3s vs Carshalton – 24.09.16
With the team arriving full of swagger following last weeks demolition there was a sense of confidence which filled the changing room. With plenty of cherry coke in the room(none of us really got the joke either but welchie did which was the main thing) we started to actually recognise each other which is in stark contrast to game week 1 when we were a bunch of strangers. With players starting to cement real Merton nicknames we feel we are starting to gel as a squad. There was however some drama initially as Joe (without beard) turned up unshaven causing a bit of confusion amongst the team as to which Joe he actually was but it soon became clear as he made a joke which was funny which the other Joe struggles with. (sorry joe with beard)
For the second week in a row I have the pleasure of writing this report due to giving away a penalty which some might say changed the tide of the game. It certainly didn’t help!
It’s a real pleasure to play with a bunch of lads that all gave words of encouragement and sympathy following said penalty with quotes such as “keep your head up”, “there was nothing you could do about that” and my favourite “he would have scored if you didn’t make that tackle anyway”
Similar words of encouragement continued in the bar only to be followed up swiftly with 5 dick of the match votes clearly citing the penalty. Cheers lads!
There were some forced changes this week due to some missing personnel with Tony, Mike, Dave and Glen all fitting into positions very naturally. Lofty also turning up to support the 3s or cast an eye over any potential talent he could take with him to the 2s! Either way he set us up with clear intent to make the Hood a fortress with promises of a moat in December! (If you are new to Merton you’ll laugh at this sentence in about seven weeks, when you witness the hood moat for yourself)
Merton started pretty slow with some panic passing causing us to look very sloppy and not in control at all. The central midfield did not get a grip and we were generally out run, out headed and out fought for much of the opening part of the game. Carshalton were clearly a better footballing side than last week.
Although we were on the back foot carshalton did not really threaten the Merton goal with any real menace, they bombarded the box at every opportunity using their long throw and clear height advantage very well, however some resolute defending broke down the majority of attacks.
The game pretty much carried on in this manner until a very nonchalant ball out to the impressive Glen in the forward left hand side turned into a magnificent early shot across the goalkeeper putting Merton one up. This lead lasted less than 5 minutes though with some sloppy play giving possession away once more and resulting in the equaliser for Carlshalton. There was nothing Dan could do about it. Merton were hit with further bad news when our captain Vincenzo had to come off due to a rolled ankle and a reshuffle saw myself (Neal) move to centre-back and Joe and Andy come into the middle and Dave fall in the the holding role.
The first half petered out with Merton starting to show some signs that we can actually play football with Joe getting stuck in straight away. We were however frustrated with our first half efforts. 1-1 was a fair reflection and we all knew we had more in us.
The second half started well with Dan Kelly with some fresh legs. We started to dominate passages of play, We had found our football brains again and more importantly our fight. We put Carshalton under pressure at every opportunity. Dave and Andy worked well and with Glen an easy out ball ready to terrorise their defence
We looked a force once again. Carshalton were under the cosh and a peach of a ball to Glen from Andy resulted in a first time hit and fabulous finish which you would be hard pushed to find a better strike down at the Hood! 2-1 and cruising… Or so we thought.
Moving into the final 20 minutes, Carshalton started to gamble and put us under a little pressure. They started to work their set piece ritual once again and returned to playing to their strength and our weakness. Some poor defending gave away a very soft corner. We struggled to cope again and the ball drifted back out to the corner taker who drilled it low and hard towards the front of the six yard box, a desperate lunge by myself was miss timed and the Carshalton player got to the ball first resulting in a clear penalty which the ref took an age to give. Some might say he was thinking of ways to not give it due to him may or may not having some sort of affiliation with one of the two sides but they would be wrong the refs integrity stood firm and unfortunately it was so clearly a pen even Stevie Wonder would’ve given it.
2-2 after a very good pen!!!
Merton felt they had proved the 3s had enough quality to go on and get a winner. The good passing continued and the intensity grew. We were showing ‘almost’ all the signs that we would get our rewards. However we didn’t really test the goalkeeper and for all the positive play we just couldn’t get our shots away or find enough space to finish the job.
This resulted in Carshalton sniffing a chance they could perform a late smash and grab and guess what? They did! After not learning our lesson from the previous 82 minutes of set pieces another corner was swung in from the right. The smallest man on the pitch managed to lose his marker(who that was no one knows) and smash in a bullet header from the edge of the 6 yard box. A late rally resulted in very little and Merton left the pitch feeling robbed of 3 points. A very disappointing result but plenty of positives to take from a second half we dominated.Special mentions to Dan who was comfortable in the sticks and not to blame for any of the goals, Mike stone making his comeback, Dave Scott, Andy and Donno who all had excellent games.
However almost all votes for Man of the Match went to Glen who scored two quality goals and showed some great class on the ball.
Unlucky lads there is always next week! I am absolutely certain we won’t lose a league game next Saturday. Mainly because we don’t have a game but it’s a nice to know we won’t feel as bad as we do now.
Team: Dan, Tony, Vin, Mike S, Ricky, Neal, Darren, Iain, Glenn, Dave S, Donno, Dan K, Andy, Joe (with a little bit of a beard)
SUBS: Dan K, Andy, Joe (with a little bit of a beard)
MAN OF THE MATCH: Glenn
DICK OF THE WEEK: Neal, for giving away a penalty