After a 0-0 draw to EBOG last week at the Hood, the Merton men donned their yellow kits again at the Hood for a match up against HSBC, who were promoted last year from the Senior 3 division. Most of the Merton men arrived to the Hood at 12:45 sharp for their first 2pm kickoff of the season. The team welcomed back veteran defender Rat, who had been injured in the first game of the season. Vanny, still side-lined with a lingering hamstring injury, led the warmups and locker-room banter. He informed the team of HSBC’s recent form, stating incorrectly that HSBC had defeated EBOG by two goals, knowing all too well that this would psyche the guys up after last week’s draw to EBOG.
Before kickoff, a minute of silence was held to remember the tragic death of Nick Papanastasiou, who was a beloved Merton player and friend. Both teams stood opposite each other at the center circle for a minute of reflection. The Merton players wore black bands around their right arms as tribute to Nick and his loss to the club.
Merton had the first chance of the game as young James, making his first start for the 1s at left wing, (hopefully first of many) found himself on goal early after crossing up the HSBC right back inside their penalty box. Despite a solid look at the goal, HSBC’s keeper made a diving save on James’ shot. This was Merton’s best chance of the first half and one of the best of the match.
Both teams played extremely physical football and neither took a clear advantage early. The ball was in the air more than either would have liked, but Merton’s strong midfield trio of Tilly, Woody, and Will Low, won a majority of these aerial contests. However, the team lacked composure early and fiddled away a number of would be chances that could have turned the game Merton’s way.
HSBC overcompensated for their inferior skill with physical play and tried to rattle the Merton side with a bit of trash talking. The trash talking started out quite benign, but later in the first half after a clean tackle by Chaz in Merton’s box on a frail number 9, the trash talking escalated quickly to ugly exchanges of words, late tackles, and face-to-face square offs. Unfortunately, this made an already sloppy match, sloppier and resulted in a number of skirmishes, which culminated in Kearnsey’s red card around the 80th minute. He will miss three matches.
Despite a disappointing result for Merton, in which the team could not capitalise on its chances, there were a number of bright spots. Merton was close to scoring on several occasions. In the second half, Chaz sailed a squarely hit header just wide right off of a corner and Charlie, in typical solid form, had a number of shots on goal, most notably, a volley that was saved by their keeper. Els, a late substitution for right wing Milo, gave the team a much needed spark off the bench and demonstrated his speed and skill on the ball by running around defenders and nearly taking it to the house a few times. Manny and Brauner came off the bench in the second half for James and a gimpy Rat, respectively, and kept Merton fresh. The team will follow up on Rat’s injury after training on Wednesday.
In spite of the match’s poor standard of play, the defence held strong and limited HSBC to just a handful of chances. Per usual Siri was stellar, though not needed nearly as often as in the past two matches. Siri did make his presence known in the first half with a diving stop of an HSBC header from the six yard box off of a free kick from a few yards outside of the top right of the 18-yard box.
In the past three matches, Merton’s defence, led by Siri, have held the opposition to just one goal. Even with the team’s defensive effort, Merton has been held scoreless in those three matches and has managed just two points to show for it. With some offensive fire power in Vanny returning shortly from injury and hopefully Tom Rowe later in the season, the team should make for a formidable foe and a tough team to face in league play.
Through six games, Merton sits 5th in the table with 9 points, only two points behind HSBC, who are 2nd with a game in hand. This would have been a huge victory that would have catapulted Merton to 2nd in the table. Merton was the better side and will be ready for HSBC next time.
Next week Merton heads south to the Charterhouse School for a second round AFA cup matchup against Old Carthusians, who play in the Arthurian League and are one of only a few English clubs to win both the FA cup and Amateur Cup. There is no doubt that Merton will be up for this one.
TEAM: Siri (GK), Kearnsey, Chaz, Clappers, Rat, Will Low, Tills, Woody, Milo, Charlie, James Laughton
SUBS: Brauner, Els, Manny
MAN OF THE MATCH: Will Low was voted man of the match for his dominating performance
in the middle
DICK OF THE DAY: Kearnsey’s red card earned him dick of the day, despite 4 votes for Vanny.


Posted in Match Reports 1s