Month: October 2017
Merton U9 vs Wandgas U9, mid-season friendly, Sunday 29th October 2017
With no fixtures during half-term Merton U9s chose to build on the huge strides made over the first few weeks of the season with a friendly against Wandgas U9s.
Neal and Roy ran the now familiar team drills in warm-up under yet another cracking autumnal morning.
Merton U9’s lined up with just 8 in the squad due to the absences of Faris (chilling next to a Greek Pool a la Ronaldo) and David (chilling in bed with man flu, or possibly mom flu given Chell’s reports of feeling the same).
The opposition had brought along a couple of extra players to bolster what has been a squad still finding its’ feet this season.
The ref blew and Wandgas kicked off. The extra hour of sleep must have suited Merton because they were straight at it, closing down the opposition to win the ball and attack. They did this repeatedly to great effect in the opening 10mins, missing a few chances after some lovely one- and two-touch interplay. But they also found the back of the net through Archie, Lewis and Joe in quick succession with confident finishes against and ever-stretched defence.
As the half wore on Wandgas found their feet more and settled into the match. They were outdone one more time via a goal for Louis and then at 4-0 they hit back through their diminutive forward wearing 7 on his back. It’s a good thing David was not able to play as the comparison of the two players could have led to a Stewards’ Enquiry as to whether there was a 5 year gap between the sides. Merton endured a little ragged period during which Wandgas grabbed another through a nice free kick which the ever-reliable Max couldn’t quite get to so that they went in 4-2 at half time.
After the turn-around Merton picked up the initiative again and extended their lead through Percy who was having another dynamo-like game in the middle. Louis came on to play up front and Ollie added his relentless energy to the busy mid-field. The boys returned to some lovely interplay to create chances for each other and Louis put the next one away with his left peg after some pin-ball Wizardry from the midfield pressed into the Wandgas box. All the while Archie was making some cutely timed interceptions and playing it out with aplomb, as has become commonplace for his game. Next to him Harry was working hard and having a solid game especially against the strong number 5 from Wandgas.
It was 6-2 and a few wayward, though not malicious challenges led to the odd tear and break in play. Not satisfied with their work Merton kept pushing to the end and grabbed another through Louis’ newly discovered left foot and a cracker from Percy who does like the odd spectacular strike.
As the match drew to a close Wandgas maintained a positive attitude and kept at it, working hard to prevent any more Merton goals. They were outdone just once more as Louis nicked his hat-trick and underlined Merton’s superiority to mark up an 8-2 win at the final whistle.
Roy and Neal shared their thoughts with the team and awarded MotM to the deserving Joe who had quite simply stepped up a level for his team. Overall the boys had done themselves proud and continued to take their training ideas onto the field of play.
The anticipated battle between Taff and Archie to get the first round in after the game failed to materialise as the Merton bar manager didn’t make it in. Plenty of warm backslapping accompanied the happy crew as they trudged off to their awaiting carriages, looking forward to next Sunday when the competitive games return.
Old Sales 3s v Merton 7s
Always a bit nervous having a week off, you seem to lose a bit of momentum and it’s like starting all over again. Last season, the 7s never fared well after breaks, and always needed a game or two to get back into the swing of things
Today the 7s go back to the ground where they got thumped 7-1 in the cup to the Old Sales 3s, which on that day, Old Sale’s Reserves did not have a game and bolstered their 3s with half the squad! So, looking at the fixtures and seeing that, once again the reserves had no game and their 1st team was also playing at home, you can understand the feeling of ‘Déjà vu’.
Pitch side and waiting for a current game to end, we decide to have a warm up away from the pitch to get our game on. Discussion about the last game are at the forefront and it’s agreed a 4-5-1 is to be used.
Kieran this week steps up to the 5s and we have a great replacement in Lee Lenjhan between the sticks, once again, there’s a few later arrivals, so the squad is selected from those who turned up on time!! Josh again starting a RB, with Dan & Martin centre, steve on the left, the 5 across the middle starts with Ryan out wide, Jacob tucked in with David Centre and Andrew on the right, Luke Pellett back from his ankle injury far left, this leaves Billy up front, marauding around at will
As predicted, the OS’3 are a mixture of squads and start the better of the 2 teams, however, the new formation of 5 in the middle cuts out a lot of the play and for the first 10 minutes, the 7s do well to contain the OS’3.
Vocally, the 7s are improving and with ‘Lenners’ in goal, a further voice from ha back can be heard shouting commands. Although a few attacks result in shots from 20 yards or so, this does not faze the keeper and he confidently mops up these attacks from distances.
Still, it takes a full 20 minutes or so before the 7s get there first attack on the way, a good play worked down the flank is met by Billy and turned around for a corner, now in the OS’3 half, the game is being taken to them. Playing slightly higher up the pitch but still weary of the pace there possess, Dan and Martin are doing a fine job of containing the OS’3 striker. Closing down is quick and once again the 7s press and Billy is again terrorising the defence with Ryan and Luke now supporting
With the game swinging in the 7s direction, a good couple of chances go begging, one being a crazy first time volley from over 35 yards by the captain, who sees the fierce shot just sail over the cross bar.
Even when the OS’3 do break through, Lenners is there to calm things down and more often than not, launch balls over the top for Billy and Ryan to run on to, a weapon that we haven’t had before
Finally the pressure pays off, OS’3 trying to clear their lines sees David storm forward from the halfway line between 2 OS’3 players and first time volley a through ball to Billy to set him on his way for a 1v1, which is calmly rolled into the far corner. 0-1.
This seemed to have caused unrest in the OS’s squad, as now openly arguing and throwing in rash tackles, Billy is brought down around 20 yards out. Billy, picking himself up off the floor sets the ball and dispatches a delightful curling ball far right of the keeper for 0-2
Being on top, half time comes and the squad are buoyant, one change is made in Martin coming off for Tom in an attempt to contain the ariel threat, the game is under way
From kickoff, OS’3 are rallying around, they team talk must have spurred them on as the 7s are pinned back in their own half, now playing with 2 wide men, OS’3 are dictating play. This pulls back Luke P and Ryan in a more defensive roll leaving Billy to forage on scraps, which he does so well being unlucky with 2 attempts from range, lobbing the keeper on both occasions, one hitting the cross bar. However the pressure pays off for OS’3 and sees them pull a goal back from a neat passage of play, 1-2.
Now it’s the 7s turn to rally around, not wanting to relinquish the goal lead, the tracking and man marking is back as the first half. Getting a grip of the game, the 7s push back OS’3 and start to gain territory, 2 quick corners come to nothing but keeping the pressure on sees Luke P curl a great ball in which finds Ryan with a huge amount of goal to aim at but manages to volley high, what a let off
Not to long after, Billy is once again off on his heels and bearing down on goal, keeping pace Ryan sets off on the opposite wing as back up, Billy now in the area curls a shot towards the far corner which the keeper palms away, but only in the path of Ryan who this time makes no mistake under pressure from the OS’3 left back, powers his shot into an empty net
OS’3 come straight back, flooding the 7s half with players in an attempt to get a quick goal back. A change is now made, bringing on Daban for Andrew, who once again has done himself justice in the centre of the park and Luke M for Jacob who is now carrying a knock from the first half
Late in the game and now tiring, Tom goes off after getting a knock in the gut and Martin is back at left back. The youthful OS’3 continue to probe around and are soon rewarded with another well take goal. 2-3
Less than 10 minutes to go, the winds been knocked out the sails of the 7s, the attacks are relentless and OS’3 sense that not only is the draw on, but a victory if they keep slugging away. A strange decision to give OS’3 a free kick when they player ran across David and trip over his own feet, none the less, the protest are waved away and the from 20 yards, a ball is flighted into the far post which sees 3 OS’3 players attack the ball and force it over the line 3-3… !
With the game now coming to a close, both teams are giving it there all, Ref announces there’s 3 minutes of injury/overtime to play, OS’3 have the 7s on the rack with corners and throw ins in the 7s last third. Still undeterred, the 7s aren’t given up without a fight… once again Lenners pulls off a last ditch save and release the ball, this get worked to Luke P, who has 2 players keeping him company but still manages to release Ryan who has the legs to out sprint both the centre backs… keeper advances out just as Ryan approaches the 18 yard area, Billy keeping pace gives the keeper a decision to make, stand his ground or try and cut out the pass.. No need as Ryan makes the decision for him by ‘calm as you like’ slots the ball pass for 3-4 and the last kick of the game… Wow, what a contrast from the first game… and what a finish by Ryan to secure all 3 points for the 7s
After this epic encounter, we find ourselves at home next week against a Civil Service side, which you don’t quite know what you’re going to get. They have a mix of results so far. So, the only thing the 7s can do is go about their game like they did today, fully committed and not worrying what turns up… we shall see.
MOTM: Usual suspects getting nominated, but mentions have to go to the old boys, Martin and Steve, who are playing against strikers half their age and still keeping in touch. Josh & Billy once again head the votes but showing the composure to nick it at the end, it has to go to Ryan
DOTD: Turning up 45 minutes late and then arguing with Steve that his ‘done his warm up cycling here’… well done Tom J for making this easy!
Team: Lee, Josh, Dan, Martin, Steve, Ryan, Jacob, David, Andrew, Luke, Billy
Tom, Dadan, Luke M.
Normal morning wake up call met the boars group chat this week with Mustards very burnt toast being included in his pre match prep. Also the very eagle eyed Neal spotting the absence of last weeks match report from the merton way. Guess that’s another thing that managed to slip through Dan Bridgeman’s fingers last week. I believe in ‘Karma’, what goes around, comes around…until it’s your turn for it to strike.
This weeks music theme “greatest karaoke songs” chosen by Neal, last weeks M.o.M. Looking for a good ole’ sing-along this week.
Music rings around the changing room. Fitz walks in, being asked by the very inquisitive Mustard. “What time do you call this?” Fitz late, Glenn later and ‘where’s Darcy?’ Sounded out around the changing room. Ah yes! Late again. With yet another shit excuse.
Out onto the pitch we went…goals carried out, warm up complete, match tactics discussed. A strong boars squad this week along with the new addition to the boars Milo. 3-5-2 was the set up. Fitz in goal. Vin, lofty and stone made up the back 3. Glenn and Neal held the wingback positions. Mustard, Dan and Mario in the middle. Benham and Denys up top. ‘Solid’ was the cries.
Kickoff. As the ball broke down our left. Lofty cleared the ball via what seemed a deflection, or so we thought. The ref decided otherwise. The OPK’s throw was taken neatly, which couldn’t be said for his counterpart on the other wing, who had clearly been attending the same foul throw in classes in Fairlop as Mustard, yet none were penalised. Ball broke through kindly for OPK’s. A neat cut back and tap in into the roof of the net. 0-1.
Merton started to find some good passes and what seemed like a heavy touch from Mustard led to a quick bit of thinking by Mario, playing it back to Mustard, who drove a shot towards goal. Keeper parried, but only for Tom to pounce and slot home the rebound. 1-1.
From what seemed like a hopeless ball forward. Vin found himself chasing down the ball and being chased himself. “See it out” the cry. Nah I’ll pass it back to the keeper even though it was practically out for a throw in anyway. Fitz dealt with it somewhat initially, you’d have thought so anyway. A good first touch by their number 8 as he then unleashed a volley a good 30 odd yards out which looped over Fitz. 1-2.
Once again Merton were putting together some good passages of play. Space was starting to be found. Stone see Glenn out left and found him with a quick switch of play. Glenn took on his man down the line and whipped in a peach of a cross to the back sticks. Dan opted for the volley and rightly so. Bottom bins. 2-2.
Boars we’re starting to find their feet. A corner being won from yet more good play. However a wayward header sent OPK’s away on the counter. As the ball was sent over the top. Offside seemed to be in the wings after some good line keeping from lofty. However out of nowhere came their number 10. It’s now 2v1 on Fitz. Not quite the way he’d expect to be against one of those scenarios. A cracking shot into the top right corner. 2-3. Half time.
Team talk began with a barrow of comments. Fitz, mustard and lofty attempting to change the line up for the 2nd half. Denys injured from the 1st half, Jamie already being introduced. A chance for Darcy (who was Dropped from the original starting 11 for being ridiculously late due to yet again, another wardrobe malfunction) and Emilio to also be thrown into the fold. Boars now lining up in a 4-3-3 formation. Neal, Stone, Vin and Glenn the back 4. Mustard, Mario and Darcy. Emilio, Tom and Jamie up top.
The boars started the 2nd half brightly and looked dangerous down the left hand side, with Glenn and Milo offering the legs and pace to threaten most right backs. OPK’s pressured early on and won a corner, which was whipped in towards the back post. As the attacker was climbing all over the back of Stone. No free kick. It ricocheted and dropped kindly to Number 8 who hit the bar with a header before following up to poke the ball past Fitz. 2-4.
In typical fashion, the boars dug deep and carried on playing some good football, sometimes overplaying it too much. Ball was sent long over the top, Neal covering, got the call from Fitz, who was coming to collect. Except the ball was never making it back. Neal had to head it on back and spinned off. Looking for what should have been a simple roll out. Fitz carried on the curse, and probably for the one and only time this season seemed to be ahead of play and was too close to Neal. Fitz fumbled it and somehow nutmegged himself. Tap in for OPK’s. Funny thing was. I had no idea what had just happened but I remember mumbling Meg-nuts to myself. 2-5.
Some good play in the middle, along with a good run from Milo followed up with the determination to set Tom away to finish neatly led to the boars 3rd and final goal. Tom’s 2nd. 3-5.
OPK’s were piling on the pressure and were breaking in numbers as the boars tried to claw back the cup tie. A 3 on 2 attack led to a good left handed save from Fitz down sharply. “How did he save that?” Was the cry from the shooter. I’m not too sure I knew either, after the 1st blunder that led to the last goal.
With the boars seemingly getting another foothold in the game came the biggest howler of them all. A quick break from OPK’s and what seemed like a tame and comfortable shot to take. Come a move straight from Army camp. The throw as you roll. Fitz caught the ball but only to spin it into his own net on impact onto the floor.
I thought I’d get away with the first howler but I knew that I wasn’t escaping the match report duty this week. Even with time to make another smart save down to the right this time and despite only picking up my first ever D.o.D nomination last week. Let’s just blame Vin. Who seemed far from happy receiving his nominations for not clearing his lines leading to their 2nd goal.
Back into the changing room for the boars and the playlist back on to lighten the mood. ‘We are the champions’ was quite the ironic mood changer we weren’t looking for.
Still the day had time to turn its attention to the topic of anal in the group chat. I knew then that today was my day (Ha Ha.) All be it for the wrong reasons and on that bum note. Time to get back to business in the league. Away to City of London up next.
Line up: Fitz, Vin, Lofty, Stone, Neal, Mustard, Dan, Mario, Glenn, Denys, Tom.
Subs: Milo, Jamie, Darcy.
D.o.D – Fitz
M.o.M – Glenn a.k.a Party Boy.
Merton 4s vs. IBIS Eagles 5s SAL Junior Division 4 South Saturday 21st October 2017
Having won so convincingly against West Wickham last time out, we were up against an opposition who had already given us one of the toughest games so far this season in IBIS Eagles. With both teams on 10 points going into the game, the victors would sit comfortably at the top of the table.
A shortage of centre backs meant that we had to seek assistance from the 1s and draft in Alan Clowes. We also had Jordan Cox on the bench as cover for John Gridley who had already played 90 minutes of football for the vets.
We lined up in our usual 3-5-2 formation with Michael Gubby in goal, a back three of Alan, Joe Plumridge and Mikey Elgar. John Gridley and myself were the wing backs on the right and left respectively. Sonny Kennedy and Adam Collings were the holding midfielders with Frankie Kalogirou getting a chance to shine in the number 10 role behind Aaron Loftus and Dom Plumridge.
The first half was one of few chances for both teams and this was evident going into the beak with the score goalless.
We knew that we were shading possession and that it would only be a matter of time before we broke the deadlock, all we had to do was continue the way we was playing.
About 20 minutes into the second period we were able to break down the visitors when Adam clinically converted a scissor kick into the roof of the net. 1 – 0 and in all honesty cruising.
The way the game was going it had 1 nil written all over it. Or so we thought….
A lapse in concentration and a long ball from the back caught Joe flat footed. This allowed the striker a one-on-one opportunity with Gubby which he took with aplomb. 1 – 1 and we were gutted.
Coming to terms that we were only going to take a point from the game, we were showing signs that the equaliser had got to us. Cue the 85th minute and a sucker punch! Another lapse in concentration produced a peach of a chance for IBIS which they took.
The final whistle went with the opposition celebrating like they had just won the FA Cup, celebrations which continued into the dressing room. This shows how important the win was for them as they knew that we were the toughest competition that they would have to face in the league all season.
It wasn’t our day but we played some good football. We need to brush ourselves off and get back in our stride against Civil Service next week.
FINAL SCORE: Merton 4s 1 – 2 IBIS Eagles 5s SCORER(S): Adam Collings MOTM: Michael Elgar – Solid as always at the back.
DOTD: N/A – Everybody put in a shift to be proud of.
STARTING LINE-UP: Michael Gubby (GK), Joe Plumridge, Michael Elgar, Alan Clowes, John Gridley (Jordan Cox), Edward Plaistow (Capt.), Sonny Kennedy, Adam Collings, Frankie Kalogirou Aaron Loftus, Dom Plumridge
NAME: Andy Williams
NAME: Nick Englefield
TEAM: Merton 6s
BIRTH DATE: 12/08/1987
BIRTH PLACE: Kingston
PREVIOUS CLUBS: Ashtead, Merton, Raynes Park, Tooting and Mitcham Wanderers
1. Tell us who you are outside of the club. What do you do, how would you describe yourself?
I’m a General Manager of a Leisure Centre in Merton so I spend most of my time in and around gyms, so I have to keep active, I workout every day and do the odd triathlon. When I have time I go fishing and would go a lot more if I could, in fact the thought of sitting by a lake for the rest of my life, getting fat on fried food and catching the odd fish sounds idyllic, but unfortunately that won’t pay the bills and I’d probably be horrendous at football.
2. How did you end up at Merton FC?
I had all but retired from football , and ready to spend my weekends fishing when I was asked by Kev and Ty to come back down to Merton and play with the 6s and I’m glad I did. They are a great bunch of lads and we have started off the season on a high, I have a couple of goals under my belt and enjoying every minute of it.
3. What do you like most about Merton FC?
I like the size of the club and the fact that all the teams seem to really get on well with each other. You can always see a few of the lads from the other teams watching from the sidelines cheering each other on. Post match food is always good to.
4. If you could play for a professional team, which would be it and why?
Manchester United I guess, I think every lad would want to play for the team he supports.
5. Do you have any pre-match rituals or superstitions?
I always have a pre workout drink during the warm up, I don’t think it’s a ritual, more an attempt to make sure I have enough in the tank to try and keep up with the young lads sprinting up and down the wings every 10 seconds throughout the match.
6. Lastly, share us your goals/expectations for the season.
I want to win the league and I want the 6s to have the top goal scorers this season (meaning me) but Tony Chaplin is well ahead at the moment. He will say that its not a competition, but he would, he’s winning.
Favourite Player (at Merton, or in professional football): Swanny, deceptively cat like.
Childhood Team: Manchester United / Kingstonian
Favourite team in the UK: Manchester United
Favourite team outside the UK: AC Milan
Childhood Hero: Eric Cantona
Favourite Food: Sausages
Favourite Drink: Beer
Favourite Band: Not sure, I’m a big fan of Smooth Radio
2 weeks on from our last outing – a sobering defeat to the very determined and organised 6’s – we were focused on setting the record straight. This season has started poorly with 3 feats from 4 games, so this is a must win game to get our footing back in the league.
Shockingly most of the team were on time and looking sharp, although with white socks and flip flops Dwayne clearly still gets dressed in the dark. Soon enough Darren’s filthy baselines blared out in the clubhouse as we were getting pumped for redemption on home turf.
Another week and another new defensive line, we looked set for another leaky sieve defence, however strong possession play and far more composure on the ball lead to dangerous moves on the other end of the field, Josh and Dwayne combining well only to find the square heads of Gibbo and Dulanie only coming close with their efforts.
Dogged displays in midfield and dominant defending lead to a complete shut out for City of London, who looked short of ideas to break us down and couldn’t match us for strength or skill. Somehow through missed opportunities City made it to half time without dirtying their sheet, but Merton were knocking on the door enough to be confident a goal was imminent.
As the second half began it looked like City were going to try and take the game to Merton a little more, as they looked to transfer from defence to attack quicker, but any loose pass was easily mopped up and helped to open up the game for us, and our front three looked more and more likely to score, Aaron eventually popping up at the back post to nod home the inevitable opener, and from his celebration you could see what it meant to us.
The commotion of scoring distracted Sam in goal from his sudoku as he probably hadn’t had to make a save for about half an hour, and since the goal through a series of sloppy play we somehow managed to keep Sam far busier, almost wasting the lead at the death.
The final whistle blew and we had done enough, more room for improvement but a clean sheet for the 5’s is not something I expected today from yet another changed backline.On the day we made life hard enough for what was in truth a fairly poor opposition, and against stronger side we need to be far more clinical with our chances on goal if we are to challenge for promotion later in the season.
Merton 4s vs. West Wickham 6s
SAL Junior Division 4 South
Saturday 14th October 2017
After back to back wins in the league, hope was there that we were able to continue the good form that has taken us to joint top of the league. A win would leave us two points shy of our entire points tally from the previous season!
With availability limited we were required to call up Phil Truman from the 5s to slot into the back three alongside Adam and Joe. With no Dom due to work, it was down to the partnership of Michael Vogt and the young Matt Shreeve to provide the goals. Hopefully Aaron would be able to chip in from the number 10 role.
Having found a formation that works after a few seasons of trying, we were spraying the ball around the park with ease. The opposition were unable to get a foothold in the game and whenever they did, Adam was there to clear up at the back.
Having been a long week before writing this report, it is hard to remember the type of goals that were scored. All I know is that we are 2-0 up at the break Aaron bagging both of the goals.
The second half started in the same fashion as the first however we were only able to add one more to our tally. The scorer…..Aaron for back to back hat tricks. These goals are burning quite a large hole in his pocket!
The only negative to take out of the game was Sonny getting sin binned. This didn’t seem to faze us though as this was the period when Aaron was able to grab his third goal.
Next week we host IBIS Eagles. Having drawn 2-2 back in September and with a win required to take us clear at the top, this game is a must win!
FINAL SCORE: Merton 4s 3 – 0 West Wickham 6s SCORER(S): Aaron Loftus (3) MOTM: Adam Collings – Aaron was a close second but a solid display at the back from our ‘striker’ could not be overlooked.
DOTD: Frankie Kalogirou – Going down too easy and injuring his shoulder.
STARTING LINE-UP: Michael Gubby (GK), Joe Plumridge, Adam Collings, Phil Truman, Frankie Kalogirou (Daniel Ford), Edward Plaistow (Capt.), Sonny Kennedy, Akram Choudhury, Aaron Loftus, Michael Vogt, Matt Shreeve
NAME: James Gray
POSITION: DM or utility Centre Half
BIRTH DATE: 07/01/1993
BIRTH PLACE: Grimsby
PREVIOUS CLUBS: East Grinstead
- Tell us who you are outside of the club. What do you do, how would you describe yourself?
Jobwise, I work in software sales managing our UK & Irish markets.
Outside of work I do all the standard things a single bloke in his 20s does. Drink fairly often, usually not without incident, losing my wallet on quiz night case in point and obviously watch bake off.
- How did you end up at Merton FC?
Knew Chaz through a friend of a friend
- What do you like most about Merton FC?
Love how well run the club is from top down with the events etc. Plus the lads have been welcoming and each week is a good laugh.
- If you could play for a professional team, which would be it and why?
Got to be Manchester United. Always been a livelong fan and grown up watching them win everything.
- Do you have any pre-match rituals or superstitions?
I have a few with no real reasoning behind any of them. Always smack my feet on the ground when I first put my boots on. Try to wear the number 6 if I’m wearing Adidas boots or playing CB and 8 if I’ve got Nike boots
- Lastly, share us your goals/expectations for the season.
I think it would be a massive disappointment with our squad if we didn’t come close to promotion. Also, be great to go on a cup run and play a final at a pro ground where I score a 40-yard worldie.
Favourite Player (at Merton, or in professional football): Paul Scholes
Childhood Team: Manchester United
Favourite team outside the UK: Real Madrid. Playing at the Bernabeu would be class
Childhood Hero: David Beckham
Favourite Food: Ice Cream
Favourite Drink: Pint of Moretti
Favourite Band: Mumford & Sons
Old Owens (a) 14-10-2017
Merton has never been a club to put too much stock in omens. But when, as skipper, your referee for the day asks if you’re wearing yellow while your entire team is standing around you, all of you resplendent in the very shade Merton has made famous in every corner of London, well… you have to wonder.
Especially when the man in black has then somehow managed to make a complete muddle of the coin toss. Long day ahead? You bet.
This is not the forum for complaint, however. You can draw your own conclusions as to just how wildly inconsistent the man in the middle’s behaviour was during the game.
Instead, a few Merton highlights.
Dom Preece put in a hell of a shift in the middle of midfield. Outshining the energy of Craig Usher and Ryan Gresty is no small feat, but our man did exactly that.
Ahead of him, David Quainton led the line with Tom Benham admirably. Benham’s goal – twisting the defence inside out after latching on to a precise Peter Quainton through-ball – was joyous. Having sat the defender down for what seemed like a third time, Tommy B rattled the ball high past the keeper with his left foot. From the look of determination on his face immediately afterwards, he drew no little satisfaction from doing so.
Sherbs in goal was as reliable as ever. He could do nothing about the penalty (the ref was possibly only sorry he couldn’t take it himself), and made two or three excellent stops.
Dan Rist exudes a style and presence all of his own. Man of the match here, his delivery was pin-point from all over the pitch, and he even found himself on the edge of oppo area to force a fine save from a stinger of an effort. Also worthy of mention is his fondness for the over-elaborate dummy at centre-back. Gets ‘em every time.
Special mention, though, for Peter Quainton. Off the bench after less than 10 minutes, Pete podiumed for Man Most Handsome from right wing-back. Affecting the game when you have the best player on the pitch to mark is one thing. Coming off the bench to show the rest of the lads how it’s done is quite another. Well played.
There was something of a spiteful playground atmosphere about the whole affair, hardly helped by the coin toss cocker-upper. A long way to go for little reward. But this was a game, in the end, that was not without its lighter, brighter moments. In yellow.
Herbert (GK), Grew, Rist, Cook, Rayner, Willgoss (c), Preece, Usher, Gresty, D Quainton, Tom Benham. Sub: P Quainton