Month: November 2017
NAME: Akram ‘(the real) Akkers’ Choudhury
TEAM: Merton FC 4s
POSITION: Centre Mid
BIRTH DATE: 05/12/90 (26 yo)
BIRTH PLACE: Hackney, London
PREVIOUS CLUBS: Loughborough United and SLFN
- Tell us who you are outside of the club. What do you do, how would you describe yourself?
Graduated in 2012 with an Economics degree from Loughborough Uni, volunteered for a charity working with kids and then became a qualified maths teacher. After 4 years of managing ‘tough’ teenage pupils, I sold out and recently joined a ‘cushty’ private secondary school.
- How did you end up at Merton FC?
I joined last Xmas after Phil Truman told me he was going to, but then he didn’t because he was too busy training for the London marathon! We’re both at Merton now anyway 🙂
- What do you like most about Merton FC?
Plenty of squads to suit most abilities and easy to join and get involved with socials. And everyone is pretty friendly
- If you could play for a professional team,
which would be it and why?
Manchester United because I grew up near Arsenal so it only makes sense to support their rivals…
- Do you have any pre-match rituals or superstitions?
Not really, just make sure the bowels are clear.
- Lastly, share us your goals/expectations for the season.
Promotion with the 4s, maybe even clinch the title. Got a £10 bet with Sonny to score more goals than him so 2 should be enough. Couple of assists and clean sheets would be nice.
Favourite Player (at Merton, or in professional football): Sonny because he’s the only player in 4s (excluding defenders) who tracks back!
Childhood Team: Possibly Newcastle due to Shearer.
Favourite team in the UK: Man Utd
Favourite team outside the UK: Real Madrid
Childhood Hero: David Beckham
Favourite Food: Burgers, cakes, carby Italian dishes
Favourite Drink: Coffee
Favourite Band: Whatever is on Spotify’s playlists but I do like Odesza.
NAME: Sam Pritchard
BIRTH DATE: 24/08/1990
BIRTH PLACE: Gloucester
PREVIOUS CLUBS: Abbeymead Rovers
- Tell us who you are outside of the club. What do you do, how would you describe yourself?
I work as a web developer for a FX company, and a part-time horse racing bookie. Would describe myself as a easy-going guy who likes to go away most weekends (sorry Clappers).
- How did you end up at Merton FC?
Saw a Facebook ad, and much preferred the training compared to the other teams I tried out. Dragged Adam Crawshaw down with me who cemented the decision.
- What do you like most about Merton FC?
Everyone is genuinely very friendly, and don’t take everything too seriously. If you can’t laugh about travelling 2 hours to North London and losing 1-0, you’re only going to cry!
- If you could play for a professional team, which would be it and why?
Liverpool, boyhood club. Or Forest Green Rovers – worlds only vegan club
- Do you have any pre-match rituals or superstitions?
- Lastly, share us your goals/expectations for the season.
Personally, aiming for playing on two consecutive weekends. As a team, think the 1s should be aiming for top 4 finish.
Favourite Player (at Merton, or in professional football): Merton – Adam Crawshaw, Professionally – Luis Suarez
Childhood Team: Liverpool
Favourite team in the UK: Liverpool
Favourite team outside the UK: Bogota
Childhood Hero: Hunter from Gladiators
Favourite Food: Risotto
Favourite Drink: Any IPA
Favourite Band: Kasabian
Kew Reserves 4 – 2 Merton 3s
48 hours after the game, I’m still a bit conflicted about how it went. On the one hand, we lost. on the other, we were the better team for much of the game. Or were we? A game that threw up more questions than answers.
Merton rocked up at Kew (really Ham) fresh from a 3 week gap without a game. Or in Gresty’s case, fresh from Heathrow airport having flown in from Zanzibar that morning. As you do. Would the rest be beneficial, or had it given time for everyone to lose fitness following the Mustard birthday drinking extravaganza a couple of weeks earlier? Looking at the heavily bedewed and tutfy pitch, another question came to mind. Were our boots still waterproof? A resounding no for most on that front.
To the game. Fitz lined up 4-3-3/4-5-1, and bravely volunteered to don the gloves once more in the absence once more of a regular keeper. Neal and Mustard (two prized defensively minded players in a squad full of forwards) breathed a sigh of relief having also sort of volunteered. Mario, Vin, Stone, and Mustard made up the back four, with a central midfield three of Dan B, Neal and Darcy. Glenn and Tom occupied the wide forward positions either side if Denys, with Emilio, DK and Gresty making up a strong 14 man squad.
Merton started brightly, looking for space out wide and behind the Kew defence. A couple of trademark Mustard surges down the right yielded an early corner, and from this Denys forced the oppo keeper into a decent parry to stop the ball sneaking inside the near post. Merton continued to press, once almost playing Tom in behind after a series of 4(!) linked headers/flicks starting in the centre circle, and twice good work from Denys giving Glenn a chance to run and shoot (unsuccessfully) from the edge of the 18 yard box.
However, as the half progressed, the game became more disjointed, not helped by the referee’s insistence on deeming most contact a foul, having all subs come on to the pitch exactly on the halfway line, and an exactitude around throw in positions. Mustard fell foul of the latter 30 minutes into the game and the throw in was reversed – a foul throw in some people’s eyes that earned him a couple of DoTD nominations.
Whilst fussy, the ref was consistent (the one thing we always ask for) and so it was distinctly disappointing to give away a string of free kicks for similar offences. Having survived a couple of scares, the home side took the lead from one such free kick just inside the Merton half. A deep free kick was lofted more or less straight at the goal, and caught perhaps a little flat, an oppo player deftly redirected the ball past Fitz from about 12 yards. Odd goal, lovely finish. 1-0.
One became two all to quickly as more indiscipline saw Merton penned back, and yet then leave space to allow their winger to find a pass into the striker all alone on the corner of the 18 yard box. Unchallenged, he advanced into the box and was able to get a shot away that skidded off the surface and under Fitz. 2-0.
Merton rallied and pushed hard for an equaliser as the half drew to a close. Some nice combination play from Tom, DK and Darcy saw Glenn played in on the overlap, but his cross was just behind DK and he couldn’t adjust to turn it goalwards. 2-0 at ht, but Merton rightly felt one goal would bring them back into it.
Merton began the second half as they finished the first; dominating territory and pushing hard for the goal they so desperately needed. Glenn was showing off his full repertoire of flicks, tricks and nutmegs down the left, and winning free kicks and corners. From one corner, Gresty headed back across goal and DK’s flick was cleared off the line, but that was the closest Merton came during that spell.
As they pressed and time ticked on, Merton were increasingly vulnerable to counter attacks, and so it proved, albeit sadly in another slightly calamatious way. Neal had done brilliantly to cover a developing attack and had the ball at his feet near his own corner flag, only to then lose it. A cross was fired in, but there seemed no danger as Darcy was well positioned to clear, only for him to hesitate as Fitz took a step towards the ball. The hesitation proved fatal as an oppo striker pounced in that moment of indecision and stabbed the ball home. 3-0 and the game looked over with only 15 to go.
However, this Merton team never give up and almost immediately they equalised, with Darcy scuffing/caressing a partially cleared corner back through a crowd of players and in off the post. Game (sort of) back on.
Merton continued to press (and by this I mean win a series of free kicks and corners without ever really quite threatening) and were once again done on the counter. Mario’s corner was cleared and their striker had the half to himself to score the fourth. However, before this Mustard secured some more DoTD nominations for an inexplicable 5 yard pass to no-one (apparently Vin failed to make a run) whilst in time and space on the halfway line.
Even at 4-1 with 2 minutes to go the game wasn’t quite done. Tom finally found himself with some space down the left and drove to the byline, cutting back to DK. Some surprisingly nimble skills (a hint of a drag back and a nod to a Cruyff turn) saw him get the space to hit the shot, which in turn was deflected across the goal. Denys, continuing his fine run of goal scoring form, snaffled it up for 4-2. And that was that.
The reasons for gloom: Another defeat, and some more poor goals to concede defensively.
More positively, Merton battled to the end, and with Iain and Walshy coming to watch despite their injuries, it shows the Boar spirit is still strong. We go again next week. Probably. Unless the SAL gives us another week off.
MOTM: Vin. Showed some class on the ball and made a few crucial interceptions. Plus by not “making the run” he also ensured that Mustard took home the DoTD award, to his disgruntlement.
Mighty 5s 4 – 1 Old Norsemen 6s
It is fair to say that this season hasn’t quite gone to plan so far. At this point last season we were winning games, not conceding many and top of the league. We have been quite far off the standards we set ourselves the first half of last year and therefore it was important to put in a performance and get back to winning ways in this cup game – and boy did we.
This Norseman team had won 7 out of 7 games this season so we knew it would be a tough game. We started on the front foot and looked the more likely. For the first 20 minutes or so we were not very incisive in the final third; however we took the first real chance we created. The ball was played to Josh on the left who powered past the opposition right back to get to the by-line. He looked up and picked out Aaron who had made a good run towards the front post. The cross was firm and all Aaron had to do was direct the ball into the far corner to take a deserved lead. They then came at us a bit, and Sam was forced into a decent stop from their striker at the near post from a tight angle. A long ball into our box evaded Sam; however Darren was there on the line to clear away. Their good spell lasted about 10 minutes, however the defence then reasserted its dominance in order to see us through to half time 1 – 0 up.
In a desperate attempt to find some constructive criticism, Darren asked Lenners for his input, to which the response was “I have no complaints”. We were all stunned – and we remain stunned to this day.
We knew that one goal might not be enough as they had some tricky players going forward, so we would need another one. We started the second half strongly and kept them largely at bay. We manufactured a couple of half chances; however our second goal was a little fortuitous. Delman picked the ball up from 20 yards out and hit a powerful cross-shot [I believe that’s what they call it when you don’t have a clue which it was meant to be]. It went quite central, however the goalkeeper somehow managed to push it down, under his legs and bounce up into the roof of the net for a 2 goal cushion. Delman looked as surprised as anyone but it all counts – and congrats on Del for his first goal for Merton!
The opposition then reintroduced themselves to the game as they had been quiet since the second half began. They manufactured a couple of half-chances, especially from distance, however Sam would have covered them with relative ease. They were playing it out wide and getting crosses in early, and one of these did actually pay off. A cross from deep came into the box at foot height, but Darren had already committed to the header. As he swooped down his arm came out, and you can guess the rest. Although not in an unnatural position, he certainly had enough time to see it so it was probably a fair call. There was plenty of power in the penalty which left Sam rooted to the spot, making it 2-1 and now a very interesting game.
It did not take the 5s long after that blow to reassert dominance on the game. Visibly frustrated, their midfielder would not stop protesting at a decision and annoyed the referee enough to “sin-bin” him. At first glance it looked like it was a bit harsh, but in retrospect it is up to the referee’s discretion and perhaps a sign that refs will not be taking any abuse this season. The 10 mins elapsed with the mighty 5s having a lot of the ball, but not quite getting the final ball right in search of the third killer goal. Again visibly frustrated with the referee, another player got himself sin-binned for protesting a decision and this time we made them pay.
Chris on the left spotted Aaron B in the centre and played it to his feet. He turned, burst away from the defender and shot. He scuffed it which took the power out of the shot, however the accuracy was superb and the ball nestled in the far corner to put the mighty 5s 3-1 ahead.
This deflated them and from the kick off we won the ball back almost immediately. We broke with real pace and Dwayne, in an unfamiliar central role, slotted the ball through to Aaron B who had made a good run. Aaron’s touch took him away from the defenders and one on one with the keeper. He cooly slotted it past the despairing leg of the keeper to make it 4-1 and cap a fine performance up front with a hat trick.
We managed to see the game out for what was a terrific victory. The performance was really good; I’d suggest our best yet this season, but doing it against good opposition felt very rewarding. You can tell they were used to winning their games down to their frustration as we successfully stifled them. It was a cup game but if we can replicate this performance in our league, we will certainly start picking up a lot more points.
Despite a moment where he got confused in the box and thought he was playing volleyball, Darren had a good game and he and Phil kept their striker at bay throughout the game. Chris got a good assist and Delman’s started his journey on becoming a goal machine. Me and Tigsy held the space well providing the balance to our midfield which saw Josh, Dwayne and Ackers cause their defense havoc, with Dwayne and Josh both showing class in the final third to get good assists. Endy offered something different when he came on and held the ball extremely well on the right, giving us a respite when they were trying to get back into the game. MOM goes to Aaron Byrne; he keeps telling us he can play up top and given his chance, he certainly took it with three very well taken goals taking his tally up to a very respectable 6. Good performance all round and this is the level we need to perform at for the rest of the season.
Sunday 19th November Barnes Eagles Juniors v Merton FC U14
GK – Milo
RB – Liam
CB – Nikoy
CB – Entri
LB – McKenzie
CM – Eddy
CM – Daniel
CAM – Theo/Diego
LW – Justin
RW – Hugo
ST – Fareed
Merton got their county cup campaign underway with a trip to Barnes in the second round after receiving a bye in the first. On a lush pitch Merton tried to get their passes going early but the accuracy was missing and this led to a scrappy start. Merton had the first early chance with a fierce shot by Justin hitting the top of the bar and bouncing away to safety. Despite this, it was Barnes Eagles who took the lead with a lovely team goal. They put together two quick passes that slid their winger in behind and he played an accurate ball into the centre, which their striker dispatched calmly. Merton, keen to get back on level terms pressed for much of the first half but were unable to test the keeper or get in behind the defence which held their line well. This was until almost the last kick of the half with some good play between Theo and Justin who knocked the ball onto Fareed leaving him one on one with the keeper and he cleverly chipped the ball home making it 1-1 before half time.
In the second half Merton asserted their dominance as they controlled possession and looked for ways to get shots away. Fareed bravely won a free kick on the edge of the area, catching a high boot in the face, which Theo whipped in. Nikoy rose the tallest getting a strong head on it and despite the keeper palming it away Entri knocked in the rebound making it 2-1 to Merton. It was still a precarious position and Merton looked for another goal to kill off the game. With 5 minutes to go Justin got hold of the ball on the right, cut in with delicate skill passing two opposition defenders and hitting a low bouncing shot which the goalkeeper could only palm into the net. This effectively killed off the game and Merton’s defence held strong as Barnes Eagles attacked in waves for the remainder of the match.
This was one of Merton’s best performances in weeks with every player battling hard. McKenzie put in an excellent performance with marauding runs from wingback, but Theo takes man of the match for his assists, general linkup play and desire.
1s Match Report – 18th Nov 2017 – Away vs Old Fincheians FC
Another away game in very north London. There are always a few complaints about the 1.5 hr travel time, but I’m pretty sure that in reality no one has anything better to do. And it allows the potential for a multi-stop stop drinking tour on the way back down the Northern Line if a win eschews, so its hardly all bad. A strong incentive to get a victory if ever I heard one.
After 20 minutes of Arsenal vs Spurs in the host’s bar, we headed to get ready. In an oddly coloured light-pink dressing room, Clapper’s decided an old-fashioned 4-4-2 was the way to go on a narrow, long pitch. Chaz got his wish to start up-front as part of a heavy weight combination with Charlie, but one that has more pace than you would expect looking at them. Rather than try to match the strength of their big, blond lad in central midfield, the decision was taken to back the agility and dancing skills of the sub-6 foot duo of Big-Hat Jimbo and Usher (yeah, yeah). They would have to cover the ground of the usual 3 men between them.
We spent the team talk reminding ourselves of how to play 4-4-2, a formation that has nose-dived out of fashion to a similar level as Clapper’s wardrobe. I was a little sceptical about the plan. But in fairness, it worked very nicely indeed in the first half. Their centre backs, maybe used to marking one upfront most of the season, could not handle our front two. They were able to receive balls to feet/ chest, turn and slot through balls into either one another or the wingers. At the other end, the old man defence (average age 34, even with mid-twenties cube-head that is Harrison it in) was holding out well enough, aided by Jordan playing more like a left wing back at times and covering an awful lot of very wet ground in the process.
An early one on one chance was spurned by Charlie after an excellent Chaz turn and through ball, but we eventually got our deserved lead. A hard, low cross from the right by someone was met by a sliding threesome (and it was an excellent day for a slide) of Charlie, Jordan and one of their defenders. Jordan is honest enough to admit it was not him that got on the end of it, Charlie is not, but I think we all know that it was the defender that actually applied the tidy finish. About ten minutes later and we were two up: a splendid free kick delivery to the far post from Big-Hat Jimbo was pulled back by a sliding Chaz to arrive at Clappers feet who duly slotted it away.
Half time was spent reminding ourselves that we had put in a similarly good first half the previous week and ended up losing. Perhaps as a result, we scored a third shortly after the break when Jordan put away another good right wing cross. But we had only delayed the on-set of complacency and in a 15 mins period we went from comfortably coasting at 3-0 up to nervously hanging on at 3-2. The first of their goals came from a quick-ish-ly taken corner that arrived at a completely unmarked Finchleian. Siri did well to keep out the initial header but could do nothing about the rebound. No one was eager to admit the lapse of marking, so lets just blame it on Van – it was probably his fault somehow.
Their second was also poor defensively. A high ball should have been cleared, but ended up with their left winger who bore down on goal. Everyone was expecting Rat to throw in a tackle at some point, but it never came – apparently a Shakira standard hip sway from the winger was the cause. The finish into the far post left Siri with little chance.
While it was a bit nervy after that point, we did manage to pull out of the tailspin and actually had the better chances for the rest of the game. With just about the last kick of the ball, a goal shaped cherry was put on top of the cake. Someone did a very good job of closing down the keeper, the attempted clearance rebounded off him and into Charlie’s path, who cooly slotted home. More finishes like that would be appreciated for the rest of the season.
Credit goes to Old Finchleians’ hospitality. The club house does not look up to much. But it has very good hot showers that were thankfully received on a cold, dark, wet day and it serves an excellent tea (sausages, beans, hash browns – a double helping for Chaz, obv). A good start to the multi-stop celebratory drinking tour that duly took place. Pit-stops were taken at Kentish Town and Waterloo before arriving at Earlsfield.
Coming out worse from the drinking games were probably Harrison (who is only slowly getting better at them) and Chaz (not EJ’ing an 8 pint jug early in an evening is really school boy). Someone anointed them as Merton’s Bebop and Rocksteady, and I doubt that duo were very good at drinking games either. Marks also go to (i) Clappers for starting a game of categories with “Numbers under 20, to my right, starting with 20” (Doh!), and (ii) Jordan’s attempted ‘disguise’ so his TfL employers don’t recognise him during the shinangans on the Tube.
Drinking continued with the help of Todt’s birthday celebrations. One of those post-win sessions that ends with everyone slurring how much they love everyone else (or was that just me). Sore heads the next day, but worth it. There is a high quality spirit in the squad at the moment and it feels like this win could be the start of a push up the league as long as the right people keep on making themselves available. So watch this space.
MoM: Chaz. Faced by his towering performance, their centre backs didn’t really know what to do. Could this be the start of a great Merton centre-forward career? A nod goes to Clapper’s two-up front call and to the centre mids for making it work. Jimbo managed to pull out a cracking game after one of the worst training session performances I have seen earlier in the week.
DoD: Browner. 3 votes were enough as no obvious candidates were available. Two votes were harshly given for a foul throw. One much more justifiably for a ludicrous attempted 30 yard full-back to full-back cross-field ball that was beautifully visualised but not so beautifully executed. Don’t think I have ever tried one of those before in a 10+ year Merton career, and I might leave it in the locker for a while after this. But at least you benefit from a semi-literate match report rather than Van struggling to do it again.
Merton 3s 1 – 1 Old Wilsonians 3s
After a run of error-strewn outings, Merton stopped haemorrhaging goals and earnt a deserved point against a decent Wilsonians outfit. The footballing gods supplied glorious conditions for this one, with light rain and a sheen on the pitch that had Merton’s slide tackle maestros salivating. After a pulsating opening 25 seconds, the air was let out of the contest by a 5-minute stoppage as the ball was flat. A rabble of subs and onlookers tried to find a better one, only to conclude that every single spare ball was also flat. Eventually a pump was found and Merton started well, pressing high and channelling the newly inflated orb down the flanks where Glenn and Emilio probed their opposite numbers like Steven Seagal in an audition. Wilsonians weren’t exactly Under Seige but they did have the woodwork to thank after Mario’s “cross” was turned onto the crossbar by a scrambling keeper. At the other end, new Boar Sam Singer-Ripley looked rock solid behind the Usual Suspects in defence, grasping balls like Kevin Spacey in the Old Vic bar; not easy in conditions like this. In midfield, Neal delivered a thunderous slide tackle, taking ball, man, ball again and getting up to dribble away with his man left in a crumpled heap. Lovely stuff.
Merton took the lead when the returning Ricardo and the ageing Mustard combined with Fitz down the right. A deflected cross caught the defence flat footed and Gresty surged into the box to flick it on. Glenn got to the loose ball, waited patiently for the centre back to fall over and hacked the ball right-footed towards the corner of the net. Slowly it bobbled and trickled towards the line as the keeper looked on and several minutes later, it crossed it and Merton were one up.
Comedy defending has become a Boars staple of late but fortunately there was only one such incident to report this week and it didn’t result in an oppo tally. Ricardo, otherwise excellent, jumped on the kamikaze defending bandwagon when he poked a short free kick to Stoney who lost the ball on the centre circle and Wilsonians were away. In hot pursuit were Neal and Mario, and some combination of them, Sam, Vin, desperation and a bit of luck managed to keep the ball out. Phew. Merton held firm until half time but this breathless excitement was too much for young Emilio who at the age of just 19 decided he needed a bit of a sit down, and had to be replaced for the second stanza.
Merton started it with a series of panicked clearances, misplaced passes and a foul throw by Mario. And they should have been punished when an unmarked Wilsonians attacker could only side foot his finish into the crossbar instead of the open net from 6 yards out. Mustard and Gresty dominated the aerial battle in midfield and Dan B announced his arrival with a pair of crunching slide tackles in the centre circle. But gradually Merton were pushed back and eventually Wilsonians levelled it when a low cross from the left was turned in by the striker making a good run to get ahead of Vin at the near post. In fairness, they probably deserved it, but Merton could have won it at the death. Glenn, who had recovered from an early nutmegging to be Merton’s brightest threat, charged down the left flank and knocked a cross into the box. Arriving there at the end of a lung-busting run was Gresty, eyes lighting up at the chance to steal all three points… but instead he put the header wide and secured the DOTD honours. It’s a game of inches.
In the end a fair result, and an important point. This was also an important performance for a team that had looked about as stable as President Trump’s finger on the nuclear button when defending of late. At the heart of this turnaround was Sam in goal, who walked the MOM vote for his sweeper keeping, but credit is due all round for a solid performance and arresting the slide. Hopefully we’ll see more of this Dr Jekyll team than the Mr Hyde variant in the coming weeks.
Sam Singer-Ripley (MOM), Ricardo Inglesias Dias, Mario Del Pressoto, Vin Di Matteo, Mike Stone, Neil Davidson, Ryan Gresty (DOTD), Mike Reed (C), Dan Bumstead, Darren Fitzgerald, Glenn Pitmann (goal), Emilio Neophythou, Dan Kelly, Denys Zhurbiy
Merton 8-3 Kew
The in-form Merton 4s have been on a fine run, although it had, of late, been halted. Not by losses or draws, but instead by an unusual 3-week gap between games. So an inconsistent Kew side, who had registered three wins to date, represented something of a dangerous prospect, especially when just 11 Merton players arrived in time for kick-off. The setting was idyllic though. Cool, calm conditions with just enough moisture about to slick the surface. As games at the Hood go, this was about as conducive to free, flowing football as you’ll get.
The first 15 minutes didn’t see many chances accrue, but Merton were clearly in control of proceedings, pressing high up the pitch, passing the ball around beautifully, and maintaining a very solid shape. Mick Elgar was commanding the defensive line with aplomb, Bill and Sonny were pulling the strings in midfield, and Aaron Byrne, filling in from the 5s, was already beginning to look a threat.
The much-deserved breakthrough came, albeit in fortuitous fashion. A ball over the top found Dom, who managed to beat the offside trap. There was no denying that the ball struck his outstretched hand as he brought it under control. Nevertheless, you can only play to the whistle, and, in its absence, it still needed a good finish. And given the decisions which have gone against this side over the past season or two, no one in yellow was complaining. 1-0.
The rest of the half was, quite simply, a blitzkrieg. The second goal came just short of the half-hour mark – a skewed clearance finding Bill in the box. He still had a bit to do, but thundered it into the net with his left foot. If that was good, then what happened next was even better. Again it fell to Bill’s left foot, albeit considerably further out this time. Nevertheless, he once again provided a clinical, ruthless finish, and now Merton were flying at 3-0.
The fourth goal was one of the best of the day. As the ball fell to Mikey in defence, Frankie saw space up the right flank early, and made a rampaging run. The long, crossfield ball was pinpoint; although Frankie’s first touch wasn’t. Nevertheless, he benefited from a lucky ricochet off the defender, and then lobbed the keeper in sumptuous fashion. The first half rout was then complete when Aaron was put through on goal, and scuffed it over the keeper to make it 5-0. Perhaps an air of good fortune in the finish, but it was no more than he deserved after an excellent display.
At 5-0, after producing arguably the best 45 minutes they’ve ever played, the only real challenge for the 4s in the second half was to avoid complacency, and keep such impressive intensity going. That looked to be on the cards, as Aaron scored again to make it 6-0. However, it wasn’t quite the same thereafter, and Kew were next on the scoresheet – the striker somehow wedging his way between the yellow defensive line, with a mistimed finish that had just a bit too much for Gubby.
Celebrations were to follow though, as Aaron scored again to secure a second hat-trick in as many weeks. And, just when he thought it couldn’t get any better, he scored another – arguably his best one of the lot from the tightest of angles. Well played lad – what a performance! Shortly before that, Kew had scored a second, with a free kick that had somehow penetrated the wall. The visitors also had the final say with the goal of the match at the death, as one of their forwards blasted home a pile-driver from 30 yards.
But it was all academic really, and didn’t take the gloss off what was a scintillating display from a team which is playing at a level higher than the sum of its already-considerable parts. It’s good to watch, even better to be a part of, and if this continues for the rest of the season, it’s difficult to see how silverware – or promotion at the very least – will not follow.
Team: Gubby (GK), J Plumridge, Elgar, J Gridley, Plaistow (c), Kalogirou, Toms, Choudhury, Kennedy, Byrne, D Plumridge
Subs: Todt, Shreeve
Goals: Byrne (4), Toms (2), D Plumridge, Kalogirou
Sunday 12th November 2017 – Merton U9s vs Westside Youth U9s (again)!
The Merton U9s were in confident mood as they turned out for another bash at beating Westside Youth. There was a distinct feeling of ‘one that got away’ given a great performance the week before and a narrow defeat to some great breakaway goals from a very good opposition.
The big difference between the weekends seemed to be that whilst there was no sight of any WhiteWalkers, winter had definitely arrived. A cutting wind scythed across the pitches and the parents carrying goals suspected they had been kept in deep freeze overnight. Definitely gloves needed next time around.
Before the game the ref gathered both teams and managers around centre circle to carry out a minute silence for Remembrance Sunday. Both set of teams did themselves proud and observed perfectly.
With a full squad at our disposal Neal and Roy called the changes and the game began. Line up for start of match was Max (GK), Archie and Harry (defence), David, Louie and Percy (midfield), Faris (forward and captain). Subs were Ollie, Lewis and Joe. Merton immediately set about their opponents in confident mood and shaded the first scoreless 15 minutes with some good link up play. It was very quickly evident that the mid week rain (great fun for training on Tuesday) had led to a very sticky pitch. A few of the lads slipped at key moments and got the ball under their feet at times. But, as the old adage goes, it’s the same for both sides.
It was clear that the mid-week coaching had been taken on board by Faris who enjoyed a great game the previous week. He produced a series of passes to find good position and bring his team into play in attacking areas. This had an obvious positive effect on proceedings.
There was also some strong defending and Max pulled off a couple of solid saves and held the ball well. We also looked to play it positively out from the back on every occasion. Great for the boys development and decision making under pressure.
However, the first goal came for Westside Youth after they got a better foothold in the game. It felt like a real heartbreaker as the Merton boys had done well this far. It was aided by a slight slip in the area when trying to clear the ball by a Merton defender.
A second for Westside followed and Merton had to dig in to keep spirits up, as their performance thus far deserved. 2-0 at half time and all to do second half.
At half time a Westside parent was heard to say to their leggy number 10 he should have a pop from outside the box (clearly an established tactic) and it proved to be sharp advice. After 5 minutes he let rip from 15 yards and the ball found its home in the top of the Merton net. Gutted. Hard to keep out for Max given its pace and height.
Westside scored their 4th and final goal of the game after a few more minutes and you felt for the Merton boys who weren’t 4 goals worse in their performance. The Westside team had played together for the last 3 years and their understanding of each other was evident as a strength. Merton just came up short in some key moments but this is the learning ground that can’t be replicated outside a competitive game.
Into the last quarter and Merton got their rewards after another good move with short passes led to a chance for Lewis to have a long range shot, goalkeeper parrying it, which led to Faris following it up into the Westside net.
4-1 and so it finished. A consolation well deserved for Merton.
Neal and Roy spoke to the boys who knew they could beat this very good side from Westside if they got their game hooked up. Another chance will follow in the away game of course later in the season.
Parents were proud of the efforts and plenty of endeavour and quality all around. Lewis earned the Man of the Match award from an all round swash-buckling, box-to-box display including a handful of defensive interventions to help out his team mates. Cracking job Lewis. The average distance run by many of the players has increased noticeably as the weeks have passed and more of that running is into the right areas at the right time. Lewis typified this against Westside.
Onwards next week to an early away game near Richmond Park. Here’s hoping for hot drinks on site!