3s vs Old Wilsonians – 18.11.17
Merton 3s 1 – 1 Old Wilsonians 3s
After a run of error-strewn outings, Merton stopped haemorrhaging goals and earnt a deserved point against a decent Wilsonians outfit. The footballing gods supplied glorious conditions for this one, with light rain and a sheen on the pitch that had Merton’s slide tackle maestros salivating. After a pulsating opening 25 seconds, the air was let out of the contest by a 5-minute stoppage as the ball was flat. A rabble of subs and onlookers tried to find a better one, only to conclude that every single spare ball was also flat. Eventually a pump was found and Merton started well, pressing high and channelling the newly inflated orb down the flanks where Glenn and Emilio probed their opposite numbers like Steven Seagal in an audition. Wilsonians weren’t exactly Under Seige but they did have the woodwork to thank after Mario’s “cross” was turned onto the crossbar by a scrambling keeper. At the other end, new Boar Sam Singer-Ripley looked rock solid behind the Usual Suspects in defence, grasping balls like Kevin Spacey in the Old Vic bar; not easy in conditions like this. In midfield, Neal delivered a thunderous slide tackle, taking ball, man, ball again and getting up to dribble away with his man left in a crumpled heap. Lovely stuff.
Merton took the lead when the returning Ricardo and the ageing Mustard combined with Fitz down the right. A deflected cross caught the defence flat footed and Gresty surged into the box to flick it on. Glenn got to the loose ball, waited patiently for the centre back to fall over and hacked the ball right-footed towards the corner of the net. Slowly it bobbled and trickled towards the line as the keeper looked on and several minutes later, it crossed it and Merton were one up.
Comedy defending has become a Boars staple of late but fortunately there was only one such incident to report this week and it didn’t result in an oppo tally. Ricardo, otherwise excellent, jumped on the kamikaze defending bandwagon when he poked a short free kick to Stoney who lost the ball on the centre circle and Wilsonians were away. In hot pursuit were Neal and Mario, and some combination of them, Sam, Vin, desperation and a bit of luck managed to keep the ball out. Phew. Merton held firm until half time but this breathless excitement was too much for young Emilio who at the age of just 19 decided he needed a bit of a sit down, and had to be replaced for the second stanza.
Merton started it with a series of panicked clearances, misplaced passes and a foul throw by Mario. And they should have been punished when an unmarked Wilsonians attacker could only side foot his finish into the crossbar instead of the open net from 6 yards out. Mustard and Gresty dominated the aerial battle in midfield and Dan B announced his arrival with a pair of crunching slide tackles in the centre circle. But gradually Merton were pushed back and eventually Wilsonians levelled it when a low cross from the left was turned in by the striker making a good run to get ahead of Vin at the near post. In fairness, they probably deserved it, but Merton could have won it at the death. Glenn, who had recovered from an early nutmegging to be Merton’s brightest threat, charged down the left flank and knocked a cross into the box. Arriving there at the end of a lung-busting run was Gresty, eyes lighting up at the chance to steal all three points… but instead he put the header wide and secured the DOTD honours. It’s a game of inches.
In the end a fair result, and an important point. This was also an important performance for a team that had looked about as stable as President Trump’s finger on the nuclear button when defending of late. At the heart of this turnaround was Sam in goal, who walked the MOM vote for his sweeper keeping, but credit is due all round for a solid performance and arresting the slide. Hopefully we’ll see more of this Dr Jekyll team than the Mr Hyde variant in the coming weeks.
Sam Singer-Ripley (MOM), Ricardo Inglesias Dias, Mario Del Pressoto, Vin Di Matteo, Mike Stone, Neil Davidson, Ryan Gresty (DOTD), Mike Reed (C), Dan Bumstead, Darren Fitzgerald, Glenn Pitmann (goal), Emilio Neophythou, Dan Kelly, Denys Zhurbiy