2s vs HSBC – 08.09.2018
Merton 2-2 HSBC
Debuts for Jack Costello and Craig Bull (no, not that one – a considerable upgrade on the previous Merton man of the same name), the return of Gibbo after his London Marathon 15km and the reincarnation of Cookie were among the headlines for Team Handsome’s first league game of the season – away at HSBC.
That’s to take nothing away from Sam Singer-Ripley in goal, who saved his side more than once against an HSBC team with pace and no small intent. It was largely thanks to Sam’s heroics and savvy keeping that Merton came in at half-time two goals to the good.
Those goals, then: both intricate passing moves set in motion by the bravery, quick thinking and application of Merton’s defence and tireless midfield, epitomised by Cookie. Both moved from right to left, with Robert’s strength and quick feet buying him time and space to pick a pass. For the first, the ball found its way to Cookie, whose looped through ball bounced invitingly in front of Ackers. Our man was still at an acute angle, but his first-time (left foot!) half-volley was too much for the goalkeeper – who could only take a moment to admire the ball nestling in the opposite corner of his net. It was a passing move of awesome quality that got the finish it deserved.
Merton’s second was arguably better. Pearcey nicked the ball off his opponent’s foot and set us away. Robert–Cookie–Dan Rist, whose precise pass to Craig Bull gave Merton 2s’ new right-back-turned-left-back the space to cut in and fire the ball under the despairing keeper.
Honourable mentions go to Robert, who had obviously spent the first 20 minutes on the bench working out exactly how he was going to dismantle HSBC’s left side, and EJ, who were a constant menace. Ackers was superb as our lone striker – though at least this week he received plenty of support. Gibbo easily ran further than he did at the London Marathon (perhaps his local newspaper will interview him about this). We have missed his presence. Risty’s use of the ball was, as always, top-drawer.
Haydn and Jack at the centre of our defence were in a no-man-shalt-pass sort of mood; they were dominant in the air, brave and brilliant throughout. Wilgo, filling in at left-back after Craig found himself too tired to pass, had to help them out only the once – throwing himself across the box in the final minute of the game to stop what would likely have been a hugely dispiriting winner for HSBC. Merton had earned this.
The final word should go to the Man Most Handsome: not only did Cookie avoid being booked or sent off for 90 minutes, but his industry and quality was at the heart of everything Merton did. Ben, where have you been?
Goals: Ackers, Craig Bull
TEAM: Sam Singer-Ripley (GK) Craig Bull, Jack Costello, Haydn Dance, Paul Pearce, Dan Rist, Ben Cook, Gibbo, Wilgo (c), EJ, Ackers; Robert