. The first half rout was then complete when Aaron was put through on goal, and scuffed it over the keeper to make it 5-0. Perhaps an air of good fortune in the finish, but it was no more than he deserved after an excellent display.
At 5-0, after producing arguably the best 45 minutes they’ve ever played, the only real challenge for the 4s in the second half was to avoid complacency, and keep such impressive intensity going. That looked to be on the cards, as Aaron scored again to make it 6-0. However, it wasn’t quite the same thereafter, and Kew were next on the scoresheet – the striker somehow wedging his way between the yellow defensive line, with a mistimed finish that had just a bit too much for Gubby.
Celebrations were to follow though, as Aaron scored again to secure a second hat-trick in as many weeks. And, just when he thought it couldn’t get any better, he scored another – arguably his best one of the lot from the tightest of angles. Well played lad – what a performance! Shortly before that, Kew had scored a second, with a free kick that had somehow penetrated the wall. The visitors also had the final say with the goal of the match at the death, as one of their forwards blasted home a pile-driver from 30 yards.
But it was all academic really, and didn’t take the gloss off what was a scintillating display from a team which is playing at a level higher than the sum of its already-considerable parts. It’s good to watch, even better to be a part of, and if this continues for the rest of the season, it’s difficult to see how silverware – or promotion at the very least – will not follow.
Team: Gubby (GK), J Plumridge, Elgar, J Gridley, Plaistow (c), Kalogirou, Toms, Choudhury, Kennedy, Byrne, D Plumridge
Subs: Todt, Shreeve
Goals: Byrne (4), Toms (2), D Plumridge, Kalogirou