Southern Amateur League – Division 3
10th October – 3pm Kick Off
Merton FC 4 – 0 South Bank 3’s

On a blustery day at Joseph Hood, Merton 3’s welcomed back a few previously missing familiar faces for, which was for some, the first  home game of the season.

The starting 11 was as below:

GK– Arturs
LB– Mike reed
CB – Vincenzo
CB – Mike stone
RB – Tony
RM – Reece
LM–  Seb
CM – Dave
CM – Neal
ST – Denys
ST – Donno

Sub- Yommo

First Half

The first 5 minutes were very ‘stop-start’, in terms of holding the ball and any developing play from the Merton half, in to the oppositions’ half.

The first 10-15 minutes followed with consistent long balls from South Bank’s midfielders and back line to their attacking wingers. Tony and Mike had to mark these two players very tightly, and with the wind in the opposition favour, this was an early threat posed by South Bank.

Following a period of sustained pressure which the back line cancelled out well, Merton realised that the ball was not being held in the middle of the field by the opposition and balls out wide were their main outlet for any attacking/pressing play.

Both pairings of Seb and Mustard on the left, and Reece and Tony on the right broke well to counter attack and overlap.  

The consistent tracking by both midfielders either side nullified the threat that the opposition posed midway through the first half. From this point onwards, the remainder of the half was all Merton.

A combination of solid defending from Vincenzo and Mike Stone allowed the two central midfielders Dave and Neal to have a lot of the ball at their feet and allowed Merton to attack down the wings and through balls to Donno and Denys in their forward roles.

Merton created a number of chances which should have been finished, although the wrong decision in the final third proved costly as these chances were not taken for what should have been a comfortable game up to the 30 minute mark of the first half.

Shortly after Neal had an ‘unfortunate incident’ with a low flying ball which some say his squeals could be heard from all over Surrey, Donno tested the opposition keeper with a volley from 20 yards out which was spilled nervously.

To follow, a through ball from the back line to a Donno who was hanging on their last man, provided a one-on-one scenario which was coolly slotted in to the bottom corner.  1-0.

Merton could see the pace of Donno and the wing play was causing South Bank trouble. Shortly after a short corner from Tony slotted to Neal who was unmarked on the corner of the opposition box was struck well, and cleared off the line by the opposition.  

Following this effort, another corner was swung in from the left and landed at Vincezo’s feet on the edge of the opposition’s box- after a chip over the back line in to the box, the ball was then struck in to the ground by Denys, spilled by the keeper on the goal-line, and a gleeful Donno accepted the invitation to scoop this in to the net to make it 2-0 to Merton.

The momentum was very much with Merton and the oppositions’ back line sat deep for the remainder of the half.

5 minutes from the half time whistle, several Merton chances were created but again, the wrong decision in the final third was costly. Donno almost put through Tony for a one-on-one with the keeper, made possible by more great tracking and overlapping by Reece on the right wing, but the opportunity was not taken.

Constant talking and communicating by the two centre backs and two central midfielders enabled Merton to see out the remainder of the half comfortably.

Second Half

After a deserved lead in the first half, Merton knew the next goal to the game was crucial. Although the opposition had very few chances the first half, a goal early on would provide some much needed momentum for South Bank.

The game started as the first half did, while Merton knew wing play was a great outlet to develop in to the oppositions half, South Bank adopted an ‘man-for-man’ tactic early on which made this difficult to create anything of note down either side.

With Donno and his obligatory energy drinks before kick-off, Merton knew they had an outlet for consistent running and the next goal was to come from a through ball down the centre of the pitch.

Vincenzo played a through ball to the far edge of the box from just inside the Merton half, with which he took down and controlled well, beat the two centre backs, and took the ball to the edge of the box, past the goal line.

What followed is surely the best goal of the season for Merton FC so far. Prompting shouts from the right back of ‘show him some support’ (which was evidently not needed) Merton’s striker rounded the two centre backs along the edge of the box, drove towards, and then danced past the keeper, with such a tight angle remaining that the goal could barely be seen from his angle.

With a strike that would have prompted Thierry Henry to clutch Jamie Carragher’s thigh in such a fashion, Donno then slotted the ball underneath the keeper to nestle in to the far corner of the net to make it 3-0 to Merton.

This was the next crucial goal- and what a goal!

The game from this point was all Merton FC and solid performances by all on the pitch allowed Merton to make a substitution with 20 minutes left of the game to be played.

With the opposition now disheartened and sick of the sight of an on rushing, ‘tongue out of mouth wagging’ Donno in their memories, he was substituted and Yommo was brought on as a replacement to see out the game.

Great hold up play by Yommo and a hard-working Denys allowed further wing play to develop down each side of the pitch.

With 10 minutes to go, by great team play in which almost all of the Merton players touched the ball, Neal won a header in the centre, which was then played through to Denys. Yommo was by the opposition penalty spot with time and space, collected the ball from Denys, and a quick ‘shimmy’ and shoulder dip from Yommo, which demonstrated that he as an avid ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ fan, prompted the keeper to dive one way, which allowed Yommo to slot the ball in to an empty bottom corner of the net to make it 4-0.

Merton ran down the clock for the remainder of the game, even prompting a speculative 40-yard strike from Denys, which was narrowly wide of the goal post – not quite Charlie Adam esque’- but the confidence and comfort of the Merton play for the remainder of the game was a result of the hard teamwork, and jobs done before.  

A few flying elbows and choke holds from the frustrated opposition at the end of the game in the direction of Tony and Neal respectively, demonstrated that the Merton starting 11 are clearly more handsome than they thought – but also that the opposition were willing to wind down the clock on the behalf of the Merton 11 at their own cost.

Queue the final whistle to complete a great display all round, a well-deserved 3 points at home, and a very important clean sheet.

Posted in Match Reports 3s