Month: April 2017
After the long drive to Bromley, Merton 7s were ready to face Old Wilsonians 8th‘s. Having faced them 3 weeks previously in which they fielded some notably better players, Merton were expecting another difficult game. With some regulars missing; Dave, Malcolm and Josh. The 7s, much like all political parties currently, had scrambled around to get players. In what turned out to be a very balanced squad. Lining up in the classic 442 the game got under way with Merton seemingly under the cosh early on. OW8 were dominating the first 10 minutes, with Merton not settling into the game. OW8 pounced and scored from a break. 1-0 down. After this, the 7s found their heads and took hold of the game for the rest of the half. With Chris and JT dovetailing beautifully in midfield to control the game. Spreading out wide to the two full backs of Dan P and Ed to create opportunities with both Jon Taylor and Scott profiting from this control. Jon Taylor’s tireless running allowing him to go through one-one with the keeper, who managed to save from point blank range. With the 7s in control, the pressure finally led to a breakthrough with Chris playing a cross-come-shot from the left-hand side outside the box. The ball floated its way past the keeper and into the top corner. 1-1! He definitely meant that! With all to play for the 7s were enjoying the game with nice interplay, but they were soon halted when they lost the dynamic and powerful Adam E. Who went off after hurting his shoulder as he tried to cushion his fall to the ground after being slide tackled. However, with Pete coming on in his place the 7s looked better for it! With Pete slotting in and dominating the flank with his hold-up play and running. Before the break there was one final incident when Scott had pressed the OW8 CM causing him to loose the ball, this lead to him kicking out at Scott. Infuriated by this Dobson went to Scott’s defence and shouted down the “Fat James Bay” (in his words). The CM was shown only a yellow card for this! As the referee deemed his frustrations to be with him not the team and so was only a yellow – very strange. No changes were made at half-time, with the team looking stable and the only thing asked was more of the same. However OW8 seemed to dominate for the first 10 minutes yet again, and like before they were able to get a goal during this little period of dominance. The striker smashing the ball from inside the box on the left hand side, past Martin’s near post side. Soon after this, Jon Taylor was replaced by Adam E who recovered from his shoulder injury. Dan P at RB was straight swapped for Scott at ST. Whilst Pete was moved from RM to ST alongside him. Adam E coming back to RM. The 7s then dominated for the rest of the game with the midfield two again dominating over OW8, however with all the dominance the 7s couldn’t make any headway. That was until 3 minutes from normal time. Dan P collected a long ball on the left channel, spinning past his marker he sent through Pete clean through. Pete then rounded the keeper and slotted home for 2-2!
Starting XI: Martin (GK), Dan P, Dan (C), Steve B, Ed P, Adam E, Chris O, JT, Dobson, Jon Taylor and Scott Subs: Pete
MOM: Dan P for his excellent play at RB in the first-half, before seamlessly switching to ST and setting up the equaliser in the dying moments of the game.
DOTD: OWE CM aka “The Fat James Bay” for his constant moaning and shouting at the ref and then kicking out at Scott
Tuesday 18th April
Merton 1sts VS Southbank
An evening kick off always brings with it an odd sense of novelty that some embrace and others shy away from. Peter Brown was uncharacteristically upbeat and bullish commenting that he has the rare opportunity to work-out his day’s frustrations on the football pitch whilst Simon wasn’t really up for it and decided to leave his football boots at home, an early candidate for Dick of the Day surely!
The pre match bants was as strong as ever with people noticing that Matt Bosher was the new fatty of the team (until Woody arrived) and Browner was dressed in the Tesco uniform, which kept us occupied for a while.
With about 20 minutes left before kick off 4 players decided it would be a good idea to go out to the pitch to warm up, Tom Rowe failed to notice that out of a bag full of balls, the one he picked was flat but that didn’t stop the dedicated few from warming up in true “end of season fashion”…….. by hitting balls at Rat in goal, .which looked like some kind of secondary school bullying, forcing the small kid to stand still while the bigger kids tried to hit him with a ball. As coined by James Tilley, we were living up to the tag of Rag Arse Rovers……..until the opposition turned up. They had decided that practising corners with 10 players standing in the box heading the ball out was a good warm up. Still, we continued our fun until Clappers turned up with his shorts pulled up as high as Simon Cowell, but at least he had his boots on. Games faces on! Clappers instigated a proper warm up…… we had done 4 shuttles from the goal line to the edge of the 6 yard box when the ref signalled that start of the match….brilliant! Surely everyone had warm muscles ready to start fast right??
The line-up told you all you need to know about how the game had begun….Ivan, Bosher and Clappers in the middle of the park, not an ideal mid field trio but they ran around enthusiastically enough. The pitch was awful, hard as concrete with small patches of grass which ensured the ball would jump up if it ever ran along the ground to you, which was rare.
The ball was hoofed from one end to the other by both sets of defenders whilst everyone else got to grips with the pitch and their touches, to be fair to them, the Merton back four seemed to be the only ones who started well, straight from the whistle. The opposition had a 6ft.4, 18 Stone midfielder which led to some funny looks and chuckles between clappers and Matt as Ivan was left to mark him. Mis match maybe??
The game continued with not much to note as both sides settled, the opposition threatening more than Merton, with a few runs that didn’t seem to reach their full potential. There were flashes quality from Merton as everyone got to grip with their positions and with a few one-twos and some good movement out on the wing by Tom, we started to create some chances. With some neat passing from the back Tom released Kieron down the left wing who ran at defender s and seemed to be through on goal, his shot (or low cross) troubled the keeper who pushed it in to the 6 yard box and after a failed clearance Tom smashed it in the back of the net from close range. It would be fair to say it was slightly against the run of play but 1-0 to Merton nonetheless. We were lucky to retain the lead after a blind pass from Clappers to nobody, but that didn’t stop Clappers calling Browener….as though it was his fault…..and Tom Rowe giving a hospital pass back to Siri which put him under unnecessary pressure. The opposition’s huge midfielder started to impose himself a bit and began playing some good balls forward so Ivan began the lock down in midfield. The usually unaggressive attacker seemed to change to “Will Low” mode……the Silent Smasher. Ivan began dominating the massive midfielder, snapping away at his ankles, pushing him off the ball and at times nearly physically picking him up! In a David and Goliath scenario that may one day be made into a film, Ivan stopped the man mountain from playing where others could not and began frustrating him. Ivan had done his job and had this rubber stamped by the Ref after the beast like man complained that “number 7 keeps fouling me”! Job done, a new midfield Enforcer was born! The half played out with the same quality of football but on a positive note, everyone was starting to get warmed up.
The half time team talk was relatively short (thank god) and a few changes were made to save a struggling Tom and a puffing Bosher. Woody has finally arrived so went into the middle and Ivan went out wide………normal business ensued and Merton began creating better moves with a bit more composure in the middle of the park. Passes began going to feet, people started reading the game better and Merton started controlling the game. Every long pass forward from the opposition was being eaten up by Browner and Rat with Cooky and Connor controlling their respective sides. After another round of substitutes and position changes Merton began creating better and better opportunities with Woody half-volleying a pass forward which sliced open the opposition’s defence and nestling nicely on Kieron’s foot. He touched it past the defender and was on goal, a nicely placed passing shot would suffice and it would be 2-0 but Kieron went for the chip…….the ball did not ripple the net! Another good opportunity but the quality of the finish did not match the quality of the move. Another break down the left wing with Charlie and all he needed to do was deliver the ball into the box with Ivan back post and Clappers running into the box but Charlie lashed it high and out for a goal kick. The game became a bit more of a battle towards the end with a spirited performance by the Oppo, who refused to give up, fighting until the very end even though they were already relegated. There were a few moments where the ball bobbled into our box and wasn’t cleared properly which gave Southbank a chance to level the game but their shots were smothered well by our defenders, worthy contenders for MOM.
The whistle blew and the game was won. A cheeky 3 points on a Tuesday evening.
We all settled in the bar for a drink and to vote for MOM and DOD. As instigated by Woody as usual, Ivan was unfairly voted DOD for no other reason than jealousy from the real dicks of the day and Rat rightly won MOM.
Additional highlights include Tom Rowe spotting a message from Sherb’s wife on Clapper’s phone as he was checking for nominations…..some say it was a picture message!…….and Charlie was heard walking out of the club house with Ivan and Matt whispering softly, so that there was no chance the oppo could hear, “Good luck in Div 3 you *****!”
Merton 3s v Wandsworth Borough 3s – 1:2
The last game of the 3s season produced the, all too familiar, standard fare for the 3s, a one goal defeat, for only the ninth time this season. A multitude of platitudes could be used to describe the events of the 90 minutes, such as we had the better of the game, we didn’t take our chances and we didn’t mark correctly at set pieces. All true, again….
The Dick of the Day nomination was secured even before the scheduled meet time, as Mustard, despite having compiled the ‘90s music’ playlist and ensuring the speakers were fully charged, failed to then bring the said speakers. This resulted in the rather limp alternative of “name the songs in the playlist from listening to the first few seconds” via the speaker of an iPhone 7. This really got the changing room buzzing. The 3s welcomed 3 players into the squad, whom have not featured this season; Kieran Lee, Will Wilgoss and Jon Cox. Thanks to Walshy for bringing Jon down to the club, new additions are always welcome.
The warm up was completed, the team was announced and without a doubt, the whole team were internally contemplating just one question ‘Can we?’. It’s a question that lingered throughout and despite some determined probing from Will Willgoss in the changing room at the end of the game, we’re still not sure that we know the answer, which no doubt will mean that Darcy in particular will still be seeking the answer to that question over the summer months. Darcy, when you find out, please let us know.
To the game itself, Merton started pretty well but after 15 minutes or so and against the run of play. A rather innocuous through ball managed to find its way through the midfield and defence, to leave Wandsworth Borough’s striker through on goal, he elected to quickly loft the ball over Kieran, whom had no chance of stopping it. Our play was gelling at times and not at others, with our greatest levels of productivity arriving through playing our football simple, rather than looking for over elaborate passes, which invariably meant we lost possession. Our set pieces were a threat, in particular Glenn’s corners, for both the opposition, and us thankfully their breakaway opportunities come to nothing though. Glenn was put through from a great through ball from Will(go) and raced through on goal, he had the option to shoot or square the ball to DQ. From having been present at DQ’s last appearance for the 3s, no doubt Glenn made a statistical assessment that DQs shot to goal’s ratio is 16.6% and felt that shooting rather than passing was more likely to produce the goods. Alas, this was not the case as the keeper made a good save and put the ball behind for a corner.
Whilst we came in 1-0 down at half time, optimism was high that a comeback could be achieved due to Neal and Vin marshaling things at the back (which included guiding Walshy in the same way that Jose Mourinho does with Luke Shaw), their threat was pretty much neutralised, and that we were showing that we had the potential to create chances.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first, with a few chances coming and going, Iain in particular having a volley well saved at the near post and Glenn having a good individual effort tipped onto the woodwork by the keeper. Not long after this though, Merton scored the equalizer and it came through, (photographer for the day) Max’s new best friend (judging by the amount of photos of him on the club facebook account), Glenn. Darcy, played a (surprisingly), non-sh*t ball from the right, over the top of the defence to Glenn on the left, who finished well at the far post. This goal did two things – 1. Cemented Glenn’s position as top scorer for the 3s in his debut season, with seven goals and 2. Gave Darcy a potential answer to the “can we?’ question but it comes down to what the question actually is, as to whether it is actually an answer (As I recall this, I can imagine Will Willgoss fuming right now at the audacity of such a question, I also wonder what new boy Jon Cox made of it all, no doubt Walshy will help it all make sense for him).
With the scores level, optimism was high that Merton could go onto get another and finish the season with a win. Can we? We definitely thought so! That is until we faced a corner, which came as a result of a great save from Kieran. Carrying on the theme from the week before, it looked like we didn’t fancy marking a number of the opposition at a set piece, which resulted in an unchallenged player scoring for the opposition. Mustard was starting to feel really guilty again as he knew inside that his failure to carry out his one job of bringing the speakers, was probably the real reason for this goal being conceded. Darcy emphatically emphasised this point after the game. Never again, will he forget to bring the speakers.
Some other stuff would have happened in the game but nothing that springs to mind. Therefore it can’t have been memorable enough to justify an inclusion in the match report. Hang on, there was something…. Kieran demonstrated that Monica Seles (for those not versed in female tennis players from a bygone era, she was a grunter) was onto something and launched a kick with an almighty grunt, which Chris Pap realised very quickly he had no chance of running onto, as it was effectively a shot. Kieran mentioned afterwards that he was thinking (dreaming?) of Paul Robinson, whatever floats your boat, Kieran. Oh, and Mustard attempted to demonstrate his tactical nous (akin to Mourinho’s plan v Chelsea on 16/4/17) by informing Iain that he planned to change the formation to a 3-5-2 to push for a goal, as there was only seven minutes remaining, Iain’s calm and measured response was “you’d better hurry up then”. He then did it, but it was too little, too late.
The game finished 2-1, a one goal defeat, an unfortunate trademark to what has been a disappointing season in terms of results but a positive one in terms of team spirit and competitiveness. The expectation is that the 3s will now return to the league that they shouldn’t have been promoted from and will build on the experiences of this season to produce an improved set of results.
Post match drinking ensued with pizza, crisps, wine and Neal doing his traditional struggle with downing a pint. A solid number of players stayed until 8pm, which was good to see, although Walshy left earlier than planned, despite having a ‘green card’ as we were too boring for him (didn’t know that him having a permit allowing him to live and work in the US, entitled him to a greater level of excitement than the rest of us, but things must be different in the world of Walshy).
3s season over. On to the MFC World Cup on 13 May and the Awards night on 27 May. Over and out.
Team: Kieran Lee, Walshy, Neil Davison (captain), Vincenzo Di Matteo, Jon Cox, Iain Evans, Darcy Yates, Graham (Will) Willgoss, Glenn Pittman, Darren Fitzgerald, David Quainton. Subs: Chris Papastanasiou, Conor Murphy, Mustard.
Goal: Glenn Pittman
MOTM: Neal Davision
DOTD: Mustard (for failing at the ‘one job’ he had – bringing the speakers).
A glorious sunny day greeted the first match of our spring cup campaign (technically the second) and took us to take on Civil Service 4th’s.
With the knowledge that we had had three previously tight games against said opposition we traveled to Chiswick hoping for a positive result to keep our interest in the competition alive.
We started the game well and in the first 15 – 20 minutes produced some decent football and had a couple of very presentable chances that had they been taken would have set us on the road to the win we required I’m sure.
That however was as good as it got for us in terms of being competitive in the game.
What followed during the remainder of the half reminded me of the red wedding episode in game of thrones, in short we got murdered.
Through a mixture of poor positional play, non existent communication, ball watching, and an own goal we went in at the break four nil down.
We have lost more than a few this season as I’m sure your all aware but other than when we lost in the cup to a team two divisions below us that we’re bottom of the league this was the worst performance of the season by a margin.
With nothing but pride and perhaps a flickering dream of an unlikely comeback the second half got underway.
We produced a more solid performance in the second half and credit should go to man of the match Lofty who put in a performance full of composure, commitment and no little skill that was an example for the rest of the squad.
Again we created two or three good chances after the break that could have produced a consolation goal but in truth we were never really in any sort of control of the game and as the match drifted towards its inevitable conclusion civil service took advantage our weary legs and added a fifth with about ten minutes left on the clock.
A day best forgotten.
Team: Bridgeman, Rist, Di Matteo, Pearce, Welch, Iglesias, Evans, Mustard, Pitman, Fitzgerald, Zhurbiy, White, Benham, Chris (apologies Chris I’ve no idea what your second name is)
Carshalton 6s v Merton 7s
The fixture no one was looking forward to and it showed. On a great sunny Saturday afternoon, we strolled up on the back of 5 games unbeaten against the champions, who have scored over 80 goals and only conceded 11 in 14 games. Well, no surprises as to how this pans out!
The pre- game warm up was conclude without the captain due to arriving late, but still managed to hash together a team talk about getting amongst them and maybe putting it about, to let them know there in a game… from the whistle, the 7s held it together for around 10minutes before the flood gates opened, it was easy to see that they were there in body but absolutely not in spirit, this was a hiding to nothing.
With C6’s commanding a 5-0 halftime lead, the 7s made few changes, as well as b******ing from the captain to play with a bit of heart, the second half was by far better. Keeping it simple, C6s still run the game, passing freely and cutting the team apart a will, but in the final third, the 7s became more resilient, put the tackles in and rode there luck, even manging to win a few corners at the other end.
Eventually, the luck run out, an own goal after a mix up at the near post sees the comer deflected straight in and a thunder bolt into the top comer sees the game finishes 7-0.
If there is to be a silver lining, the Home fixture was a 12-0 affair, so losing 7-0 away must be seen as an improvement. But still shipping 19 goals in 2 games against a team who clearly should be playing at a much high level, begs the question as to why they managed to be put in this division.
On a more positive note, with only 2 games remaining, the Form guide looks pretty impressive for the 7s
Team: Gubby, Josh, Dan, Tom J, Martin, Noor, David ©, Andy, Adam E, Adam , Scott
Malcolm, Andrew D, Delman
Mighty 5s 1 – 2 Poly 9s
Saturday 8th April, 2017 will long live in the memory of the Mighty 5s players who attended this game[s] – probably not quite as much for the football, but we will get to that bit later.
If I may, I would like to take a few lines to be serious for a change. There are two ways of looking at this season; one is of sheer disappointment that promotion was well within our grasp, and yet we did an Arsenal and threw it away at the last minute, clinging to 4th as I write this report. But the way I think of it is a season where we were greatly improved from last season. We looked strong, played some good football and remained competitive in pretty much all the games we played. There are some good positives to build on to mount a serious drive for the title next year – so well done to the team for the improvement shown and the only way is up from here!
So, without further ado – the match report. With our promotion chances more or less null, and Poly already having won the league, this game was a “dead rubber” – as pointless as giving D a condom for his birthday, and as dead a rubber as Tigs’s ankle after the first 30 minutes. But still, as professionals we were still going all out to win.
The game was quite balanced at the start, with them perhaps shading possession and stroking it around with the confidence of a side that had already won the league. We were, however, dealing with their threat quite well. That’s until Stevey B momentarily forgot where he was. Clearly thinking that he was in the opposition’s box, he stuck out an instinctive knee towards the ball, and the ball flew into the back of the net from 12 yards out. Terrific finish – if that was Lionel Messi people would be talking about it for years. Unfortunately, 10 minutes later he realised that it was indeed his own goal, that he was still 2 away from Ryan’s goal tally this season, and that we were one down at half time.
The second goal was equally as calamitous. A ball into the box resulted in a scramble, and with the 5s unable to clear, their midfielder strolled in and rolled the ball into an empty net. We went into the half time break 2-0 down and 2 players down – Tigs with the heart of a lion but a body made of glass going off for an unfortunate turn of the ankle, and our hot stuff on the left burning out on his first game back from injury. The signs were not looking good.
But lo and behold, we got it together after half time for a strong push. We were dominant, with their only chances coming from crosses which were expertly held by Sam – a part of his game that seems to have got even better as the season has gone on. We were stroking the ball around confidently, pressing and creating good, clear chances. Our breakthrough came when a good, searching ball found Steve Harvey on the right. He pulled it back for Ackers, who controlled his powerful strike into the bottom corner. 2-1, and the game was on.
The 5s pressed for an equaliser, and had some good chances to go level. But in the end, it just wasn’t to be. We had the chances but came up just short – the story of our season unfortunately. But we must look towards next season now and build upon an impressive turnaround from last season.
Every player for us has had a good season – I do not think we would have come as close to promotion otherwise. Everyone should be proud of themselves, and the awards night will be a great celebration of a great step forward for the 5s.
So that’s that for this season – no Naked Lee Time on this occasion. But what we did get was a night of long sausages, big beers in a smashing German establishment, a “better out then in” approach from our very own birthday boy and a calm, peaceful and pleasant night out. We have some great club events coming up including Long Good Friday this Friday, Merton’s World Cup and our awards night which I would expect will be well represented by the 5s. Until then keep it real, stay safe and I am sure we will all look forward to winning the league next season.
A combination of cars, trains, taxis and mums transported the Merton men to Crouch End for their Southern Amateur League semi- nal cup matchup against the Senior Division I, Crouch End Vampires. The winner would earn a date in the nals with Senior Division I leader Polytechnic. The men (with the exception of Woody) arrived to the grounds on time, but before the kit, which was unfortunately stuck in tra c in Max’s car and arrived about half an hour before the scheduled kick-o . The team’s pre-match locker room banter (not to mention youth and style) naturally improved with the absence of Van, who was rumoured to be curling his young boy while posing for pictures at a wedding in Ibiza. The temperature on the day was pleasant, not too hot or cold and the sun shone down on the thick Crouch End pitch, which was spacious. In contrast to the gale force winds faced in Merton’s prior two outings at the Hood, the wind blew just softly enough for Siri’s punts to hang in the air and carry but not strong enough to disrupt play. Kick-o was delayed by around fteen minutes due to the ref and two linesmen’s late arrival. One of the late linesmen, who had a witty sense of humour, came over to Merton’s side to do the pre-match equipment check and ordered Siri to tape over the white of his socks that were showing. How lucky were Merton to have two linesman for this cup semi- nal! Despite the delayed start and team’s sluggishness of late, the Merton men came out strong when the whistle blew. The forwards pressured the Vampires o of the kick-o and nearly created an opportunity on goal early. Clappers’, lling in for a slew of injured central mid elders, played alongside Will Low and Sam in the middle and proved to be a dominant force in the middle, especially in the air. Merton had momentum and the best chances of the rst half. Chaz took a free kick from just outside the upper right edge of the eighteen yard box that hooked around the wall but struck the left post and ricocheted away. To end the half Charlie had a breakaway, but the keeper denied him, pushing the ball behind the goal to the right. Crouch End’s forwards, wingers and playmaker (#10) tried through balls, dummies, switching positions and everything they could muster to crack Merton’s defence but managed little for their e orts. Chaz’s aerial assaults and Kearnsey’s stingy man-marking impressed. It seemed like Merton really wanted this one. To start the second half Kiran replaced Johnny at left wing but otherwise Merton’s line up remained the same. Not long into the second half it became clear that a more sluggish Merton form, similar to their form of late had returned. Crouch End came out with a new level of intensity and dominated possession. A silly foul gave Crouch End a free kick from just outside the Merton eighteen yard box but fortunately for Merton, #10’s strike nearly missed wide left. Shortly after, a through ball slipped past Merton’s central backs to a wide open #9, but Kearnsey ran him down and contained him giving time for the rest of the defence to recover. Merton needed to wake up. Kiran showed ashes of brilliance on the left wing, using his speed to get by the right back on several occasions, and Chaz headed a corner into the right post, his second post of the afternoon. But it was a Crouch End corner with around 10 minutes remaining that crushed Merton’s SAL cup nal hopes. A corner from the left side of the goal bounced into a crowd, inside the six yard box, and the loose ball was knocked into the Merton right corner. Another terrible goal conceded. After the corner Bosher and Woody came on to give Merton a boost of energy, but spirits and energy levels were low. Merton only mustered a few chances in the nal ten minutes, primarily led by Bosher down the right wing. Kearnsey earned a yellow card running down a streaking right back and grabbing his arm in the process. A cheeky, o the ball attempted trip of the Crouch End #9 a few minutes later earned Kearnsey his second yellow, a seat in the locker room for the nal minute of the match and the meaningless second Crouch End goal and dick of the day honours. What a pleasure it is to play with two linesmen, who can see everything! Chaz’s two posts, leadership and stellar defence earned him his second straight man of the match. Honourable mention for man of the match with two votes went to Clappers for his solid play in the middle of the pitch.
MOM: Chaz (2nd week in a row)
Starters: Siri, Kearnsey, Connor, Chaz, Browner, Clappers, Will Low, Sam Harvey, Johnny, Charlie, Tom Rowe. Substitutions: Kiran, Woody, Bosh
Merton 7s v Old Wilsonian 8s
Home… and not the WCE, and with a 3oc kick off in the afternoon sun, the 7s are in a great mood to keep this 4 game unbeaten run going against a side that beat the 6s 3-1 late in February. Word in the changing room was the opposition was running late and only had 4 players, which was 4 more than our ‘Merton 3s’ opposition had, who failed to even turn!
Eventually, OW8s arriving just before kick-off and getting changed by the pitch, we got our first glimpse of this very much changed side, still… not worrying, the 7s carried on with their pregame warm up, which this week turned into ‘crosses & corners’ with the midfield duo of David & Tom trying to lash shots past the very composed Gubby
Kick off and another re-arranged team, this time were missing Dan at centre back, who’s replaced by Steve Burchell, and Tom J for Delman. OW8s kick off and straight on the attack, there 2 centre midfield pairing have a combined age less than our own captain, but paired with Tom R, our midfield was soon putting the tackles in and stemming the flow of passes to the forwarded line.
The back four, which also included the consistent Josh at right back, and the versatile Martin next to Steve, was well marshalled by Steve B who’s tones echoed around the ground from the very first whistle, rumour has it, this was his 7s trail as his written transfer request had been denied by the 5s captain as being too valuable to them.
15minutes in and the 7s still not really getting a foot hold in the game, the OW8s passed around the centre third and looking to get in behind the rear guard, but with 2 banks of 4, Noor and Adam E, playing out wide, found themselves having to drop back to defend, this isolated Malcolm and Denzel up front.
Still soaking up the pressure and conceding a good few corners, the 7s finally started to get rewarded for their resilient play, Malcolm being played in between the right & centre back, not being blessed with much pace, BUT makes up for it in strength, holds of the challenge of the pair and gets a solid shot off which goes wide.
Seeing the chink in the OW8s armour, Tom R starts to have more influence on the game, taking the ball from the half way line and gains ground. 7s Now applying the pressure at the right end, and once again Malcolm, finds the ball at his feet, muscles his way past the centre backs, this time making no mistake with his shot to put the 7s 1-0
Composed, the OW8s come straight back at the 7s, Steve & Martin doing a great job of being the oldest centre pairing the 7s have fielded still keeping the attacks at bay, couldn’t do much when appealing for offside only to see the Ref wave play on as the OW8s young speedy striker beat the trap and went 1v1 with Gubby, who had already kept the 7s well in the game, couldn’t do much as the striker blast his shot past the advancing keeper to bring the game level after less than 5 minutes
As the game panned out to half time, OW8s clearly on top in the early exchanges, but pegged back at the end, the 7s debated that were not doing much wrong. None the less, Martin who had a fine game at centre back, makes way for Andy L and Denzel off for Scott, the 7s kick off the send half
Tom R & David once again pass the ball around confidently from the start, draw in the 7s defence to play a bit of keep ball, Steve B looking remarkable composed at the back, and with Delman now keeping Noor in check on the left, the 7s looked to be controlling the early exchanges.
However, not too long into the second half, Adam E seemed to pull up with a hamstring and signals to the bench, up to this point and having a great game in tandem with Josh, it was not what the 7s wanted. Replaced with Andy DOBBY Dobson, it wasn’t long before he was called into action, wining a strong 50/50 and getting a fine through ball to Scott, this was showing there’s no weak link in the 7s …
Still controlling the game and pressing higher up the pitch, the 7s win a free kick around 30yards from goal, Tom R placing the ball, floats a high ball in which see’s David tussling with the OW8s centre backs and getting free, but with no chance of winning the ball, still bears down on the keeper which seemed to distract the fella long enough to lose the flight of the ball and then can only flap at the air as the ball clips the underside of the crossbar and goes in. As the team congratulate Tom on a fine Cross/Shot, the Ref (who had gave the goal) finds himself surround by OW8s players, protesting that the linesman flag was up, after much debate, the ref agreed and awarded offside due to the 7s captain being ‘in the line of vision of the ball while in a offside position’
This only spurred the 7s on, now gaining more possession and linking play together, Noor once again got into the area and got his cross off, which took a deflection off the OW8s centre backs arm, the ref had no hesitation awarding the penalty kick which Scott stroked home with power, 2-1 the 7s
Once again, OW8s feeling hard done by, got back on the attack, a lofted ball over the top sees Steve B in a foot race with ‘easily’ a guy half his age, without rushing in, Steve lets the player get the ball and with perfect timing, executes a sliding ‘hook’ tackle which sees Steve not only win the ball, but manages, control and with calm, he passes away to Andy L, thus diffusing any kind of attack the OW8s had in mind.
Still with 15 minutes or so to go, the 7s are now accustom to digging in deep, the captain forever shouting commands and organising the troops, looked the better team, OW8s probing away, had the better fitness overall, but couldn’t find a way past the wall at the back.
As the clocked ticked down, Adam E having to replace the 7s captain to give some extra legs in midfield, the Merton boys did not look like giving this up easily, much contrast to early in the season, with the OW8s getting a corner late on, even the strikers dropped back, making sure that 5-in-a-row was nailed on.
Great team effort and handshakes all round, no one could begrudged the 7s this victory, with only 3 games remaining, the target of top 4 is possibly, be it not in our hands, and with the unbeaten Carshalton 6s away this weekend, can they pull off an upset? Even a mild defeat to the league winner’s elect will be a moral victory in our eyes. All we say is …. BRING IT ON
MOTM: Once again, it goes to a legend, Steve B… stepping in for Dan.
(Still 50/50 if he passes the trial though!)
DOTD: Denzel… I know we haven’t played at the Hood in a while, but turning up at the wrong ground that to even ours is worthy of this week’s DOTD J
Team : Gubby, Josh, Steve B, Martin, Delman, Adam E, Tom R, David ©, Noor, Denzel, Malcolm
Scott, Andy L, Andy D
On a lovely sunny April morning away at Barnes football ground, Merton under 9s took on Barnes at a 6 a-side match with no substitutes (due to holiday commitments). It was an all-round superb display by Merton with a gutsy, technical and energetic performance shown by all the players. A total team game.
Barnes set off to a quick start with an opening goal, but from then on Merton were in the ascendancy. Harry deservedly won the man-of-the match award with a determined performance, with some fantastic crosses and an important goal. Do-Hoo scored twice, one with a penalty (after being sandwiched by the other side) and Tommie with his pace scoring the fourth. Sam again made some significant catches in goal (and won a best moment award for one of his saves), whilst Jack added pace down the wing. Callum was as strong as ever in midfield and defence.
Given the lack of substitutes, it was decided to “rest” the players by playing a rotational system, which was very effective as the boys preserved their energy and progressively dominated each quarter.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable game for players, coaches and spectators alike in a great setting. Although playing a 6 a-side game, the boys were not phased and showed great patience, skill and character to wear the other side down and to seize control of the game.
Thrilling match with a superb result!
U9s Pitch Marshall