5s vs Kew Association – 18.02.17
Merton 5s 1 – 2 Kew 3rds
Arriving in the sunny capital, I was pleased to hear that our game this weekend was away to Kew. Kew have lottery-funded pitches to suit our Barcelona-esque style of play, and a good clubhouse to complement our Gazza-esque drinking habits. However, with 2 days before the big KO, the seeds of doubt were planted as the “availability” of their pitches fell into question – a perfectly logical situation considering they have 3 pitches and 3 teams. It so transpires that the raucous group of bowles players occupying the pitches at Kew refused to leave, so the game came to the bumpy, unreliable Wimbledon Common.
Despite some confusion caused by the change, outrage at the decision to arrive 2 hours before kick-off, and the referee declaring a zero tolerance to swearing which left everyone concerned for Lenners, we actually started the game pretty well. The opening exchanges were a little cagey; however the 5s were winning the ball well, passing it around and making the best chances of the first period. There were some good passages of play between the front 3 of Dwayne, Aaron and Gibbo that led to some half decent chances. The pick of them was a through ball to Gibbo, which left him one on one with the keeper. As the keeper backpeddled, Gibbo attempted the chip. The power wasn’t there, and the ball fell harmlessly into the goalkeeper’s hands. The half probably wasn’t the spectacle their fans had hoped for [there were 4 of them], but from our perspective we looked the most likely.
Some shocking decisions seemed to go against us, however, and with Dulanjie absent the job fell to Dwayne to always be offside. There were 2 or 3 instances where Dwayne was judged to be offside by the referee yet started from 2 yards the right side of the defender. There were some fouls that were given for virtually nothing, and blatant offsides not called. Fearing he was going to talk himself into the book [and perhaps even get himself sent off], Lenners decided to come off. His eloquent use of language towards the referee did continue from the sidelines, but it’s much more difficult to get sent off from there – and after all, it wouldn’t be a game of football if Lenners wasn’t shouting through it.
The second half started, and our changes hadn’t settled into the game before we were 1 – 0 down. Something as simple as a ball over the top caught us out, and their striker raced onto it to chip Sam to give them the lead. They played with a renewed confidence after that, and truthfully could have gone 2 up had it not been for the brilliant Sam in goal. With one 1v1 save and a stop from a good shot from outside the box, we seemed to have weathered a bit of a storm and started coming back into the match.
As we were getting back into the game, an injury crisis hit. Delman was the first to go after a fine first half – the theory goes that he and Dwayne were playing kiss chase into the early hours & it had taken its toll. Then went Tiago, who claimed cramp as the reason yet was squealing as if he was the victim of Lenners’ Naked shower time whilst simultaneously being eaten by a dingo. Their replacements, Steve and Pete, took to the game like a duck to water however, and we were soon to draw level.
Pete threatened immediately, with a through ball finding him around 20 yards out. With the keeper off his line, he tried the chip however the ball narrowly sailed over the bar. Not long after, the move was almost identical, however the outcome was different. With the ball bouncing, Pete took it first time to lob the keeper with a fine finish to make it 1-1. Cue an exciting finale.
Towards the end of the game, both teams seem discontent with a point. It was Merton, however, that was evidently tiring and that showed in the last 5 minutes. In a good passage of play by the oppo, coupled with some laboured closing down from a tired Merton, their player found a little bit of space to put the ball into the box. Their striker, about 2 yards offside, was on hand to stick the ball past Sam from around 8 yards to give Kew the points. The striker expectantly looked towards the referee, and our defence seemed miffed, but the whistle did not come and the goal stood. The complaints were not as vigorous as they could have been, owing to the fact that our players were knackered and perhaps not altogether surprised considering the decisions of the ref throughout the game. Lenners could still be heard in the distance making the case in a calm and measured manner as always, but the ref’s mind wasn’t to be changed and the game ended 1-2.
The effort put in was superb from our lot and with some extra fitness that comes with a run of games or with a couple of goals in the first half, we could have won this game. Despite the spell around their first goal, our defence and midfield were very strong, winning 50/50s and managing to play the ball around despite the tricky conditions. Dwayne, Aaron and Gibbo were a constant threat as an attacking trio – the final ball/finish just wasn’t quite there but on another day, they could each have scored. And off the bench Steve slotted very comfortably into an unfamiliar right back position, Darren offered steel in the midfield that Tiago had been adding in the first half and their defence couldn’t deal with Pete’s pace, as his goal suggests.
The drink up that ensued afterwards was good fun, with this reporter’s storytelling getting him into the post-match venue without ID, in a conversation that ended with “duck the pom pom”, or words to that affect [this is a family-friendly report, afterall]. Since the lovely gentleman was letting me in, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I actually think the “pom pom” is doing a great job despite their ever-dwingling resources, so I went along with it.
It was great to see everyone again and I will keep following the 5s on their mighty run up the football league.