Another glorious Spring morning dawned for the 4s’ second game of the Spring Cup at Woking on Saturday. Or so it seemed, until a potent bucket of rain descended upon what was already a fairly poor (and small) pitch. The lads who were there took refuge in the change rooms. Others were heading anti clockwise down the M25 at the time. And Kieran did his standard bi-monthly no-show.
Anyway, with the help of Tiago and DK, the 4s just about managed to assemble a starting XI in time for kick-off, and with a sub to boot. Mikey Elgar stepped in as goalkeeper, and it immediately became clear how impressive a keeper he was. Aside from his enormous kicks, his command of the defence, communication, handling and speed off the line were superb, and that confidence permeated through the rest of the team, who made a solid start to the game.
In particular, Sonny was tremendous in midfield, perhaps looking to make amends for his no-show the week before. Either way, his engine and work rate was unreal, and with Akram doing a solid job cleaning up behind, Merton were as solid as they’ve ever looked.
In truth though, it was a tight game where the two teams largely cancelled each other out. The smallness of the pitch was such that goalkicks were pinging from one end to the other, and there were moments where it might have felt like a Tony Pulis/Sam Allardyce showdown.
But Merton just about shaded it, creating the better chances, and snuffing out any attacks. The last five minutes of the half were going to be crucial though. The Yellows pressed forward, with the belief that they could find the goal they just about deserved. A goalmouth scramble, but Wokingians cleared. A long-range effort from Dan Gridley, but it went wide. A half chance for Dom, but it didn’t quite fall for him.
Just no joy. And then, with literally the final attack of the half, disaster struck. Merton were caught cold on the counter. Their striker took it down well, his turn of pace was even better, and in the blink of an eye, he’d toe-poked it past Mikey to make it 1-0 to the hosts. It was a tremendous individual goal, but a bitter blow for Merton after putting in such a good shift.
The talk was still positive at the break, but they were a visibly deflated outfit once the second half got under way. They were by no means poor, but the intensity had dropped just enough that Wokingians were able to claim the ascendancy in open play.
Yet although Merton were beginning to spend a bit too much time in their own half, Wokingians didn’t necessarily carve out much in the way of clear goalscoring opportunities. The Yellows eventually began to lift themselves too, and offered a bit more going forward. But like their opponents, they just weren’t able to create clear chances for themselves.
It was just that kind of game. The skipper then darted off to join the Hollywood ranks, so wasn’t able to give a first-hand review of how the last 15 minutes unfolded. But apparently the game remained tense, tight and with two evenly-matched teams not able to add to the scoreline.
So, 1-0 it finished, and another unfortunate reverse to add to the collection. Difficult to explain really – what more could the Yellows have done? It was by no means a poor performance. Anything but. It’s just been that kind of season, but the lads continue to keep the spirits up and their heads held high. Plenty of credit due for that. Let’s finish the season strong in our final game now.
Team: Mikey Elgar (GK), Ed Plaistow, Joe Plumridge, Mike Todt, John Gridley, Akram Choudhary, Sonny Kennedy, Frankie Kalogirou, Dan Kelly, Dan Gridley, Dom Plumridge
Sub: Tiago Carvalho
MOTM: Sonny Kennedy