3s vs Alleyn Old Boys – 24.0.18
Merton 3s 3 – 4 Alleyn Old Boys 4s
With the recent wild weather and the SAL’s “we don’t fancy it so we’ll cry off” policy conspiring to deprive the Boars of football for over a month, appetite was high leading up to this clash. After it, another month off would work for me as Merton lost a distinctly unpleasant contest by the odd goal in 7.
Merton Council’s policy of turning the changing room heating up to full whack just in time for summer didn’t help an already ailing Glenn, suffering from another presumed STI. Barry and Ricky didn’t even see the inside of the changing room, thanks to the unforeseen Saturday traffic that also delayed the oppo. Regardless, both teams started with 11 and the ref blew his whistle right on time, not that you could hear it above the din the 1s were making on the top pitch. Glenn set his health concerns to one side and put the Boars ahead before calling for the touchline oxygen. Mustard and Lofty engaged in a bout of head tennis in the centre circle, before the latter nodded forward to Denys whose flick put Glenn in on goal where he made no mistake. Mistakes were made down the other end as Gresty flicked a free kick into his own net to level it, and sort out the DoTD debate nice and early. Before that, a frantic minute in the Merton box saw the workwork hit 3 times (one being the crossbar miraculously hit from a yard out), the ball cleared off the line a couple of times and a penalty shout turned down. Merton had little to shout about themselves up the other end but all square at half time felt about right.
The half time break was notable for Ricardo asking if anyone had a spare pair of boots, because he hadn’t brought any to this particular football match. Cue incredulous looks all round. Back underway, Merton took the lead when Gresty nicked the ball and played a rampaging Barry into the box, where he was promptly scythed down. Penalty, and even the gobby oppo couldn’t complain about this call… not that it stopped the gobby oppo complaining about this call. Denys hammered home the spot kick and with half an hour to see off Merton were looking good. This triggered a decisive substitution as Alleyns brought on a ridiculous looking character sporting pink locks like a My Little Pony doll. In fairness, he was a fine player and a minute after coming on beat a couple of men and rifled past Sam to make it 2-2.
The goal of the game followed. Lofty knocked a solo kick off out to the left for Barry to run on to. Barry stormed down the wing and whipped a sumptuous cross into the Alleyns box… where not a single yellow shirt could be found. No matter, as the left back strode onto the cross and clinically half-volleyed it beyond his bemused keeper into the net. Back came Alleyns again as a cross from the right saw My Little Pony steal in to add his second. 3-3, and a game that could have gone either way. By this point, Alleyns had committed what seemed like hundreds of men forward and they were on the ascendancy. Welchy and Risty did their best to repel the onslaught, while PQ made up for an unusually quiet Iain by moaning loudly about the lack of Merton midfield cover, including that from big brother DQ, now deployed in a latter-day Mark Hughes role somewhere between midfield and attack.
The winning goal came controversially, as their forward controlled a bouncing ball with his hand before firing into the net. The eagle eyed ref spotted the infringement, but decided this was accidental and the goal stood. Thanks.
Behind for the first time in the game, Merton pushed forward. Walshy made a rare foray into the box from open play then theatrically flung himself to the floor. Then Mustard went on whatever the opposite of a mazy run is; dribbling in a dead straight line from the centre circle to goal line near the corner flag, where he kicked it out for a goal kick. Good stuff. Merton had one last chance when Glenn, back on field after the all clear from the doctors, couldn’t beat the keeper from a tight angle.
That was that, another tight loss and in truth an outing in which Merton never really found top gear. At the final whistle, Alleyns decided to forgo the traditional handshakes in favour of a bit of a ruck which continued into the changing rooms. Classy.
Merton: Sam S-R, Iain, Walshy, Risty, PQ, Mustard, Gresty, Lofty, Glenn, DQ, Ricardo, Barry, Fitz, Denys