4s vs Polytechnic 6s – 11.02.17
As the snow tumbled down, 13 men who, by Saturday, don the mighty yellow, expectantly checked their phones that morning, with the text from Scholesy that the game against Poly would be called off seemingly a racing certainty.
But it never came, and an almost reluctant Merton 4s slowly gathered in the change room. The late arrival of the manager meant the kit was hurriedly put on – not that anyone really fancied a warm up anyway.
Given the adverse conditions, the pitch was in surprisingly good nick, and after some encouraging performances in recent weeks, Merton said about asserting themselves.
But the first couple of minutes were almost a perfect microcosm of the 4s season so far. For about 120 seconds from the kick off, they pinged the ball around beautifully, getting ball to feet, and building two very dangerous attacks in the process.
It didn’t yield a goal though. Well, not for Merton anyway. One hoof upfield from Poly, a mix up in defence, and the hosts gleefully poked it home. And just like that, a deflated Merton were 1-0 down.
The lads kept their heads up though, and, impressively, they kept playing football. After 15 minutes, it is fair to say Poly had barely had a kick, and yet were 1-0 up. Not only had Merton bossed the midfield, but they’d opened up their opponents down the wings a number of times too.
Yet they were always vulnerable on the counter, and that’s how Poly’s second came about. Their striker got in behind, and Kieran initially made a fine save. Unfortunately, he lost his footing a touch on the follow up, and his palmed second save could only send the ball over his head and rolling agonisingly into the net. 2-0 Poly.
And still Merton kept going, as the midfield continued to have the better of things, with Sonny and Akram doing a fine job in the middle of the park. But then came a nasty injury to Chris Outred, as he clashed heads with a Poly player as both went in for a full-blooded header. And full blooded it was, as an astonishing amount of the red stuff came from Chris’s forehead. After a few minutes of checking for concussion and performing some relatively amateur first aid bandage work, Chris was escorted from the field. We do wish him a speedy recovery.
The third and fourth goals came just after half time, although this scribe was in the clubhouse attending to the wounded at the time, so no details of how it happened are currently available.
There is no fun in getting a battering. But credit to the Yellows, they kept going, and still continued to produce some pockets of good football. That said, Poly were by now the more dominant side, and as injuries accumulated for Merton, they became very stretched.
Poly’s 5th goal came about from some good interplay down the left, although the shot which finished it was something of a worldie. It left Kieran with no price whatsoever. The same could not be said of the 6th goal though, as Merton were caught out trying to play it from the back.
At the other end, Ryan Burchell made a good run that almost yielded a goal, while Danny Gridley also made a fine surge upfield, which led to a decent chance.
But it wasn’t to be, and the final whistle mercifully sounded to end a bitterly disappointing day. After a result like that, the acid test was going to be just how acidic the recriminations were in the change room. Yet nothing of the sort ensued. Instead, the lads shared frustration, but took pride in the quality of football they produced. True, the sloppy goals they continue to give away, and their profligacy in front of goal are a big concern. Yet in amongst all that is also some very, very good football. It’s time to convert that into a result against Bank of England next week.
Team: Kieran Lee (GK), Ed Plaistow, Joe Plumridge, John Gridley, Dan Rist, Dan Gridley, Akram Choudhary, Chris Outred, Frankie Kaligorou, Sonny Kennedy, Dom Plumridge
Subs: Clive Corrigan, Ryan Burchell, Mike Todt