Month: October 2017
Old Blues 3rd v Merton 7s
‘Friday 13th’, is never a good start to a weekend, and with player’s availability changing on a day to day basis during the week, it was tough task knowing who to select, let alone be turning up. After last week’s demolition of OW8s, tails are up and eager to get back on the pitch.
Today we are in Ham for our second league game of the season against an unpredictable Old Blues 3rd team which has had mixed results of late. Warming up pitch side and watching the oppo run through there drills, the 7s seem confident of improving on the 3 points on the board
Kieran, in goal, Josh, Martin, Dan & Steve making up the back four, Midfield welcome back Jacob on the right, with Luke M stepping into the middle with David, Andrew on the left, leaving Billy & Ryan up top.
From the start, 7s looked off the pace, the centre midfield pairing seemed to be having trouble closing down the opposite numbers and not to long into the game, Kieran is in action to swat away a fierce shot. Not learning from this mistake, OB3s are running the show from the middle and it seems like OB3s have extra players on the pitch, 2 more close calls see the defence and goalie working hard to keep the oppo at bay.
It wasn’t long before another miss placed pass is intercepted by the very quick and pacey OB3s midfield, who seemed to turn on the gas to get past the defence to unleash a neat shot that beats Kieran on the left. 1-0
Kick off and more of the same, the 7s are suffering from a complacency hangover after having such an easy ride the week before, once again the OB3s midfield boss the game and pass through balls to their forwards at will and again Kieran is unlucky to get beat after getting hands on a tough shot only to see the ball fall to the advancing striker, 2-0
Some last ditch tackles from Steve & Dan saves the 7s from going further behind and with not even 15 minutes played. Even worse, top scorer Billy seemed to have pulled up with a hamstring and hobbles off for some treatment. It just get worse!!
Vocally, only the captain can be heard trying to rally the players to up the game, Steve, Dan join in knowing that we can do better, slowly the 7s get a foot hold in the game and start to put some passes together and finally get rewarded with a few shots, and although not on target, it would seem they OB3s keeper is struggling!
Late in the first half and after an appeal for off side is waved away, the 7s finally test the keeper, it could be deemed an own goal as the shot is parred into the net. 2-1 down at the break and some tough words to be had
Finally Daban decides to turn up, and a quick shuffle sees him replace Luke in the centre and Billy recovers from the mild pull and is ready to come back on. Game starts more the same, David & Daban are making a better fist of it this time, but still doesn’t stop the OB3s from going 3-1, Steve passing to David who loses out and can only watch as the player rounds the defence and finds the net. 3-1
Straight from Kick off sees Billy released with a long ball over the top, which finds him level with the centre backs who can only watch as he beats them to the ball (even after having 10 yards or so!) and with a single touch, lobs the advancing keeper form 20 yards, 3-2
A further changed sees Luke take over from Andrew on the left, who had run his heart out chasseing there right winger, as well as getting up to support the forwards. Still, silly mistakes are getting made and now what seems a single OB3s player is tormenting the 7s defence, sees him once again skip through and curls a lovely shot beyond Kieran who can only watch as its bends in. 4-2.
From the kick off, the tackles are now flying in for both teams, the ref, who to be fair, ‘wasn’t’ having the best day (and I have chosen not to make a point about this) had to pull the captions together before it got out of hand (or turned into a poor version of WWE!).
With Dabans energy in the middle and closing down the OB3s danger player, he robs the ball with a stern challenge, turns and takes off and leaves 2 more players in his wake, Billy sensing a foot race with the OB3s defence is struggling to stay on side and screams for the through ball which Daban obliges, at first, it seemed to be over hit, but with Billy’s pace, his a clear 15 yards ahead of any player and 1v1 with the keeper, which he makes no mistake for 4-3.
However, once again, a bit of bad luck sees OB3s danger man get his 3rd as he manages to ride 3 challenges, 2 with a bit of luck sees the ball bounce off and land back in his path to unleash another shot which Kieran almost got a hand too, to make it 5-3
Back to the drawing board, Josh & Jacob begin to have more joy on the right, a long ball from the back once again sees the OB3s defence panic, Billy now playing of their shoulders and looking to pick up on any mistakes, is once again rewarded and calmly rounds the keeper to roll in his first hatrick for Merton.
The game is now toing and throwing between the 2 sides, a couple of shots from the 7s of target and a side netting from Billy straight from the corner frustrates the team, stronger tackles against the OB3s players sees them protest, this just spurs the 7s on.
Still with 15 minutes to play, and tired of this OB3s player skipping around, his brought down with a heavy challenge around 20 yards out, Kieran lines the wall up, but is beat by a low shot to his left post for 6-4. Can’t catch a f****** break !!!!!!!
Again, kick off, can’t believe the 7s are still 2 down, the last 20 minutes has been all 7s, running, tackling, shooting. Another corner, Billy sprints from one side of the pitch to the other to take it, David, having his fair share of attention form the OB3s centre mid and centre back, take up man marking defence duties as he strolls in. You just knew that Billy was lining up for a shot after hitting the side netting at his previous attempt, and this time making no mistake, curls the corner directly into the near post for his 4th, and a score of 6-5.
Less than 10 minutes and a few more dubious decisions by the ref. Notably Daban fouled some 25 yards from the 7s goal, protest for a free kick are waved away, the ball is won back and cleared up field, once again Billy is free after clearly sprinting between the two centre backs but still 30 yards out, controls the ball…. And the whistle goes… the game has been pulled back for the foul on Daban !!!!!
Last minutes, the 7s having all the play, just can’t seem to find a way through the 10 man wall. OB3s openly shut up shop and pull rank, Billy is now marked by 2 players, one which is a little keen and keeps pulling him back, which the ref turns a blind eye to (or doesn’t see it!) that almost sees an exchange of blows as the older defender goads the young forward to strike him, not rising to it, he chooses to use a few colourful words instead
Full time and a hum-dinger of a game which is a hard loss to take. The slow start cost the 7s and the inability to change formation in the second half could have prevented a goal or two. It’s all a learning curve which was discussed in length after the game (which is a positive). The 7s still missing key players know they dropped the points as opposed to losing them, which is something different from last year
With a week off due to the Vets Game, which sees a call up for the 7s management team of Martin, Steve & David, the 7s next outing is away to Old Sales 3rd on the 28th … which was a horrific 7-1 loss in the SALC. Let’s hope we can avenge the score and get back to winning ways
MOTM: Scoring 4 and still on the losing side, very unlucky to really only have 1 half against a defence that could not contain the young lad. Mention also to Daban who could have been the difference between a point or so, as to how much difference he made on the pitch when he arrived. And Josh… Mr Reliable.
DOTD: DABAN…. Turning up at half time…. What could have been if he turned up on time!
Team: Kieran, Josh, Dan, Martin, Steve, Jacob, Luke, David, Andrew, Billy, Ryan
15th October 2017
Under 9s 3
Hampton and Richmond Boro Yth Stags 4
Scorers: Lewis, Faris, Percy
We returned back at The Hood this week for a 10.30 kick off against Hampton and Richmond Stags. Following last week’s win another before the half term break would be nice. Excitement was in the air as we received the message in the week that the new yellow kit was ready for the boys to wear and debuting on home soil. We were told to turn up early so the boys could change into it, all boys were there ready, even Faris. They changed on the side line and before it got dirty, posed in the goal for the team photo. The second message of the week received late Saturday from Roy, the referee had cried off due to injury and was looking for a willing volunteer; well let’s just say Roy really knows how to silence a bunch of parents. No joy with a volunteer or replacement ref on the day, so Roy stepped up and took the whistle.
Starting line up this week was Max in goal, Ollie and Archie in defence, midfield of Lewis, Louis and Percy and Harry up top. On the bench were Joe, Faris and returning from his holiday, David. With the boys looking smart in their new kit we started were we left off having majority of the possession in the first 10-15 minutes but again just couldn’t find the net. You could see that the training Tuesday nights were paying off as the boys were now playing as a team, talking and passing to each other. It fell to a defensive error, which lead to the oppo who hadn’t really threatened our half scoring the first goal, slotting the ball into the near post. We kicked off and continued to press the oppo. Three changes half way through first half, Archie, Ollie and Louis off for Faris, Joe and David. We equalised with a peach of a shot and goal from Lewis, left foot looping over the stretching keeper. 1 – 1 and back in the game. That’s how it stayed until the half time whistle. It was looking like one of those games where we had most of the possession but not finding the goal.
Couple of changes made and the second half began, the oppo also making some changes which made them slightly stronger. Confusion is only what I can put it down to what should have been our second goal. What looked like a handball by the oppo and then the ball scrambling over the line? The shouts of hand ball and confirmation from the oppo manager lead to the stand in ref giving Merton a penalty. Up stood Percy, unfortunately his shot was saved by their keeper. What I would say is that their goals were mostly due to defensive errors and not clearing the ball quick enough. Including one that could well have done with goal line technology. We did manage to get two more goals but it wasn’t enough to level the match. Faris scoring bottom left near post from an assist from Archie and Percy slotting the ball bottom right corner of the goal. I do believe that this is a game we should have won, given that we had most of the possession and best chances. The boys are definitely improving game by game and were unlucky in this match.
MOM went to Percy who has shown consistency over the last couple of matches and managed to get on the score sheet as well, well deserved.
Observations this week: Stuart had a run in at Percy’s Saturday game with a sunglasses wearing man (Terminator) who didn’t like the decibels being shouted from the sideline or Stuart’s jokes to lighten the situation!! and Roy’s watch doesn’t do Fergie time.
No game next week due to the international break (half term). Potential friendly on 29th against Wongas at 11.00 where there is a Merton club day for the youth section.
Merton U14 V Twickenham Tigers
Goalscorers: Liam & Kieran
GK – Milo
RB – Liam
CB – Nikoy
CB – Entri
LB – McKenzie
CM – Eddie
CM – Daniel
RW – Justin
LW – Hugo
CAM – Diego
ST – Kieran
After several performances lacking energy a return to home comforts would provide the spark for a strong Merton performance. Playing on our home ground led to renewed levels of confidence and Merton started the game strongly, dominating from the off and creating a lot of chances. Our fullbacks were pushing forward well and Kieran was finding a lot of space in the middle to run onto, and midway through the first half a Merton player was swiped in the box and a penalty was awarded. Unfortunately Nikoy hit his penalty straight at the keeper and it remained 0-0. Nikoy quickly atoned for his missed penalty with a magnificent jumping goal-line clearance from a fierce free kick that seemed destined for the top corner. Just before half time the breakthrough came through our right back Liam whose shot was helped by the many bodies obstructing the goalkeepers view in the box as it hit the back of the net.
More of the same followed after half time with a great shot from the edge of the box by Theo that bounced off the top of the crossbar. Some sloppy play allowed Twickenham a way back into the game after a poor touch left Milo stranded and their forward slotted home into a virtually unguarded net. Merton pushed for the winner throughout the second half and anything less than 3 points would have been cruel as they worked tirelessly to find the killer finish. 2 minutes from time Kieran provided the winner that Merton deserved after his mazy run into the box was capped by a neat finish across his body that found the bottom corner. A fantastic match played in great spirit that ended in victory for Merton and we hope for more of the same next week.
Match Report – 07/10/2017 vs Old Wilsonians 5 HOME
Talk during the week was to keep the sixes feet grounded after the resounding win against the fives the previous week. We knew from previous games against Old Wilsonians that we expected a tough game against a good club, so formations and tactics were discussed in the days leading up to the game to try and get the best out of us.
The Saturday arrived and with the usual players running late (George!), the returning gaffer was of course stressed out. The late arrival of the ref also rose stress levels even higher.
With a starting 11 of Merton’s number 1 Swanny in goal, defence of Andy, Chappell Grant and Reece (yes the gaffer dropped himself!), midfield of Callum, George, Ty and Gresty with a strike force of Nick and Tony up top. The bench consisted of Trey, LOCKE!!!!!! and Pete.
With the pre match talk dominated of how tall the oppo were over and done with it was time for the game.
Well all I can say is WHAT A PERFORMANCE from the sixes. We got off to flier and were 4-0 up within 15 minutes or so – goals from Nick, Tony x 2 and Chappell (who nearly missed!).
I can honestly say that we were having a red letter day and everything we tried seem to work. Further goal in the first half from Callum and Tony saw us with a 6-0 half time lead.
Half time team talk was that of not being to cocky and playing the Merton way and not to humiliate the opposition (in terms of arrogance!).
I can’t remember exactly how the second half went – but it was pretty much the same. More goals from Tony, taking his tally to 6 in the game. A goal from Pete and the goal of the game from Trey (lovely strike in the top corner!). The final score was 11-0. I’m not sure what was wrong with Old Wilsonians this week as they seem to be off the pace and hardly threatened. I am also guessing that as the 7’s beat the lower team by the same score, they may have had a shortage of players (much like Merton this week).
It was nice to get a result whereby we were so dominant and take all of our chances for once.
Next week it is away to Actonians so let’s hope we can get another positive result!
Man of the Match:
The whole squad played really well and this was our best game this season! There were nominations for Mr Goal Machine Tony (obviously) but the overall majority voted for Andy at right back who had a solid game and is turning into a great find for the sixes!
Dick of the Day: clear winner – Callum. Missed from one yard and tried a scorpion kick as didn’t want to ruffle his hair and head the ball.
AFA Cup 1st round: HSBC 2-4 Merton (2-2 FT)
Last season, Team Handsome’s effort across three cup competitions could be summed up like this: not pretty; didn’t get very far. Three matches and three losses – clearly some work to do.
Still, a trip east-ish to play a bunch of bankers in this year’s AFA cup offered a chance to redress the balance and even the hope of securing some silverware.
Imagine a carpet, but the carpet is made of grass and it’s really nice grass and everyone likes playing on it. That was the pitch. No doubt buoyed by the un-Hoodness of the playing surface, Merton 2s tore into HSBC while also achieving the remarkable feat of actually talking to each other during the match and keeping the team shape.
The onslaught was spearheaded by Chaz, a kind of footballing Hurricane Irma who scored the opening goal with a Tim Cahill-esque header from a fine Dan Rist cross (adapting finely to a midfield berth). A momentary loss of shape through substitutions and EJ’s inability/refusal to throw a football saw HSBC equalise, but there was always the sense Team Handsome would pull through. It just took a while.
Ackerman, splendid until a late injury that will keep him out for a few weeks, strode through in the second half, played in ageing lothario DQ who left a defender on his backside and who handed the ball to Chaz on the edge of the area. Chaz’s in-no-way-scuffed shot found the bottom corner. 2-1.
Sadly, another collective bit of pony defending saw another HSBC goal and extra time beckoned.
Ackers’ last contribution, before accelerating one hip flexor too many, was to watch an HSBC defender sit on the floor and to roll the ball into the corner of the net. 3-2, and in truth Merton were very much in control. The scene was set for Chaz’s hat-trick. Pearce, once again defending stoutly, released DQ who ran the length of the pitch.
Ian Lewis, supportive as ever from the sidelines, was screaming for the pass to EJ – magnificent after the earlier defensive snafu – DQ duly obliged by giving it to Chaz instead. Chaz could’ve scored straight away but decided to turn a defender before doing so. And why not? Why. Not.
That was more than enough for man of the match, although special mention must go to Adam Crawshaw in centre midfield who had an absolute stormer, often closing down the entire opposition on his own (and loudly demanding some assistance while doing so). Todger of the Tag? Step forward Alex Herbert, for turning up late with the kit. Again. He’s on for the hat-trick on the 14th.
Line-up: Alex Herbert, Gabriel Draghici, Conor Murphy, Alan Clowes, Paul Pearce, Joe Grew, Chaz Martin, Dan Rist, Chris Rayner, Lewis Ackerman, David Quainton. Subs: Adam Crawshaw, EJ
Match Report – Epsom Town Youth v Merton FC U14
GK – Milo
RB – Liam
CB – Entri
CB – Nikoy
LB – McKenzie
CM – Daniel
CM – Eddie
RW – Hugo
LW – Justin
CF – Theo
ST – Kieran
After two disappointing performances in the league our focus switched to the cup for a difficult encounter against top of the league Epsom Town Youth. They were an extremely well set up side with an organized defence and solid game plan. This led to a cagey start with no real chances for either side. On a small, bobbly pitch it was hard for either team to get their passing games going and equally difficult to get in behind. Unfortunately for Merton we went behind after a corner was well cleared by Liam but the volley from outside the box went through a group of players and Milo could only palm it into the corner of the net. Merton looked to hit back immediately as McKenzie played a superb penetrating pass that split the defence that Fareed controlled well as he spun past the defender but the goalkeeper made a high quality save.
It was more of the same after half time as Epsom Town consistently tried to win free kicks and score from set pieces. Merton’s defence held strong for the rest of the match with some much improved defending after some sloppy play in previous matches and McKenzie and Liam did an excellent job at the wing back position. Merton’s chances were limited although a substitute appearance from Justin who came on at left wing led to more play around the box but unfortunately for Merton they couldn’t find a finish or killer ball in the final third. Next week is a first home game for several weeks against Twickenham Tigers and hopefully a return to winning ways after a much-improved performance this week.
Merton 7s v Old Wilsonian 8s
Finally the league fixtures start, after the SALC concluding with 1 win, 2 losses, 6 goals for (4 for Billy) 11 against!! Were now amongst our own. Although it’s the newly formed 6th Division, it’s more or less the same teams from last term, which we finished a strong fifth for a newly formed squad. This season, there’s talk we want top 3 minimum. So today, we need a good start
We welcome back OW8’S, a team we comfortably beat in the SALC 4-0 and twice beating them 3-1 last season, it’s a good game to bed in a few new faces
Going with the standard tried and tested, 4-4-2, we have Darren Fitzgerald volunteering to go in goal. With Josh, Tom, Martin, Steve making up the back 4, Luke M, Chris D, David & Ram as the midfield and Billy and his new boots, accompanied by Ryan up front.
Now, generally when doing a match report, there’s a certain amount of ‘padding out’ to be done, so that you can get across the type of game that went on… however, this time, more will be missing than can be remembered, as to how the team played today….!!
Yes, it was a poor side that we was up against, and the old cliché of ‘you can only beat what’s in front of you’ can be rolled out. But it was the manor that the 7s went about the job. Ruthless… and with more composure, this could have been a Merton record for a team win (No idea what it currently stands at, but Im sure we would have been close… )
1-0 : Games under way and in less than 2 minutes, David collects the ball, travels pass the OW8’s midfield, slots a ball between the defenders which Billy latches onto at pace, and calmly slots near post
2-0 : A move that started from the left back , shuffled around to the right wing, with Josh and Luke linking up, towards the 18 yard box, Josh & Ryan with a neat 1-2 into the area for Josh to dispatch a low far corner shot
3-0 : Corner from Billy to the far post, David winning the aerial battle and knocking down to Ram who controls and volleys over the static keeper
4-0 :Good work from the defence, passed out towards Luke M who curls a defence splitting pass forward for Billy to footrace the back 4, calmly slotting pass the advance keeper
5-0 : Billy with a near post corner, evades the defenders and drops centre of goal, Ram is ghosting in at ‘pace’ to slam home an unstoppable shot
Half time, and there’s not much you can say or change at this point and you feel for the guys waiting to get on the pitch. But the talk is about making this count, getting the goal difference up as that’s what lets us down last season… just with the one change, Luke who’s improving with each game makes way for ‘Kieran’ for a debut on pitch.
6-0: Took a while, the opposition stood firm for 15minutes until Ram slots in Ryan for a 1v1.
Change made – Ram off for Scott and a change to 4-3-3,
7-0 :Soon after, the ever energetic Ryan once again is on his heels after a neat pass from Kieran and skips pass the OW8’s back four to dispatch his 2nd
Change made – Steve off for Dan, Martin goes left back, Dan Centre
8-0 : Billy put through by David and he races clear, only for the keeper to get a good hand on his shot, which falls to Ryan to complete his Hatrick
9-0 Kieran down the right wing, Crosses, Billy leaves for David on the 18 yard, defender closing down gets lobbed with a back heel flick, David through on goal and as the ball drops, scissor volleys into the roof of the net
10-0 Ryan robs the OW8’s centre back and dispatches his 4th and our first ever double figure score is achieved for the mighty 7s
11-0 Kieran once again have all sorts of fun down the right wing, doubles up with Josh who with still 25/30 yards to go, accelerates into the box and drives a fierce low shot into the far corner again…
This concludes the goals, however, a few notable events that also took place,
Luke in midfield had a few good moments, one notable when being closed down by two players, calmly left the ball to run through his legs, leaving them both static and out of position, only to have no one backing him up. Chris coming back after from what someone said was a spell of old age (but clearly not the oldest in this squad!!) had a good baptism alongside David in the centre of midfield with some good strong work from the pair of them
First half and 5-0 up, David breaks up a OW8s attack, he dispatched a through ball for Ryan to latch onto, forced out wide and towards the corner flag, Ryan cuts inside and draws the keeper out, Billy having no problem keeping up with play waits in the penalty area before making a quick run as Ryan slots the ball across the goal line…
Unfortunately, Billy and his new boots manages to get to the ball just at the point it takes a bobble (not many saw this… but I’m sure it happened!!) and from 2 yards….. YES, 2 YARDS!!!! Hits the crossbar!!
There’s not many players that can score 2 goals, set up 3 and still walk of the pitch gutted, and feel like they let their team down, but to be fair, the young lad was first to ‘Man Up’ and take the DOTD award for that little miss hap, Don’t worry Billy… were sure you’ve got more goals in you this season, and there’s that other old cliché “you’ve got to be there to miss’em”…
So a job well done, a poor side put to bed by a team that showed, on their day, they can play some great football, now the trick is to take this form deep into the league and make a good fist of it.
Next week we are away at the unpredictable Old Blues 3rd, a team that has a few good and bad results already, and any team playing at home must be regarded as a threat. None the less… only a win is expected from the management as they look to go on a long unbeaten run
MOTM: Ryan…. Not only 4 goals and a few assists. But once again, never stopped running. Again, mentions for the other scorers, notably Josh “Mr Ever reliable”… 2 goals and another strong performance at right back. Billy, 2 goal 3 assists… but will be remembered for the ‘Jug Avoidance’ shot… (See below)
DOTD: Billy…. For blatant ‘Jug Avoidance’ … 2 Yards young man… 2 Yards!
Team: Darren, Josh, Tom, Martin, Steve, Luke M, Chris, David, Ram, Billy, Luke
Scott, Dan, Kieran
8th October 2017
Merton Under 9s 4
Halliford Under 9s 3
Scorers: Harry 2, Louis, Lewis
Nice autumn away game in the outskirts of Staines. Scenic route taken pass Hampton Court Palace, along the river Thames pass Kempton Race course to our destination of The Matthew Arnold School. Everyone arrived for the meet time, little walk across to the pitch ready for the warm up and team talk. Starting line up this week was Max (GK), Joe and Ollie (Defence), Louis, Percy and Lewis (Midfield) and Faris (Striker). On the bench were Archie and Harry, with David still away in Disney land with Mickey and friends and all the roller coasters.
The first half we started strong and put pressure on their defence and goalkeeper but couldn’t find the net, their keeper making some good saves. For about the first 5 minutes Max was standing in his area with surprisingly not a lot to do. The first goal unfortunately came from the opposition, and unfortunately due to the intensity of the match I’ve forgot how it went in. The boys got themselves together, kicked off and continued as they started the match. Couple of changes have way through the first half, Harry and Archie on. We got the leveller from Lewis who dribbled pass a couple of players and placed the ball in the bottom right hand of the net. His first goal of season and well deserved. That’s how the first half finished, the players gathered for well earned drinks, short rest and team talk.
Second half, couple more changes and onto the exciting but intense 25 minutes. We continued to play some good football, passing the ball about, clearing the ball out from the back and shooting first time at goal. Again they took the lead from a corner that wasn’t cleared, 2 – 1. Percy was having yet another great game in centre of midfield, with his endless running and closing down. We drew level yet again with a sweet left foot shot by Harry into the top right corner. The boys never gave up and with some good passing Harry got us in the lead making it 3 – 2. There came upset in the last 10 minutes as they scored to level the game again to make it 3 – 3. A few more changes, Harry off to be denied a chance to get a hat trick. With about 5 minutes of normal time to go, the ball was played over the top to Louis who calmly controlled the ball and composed himself in front of goal to score his first goal of the season and put us back in the lead. Now, for the second week running, Fergie time was played and the last 5 minutes of added time was squeaky bum time. The boys played their hearts out, not one of them having a bad game, defended well and saw the game out to go on and win their second game of the season.
This was a great but nail biting match to watch, which had everything in it. There were new goal scorers, end to end play, post hitting, defending, passing and the ball hitting the back of the opposition net.
Man of the match was close between 2 goals Harry, Percy’s engine in the middle, but was given to Louis for another great performance and getting on the score sheet. Winning treats at the end of the game supplied by Roy.
The win made the drive home a lot more enjoyable.
Next week’s game sees a 10.30 kick off at home against Hampton and Richmond Borough Youth Stags. On the agenda is Taff helping with the goals and Stuart supplying the pom poms for the new sideline cheerleaders (Lewis’s sister and friend).
Old Salesians 3-5 Merton 4th
Having been humbled 6-1 by Old Salesians in the first game of the season at the Hood, the return fixture, and a chance to avenge that dismal performance, had come round remarkably quickly. The setting – Tennisonians Sports Ground – was an idyllic one, and the weather was just about playing ball too.
There was just one thing missing… a referee. Having made contact with said individual, he’d claimed shortly before the scheduled KO time of 14:30 that he was “just 5 minutes away”. However, this claim became increasingly dubious as the minutes ticked by. Come 3 o’clock, Mike – who was very conscious that this fiasco was starting to dent his Happy Hour drinking time – stepped up to ref. A rusted spare whistle was sourced, along with a belated chase for a mobile phone to keep track of time. And eventually, it was all systems go.
Merton started the game beautifully, shored up by a very solid back three, and Akram in the middle to break up play. But the most impressive bit of all was the willing to play the ball around on the carpet, and with plenty of enterprise to boot.
The breakthrough came courtesy of some good buildup play, although the finish from Adam – with his first 2 touches of the ball – was simply exceptional: a Cruyff turn, followed by a clinical left-footed finish.
Somewhat against the run of play though, the oppo equalised, with Merton not being able to clear their lines, and allowing a cross to come in that was duly dispatched. 1-1.
But rather than let the heads drop, Merton reasserted their dominance on the game, and soon reaped the reward, with Dom slotting home another smart left-foot finish. 2-1.
Then came the first of a number of referee blunders. Merton won a corner, but what followed was one man head-butting another. The 20 other players on the pitch, along with a sprinkling of spectators and their dogs, all saw it clearly. The ref, however, did not, and despite some (deserved) abuse that followed, it remained 11 v 11.
The salt was then very much rubbed in Salesians’ wounds. The first in slightly farcical circumstances, as the ref pointed to the spot prematurely after a handball, despite Aaron being through on goal with what would have been an advantage, and slotting it home. But they had to come back for the pen. Fortunately, the ref’s blushes were saved, as the little maestro blasted it into the bottom-right corner.
Then, just a minute later, Aaron was at it again, this time put through cleverly after some lax defending from the home side. 4-1 at the break, and Merton were well worth every bit of it.
With still no sign of the official ref, Mike continued to don the whistle for the second half. Merton knew that if they scored next, the game would be very much in the bag. But, for some reason, they were slow out the blocks, and just under 10 minutes in, Salesians punished them – albeit in maddening fashion. A probing, swinging corner was delivered to the back post, and the simplest of headed finishes was applied, with not a single Merton player anywhere near him. Very poor indeed, and at 4-2, it was now game on again.
Even more so in the minutes that followed, as Salesians squandered a number of good chances (although in one or two cases, they may have been the beneficiaries of some missed offside calls).
But with Merton just starting to get a bit jittery, that man Aaron stepped up to the plate again to complete his hat-trick – this time another clinical finish after some good interplay. 5-2, and game won.
The final minutes were all Merton too, with a number of chances going abegging. There was also time for one last moment of farce, as the goalkeeper dived in on an approaching Akram in the box. He tumbled over, and the referee pointed to the spot, much to the bewilderment of all involved. Even Akram, who quite reasonably pointed out that he hadn’t even appealed for the spot kick. With that, the decision was reversed – all very professional officiating, really.
With literally the last movement of the game, Salesians then won a free kick on the edge of the Merton box, and what followed was a quite-remarkable strike that flew in the right edge of the goal, sending the ole onion bag bulging. Very pleasing on the eye, even if it was the oppo.
Even more pleasing was that it meant the referee could finally call time on proceedings, and some celebratory drinking could commence. Deservedly, too. This was another fine performance from this rapidly-improving team. If they play like this every week, they definitely aren’t going to lose too many games.
DOTD: Joe Plumridge
NAME: Dom Preee
POSITION: Centre Mid
BIRTH DATE: 19 03 1990
BIRTH PLACE: Petersfield, Hampshire
PREVIOUS CLUBS: Petersfield Town, South Harting
1. Tell us who you are outside of the club. What do you do, how would you describe yourself?
Pretty standard 27 year old – I seem to spend a lot more time working than I do enjoying life.
2. How did you end up at Merton FC?
I am a good friend of Oli Ross. He recommended I attended pre-season and the rest is history.
3. What do you like most about Merton FC?
Never felt intimidated when I first arrived unlike at other teams who were dominated with big egos. Everyone is given a chance to prove themselves.
4. If you could play for a professional team, which would be it and why?
Newcastle. Childhood fan. I think I would have had a decent partnership with Alan Shearer
5. Do you have any pre-match rituals or superstitions?
Not really, no.
6. Lastly, share us your goals/expectations for the season.
To become a consistent starter for the seconds and aim for a promotion.
Favourite Player (at Merton, or in professional football): Pavel Nedved. Great hair and unreal with both feet
Childhood Team: Newcastle
Favourite team in the UK: Newcastle
Favourite team outside the UK: AC Milan
Childhood Hero: Shearer
Favourite Food: Italian cuisine in general
Favourite Drink: Rum and ginger beer
Favourite Band: don’t really have a favourite. Five were pretty decent back in the day