Match Report

Merton 7s v Corinthian Casuals Under 21

With four of the Merton teams playing at home, and the epic 5s v 6s encounter taking centre stage, our little gem of a game v CCU21 was going under the radar. Turning up early and taking the brisk walk to the changing rooms, it was noted that the Merton little league teams must have been running some sort of intensive drills outside the club changing rooms, as for the number of cones, poles and balls sprawled around, I pitied those who had to take part… looked ruthless!

Changing room buzzing, as having to share with the 6s made it all the more entertaining, the 7s tally up the latest injury list which see the squad lose Steve Burchell to an attempted SAS assassination which results in a few busted ribs, Luke Pellett and Daban to ankle injuries, Scott with a twisted knee thingy, New lad Chris Dodd  having to pull out on the day and Dan Alley loosing his hair products and having to make a late trips to boots… we do however welcome in on a new long term contract, Ryan Burchell (some say the better looking Burchell) Ram back from his overextended long arse holiday and on short notice Luke Mora dropping down to give us a welcome hand as well as the versatile Steve ‘Essex’ Harvey

Mangers David & Martin get summoned to the ref for the pre-game talk (a first, but gave away how the ref would be policing the game!). So, standing with our opposite numbers, the ref gave us fair warning and ask for any questions… at this point we first found out that the opposition plays in white! Not a problem, a quick rush into the changing room to mug the 6s of the yellow kit, this now makes new history of the first inter-club league or cup game where neither side will be playing in the traditional yellow! The second more concerning point was the CCU21 manager informing us that they will be continuing there warm up outside the changing room in there marked out area…

“Wait? What…. ?? that’s you warming up your team outside?! “

“Yes… Hope you don’t mind….”

“Erm… Nah…. Go ahead”

(Turns to Martin and whispers) ”You f###### kidding me… 2 hour pre-game warm up!)

Finally, out on the pitch and full 30 minutes before the game, with a mild jog across the pitch and back and half-hearted leg shake, we conclude the warm up. All eyes on the opposition as they take up residence on the halfway line. Looking prepared, there manager still going over notes with individual players with a leather-bound folder.. The 7s however are still being reminded by the gaffer they (CCU21s) took last week’s teams for 10 … we agree that no matter what, we not going to be a walk over.

Game starts as predicted, Kieran in goal is called into action straight away, good early handling and quick balls out to set the tone, the back four of Josh, Martin, David and Ram, see a fair bit of the early exchanges, David playing in the unfamiliar slot of centre back is soon on the back foot and in a foot race which the CCU21 strike, who wins at a canter, only for Kieran to be equal to the task.

Playing a compact 4-5-1 the midfield of Denzel on the left, Luke, Ryan on link up duty, tom and Jacob on the right,

With no more than 10 minutes played, and mostly on the back foot, it’s fair to say that the 7s was making a fist of it and still trying to play the ball on the deck, although being closed down at rapid speed, they still manged to counter attack with a few good passing moves.

With Billy up front, you’ve always got a chance, and now with a partner in Ryan to take some of the load off, they begin to split the CCU21s defence with some neat passing and running. A long ball up into the corner see Billy not only kill the pace of the ball in a touch, but with the second, passes the defender and gets a fierce cross in which Ryan almost meets but is beaten to by the defender. CCU21s openly talk that there’s the danger and to close the forward line down. Now with Ryan chasing every loose ball and Billy ghosting in behind, the 7s seem to be having more of the game.

On 30, Billy takes a high ball in his stride, somehow nutmegs the defender with a flick and gets on the end of his own ball, gets the cross over which beats everyone in the box, only for Ryan to pick up the pieces, drops a shoulder goes around the player who can only grab and pull him back by his shirt, clear penalty

Billy, steps up and hits hard and to close to the keeper, which results in a strong glove to push the ball back into the path of Billy who follows up at pace to slam into the roof of the net. 1-0 the 7s!!

With 15 minutes to go, the CCU21s are relentless to get an equaliser before half time, wave after wave of attack the 7s are now playing a 4-6 formation, Billy & Ryan are now in between the midfield and defence, chasing back to help out.

On a rare attack, Ryan wins another free kick, which is cleared by the CCU21s defence, and with Josh, David & Ram marking the opposition forward in the their half, the hopefully clearance sails over their heads and into the 7s half, Kieran decided not to come as the CCU21s forward has left David & Josh for pace and is now bearing down on goal. Ram, instead of heading to the player, goes straight to the goal as cover for Kieran is now made to come out and meet the forward 1v1, this allows enough time for Ram to get to the goal line just in time to meet the shot, however, being wrong footed and out of position, he improvises and manages to back heel the ball off the line and away from danger

However, with 5 minutes to go and from our own throw in, the wall of resistant’s is finally broken. Losing out to a 50/50 tackle, and 3v4, the CCU21s splice the back four apart and leave Kieran exposed for a well taken shot. 1-1 and half time couldn’t come quick enough

Half time talk, more of the same, keep it tight and don’t give up.

Second half starts the same as the first, notably a change of tactics from the opposition which now see them marking tighter up the pitch and closing the 7s down a lot quicker. Not even 10 minutes into the 2nd half sees CCU21s go 2-1 up with some nice one touch passing. You can sense the 7s was there for the taking, but thanking fully for some woeful finishing and their inability just take the shot without trying some trick, always give the 7s the last-ditch chance to get the tackles in.

15 minutes in sees the score go to 3-1, again not much can be done when the oppo get it right, but they did seem to be getting frustrated at not scoring at will. Resulting in the first booking of the game for decent towards the ref

A change has to be made, Ram needing to catch a breather, Andrew steps in a left back, Luke too takes 5, and on comes Steve H,

Now the fitness is telling, Kieran was now the final line of defence. All the good work in the first half was being put to the test. Still, 3-1 was respectable in the scheme of things. David & Martin was taken great pleasure in reminding the opposition they had a combined age of over a hundred!! Still, they had the last laugh, with a break down the left resulting in an unstoppable cross/shot to make it 4-1. With the game petering out, and finally finishing 4-1, it was a moral victory for the 7s, one which can be built on going forward

Now that the SALC is completed, we look forward to the coming season and league fixtures. We welcome back OW8s for the first home game who we defeated 4-0 only 3 weeks ago and fully expect a stronger opposition to be turning up to make amends

MOTM: After missing last week’s game, he makes some sort of amends with today’s performance, although, once again, Josh putting in a sterling effort, Kieran takes the majority vote within the team.

Mention for Ryan, never stopped running and looks to be settling in alongside Billy, who himself done well against a strong defensive side (4 in 3 for the cup!)

DOTD: Anyone who lets in four… sorry Kieran, it’s your job to stop the goals!!

Team: Kieran, Josh, Martin, David ©, Ram, Jacob, Tom, Ryan, Luke, Denzel, Billy

Andrew, Steve H.

Posted in Match Reports 7s