4s vs Actonians Assoc. 6s – 05.12.15
Dreadful, blustery conditions greeted the 4s as they arrived at the Hood on Saturday, with Storm Desmond (the quality of names of these storms seemingly deteriorating) baring its teeth. The grey skies summed up the mood for a side still looking for its first league win of the season, and coming off the back of a 5-0 reverse the previous week.
But this was a gilt-edged chance to put things right given that they were up against fellow strugglers Actonians Association 6s. Sam starting in goal as ever, with a back four of Scholesy, Glen, Mike and John Gridley in front of him. Dan made a welcome return to central midfield alongside Jake, with Aaron and Chris Outred manning the flanks. Dulanie and Billy were all set to do the business upfront. But as the game kicked off, a Merton team low on confidence were tentative, and it showed. Actonians were much the better side in the opening quarter, and nearly went ahead but for a fine save from Sam. The goal was to arrive soon after though, as a pass somehow found its way through a sea of yellow, and the Actonian striker who picked it up made no mistake in dispatching his finish in the one-on-one with Sam. 1-0, and a crushing blow. But heads stayed up, and so did the spirits. And it showed in the play too, with Merton offering a palpable response. Jake was tireless in midfield, and Billy’s relentless running eventually won a corner. The cavalry went forward, and after a delightful ball in from the skipper Chris, Mike managed to nod home; the keeper and the man on the post offering a lame attempt to keep it out. Either way, it was a much-needed equaliser, and the Yellows were right back in it at 1-1. The rest of the half offered few chances, with the home side showing tremendous discipline and shape. One opportunity did come later on via a goalmouth scramble, with the wind causing havoc. Unfortunately Billy wasn’t quite able to get enough on the loose ball, but when the whistle went for the interval, the chat was good. The 4s could sense that this one was there for the taking, and they were buoyant as they strode back onto the pitch. It was about to get a whole lot better though, as a dream start to the second period was to follow. It was all Merton from the kick off, and five minutes in, Jake made a menacing run through the middle. With him all but through on goal, the hapless defender had little choice but to trip him up. In turn, the referee had little choice but to point to the spot, and this was their chance. The captain bravely stepped up to the plate, and clinically – nay, emphatically – hammered the penalty into the bottom right corner. 2-1, and Merton were soaring. Barely three minutes later, a third was to come. Dulanie won a throw in on the right side in the opposing territory, and Dan spiralled in a beast of throw. The defender miscued his clearing header, and it sailed tormentingly over the keeper and nestled into the side of the net. A bonus indeed, but at 3-1, the home side cared little and had some much-needed breathing space.