1st vs Ibis Eagles – 28.01.17
Merton 2 – 1 IBIS Eagles
With last week’s disappointing cup performance well and truly forgotten about it was back to business in the league and an opportunity to do the double over IBIS Eagles down at what is quickly becoming, fortress Hood. Due to several coinciding factors including daughter’s birthday parties and Lancaster student uni reunions, the changing room was a short of a few regular senior faces. Browner was quick to regale in the spirit of ‘Norseman away’ back in 2014, another occasion when we were without key personnel although able to come away with the points due to two key factors; an early Jason Marsh thunderbolt and the big yellow Merton bus which parked itself in front of our goal for the proceeding 80 minutes. I’ll never get bored of hearing that story.
Anyways, we set up in our familiar 4-3-3 formation and looked in control of the opening exchanges with CJ Rayner and Milo looking menacing in behind the returning Tommy Rowe although the Eagles keeper remained largely untroubled. Rat and Browner were marshalling the back line in Clappers absence with confidence and authority which was great to see albeit a tad surprising given the number of goals shipped with the two of them playing there together previously! Unfortunately our promising opening came to an abrupt end soon after the 20 minute mark when some sloppy play in the middle of the park led to a breakaway down our right flank culminating in a tidy finish by their striker which, left Siri with no chance. It was their first attack of note, but for all of our possession and running but end product we didn’t have much to complain about. It could have got worse if not for a smart save by Siri and Browner clearing expertly from inside our six yard box. At the other end Tom was doing a commendable job holding the ball and brining others in to play but without the midfield getting past him we were struggling to carve out any clear cut opportunities. On the occasions that we did get the ball in the right areas, we were frustratingly lacking a bit of quality to get back on level terms
The second half began in much the same way as the first with Sam, Wilgo and Tills now becoming more dominant in the middle of the park and getting us on the front foot. The introduction of James Laughton and Els on either flank paid immediate dividends and ultimately changed the game with both causing havoc in the final third and Els almost scoring with his first touch. We were now well on top and it seemed only a matter of time before we scored. After a succession of corners Wilgo picked the ball up down the right and delivered the cross of the game to find Tills in space inside the box to coolly slot home at the second attempt (well sort of). We continued pressing and soon after we were ahead. Some cracking work from Kearnsy and Sam resulted in Els picking up the ball 25 yards out. Still with plenty to do he walked past three defenders and tucked the ball away high in to the net to send the boys in yellow wild, it was a fantastic strike and worthy winner of any game. We closed the game out with some disciplined defending to secure the three points and a proper Merton win. A fantastic team performance demonstrating the strength in depth that we now have at the club and a some very exciting young talent coming through. On to EBOG next week for a top of the table showdown.
Team: Siri, Joew Grew, Browner, Rat, Kearnsy, Sam, Wilgo, Tills (Capt), Emilio, Rayner, Tom Rowe