3s vs Old Salesians 21.02.15
Last weeks 7-goal demolition of Southgate Olympic was always going to be a tough act to follow, and the 3s duly provided a battling 1-1 draw in Ewell by way of a comedown.
All 4 of the 2014/2015 Merton 3rd XI roster turned out for this one, leaving just 10 ‘guest’ players to bring the matchday squad up to a season-high 14. Unfamiliarity was to be expected, and bearing this in mind Merton did well to weather the early storm from a fresh-faced Old Salesians team who knocked the £2 Sports Direct ball nicely across the enormous, largely grassless pitch. Crossbars were rattled, corners nodded over and chances snuffed out by some committed defending, but Smithy’s goal remained unbreached. Then Merton got hold of the ball and started to look like the side that had scored at will 7 days ago.
The pressure grew until a nice move down the right saw Adam cut into the box, skip past a couple of limp challenges and fire the ball into the net. Surely Merton would now kick on and put the game away… or not. After the first of several questionable offside calls (more on that later) denied Liam a clear run in on the keeper, a counter attack the other way ended up with a crunching tackle in the Merton box, nowhere near the ball. Penalty awarded and duly dispatched to make it 1-1 going into the break.
If the first half was largely incident-free, the second was eminently forgettable. Merton were starved of the ball and defended tightly but had the referee to thank for waving away a couple of “marginal” penalty shouts on Darcy that were later described by the player himself as “stone wall”.
No sooner had they been written, the thank you cards were ripped up by the Merton management as the referee robbed them of a late winner on a dodgy offside call. The ball was rolled into DQ up top, whose touch deserted him to such a degree that he missed it completely, leaving Adam to jog on to it unopposed from his own half and begin the long run in on goal. Just as he arrived at the box (about 5 minutes later) the whistle was blown for offside. The final whistle wasn’t far behind and both sides trudged off happy to settle for a point apiece.
That’s 4 points from 2 away games for Merton – always a welcome return. Thanks as always to those who answered the call to arms this week, notably Kev who played the Manuel Neuer sweeper-keeper role with aplomb and Chris Outred who repelled everything thrown at him down the left flank. Here’s hoping these 2 games will herald a turnaround in our season as we move away from ‘relegation dogfight’ territory towards mid-table mediocrity.