Merton 3’s vs Civil Service 4’s 10/12/16

It was named the “Relegation Battle” in the build-up, and was set up to be a season-defining game for the mighty 3’s before a ball was kicked. With Civil Service 4’s sitting in sixth place on 10 points and Merton down in 8th with 3, a win here would potentially kick-start what has been an up and down season for the team, with good performances but a knack of dropping points in the latter stages of games.

Another trait of the team this season has been starting slow (something which Darcy and Neal were keen to avoid before this game). Unfortunately this was on show again last weekend with Civil Service winning a corner off the first play of the match. This was the theme for the first 15-20 minutes, with the Boars defending well and trying to play the ball on the floor but struggling to get a foothold in the game.

However, it was our boys that struck first, and it was mainly down to the effort that our front three of Joe, Denys and Frankie were putting in, running hard and applying pressure. The Civil Service back 4 was ropey at best, and midway through the first half Frankie managed to put Merton 1-0 in front with a nicely slotted goal.

The Boars seemed to grow in confidence after this and started to pass the ball around nicely and create some chances for the remainder of the half. The most notable of these was highlighted several times post-game by Denys, with Frankie breaking through and having an opportunity to square the ball for a Denys tap in. Frankie chose to take on the shot himself, shooting wide of the target and causing Denys to roar in frustration and cast his DoD vote in Frankie’s direction. Our back four were excellent leading into half time, with Jordan in particular putting in a fantastic performance keeping the pacey Civil Service winger quiet and setting up some of our more lengthy spells of possession.

The second half kicked off and provided the reason for DoD. Iain played a delicious ball to big Andy’s feet, who then resembled something akin to Bambi on ice rather than a proud Boar, skidding on his backside and allowing the ball to trickle out for an opposition throw in. Keeping in mind Andy had only just entered the fray after spending the first half warming the bench, this was a first touch (or lack of one) that nobody was forgetting. “It’s a studs day” was the bitter sentence murmured after this unfortunate incident.

This may have been somewhat foreboding for what was to come in the rest of the half for the 3’s. Industrious, hard-working, but ultimately slipping up at the wrong moments.

The Civil Service 4’s spent most of the 2nd half applying immense pressure to our guys. Their gigantic centre-back was very vocal as they began to assert their dominance over the game, shouting “Their right-back is leading a charmed life, pump everything down that channel.” Needless to say, this only inspired Neal D to continue his hard work at right back.

Despite some admirable effort from our Boars, the knack of conceding goals continued. The first goal from the visitors was very scrappy, bouncing around the box, ricocheting everywhere before eventually being tapped home. As we tried to get ourselves back into the game, Neal nearly managed to get himself sent off with a crunching challenge, however the referee generously chose the colour yellow. 16-year-old Dylan made his debut and put in a good shift, giving us an outlet down the right hand side, and our midfield of Darcy, Iain and Jamie continued to try and make things happen, however we just could not create chances to get back in front.

Then the inevitable happened, and the visiting team managed to bag another scrappy goal off a defensive error with little more than 5 minutes left in the game. The wild celebrations from the Civil Service showed how hard they had to work for this result, but that didn’t make it any easier for our 3’s to take. A really good effort from the whole team, but just not quite enough quality in the end to see out a result. Hopefully we can cut out these slip-ups and climb the table as we move into 2017 and the latter half of the season.

Posted in Match Reports 3s