Our first cup game of the season against a team we had beaten a couple of weeks previously in
the league. Fast forwarding to the end, the match was notable for the near unanimity of votes
for not only the identities of MoM and DoD, but also the rationales. Despite only coming on at
half time, Glenn got the former for a host of chances created and the penalty he won and
scored. His left foot had fully rediscovered its mojo, though no one ignored the opportunity to
point out that it was about time after it had been firing blanks for the first part of the season. So
back-handed compliments were delivered to Glenn all round.
For DoD, I am happy to admit that it was not my finest performance in Merton yellow. But I
strongly protest my innocence of the specific crimes of which I was universally accused. So a
deserved punishment, but for the wrong charge sheet. I will let you make your own mind up on
how that rates in terms of real justice. It is a Merton justice I suppose, a crooked path that often
leads to the right destination.
These were horrible conditions for football – raining hard with a diagonal wind, and made worse
by playing on the smaller Hood pitch due to a scheduling error earlier in the day. Before KO, we
were hurt badly by the news that Joel had been forced into work. So rather than helping us win,
he was helping his employer (Fulham FC) successfully lose again. It left a big hole in the
midfield that was not convincingly filled. Fat Sam was also unable to join us (which left rather
less of a hole despite his name), and meant the gifted George was drafted into a forward line
that was on a good run of goals.
The first half was largely unremarkable. Both sides had a couple of chances without ever
playing very well. Sam Clayton was finding a lot of space at right back, and there were a couple
of nice combinations down the left with Johnny/ Jaime, but we were unable to replicate the
football that has brought us recent good results. Their chances largely came from our mistakes
(including from me) – but none of the resulting opportunities were taken. I should also give a
mention to Jimbo for some good covering at the back.
At half time, there was a bit of tactical chat from Clappers, but mostly an emphasis on upping
the intensity. Unfortunately someone set a timer for this additional intensity to only kick-in after
20 minutes, by which time the opposition had scored twice.
Their first came on the break. Both their strikers made through runs, I decided to go with mine,
Joe (or maybe it was Jimbo) annoyingly decided to play offside. The oppo striker that came on
at half-time, who I will call Goldilocks though his blonde hair was probably not long enough to be
a direct match, was duly played through and slotted home. The second came with Goldilocks
receiving the ball to feet, facing away from goal with me at his back. He managed to find enough
space to slot a good pass between Jimbo and Joe for a winger to race onto and score. A decent
goal to be fair, exactly the sort of pass that Clappers has been imploring us to play at every
team chat as if stuck on senile loop for the last 2 years +.
The pre-set intensity timer finally went off at this point. Consistent Merton pressure resulted. For
our first, Jaime placed the ball into an empty part of the net after a couple of blocked shots
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ended with the ball at his feet in close range of the goal (having previously tried to drill it through
a defender on an earlier chance). Our second came from Glenn managing to get round the back
of them down the left, and cheekily nutmegging their defender on the byline. When he was then
fouled late from behind, he got back up to score the penalty. I say fouled, but I did not actually
see it, and I am pretty sure the ref did not either. But we both heard the beautifully judged
scream – sincere and full bodied in sound as well as exquisitely timed – and that was enough for
the penalty to be given.
We could easily have scored a third. Glenn delivered a succession of excellent whipped in
deliveries from corners. Max criminally headed one wide from a yard, and another was saved on
the line by their back post defender. Johnny was also suddenly producing some skills down the
right to get past his man, but we did not manage to convert the half opportunities that were
fashioned.
Instead, we conceded a poor winner. I don’t remember it in full, but the position did not feel too
threatening until Jimbo hit a clearance into Goldilock, and the ball fell nicely at his feet in the
area. I came sliding across to try to block his shot, but instead of shooting Goldilocks decided to
fall theatrically to his knees. By the time my slide got to him he had actually already been on the
floor for a couple of seconds, but the ref was well and truly duped. Keeper Sam did well to save
the penalty initially, but it only rebounded out a short distance to allow the taker to slot home at
the second attempt.
While we can complain about that decision and a couple of offsides given against us, we cannot
really complain about the result because it was not a good performance. Personally, I blame
Scott Parker as our central midfield duo of Max and Josh was industrious but missed the
smoother influence of Joel. However, Scott was not around after the game, so everyone else
blamed me.
Posted in Match Reports 1s