2s match report – 3rd December 2016 – HSBC 2s (away)
A beautiful, crisp day, a wonderfully green, flat pitch and a dog faster than (or at least as fast as) a train (spotted only by Rayner who relayed the message to the rest of the group) greeted Merton 2s in South East London last Saturday. Ian Lewis was sat in the dugout, watching on and looking more managerial than ever having purchased Ron Atkinson’s sheepskin coat at auction earlier this week. His regular support and words of encouragement are very much appreciated.
Merton were quicker out of the blocks and took the lead after 20 minutes. Some great work by Willgo, Alex and Joe (and possibly more) down the right led to the ball being crossed low to Dan Kelly 10 yards out who took a touch and rifled into the bottom corner. As is often the way, Merton then relaxed and HSBC scored two quick goals before half-time. One because a chasm suddenly appeared in the Merton defence and another due to a good switch of play by HSBC and a very nice finish.
The second half started evenly until, on the hour mark, HSBC scored an extremely fortunate pinball style goal. Shortly after this Cookie decided to turn up the heat and it all got a little hairy…
He was on one of his ill-advised dribbles around his own penalty area. Impressively keeping the ball but encouraging some optimistic attempts from HSBC players to snaffle it off him. One player in particular, who we’ll call Brian, took one too many scrapes at the back of Cookie’s legs and so Cookie fronted him up and pulled Brian’s hair. Brian attempted to pull Cookie’s hair in return before realising that he may have been scratched by Cookie in the kerfuffle. With Brian in shock about the scratch and on the verge of tears in the ongoing argument, Brian’s girlfriend mistakenly thought she would try and save him from more embarrassment by charging onto the pitch to protect him. Unfortunately someone shouted out “who let their dog on the pitch?” which we all thought was very rude and simply not funny.
The referee asked both Cookie and Brian to vacate the pitch by raising his red card which he did, as he did everything, very slowly. Cookie marched off to the changing room, got changed and went straight to Infernos. Brian went on to complain about an invisible scratch for the next half hour – this was extremely annoying if you were playing on the same side of the pitch that him and his girlfriend were standing.
The referee probably should have called up for a foul long before this incident got to where it did although, at the time of going to print, the referee has not issued a public apology for his behaviour and that is absolutely understandable.
With both sides down to 10, Merton pulled a goal back through a Rayner corner, DQ head and (unconfirmed) Joe flick but it wasn’t enough.
Good performances from many Merton players this week. Willgo and Andy Ross controlled the middle for large periods of the game. The back four, apart from two moments where they all went for a coffee while HSBC mounted an attack, were again very assured. Our five or six regular defenders are considerably more comfortable on the ball than any of the other defences in this division and we need to leverage this more by playing across the pitch and intelligently out from the back.
Pearcey, Alex and Conor all had very good games but it was Conor who took home (or drank) the MOTM trophy. He was calm and assured at the back and showed great energy on the overlap when charging past the ageing, but still handsome, Rayner.
Special mention goes to Jason Thomas who completed his move back from centre forward, through central midfield and defence and is now a goalkeeper (he also came to the game almost directly from one of London’s airports after a 20+ hour trip back from the land down under). Both Sherbs and Jason himself should be worried about team and position selection next week after a great performance.
And Dick of the Day? Well it turns out that for some people the sighting of a super-dog just doesn’t make the headlines. Fortunately, Cookie will also be meeting the Predator on his return to action in 2017. We all look forward to that.