Month: February 2018
Back to back away days for the boys in Yellow.
It was a rare away trip south of the river to Chiswick this Saturday as Merton took on Civil Service. Civi earlier in the season had effectively bullied the boars winning 3-1 and since had continued that winning form to be top of SAL Div 2.
Injuries meant the away side would bring no recognised centre forward and overall a tea, more known for its defensive capabilities than banging home the goals.
More worry before kick off as Harrison our trusty CB, was running late and now lost somewhere near the river. Carrying a BIG sore head following a successful trip to Infernos the evening before.
But let’s turn our attention to the game itself.
They say football is a game of two halves, but in the first 45 it seemed everything would be played down Merton’s left as Jordan and Glenn both tried to cope with heavy pressure from the home side.
We never really created much ourselves with more panic than precision when passing the ball forward. Yet despite one excellent save down to his left from Sherbs (in for the absent Siri), Service didn’t create any clear chances; just better territory and few glimpses of talent from their central midfielder.
Walking in from what had essentially become a bog, Merton could be very pleased with the result at half time. The boys had shown could fight and effort all over the pitch but would certainly hope to create more going forward.
The second half would be fiercely contested as either side knew one goal would probably be enough to nick it.
And it was the travelling team who nearly made the break through when James Gray played a ball down the channel to lone striker Sam Harvey, who it’s worth mentioning but in a great shift up front with very little service, beating the keeper to the ball only to find the side netting with his left foot from a tight angle.
Both sides were playing three in the middle of the park and it has to be said the Merton boys put in an incredible shift to numb the threat through the middle. As always Craig Usher ran his socks off to nullify their captain and Sam Pritchard did more defending than he’s probably done since he was a kid. I even saw win a header for the first time this season, incredible feat at only 6 feet 4.
Glenn consistently tried to add more of a threat going forward after having to put in a true defensive shift in the first half. And the back four were solid in front of Sherbs, as captain for the day ‘Rat’ (MOTM) communicated excellently and remained the most composed player with the ball at his feet.
So, with the game heading for a bore draw and running down to the final few minutes, Merton admittedly were under the cosh and had to make a number of substitutions due to injuries. Things weren’t helped when James suffered a rush of blood, taking a quick throwing on the edge of his own box mounting more needless pressure (DOTD please).
But all in all, a well fought draw away from home, before returning to the hood to take on Old Finchleians this Saturday.
Saturday saw the 1’s travel to HSBC looking to build on their victory a fortnight earlier.
Having been promised the best pitch we’ll play on all season, it was a disappointment when we turned up and it looked like it had housed a small farm during the week. Not to be perturbed by this shock development, we started well and went ahead thanks to some brilliant football. One touch interplay in midfield led to a through ball to Chaz who calmly finished in the bottom corner.
Shortly after we would go 2-0 up through the softest of soft penalties. A ball was played in to the box from the left hand side and Chaz rose the highest, so high in fact he headed the ball ten yards over the bar and crumbled in a heap next to the penalty spot. Nary a defender in site nor an appeal from anyone on our side, the referee, a young man with a clear desire to be involved in the game, awarded the penalty which Chaz would calmly despatch in to the bottom corner for his and Merton’s second.
This was as good as it would get unfortunately. After a fairly turgid 10 minutes, HSBC would work the ball in to our box and be awarded the softest of soft penalties that was even softer than the softest of soft penalties awarded to us minutes before. The referee, really, desperately keen to be involved in literally any way, gave a penalty due to an apparent foul by Crusher, who was some 5 yards away from the bloke who slipped and fell over. Siri would get close to the spot kick but not close enough. 2-1.
We had the best of the play from then until half time, only to be undone just before the half by a very strange goal. A ball played over the top was chased down by their left winger, closely followed by Rat who shepherded him to a fairly innocuous position heading towards the corner flag. In pure desperation their player would shoot harmlessly towards goal, only for Siri to politely watch the ball trickle in to the bottom corner, apparently feeling the ball was heading for a goal kick. Now, I’m no goal keeping expert but having spoken to Siri after the game this is apparently not what you’re supposed to do.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were even, with neither side able to create anything clear cut. It’s at this time, with the game hanging in the balance and the next goal crucial, the best chance of the game would unfortunately fall to our centre half. A corner came in from the right which the keeper only half cleared, the ball falling 35 yards out (or 6 yards out, hard to remember) which I would unfortunately blast somewhere close to Croydon with the whole goal gaping.
From there HSBC would score another 2 scrappy goals – one from a corner we did a poor job of clearing, and one from a cross James Gray passed to their man at the back post – and the game would finish 4-2. The only other drama was Van hurting his rib diving too hard. Get well soon.
Onwards and upwards!
Match Report – 27/01/2018 vs HSBC HOME (well away actually)
As the Hood still resembles an outdoor swimming pool, HSBC kindly agreed to switch the game to their lovely home ground for our crunch AFA quarter cup clash. On paper with our current form and the fact they were bottom of the league below, this should have been a comfortable day for the sixes.
We had a strong line up that welcomed back the self proclaimed “big dog” Tony to the ranks. We kept him in reserve to be unleashed later.
The team talk centred around making sure everyone was up for the game and not to be complacent. We needed to get the job done and move into the semi’s.
The game started and it was apparent that the pitch was a bit of a leveller and that we would need to make sure we kept the ball out of the boggy areas.
After a bright start from the sixes, Nick missed a couple of chances which would have made the first 15 mins more comfortable. Once we were in our stride, the chances came and it wasn’t long before Callum smartly finished a nice move. HSBC battled well and kept coming back at us and hit the post with a long range effort that beat Swanny. That was the wakeup call we need and we stepped up a gear scoring two quick fire goals from Callum and George, Callum’s being one of the team goals of the season.
HSBC managed to pull one back when the skipper headed a wind assisted header against the bar and the resulting corner was scrambled in. I think the big dog scored to make it 4-1 but I can’t remember. Half time may have been 4-1!!!
Second half we took control of the game and managed to tire the HSBC team by letting them chase shadows.
Anyway second half we managed to score 3 more with Tony completing his hat trick (one goal was a peach of an assist from the skipper – had to get that in!) and Trey scored with a great finish. HSBC managed to score a couple to make the final score 7-3 and we moved into the semi final.
Couple of sour notes was that Mr CHAPPELL did not want to be substituted after busting his nose again!!! With the ref and the skipper taking the best course of action and subbing him – Mr Chappell threw a water bottle in direction of the skipper (I think he meant to miss but the wind swerved it and hit him!) and there was a set two between manager and assistant!! Amazing scenes and deservedly won him a night out in the coveted dick of the day outfit!
You would have thought we had lost the game with the subdued celebrations, but there you go. Maybe we can borrow the 3’s music system for the next game!
Next week we have a week off so the big dog and Chappell can get their noses fixed again – get well soon Tony!!
We have a massive couple of weeks coming up which includes the semi on the 17th, so let’s get focused and win something for the mighty Merton FC.
Man of the Match: Callum – was superb in the first half and was denied a hat trick by the stupid manager taking him off.
Dick of the Day: no contest – water bottlegate Chappell.
See you in a few weeks when we play South Bank at home – wherever that may be!!!
Written by the Gaffer
HSBC vs Merton 3’s
The boars turned up at HSBC looking to make amends for the previous weeks loss, due to availability there were a number of new faces and Fitz was starting in goal.
After a quiet opening trouble struck as fitz had to leave the field injured and having to be taken to hospital because “it hurts”.
Neal who had been hoping for a watching brief was forced to get changed double quick and take his place between the sticks, thankfully as it turned out he wouldn’t be overly troubled. With the pace of Tom B, JJ and Glenn the boars tore into the lacklustre defence creating multiple chances throughout game. To be honest I can’t remember any of the goals but I can tell you they were all Barcelona esk. And when the red blew for halftime the boars were 4-0 up thanks to a Tom B hat trick and one for Gibbo( I think).
The second half was more of the same except without the goals, Gresty was unbeatable in the air and in all honesty we should have scored at least eight, but 4-0 is how it stayed , lifting us off the foot of the table for the first time in a while.
MoM – Tom B
DoD – Iain
Mighty 5s 2-2 poly 7s(2-4 aet)
In truth, the cup was the only major thing w had to play for, so this game was incredibly important to us. The lady behind the bar might not have quite grasped that when our keeper asked if the bar was open so he could get his pre-match pint, but au contrere – it’s all for the greater good. We even warmed up and everything – although the team hasn’t quite grasped the concept of running in a line yet.
And our work showed in the first few minutes. We have started games slowly recently, so we were glad to cancel them out for a large period of the first half. They almost took the lead in what only would have been described as just our luck, as a mishit cross curled towards the near corner. Kieran adjusted very quickly and got a fingertip to it to divert it away for a corner. Great save. They did, however, take the lead in rather fortuitous circumstances deep into the first half. A first shot from distance was blocked and went straight to their striker. He snatched at a shot and it was heading harmlessly to the warm embrace of Kieran. Suddenly, from nowhere, delman the ballerina danced his way in front of the ball. Trying to get out the way, he just about clipped the ball with his back leg and sent it in the other direction. It slowly and painfully trickled into the bottom corner to put us 1-0 down and add another own goal to our extensive tally for this season.
Going down kicked us off as an attacking force, and we started to create opportunities. We managed to get Aaron Byrne through on goal twice – once flagged offside but was very marginal and once where he was going away from goal, managed to chip the keeper but it went narrowly wide. Shortly after, a well-taken set piece was well met at the back post by an unmarked Aaron Byrne. Unfortunately it was just a bit too high for him and he didn’t quite manage to get over it to divert it on target. Only one in it at the break, and we knew we could get back in this tie.
Conditions worsened through the first half, cutting up the pitch and making it ever the more harder to play our Barcelona-esque tiki taka like football in the second half. We started in the ascendency however, playing the better football and probing without firing too many shots at goal. It took us a while, but we finally made the breakthrough. One of the rare crosses put into the box caused havoc within their defence. The ball broke wide to Aaron, whose turn and shot rifled in towards the top corner. A level of clinical ness in the finish that comes with a striker on form. 1-1 – game on!
It didn’t take long though for our second act of self-harm that would cost us dear. A good interception saw Phil emerge with the ball and stride into midfield. Seeing the opportunity, he saw tiggsy free behind him and attempted the back-heel. Dingo didn’t pounce and their midfielder read it and got his foot to the ball. A favourable rebound saw him running into the space vacated by Phil the backheeler and slotted in past Kieran to make it 2-1.
We had to chase the game and it left holes at the back. There were a couple of sublime saves from Kieran that kept us in it. First, a decently struck free kick seemed destined to nestle into the corner of the net until Kieran flew from out of nowhere to get a good glove on it. Then there was a shot from just inside the post that flew towards the near corner that Kieran was equal to. Such was his Dutch courage that he even came out and dusted a couple of corners away – something that isn’t usually part of his game. Just as Popeye has his spinach, and Lenners has his coke, Kieran has his prematch beer; it keeps him alert and he was really on form today.
They put us under heavy pressure but we kept going and hit back with a really good goal. Skill from the newly introduced Endy saw him wiggle into the box. His shot hit the post and agonisingly rolled across the line. Fortunately, Aaron B was there to tap it home to draw us level and head for extra time.
Extra time was a disappointment. Whether it was the constant changes we had to make due to injury, them just being fitter than us, bad luck for their 3rd goal or a combination of the 3, I don’t know.
They scored quite quickly in the first half of extra time. A drifted effort hit Kieran’s far post and came straight back out to their onrushing midfielder who had an easy job of tucking it away. Any lower and Kieran would have saved it, any higher and it would have sailed over. In the second half of extra time, we probed and showed great strength and willpower to get ourselves back in the game, however dissent from Josh saw him sin binned, effectively killing off our opposition. They scored a fourth and if it hadn’t have been for some amazing saves from Kieran, it would have been more.
There were some very amusing scenes at the end of the game, with a melee over who should get dick of the day. It both as heated and ridiculous as a “my brother slept with my sister who is also my girlfriend” kind of bust-up on Jeremy Kyle. There were plenty of options. It came down to a straight fight between Delman the ballerina, Phil the backheeler or Josh the dissenter. The winner was very narrowly Josh, who took it graciously and humbly in his stride…ish. We hope to see him again soon.
Man of the match was a clear winner, with Kieran hoovering the vote like he did the pre and post match fosters. Everyone did well however; we showed battling spirit throughout the team and although we didn’t play as well as we did in the first round, we always kept ourselves in with a chance in this cup tie.
Civil Service 6s vs. Merton 4s
SAL Junior Division 4 South
Saturday 27th January 2018
Following last week’s impressive 6-3 away to West Wickham, this week we were on the road again to visit Civil Service. Like last week the playing surface had seen better days but the adverse weather conditions were to blame for that.
With potentially our strongest squad available and present and the 3-1 win from the home fixture, we were confident of going back to Joseph Hood with all three points. The only changes from last week saw John Gridley return to slot back in a RWB and Danny Gridley returning to replace Will Toms on the back free in order to allow him to fill in the gap left by Michael Vogt’s unavailability.
The confidence that was with us at the start of the game took a battering throughout the first period as we found ourselves 2-0 down going into the break. We just couldn’t get into the game with the host capitalising on our performance to take the lead from a corner that we were unable to clear. They were able to double their tally after half hour following a lack of communication at the back.
Frustration was clearly evident during the team talk. It was a matter of composing ourselves by taking more time on the ball that would get us back into the game.
Cue the restart and it seemed like it was a new Merton side that had taken to the pitch. Crisp passing and winning every ball. It wasn’t long until we were able to half the deficit through Sonny Kennedy. His bullet header nestled in to top right hand corner of the onion bag. A short while after one become two courtesy of Dom Plumridge. His purple patch seemed to have gone AWOL the last few week but it found its way back through a smart left footed finish into the bottom left. We were now level and it was game on!
Confidence was oozing from every player on the pitch. Passes were being completed, interceptions made and tackles and headers being won. It wasn’t long before our dominance was rewarded. A cross from the right sat up nicely for Dom to connect with a volley however he opted for a smart disguised layoff for Will Toms to finish low just inside the area.
Will Harrison, the catalyst of most of headers and tackles being won (on par with Sonny!) was a solid presence in the middle of the pack having replaced Joe Plumridge. It was he that gave us a two goal cushion, albeit through a stroke of good fortune when an attempted lopping cross to the back post found its way into the back of the net, bamboozling the keeper.
You could say that the best was saved until last when Sonny, for his second of the day, unleashed a left footed half-volley that even the likes of David de Gea would have struggled to keep out.
The referee finally put an end to Civil Services’ misery.
Next week we host South Bank, one of the only teams to defeat us this season, who also took points off of our title rivals Old Salesians to reduce the gap to only one point. Unfortunately we need to keep doing what we are doing and hope that results go our way if we are compete for the title.
FINAL SCORE: Civil Service 6s 2 – 5 Merton 4s
SCORER(S): Sonny Kennedy (2), Dom Plumridge, Will Toms and Will Harrison
MOTM: Sonny Kennedy – Another solid performance in midfield capped off with two goals.
DOTD: Joe Plumridge – Anger issues need to be tamed although reaction was warranted.
STARTING LINE-UP: Michael Gubby (GK), Joe Plumridge (Will Harrison), Michael Elgar, Danny Gridley, John Gridley, Edward Plaistow (Capt.), Sonny Kennedy, Akram Choudhury (Matt Shreeve), Will Toms, Aaron Loftus, Dom Plumridge