Carshalton 3s v Merton 3s – 1:0
With the 3s up against top of the table Carshalton and on a run of defeats by one goal, a tough game was to be expected. Additionally, amateur football wouldn’t be amateur football without a late squad change occurring somewhere across the club – this time it was the turn of the 3s, with two players pulling out on the day (one with an unexpected and understandable reason and one, inexplicably, less than an hour before the meet time). With late changes to the squad required, Lee Lenihan answered the call up to don the keeper’s gloves and Walshy, who came along just to watch the game, had thankfully bought his kit and became 13th man. Walshy’s addition to the squad was seemingly lost on Mustard, as during the pre match team talk, he kept referring to the good 12 man squad the 3s had. Walshy leading the warm up seemingly wasn’t memorable enough to enter Mustard’s mind that he was part of the squad. Mentally, a number of players already had decided their DOTD vote at that point.
The game itself was standard fare for Merton 3s, a tight, hard fought game with few clear cut chances, decided by one goal. Both defences played well, with Merton’s led by Alan Clowes, at centre back. Carshalton marginally shaded things in the first half but as the game grew on, Merton 3s came more and more in to the game. Lenners kept a first half clean sheet but injured his hamstring and was replaced at half time by 13th man, Walshy.
Jason Thomas was brought down when through on goal – the ref reached to his pocket for his cards and gave a yellow. Carshalton’s goal was scored mid-way through the second half – it came from a long throw that was aimed at their central midfielder who held off a challenge and knocked it back to a striker to give Walshy no chance from six yards. Jordan had a couple of (half) chances to score, but wasn’t able to make the breakthrough. To the amusement and the adulation of the spectators, Walshy raised the entertainment levels by displaying, on a couple of occasions, his juggling skills whilst shutting out their attackers. Emmanuel was lively when he came on and started to stretch their defence but the 3s still weren’t able to create the chances to properly test the keeper.
Given that Merton were playing against the top of the table team, it could be considered that this was a credible score but as per most of the games this season, the 3s have held their own in terms of competiveness and if a few things had fallen differently, results could have been different. There’s a lot of positives within the Merton 3s squad and they need to find a way to make the marginal improvements to turn one goal defeats into points.
Team: Lee Lenihan, Dan Rist, Jack Rowe, Alan Clowes, Conor Murphy, Iain Evans, Neil Davison, Mustard, Jordan Cox, Jason Thomas, Denys Zhurbiy. Subs: Walshy, Emmanuel Amoakoh
MOTM: Alan Clowes
DOTD: Mustard (for forgetting that Walshy was a late addition to the squad).
Merton 4 Motspur Park 3
Another lovely morning at the hood saw the under 9s take on Motspur park in a very exciting match.
Motspur park took the lead with the last kick of the first quarter, 2nd quarter we took control played some great football and came out 3-1 up into halftime and looked to be cruising.
However the squad was promised equal playtime and the wholesale changes undoubtedly assisted in us losing a grip on the game.
4-2 going into the last quarter, Pinned in our own half, shot after shot hitting our make shift goalkeeper josh, they score 1 more and it’s please blow the whistle time ref!!!!
The fight, spirit and determination never to give in from our boys was admirable and the whistle goes with Merton 4-3 winners.
Man of the match this week was tricky, everyone played an important role non less then josh who made saves im not sure he knew much about, fantastic!, but it was given to Danielus who played with great passion and determination.
Under 9s in our first season have now played 10 winning 8 with 2 losses.
Merton 5 – 2 South Bank
It was the last game of 2016 for the 1’s down at the hood on Saturday, in a year that started with a relegation battle but finishing with a new look squad and thoughts turning to the opposite end of the table, with a promotion push and two cup runs to concentrate on in 2017.
There was an air of expectation in the dressing room before the game given Southbanks position at the foot of the table, although Clappers prematch speech (phrase aptly coined by Kearney) centred on ensuring that nothing was taken for granted and that the basics were well covered. Team news was that Wilgo was back in for the injured Woody and Johny came in for Bosher. Rat had an extra big Christmas smile on his face after learning that Johny was playing in front of him, and not Van!
We started brightly on the front foot with marauding runs from Rat and Kearney from full back in support of Van (back to back games, what evs!) and Johny on either flank. One such run from Rat brought the opening goal as his delicious cross was met by a sliding Van who did well to get in front of his man and finish with aplomb. We continued to press and chances came thick and fast, the best of which falling to Tills and Wilgo without success. Charlie wasn’t in the mood to mess about though and after good work from Johny, he doubled our lead going in to half time with a cool finish. It was no more than we deserved but we needed to tighten up especially across the middle of the park.
The second half started in the same vein with us making most of the running and it wasn’t long until Johny joined the party with two great finishes either side of a deserved strike by South Banks number 9. To their credit they kept going throughout and didn’t roll over.
Our fifth goal was right out of the top draw and a collectors item for the vets! A searching back post cross from Van was met with a precise header from Tills only for MOTM Wilgo to control and smash home under pressure from two defenders.
There was still time for SouthBank to claw back one more which should have been avoided, but a 5-2 victory was just deserts for a strong all round performance and a rise to fourth in the table.
A great way to round off the year and we look forward to 2017.
Merton 3’s vs Civil Service 4’s 10/12/16
It was named the “Relegation Battle” in the build-up, and was set up to be a season-defining game for the mighty 3’s before a ball was kicked. With Civil Service 4’s sitting in sixth place on 10 points and Merton down in 8th with 3, a win here would potentially kick-start what has been an up and down season for the team, with good performances but a knack of dropping points in the latter stages of games.
Another trait of the team this season has been starting slow (something which Darcy and Neal were keen to avoid before this game). Unfortunately this was on show again last weekend with Civil Service winning a corner off the first play of the match. This was the theme for the first 15-20 minutes, with the Boars defending well and trying to play the ball on the floor but struggling to get a foothold in the game.
However, it was our boys that struck first, and it was mainly down to the effort that our front three of Joe, Denys and Frankie were putting in, running hard and applying pressure. The Civil Service back 4 was ropey at best, and midway through the first half Frankie managed to put Merton 1-0 in front with a nicely slotted goal.
The Boars seemed to grow in confidence after this and started to pass the ball around nicely and create some chances for the remainder of the half. The most notable of these was highlighted several times post-game by Denys, with Frankie breaking through and having an opportunity to square the ball for a Denys tap in. Frankie chose to take on the shot himself, shooting wide of the target and causing Denys to roar in frustration and cast his DoD vote in Frankie’s direction. Our back four were excellent leading into half time, with Jordan in particular putting in a fantastic performance keeping the pacey Civil Service winger quiet and setting up some of our more lengthy spells of possession.
The second half kicked off and provided the reason for DoD. Iain played a delicious ball to big Andy’s feet, who then resembled something akin to Bambi on ice rather than a proud Boar, skidding on his backside and allowing the ball to trickle out for an opposition throw in. Keeping in mind Andy had only just entered the fray after spending the first half warming the bench, this was a first touch (or lack of one) that nobody was forgetting. “It’s a studs day” was the bitter sentence murmured after this unfortunate incident.
This may have been somewhat foreboding for what was to come in the rest of the half for the 3’s. Industrious, hard-working, but ultimately slipping up at the wrong moments.
The Civil Service 4’s spent most of the 2nd half applying immense pressure to our guys. Their gigantic centre-back was very vocal as they began to assert their dominance over the game, shouting “Their right-back is leading a charmed life, pump everything down that channel.” Needless to say, this only inspired Neal D to continue his hard work at right back.
Despite some admirable effort from our Boars, the knack of conceding goals continued. The first goal from the visitors was very scrappy, bouncing around the box, ricocheting everywhere before eventually being tapped home. As we tried to get ourselves back into the game, Neal nearly managed to get himself sent off with a crunching challenge, however the referee generously chose the colour yellow. 16-year-old Dylan made his debut and put in a good shift, giving us an outlet down the right hand side, and our midfield of Darcy, Iain and Jamie continued to try and make things happen, however we just could not create chances to get back in front.
Then the inevitable happened, and the visiting team managed to bag another scrappy goal off a defensive error with little more than 5 minutes left in the game. The wild celebrations from the Civil Service showed how hard they had to work for this result, but that didn’t make it any easier for our 3’s to take. A really good effort from the whole team, but just not quite enough quality in the end to see out a result. Hopefully we can cut out these slip-ups and climb the table as we move into 2017 and the latter half of the season.
As Christmas draws ever closer the 7s were in the party mood as they lined up against South Bank Cuacos 4s on possibly the smallest 11-a-side pitch ever seen! Again opting for the reliable, robust, 4-4-2 that had bought them 4 points over the last two fixtures, Merton made a great start to the first half, surprisingly as Dan managed to get lost with the kit and turn up with 15 minutes to go, so the 7s got underway with minimal warm up. Only time for one or two pot-shots at an empty goal, contrasted with the usual 10 or 15! The team line-up announced with the 11 players on the pitch ready to start.
This lack of preparation for the game did not sway Merton, gaining an early corner from their first attack. From their first corner of the game an in swinging ball made it through the crowd to Dave, who hammered it into the far corner on the half volley, a lovely finish 1-0 Merton!
Merton were knocking it about nicely, keeping the ball on the floor and playing some lovely football. However, South Bank worked their way back into the game with a succession of long throws, free kicks and corners into the box and the 7s looked shaky trying to deal with these. The pressure paid off with Josh, caught up field with a ball over the top to the left winger who put a cross into the box which Martin failed to deal with leaving the ball at the strikers feet to tap in. 1-1. Martin must have been coaching West Ham’s Darren Randolph this week; the likeliness of the mistakes was uncanny.
Just like Randolph, Martin had soon made up for his error, comfortably dealing with the bombardment the sevens box was facing. The defence had weathered the storm and were soon ahead again down to a brilliant ball from Tom, doing his best Leonardo Bonnuci impression, pinging the ball to Scott who’d made a fine run, he made no mistake and slid it under the keeper. 2-1! The lead was doubled soon after with a repeat move, Tom found Scott, Scott found the net, brilliantly controlling the ball with his side boot before smashing it home. 3-1! The 7s were coasting at half time.
During half-time there was time to see that Merton now had players on the bench with Nathan and Dousch turning up sometime after kick-off. The second half began with Merton again looking to ball the ball on the ground. Merton had developed a canny system with Malcom dropping deep, much like Okazaki, for goalkicks and throw-ins to help quickly win the ball back so Merton could continue to attack. Mertons pressing paid off with Maclom picking up the ball in and around the box before simply slotting home. 4-1!
At this point Merton were cruising, with Dave and Anam giving Merton dominance and control in central midfield. Nathan was switched for Malcom to make a midfield 3 to give Merton even more control. With a delightful through-ball played by Dave for the Bale-like Adam to chase after behind the full-back. He duly picked up the ball in the box, smashing his shot across goal, was it his chance to get a first competitive goal for Merton? No, of course it wasn’t! The keeper managed to get the faintest of touches which allowed it to perfectly fall at the feet of Noor who tapped it in. 5-1 Merton.
At this point South Bank grabbed one back, from a breakaway attack they found themselves with a great opportunity in the box, the goal bound shot ball looped off a combination of Martin and Josh and agonisingly dropped into the net. Merton decided to make another change, Dousch replaced the injured Adam. Merton however barely blinked and just continued to score, with Anam making a run from deep being picked out by a lofted ball by Dave to fire one into the right corner, for a FIFA-like goal. Scott, looking for his third picked the ball up just outside the box, after some lovely work from Dave and smashed the ball into the goal off the bar, giving him a thoroughly deserved hatrick! The final piece of goal action was Josh who again preferring to push up rather than defend, swung a ball into the box which cannoned off the old South Bank centre back into the goal. 8-2 it’s finished to Merton!
First XI: Martin (GK), Josh K-H, Dan, Tom R, Tom , Adam, Anam, Dave (C), Noor, Malcom and Scott.
Bench: Nathan and Dousch
DOTD: Jack Taylor for again not showing up, this time he did tell us it was because he was hungover.
MOM: Tough, but Anam for his constant running and knitting of the midfield nicely.
Another great set of results from the Youth section.
U9s beat Motspur Park 4-3,
U11s beat Carshalton Athletic 5-0
U13s continued their good run and beat Hook Youth 3-1 and are challenging for top spot now
U15s beat Doverhouse 5-0
U14s away at Bedfont Result not in,
Well done to Steve and all the managers players and parents. Team Pics of U15s,U13s and U9s below.
Todays results – 1s beat South Bank 5-2 Goals from Vanny, Charlie, Johny (2) and Wilgo, 2s no game 3s lost 1-0 at Carshalton, 4s lost 4-2, 5s no game, 6s beat Old Wilsonians 6-2 but 7s lost 2-0 to Old Salesians and regretted many missed chances. Merton Creche on the touchline and then in the bar (pics)
1st XI – Away against Actonian Association
Away against top of the league: sounds tricky, but we had good memories of a last minute winner in the same fixture last year and three points would put us right in the promotion hunt.
Our line-up had an old school feel to it. For various reasons, the youthful injection that has made a big impact this season was largely missing. That meant that team selection was pretty easy – the 11 that turned up were the 11 that played (yes, Vanny, even you can start). Clappers’ pre-match speech reminder that we had a mediocre team last year (said presumably without realising that the starting 11 was the team we had last year) could not dent the confidence from a couple of good recent wins. The average age of the team might have shot up to the wrong side (or is that the right side) of 32, but you don’t win anything with kids.
Fortunately, we had all ignored Kearnsy’s invite to his Friday night lash-up housewarming – an invite that will see him deleted from the Gaffer’s Christmas card list. But the good pre-match news was that even before kick-off, Kearnsy had scored once and only narrowly missed out on second due to some careless finishing earlier that day. Anyway, enough of that – let’s get out there, smash into them into them in the first 10 mins, smash a result, and smash off on the long journey home.
The first 40 mins were pretty even. We were winning the midfield battle – the Tilly-Low-Woody tank formation generally does. Will in particular seemed to constantly be getting their ahead of his man – he must be damn annoying to play against.
We found some joy down the wings when we were able to isolate their fullbacks, and one great interchange between Vanny and Charlie brought a fine one-on-one stop from their 8 foot keeper. But if truth be told, Actonians were probably the more consistently incisive. The crossbar came to our aid when a chipped shot looped over Siri, and a couple of dreadful headed finishes came to our aid at other times.
With a satisfying goalless half time in view, a headed clearance from Clappers went up rather than out. When Browner decided he would decisively deal with it instead, he failed to realise that he would have to run through one of their players to get to the landing zone. Unfortunately that player turned out not to be a ghost, and went theatrically tumbling over. Clumsy – not a definite penalty, but not one you can complain about for too long. Their bloke calmly put the penalty right as Siri went left, and the non-existent half time oranges (where has that fine tradition gone?) tasted rather sour.
Actonians tried to up their physicality in the second half. A couple of studs up challenges, and at least one double footed tackle laid down the challenge. But these Merton Hogs never lie down, and the spirit in the second half really shone through on a day when the ref received more than one request to turn the floodlights on.
As we pushed forward in search of an equaliser, the odd opening appeared in our defensive line. But Siri and the ref combined to keep us in it. In Siri’s case, it was a fine one-on-one save and another low to his left. In the ref’s case, it was ruling out their should-have-been-second with a terrible off-side decision, and not giving a penalty for a clear shirt pull from Clappers (although not according to Tilley who started some shovey-shovey by accusing the victim of a blatant dive as Clappers walked away sheepishly).
Meanwhile we were creating half chances at the other end. A Tilly header and a Browner volley both could have been equalisers if a yard lower. Bosher did excellently to get through the defensive line, but the finish (probably should have been cross) did not match the build up. An indirect free kick inside their area (thank you again ref) looked promising, but the routine was more Charlie Chaplin than Jackie Chan. Mani, who had arrived pitch-side during the game, came on and injected some real pace. But to give credit where due, the oppo’s defensive unit were good, if not as good as they thought they were.
Lots of endeavour, enough spirit to fill 3 drinks cabinets, but too many times the final cross or effort on goal lacked a telling bit of quality. Like the team sheet, it reminded one a bit of last season. So the promotion charge is on hold for the time being, but it still feels like there are good times coming up.
DOTD Browner: One mistake, one penalty, one goal, one-nil, one DOTD.
MOTM Will Low. Showed the same inspired determination that allowed him to smash through another 6 whiskeys even after chundering at The Earlsfield last Saturday. Last week that determination resulted in 3 hours sleep on the floor outside his front door (with a few more on the couch with a towel on his head). This week it got him MOTM.