Month: January 2019
The Saturday morning was bright and crisp as the Merton contingent made their way across the capital to North West London. Awaiting them was the impressive Hive Sports facilities, usually home to Barnet FC but today it was to host the gladiatorial encounter of Merton FC and NUFC Oilers.
The squad arrived with a bright, New Year optimism despite a mixed run of form. The usual stimulating conversation lit up the changing room; everything from consumer advice on sock purchases to insincere apologies for the toxic stench emanating from cubicle two.
The Merton team lined up in the tried and tested 4-3-3 formation with a balance of pace and strength. The first half was a fairly even encounter with Merton nullifying the creativity of the talented NUFC midfield and the back four standing resolutely to the physical prowess of the NUFC front line. The deadlock was broken through a first half goal from Josh who burst forward from midfield and after some slick link up play with George, slid it past the 6 ft 4 NUFC goalkeeper.
NUFC hit back almost instantly with a 25 yard strike that hit under the side of the bar. The away fans went silent as the ref looked down at his watch… VAR ruled no goal and the game carried on.
After more waves of pressure, NUFC scored an equaliser. Truth be told, I can’t remember an awful lot about the goal but as I recall there was a good save from Sherbs and there player turned home the rebound. This could be completely wrong.
The second half was a far more drab affair with certain members of the team blowing a little harder than normal due to a lavish Christmas break. Despite this, the Merton team defended extremely well across the pitch and special mention goes to man of the match Max who despite setting up their striker in the 85th minute, defended with honour and deserved the title of MoM.
DoD (yours truly) worked so hard during the match he forgot what the score line was and it wasn’t until he tried to push the team into an ‘all out attack’ mentality that Browner reminded him that we were drawing 1-1 and not in fact losing 2-1.
All in all, a very good point earned against a good team a long way from home. Up the Merton.
Sherbs, Max, Browner, Jimbo, Rat, Sam Harvey, Josh FS, Joe Grew, George, Jamie, Ivan subs: Jonny (ht for Van), Clappers (unused)
Merton 3s vs Kew Reserves –
The first game of 2019 saw the 3s at the Hood, everyone was ready to run off all the turkey, mince pies and beer they had consumed over the festive period.
the opposition who sat 2nd in the league had narrowly claimed the reverse fixture early in the season 4-3 (the boars having been 4- 0 down at half time) so revenge was on the cards.
The changing room was a buzz with the sounds from a medley of songs from Rocky (the film franchise) getting the lads in the mood.
The game kicked off with the boars adopting a 4-3-3 formation due to the lack of striking options at their disposal, Fitz spearheading our quest for glory. There was some early pressure from the home team with the midfield trio of Vin, Neal and Mustard working hard and the front three looking to unlock the away defence, the opening 25 minutes were closely contested with a lot of physical output from both teams but little in the way of cutting edge.
The break through went to the away, after the ball was played in from the boars right wing an the eagle eyed referee spotted a push by Ciaran McGowan on one of the opposing forwards and gave the penalty.
This was dispatched straight down the middle of the goal by the oppositions striker who looked as though he had enjoyed the last 5 christmas’ far to much. There was further pain inflicted on the boars minutes later when after being played in behind a prosaic back line the away teams forward made no mistake with the one on one, 2-0 in the space of 5 minutes, which is how the half ended.
The half time team talk focused on the players being braver on the ball and trying to play our way out of tough spots not play direct balls up to an increasingly isolated Fitz.
In truth second half was more notable for the amount of bookings handed out in what was not an overly rough game than the goal mouth action from either team. The main incidents of the second half occurred in the last few minutes of the match, having ventured up for a corner in search of a way back into the game Iain was sent off for a handling the ball outside the area thus denying a goal scoring opportunity whilst trying to recover. Down to ten men Adam stepped in between the sticks but virtually his first job was to pick the ball out of the net after a Kew player nodded in, the referee seemingly missing the two handed shove in Grestys back allowing him the free header from six yards.
The game ended 3-0, I’m not sure it was a game that warranted that score line but in truth the Kew keeper was only forced into a couple of saves the entire match as the boars struggled to create any decent chances.
MoM – ‘Big’ Sam Kapadia – Great energy and quality on the ball
DoD – Iain Evans – red card (worst refereeing decision since the triple booking from Graham Poll)
Special Mentions – Mustard – His Triple Denim ensemble was something even Hector Bellerin would struggle to pull off and finally Nathen – asking to be subbed off as he was tired… after coming on as sub and don’t get me started on those pink boots!
We go again
Merton U10s v Sandgate U10s – Sunday 6th January 2019
News arrived over the Christmas break of a well-deserved promotion from the top of division 5 to division 4 after a consistently successful first half to the season.
First up was as tough as it gets with a visit from top of the table Sandgate U10s on a dry mild morning.
The game kicked off and saw some good interplay from both sides on the sticky home pitch. A number of passes never made it to their intended recipient as was becoming the norm in the early phases of home games.
With Harry unfortunately out ill Ollie was playing on his own at the back with a more loaded midfield needing to track back and support as needed.
Dave was also watching on today with an arm fracture and cast on. To compensate we had our new team mate Bobby able to step in and support.
In an early exchange Maxwell won the ball deep in his own half and played in Farris who was up front and went on to create a chance for Rio whose shot was deflected out for a corner. Nothing came of it and on we went.
The first Sandgate chance then followed and Max managed to get to it and shepherd it out for a corner from which Maxwell cleared. This resulted in a chance for Farris which led to a Merton corner but to no avail.
Ollie was looking very solid at the back and choosing his moments perfectly to step in and challenge vs dropping off to let others join in defending. It was like having all of the judgment of Harry and the application of Ollie in one player.
Sandgate broke away and forced a good save from Max in a 1 on 1. His judgment and timing has clearly been improving over recent months.
But the first goal was not far away. It came from a Sandgate break and what was thought to be a good challenge from Maxwell but the ref awarded a free kick just outside the Merton box. It was a cracker and nestled in the top corner to give the visitors the lead.
Merton didn’t let their heads drop and the next chance fell to the home side with Maxwell cutting in from the wing and clipping his shot in for a deflection out and corner. Nothing came of it again and Sandgate cleared.
Then the equaliser came. Percy showed great persistence in the Sandgate box and pushed through 2 challenges. The ball fell to the keeper who attempted a clearance but straight at the on-rushing Percy and the ball was in the net. 1-1.
Both sides were straight back on it from the kick off and some good interplay from Sandgate led to a sweet cross on the ground and tap in for 2-1 to the visitors.
Then, despite the Merton work rate another break led to another good cross and 3-1. The Sandgate number 11 in midfield was a very calm and direct player who had created 2 of their goals. Merton were up against it.
There followed some good play deep in our own half from Louis who played in Farris who in turn found Rio. Rio played a gorgeous little chip over the keeper for Merton’s second of the match. 2-3 and game on.
The half time whistle blew and the boys stopped for a well-earned rest.
The second half started with more intense football and Ollie continuing his fine form.
As the game wore on there were chances at either end and Sandgate were shading it. Joe, Rio and Louis all looked shattered after their hard work and the Christmas break but kept going admirably. Max was called into action again and more often.
Some soft free kicks were being given now and another shot came in from the latest for Sandgate which led to another save from Max who was starting to play a central role in keeping Merton in this.
Suddenly Ollie won another ball and found Rio who played in Maxwell for his first one on one. He had a poor service since moving up front and was making no mistake with this one. He clipped it over the keeper and Merton were back level at 3-3. This was developing into a very good game but the opposition looking on were not best pleased and made their thoughts known through the odd questionable comment encouraging hard play from their team.
Sandgate continued to have some good play and in the latest, just as it seemed they would score up popped Ollie to clear off the line. There was hardly a Merton player now who looked like they had much left in the tank. Even the relentless Percy was looking tired. Having Bobby in the team was a great help with his calm solidity wherever he played on the pitch.
Rio was in the middle of the next key play for Merton after being played through by Farris but this time shot wide left. A win against the top team in this new league seemed within reach as the minutes ticked down.
Farris had another opportunity soon after but shot straight at the keeper as the ball stuck under his feet.
Then the sucker punch as Sandgate broke forward again and after some tight play around the Merton box squeezed the ball in for 4-3 and the lead as we entered the final moments of the match.
There continued to be quick fire chances at both ends, of which Sandgate had the better and forced some brilliant goal keeping from Max. He clearly wanted to get his hands on the Man of the Match trophy today.
The ref blew the final whistle to the relief of the Sandgate team and Merton had shown that they were a match for this level having taken the top team very close to a result.
Man of the Match was a high quality problem for Neal and Roy with a number of good performances. In the end it was double awarded to Max and Ollie who both richly deserved the accolade.
Neal and Roy let the boys know after the game how proud they were of their work rate and determination throughout a tough match. On another day they could well have got a win. On to the next match!