5s vs HSBC 7s

It’s great when plans come together. Fresh off the back of a chastening 9-2 defeat to Polytechnics, (or rather, unfresh, because it was two weeks since Merton 5s last played), 5s realised they need to step up a gear if they were to mount a serious promotion challenge. So it was back to the training ground for the team as they sought to find a way to improve.

The group chat was buzzing with suggestions on how this could be achieved – in between videos of bestiality and what-not, which seems to get the team talking more than y’know, actual football – but Andy had a master plan. The idea was simple – create angles to play the ball out. Two weeks without football helped because as soon as 5s entered the pitch against HSBC, they started moving the ball about with great confidence. Actually, the pitch was superb condition, much to the fears of some who thought it may fall prey to the elements, and that made it conducive to the way the team wanted to pass the ball. The team that Clive selected also backed that up. In came Anam, mainly on a technicality because star man, Andy Bitmead, arrived late. He started in the centre alongside Tiago and Clive, whilst the other crucial change to the usual line-up was Thomas Reid, who replaced Josh at left-back.

In any case, Merton 5s were quick to establish their authority but would take the lead once Anam mysteriously pulled up with an injury. But before we talk about that, let’s mention the highlights in his unforgettable 15 minute cameo. First, he played a superb ball over the top to Dulanie, who was caught offside, which should have been the sign of things to come. Still, the vision was surely appreciated and indeed, at times, it seems as if his boot has a mind of its own such is his vision. Instead, the ref turned around and went purple, berating both sides for moaning about the offside calls – which already were growing in number. He probably didn’t get the memo that Dulanie was born offside. Anam then played in Darren with a Ronaldo-like turn at the edge of the box, which the goalkeeper turned away.

From the resulting corner, that’s where the game turned as Anam twisted his ankle trying to offer himself for the short pass. Still, that sort of thinking underlines his opportunism and why he should start more. On came Andy, and he proceeded to grab the game by the scuff of the neck. Literally, because running into the box past two players, he was dragged back by one before eventually, he was tripped in the area. He got up, brushed himself down and, putting aside the memory of his penalty miss against Poly 8s, smashed the shot down the middle. 1-0 to Merton.

And it wasn’t long until Merton doubled their lead, this time again a penalty, won by Aaron Byrne, who fell down like a wounded gazelle (Darren’s words. I would say he fell down more like a gazelle that’s been hurled to the ground from a speeding helicopter). The penalty, like Andy’s, went down the centre.

Merton were playing some great stuff when the half-time whistle went, with the one of the other subs, Aaron Ackerman, delivering some delightful passes. Indeed, it was his cross in the second-half that created the third goal, a header by Dulainie, beating the keeper to a high-ball. That signalled the end of Ds involvement – happy his sole goal, though it took him half-a-dozen shots to yield that one. Chances included a trademark crossfield pass from Dwayne to Dulainie saw him shoot one volley over, along with a number of identical one-on-one attempts.

Andy, though, was the key man, and for the fourth goal, delivered the moment of the match, breaking forward from midfield then nonchalantly chipping over the goalkeeper. His hattrick, was nearly as majestic, again breaking from midfield, and this time, opting to poke the ball past the goalkeeper. He could have passed the ball square to Aaron B, but understandably decided against it. Not long before, Aaron Byrne had a similar chance when he tried to place the ball to the bottom corner, but telegraphed the shot to the bottom corner.

Indeed, Aaron had a great game, dribbling at the defence, and he ended up finishing the game up front in a sort-of false-9 role. Actually, that might be kind because he was drawing a lot of stick from Dulanie from the sidelines for moving away from goal instead of towards it. In any case, the whole team performance was great, as they followed Andy’s game plan to a tee. Delman was deadly when broke forward, also having one goal strangely disallowed; whilst Tom on the other side was disciplined and tenacious – sort of like a frail James Milner. Tiago was snappy in the centre, whilst Clive provided a good foil for Andy breaking forward. Dwayne also did his best to fill in two positions at once, teleporting from left-wing to left-back instantly like a footballing-Nightcrawler – but with worse hair.

Word should also go to all three centre-backs who were solid – Lee included, who needs to have a word with himself to stop breaking forward from the back – and Sam “Safe-Hands” Singer-Ripley, who rescued the team on three occasions – though sometimes, it seems as if he likes to put the team in trouble before saving them, just so he can brag about it afterwards. It’s a shame he doesn’t apply those skills to the tinder-dates who he inevitably friend-zones.

Anyway, it was a complete team performance from Merton 5s, who in the end were indebted to Andy Bitmead, in more ways than one.

Team (4-3-3): Sam – Delman, Steve B, Darren, Thomas – Anam, Tiago, Clive – Dwayne, Dulanie, Aaron B.

Subs: Lee, Aaron A, Andy.

Goals 5-0: Andy x3, Aaron B, Dulanie

Man of the Match: Officially a tie between Aaron B and Andy, mainly because most people were tired it’s always going to Andy. I thought Tom did well, however.

Dick of the Day: Nobody, though we were treated to NLT once again. However, Delman wasn’t keen on seeing the uncircumcised glory, so he ran out of the dressing room quicker than he breaks forward from right-back. The ref, though, probably deserves it for having a meltdown on the pitch.

Posted in Match Reports 5s