2s vs South Bank Cuaco – 19.01.2019
Merton 2s, usually as steady on the road as Prince Phillip, nevertheless arrived in Dulwich with a full squad, full hearts, and, in Gibbo’s case, a full belly.
Dan ‘The Tinkerman’ Rist, the Ole Gunnar Solskjær to Willgoss’ Alex Ferguson, had ruminated long and hard over how to get the best out of his erratic team and ultimately decided on 4-3-1-2 – a narrow but attacking formation. Esoteric down to the last detail, Risty looked at the oldest person in the squad and said ‘you run the channels all day long’. Top management.
Much like Haydn on a night out, though, sometimes football’s simply a numbers game. Merton 2s had tried many different formations this year in easing themselves to mid-table obscurity; but, finally, Risty stumbled across a winner.
How so? Well, partly it was aided by a less-than-impressive opposition. South Bank lacked a great deal of pace or finesse, although they did boast the sort of goalkeeper who gets snow on his hands when he does a star jump.
Early doors, then, and it’s all Merton 2s. A four man midfield of Pritchard, Mario, The Great Scott and Everrunning Everyready Gresty controlled the game like Harold Shipman controlled patient numbers – efficiently. Chances were created and, with some predictability, DQ spurned the first because it was nowhere near his head, catching the 8ft goalie’s heel with an attempted nutmeg that resulted in a corner. The chance had been created by Sutton’s finest black cab filmmaker, Lewis Ackerman, who made like he does in the back of his fake taxi and promptly scored from two yards during a melee after another corner.
“I like the easy ones,” he said, and no-one knew whether he was referring to work or scoring goals.
DQ found himself in the once-always-and-now-increasingly-rare situation of being quicker than the entire opposition backline. Probably definitely onside, he promptly scored twice. The first saw a Pirlo-eque pass from Mario that had the Italian Galleon mamma-miaing in delight. Showing rare control and composure, DQ killed it and then dinked the world’s tallest man. The second saw big Scotty eschew his left leg and instead cross with the outside of his right while running down the left channel. It sounds beautiful. It really wasn’t. DQ scored from five yards while falling over.
And the chances continued, largely from Mario’s top quality set pieces or the occasional sojourn down the right-hand side from Rat, taking a day’s vacation in the 2s because he’s a lovely man.
3-0 at half time and all was well. Special shout-out to Max, in goal, who kept a clean sheet and couldn’t get the kit off quicker if he tried when handing over to Sam Pritchard for the second half.
Half two, then, and all did not go well. Pritch admired a fairly smart volley so much he waved it in at the near post like Mr Tumble signing to a deaf child. He then decided to mix things up by perfecting the along-the-ground goal-kick into the centre of the pitch.
Risty Dan had a plan, though, and changed to 4-5-1 to stem the tide, which kind of worked because the second half was largely appalling. Pearcey and Haydn had more to do but stood fast at the back. Conor moaned and crunched into tackles, because that’s what he does best. And Rat wondered just how bad 2s football could be. Willgoss, back from a lengthy lay-off, engaged in the odd enterprising run down the right and also Jackie Chan-ed a centreback in the head.
They scored again, mainly through Merton 2s being a bit pants by this point, but we still ended-up more than deserving winners.
And, thus, like the 19th president of the USA, a Mr Rutherford B. Hayes, Merton 2s’ season continues to happen, but not in such a way that anyone’s likely to remember it. A 3-2 win, if anyone’s counting.