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

Posted in Match Reports 2s