1s vs Crouch End Vampires – 28.10.17
Crouch End Vampires 1 – 0 Merton FC
This weekend saw the 1s make their third lengthy trip to north London against bottom of the table Crouch End Vampires. The game represented a great opportunity for the lads to gain three points and move up to fourth in the table after a number of decent league performances that so far had only led to five points.
The team welcomed back the likes of Jordan Cox and Harrison Ryle into the starting 11 after missing the game at Oilers and it was a first appearance for Gabby starting on the right wing.
Possibly because of Storm Brian the weekend before, the groundsman clearly hadn’t got round to giving the pitch a well needed trim; as it represented something like Chris Waddle’s mullet back in the 80s.
During the early parts of the first half it was a messy encounter with neither team really getting the ball under control and producing any signs of true quality. Crouch End in particular seemed to set up with no real structure in front of the standard back four, but it meant they were pressing high up the pitch and not allowing Merton to move the ball around in their usual style.
With the game quite frantic, it lead to few chances but without doubt it was the home side that enjoyed the better of play and created the better openings. A number of pop shots from 20 yards not finding the target. However, after a sloppy pass from James Gray in the middle of park just before the half time whistle, the Vampires had a real sight of goal only to be denied by a great last-ditch block from Harrison seeing the ball go wide of the post.
At half time the travelling side knew they had to produce something better if they were going to get anything out of the game. But it wasn’t the worst result to come in at half time 0-0.
The start of the second half certainly saw an improved Merton side who were having better possession in the right areas of the pitch and restricting the home team to very few chances. Much down to the work of Harrison and Rat on the right side of the defence.
On the hour mark, with Merton trying to press down the left channel an interception and subsequent long ball had the away side backpedalling. It was Gray who chased his man into the corner flag but with a rush of blood hacked him down giving a needless freekick; also receiving a yellow card. From the resulting cross it was The Vampires captain who leapt highest, as he had done throughout the game, to header home the opener.
It was real blow for the visitors who had been better in the second half but a fully deserved lead for the home side.
The remaining stages of the game were much more open as Merton pushed for an equaliser and Crouch End playing on the counter attack finding more space.
With around ten minutes to go a great piece of play from Sam Pritchard sees him bring the ball down on his chest and attempt a lob on the volley from the edge of the box. It looked certain to find the net but a great fingertip save onto the underside of the bar kept the Vampires ahead.
Unfortunately, for the travelling team the game petered out with the result remaining 1-0 to Crouch End who secured their first win of the season.
Man of the Match: Harrison Ryle. Made several important challenges
DOTD: James Gray. THAT TACKLE!
Line Up: Siri, Rat, Harrison, Clappers, Jordan, Gray, Sam Harvey, Sam Pritchard, Gabby, Ivan & EJ
Subs: Browner and Adam