AFA Cup chances end with a Big Bang!

Merton certainly won’t remember, remember this particular 5th of November with much fondness following defeat against a well versed Old Carthusian’s outfit in the AFA cup.

Despite the majority of the team having their blissful Friday night’s sleep broken by Emillio’s late night whatsapp search for a stud tightener, the team (rat aside) successfully followed Clappers’ detailed directions to the picture perfect Charterhouse School in Godalming.

For a variety of reasons, Merton were missing some regular playing members but were buoyed by the return of Matt Bosher for his 1st appearance of the season. Ivan Gladkov was also welcomed back to the fold following his recovery from a slight hamstring strain.

Despite a swift 5k hike from the changing room to the pitch and a warm-up completed with good intensity, the match started badly for the Boars. The unfortunate demise of the public school fagging system meant that there were no ball-boys present to retrieve the ball as it trundled towards Godalming High Street immediately from the kick-off. When the ball did eventually return, a cross from the untracked OC left back caused mayhem inside the Merton 18 yard box and was rifled home with aplomb to give the hosts an early lead.

For the next 10 minutes Merton struggled to get a foothold in the game, whilst the movement of the OC midfielders and forwards impressed greatly. Though the hosts had a good amount of the ball, slowly and surely the men in yellow gained confidence and started to pass the ball with greater conviction whilst limiting the hosts to few clear cut chances. Midway through the half the unlucky Gladkov had to be substituted through injury once again, with the impressive Emillio replacing him.  Leading Sports Injury expert Peter Browne later confirmed that the unlucky winger was suffering from a ‘lump on the ankle’.

Despite having little opportunity to get on the ball, Charlie & Johnny worked impressively hard up front and created a couple of half chances accordingly. It was this hard work that enabled Charlie to link up with Emilio on the right hand side and curl a beautiful strike inside the far post from 20 yards to level the game 5 minutes before half time and send the Merton support (2) into raptures.

The 2nd half saw Merton hold a good shape and gradually frustrate the hosts with Sam & Nick providing additional valuable cover to the back four, whilst the introduction of Bosher and his subsequent pace provided a different outlet for the team. OC continued to have the majority of the possession whilst creating some decent half chances which were thwarted by Siri & Browne went close from a Merton corner. The game then swung the way of the hosts with 10 minutes left when Clappers was adjudged to have pushed the OC Centre Forward inside the penalty box. The OC player certainly made the most of any supposed contact but the referee who had frustrated the Merton players for most of the afternoon quickly pointed to the spot.  Siri managed to lay a glove on the ball but to no avail and suddenly Merton had to chase the game. As they pushed up the pitch Browne was left 1 on 1 and was pulled back by the OC Forward. Astonishingly the referee gave a free kick to OC and though it was defended well a free header from the resulting corner made it 3-1 and goodnight Vienna. The final minutes saw Merton get frustrated with the referee further when an offside was missed prior to another penalty being awarded (correctly) against Clappers for pulling inside the box. The penalty was scored and the game finished 4-1 which was very harsh on a Merton side who worked tirelessly against a very good side who will have eyes on winning the trophy.

After the game, the players were presented with hot food and squash by their upmarket hosts. A flapjack was also provided which looked fairly plain but was actually packed full of oatey goodness yet remained moist and soft, something that is far from easy to achieve on such a bake. With the inclusion of some dried raspberries or chocolate chips this would have been a genuine delight.

Next week sees the Men in yellow travel to the Old Blues in another cup encounter. Whilst the return of some regulars and the depth in the squad will certainly provide Captain Clapperton with some selection dilemmas, it would appear that the injured Gladkov will be missing once again along with Kearns who starts his 3 match suspension. In light of this suspension and as part of the clubs commitment to growing community relations, local TV and radio stations have been asked to post regular adverts informing the women of West London that the Trump supporting Kearns is likely to be in the vicinity for the next few Fridays nights.

Team: Siri, Rat, Clappers ©, Browne, Kearns, Gladkov (Emillio), Sam, Nick, Rayner, Johnny (Bosher), Charlie.

Dick of the Day: Clappers gave away 2 penalties and stole 2 mini rolls after the game. Van got 2 votes.

Man of the Match: Peter Browne. Impressive performance on a pitch that didn’t suit his playing style.

Posted in Match Reports 1s