3s vs Civil Service – 08.10.16
AFA League Cup
Merton FC v Civil Service FC
A newly turfed…ish Hood ground set the scene for a blustery cup tie, the first of the season for the Boars’.
Virtually a new team from the previous weeks’ fixture, Merton set up in to a 4-5-1 formation with a late (and delighted) deputy of Frankie in between the sticks.
Skipper for the afternoon was Tony P. Merton started the game quietly, with the oppo having a lot of possession for the first 10 minutes of the half.
Lofty’s team had to make a change with the left back Alex taking a hard knock in a challenge, and had to be subbed after 15 minutes. Andy L then came on, and Ricky moved to left back. Between Ricky and Tony they had the non-enviable task of keeping tabs on their right winger for the entirety of the game.
A new back line kept cool and calm, and Merton nullified a few early threats on goal from Civil service,
Alberto was brought in to a deep-holding midfielder role in front of the two centre halves after 15 minutes. All of the oppo play was coming through the middle and held up by the two of their forwards. Alberto took up the role of sitting in front of Tony and Alex.
With more time in front of the back four now, Merton tried to press and switch the ball from side to side to Andy or Iain. With the pace, and also now the florescent pink boots that Donno has, Merton tried to utilise his pace by building play up either side of the oppo central defence for Donno to run on to.
The midfield was heavily swamped in the centre of the park from both sides around the half hour mark, and with limited chances up front, build up play down each wing was our best chance of creating something. Donno had so far been marked by their 6ft giant of a centre half up to this point, with every through ball attempted coming straight back to us.
The best chance of the half came from a through ball from the defence. Tony collected the ball from a throw in from Ricky on the left side. After turning past their forward who was had been tight the whole game, the midfield space in front opened up and a lofted through-ball to Donno presented an almost ‘one-on-one’ situation which rather than being slapped by the new pink boots, rolled down his leg in to the grateful keepers’ hands. Best chance of the game so far.
Further through balls to the Merton wingers were proving to be the threat that the oppo could not deal with.
The midfield were trying to hold the ball longer, although improvement on shape was needed. The back four were resolute and stuck to their shape throughout, something that Lofty had emphasised before the game must be focused on. A few scrappy chances, mainly created through the oppo by-passing the Merton midfield straight to their pacy winger were not taken, although Frankie made a great save with 10 mins of the half to play.
The breakthrough for Merton came just after, with Merton passing the ball across the back four from side to side, eventually to Andy L on the left side who was brought down in the area. Penalty given.
Tony P placed the ball on the spot and in a Di Canio fashion calmly executed a panenka down the middle of the goal to make it 1-0 to Merton towards the end of the half.
Further chances were spawned by Merton, with a frustrated Donno picking up a booking. It was clear that James with his pace and quality needed the ball more to feed the forwards, and for Merton to hold the ball more in midfield.
All in all an encouraging half for Merton, one which we deserved to be ahead in. Second half, James off and Joe (with beard) on to provide that ball kept and retained in the midfield. The oppo made no changes and started the second half well. Balls out to both of their wingers followed the same pattern as the first half. The oppo started the second as they did the first half on the front foot. Lessons learned form the first half, keep shape throughout, keep possession higher up the pitch, and ball on floor. The first chance of the second half for Merton came from possession held in the middle of the park, Alberto, to Dave S – whom produced a great through ball to Joe, who rather than shooting dragged back and squared to Donno who struck an effort that was on target straight to the defender, collected the rebound and squared to Joe who blasted over from 5 yards out. Opportunity missed.
The game became stretched with the Merton midfield legs tiring. Ricky was doing a great job, keeping tabs on their best player. A cut inside from their winger saw a great save from Frankie palm this over the bar. The subsequent corner led to a clearance by the head from Tony to the edge of the area, Merton did not clear and after a bit of pin-ball, a fortunate cross in by their winger then landed to their forward who had been static for most the game – ball tamely struck past Frankie in to the goal. 1-1 with 20 mins left to play.
Feeling hard done by Merton rallied and held the ball down in midfield, James L coming back on. The two centre halves cleared danger over and over as the oppo pressing became routine and predictable. Great play by Dave S and James L nearly resulted in a Merton equaliser, however the goal did not come. A twisting and turning run by Donno through the centre circle, past 4-5 oppo players almost resulted in an opportunity, yet the score was to end 1-1 at full time.
Straight to pens.
Having been 2-0 down from the first two spot kicks, Merton needed a hero. Or as it turned out…four!
Donno, James, and Dave S put away their spot kicks, with Civil Service subsequently missing two in a row after putting in their first two. 3-2 to Merton. Civil Service had to score their final spot kick to make it 3-3 and go to sudden death.
Frankie held his nerve and stood firm in the centre of the goal to save the spot kick and a jubilant Merton progressed to the next round with a 3-2 win on penalties.
A game that should have been put to bed in normal time, but Merton showed a togetherness and team spirit that could not be broken.
On to the next round boars … on we trot…
Scorers – normal time
Tony P (pen) 35 mins
Scorers – extra time penalties
James L 90+
Dave S 90+
Booked – Donno 25 mins
MOTM: Frankie (penalty wizard)
DOTM: Donno (the boots/the booking/the volatile flirting with the ref ..?)