7s vs Old Blues – 26-11-16
Merton 2-2 Old Blues
After getting their first win of the season, the still adjusting 7s welcomed Old Blues at home. Playing on a more familiar pitch, Merton lined up in the classic 4-4-2 whereas Old Blues went for the newly fashionable 3-5-2. They had obviously watched some MNF and fancied themselves as tactical geniuses.
A bright start from Merton bought an early corner from which Adam B nodded just over, and the Old Blues seeing they would be exploited out wide, switched to the 4-4-2 to match up to Merton. This paid immediate dividends, the Blues picked up the ball between Noor and Dobson and with the Merton back 4 out of shape drove through and slotted it past stand in keeper Martin and the Old Blues had an early 1-0 lead.
For the next half-hour the 7s were under the cosh, the blues dominated possession of the ball and managed to force a few decent chances. Around the 20 minute mark, the away sides big man up top found himself one on one with Martin who made a brilliant one handed save, down low to his left to deny the Blues from extending their lead. Threatening further from a series of corners and free kicks whipped into the box, Merton managed to gain some control towards the end of the half.
Steve and Adam B started to impose themselves on the whiny number 8 of Old Blues and the 7s managed to create a few chances for themselves. After some pinball in the box the ball dropped to Noor, presenting him with the chance to put Merton back on level terms but he skewed his shot just wide. Soon the pressure became too much, with a through ball from Steve to Adam E who burst down the right flank and instead of shooting, opted to dink a ball across the 6-yard area. The keeper palmed it into the sky, with the ball dropping inches away from the goal line, Noor confidently chested it in to make up for his earlier miss. 1-1.
A crunching tackle by Tom R on the whiny number 8 of Old Blues was a particular highlight of the half and with Malcolm dropping back to add numbers to the midfield, Merton ended the half well with a bit more control.
Nathan entered the fray for the second half, tasked with keeping the number 8 quiet, he did a great job and this set Merton up well to be more competitive in the second half. There were few chances for either side in the second half with Martin dominating the box at corners and free kicks (a true jack of all trades!) and Merton doing well down the wings with the full backs pushing forward where possible.
Unfortunately the Blues regained the lead midway through the second half, the right winger played a lovely deep cross into the box which Josh managed to get a head on with the blues captain waiting to pounce behind. But the header diverted the ball back into the mixer, which Martin didn’t manage to claim and after a small scramble the ball was at the feet of their captain who couldn’t miss from 2 yards. 2-1 to the Old Blues.
Merton didn’t let their heads drop and thought they were going to draw level when Josh intercepted a pass out from the back, and with the opposition back 4 out of position, played a lovely though ball to Scott which left him one on one with the keeper, unfortunately Scott’s shot was saved (apparently, the ref gave a goal kick…) and it was still 2-1 to the blues.
The 7s were getting closer and finally managed to get make a chance count when Adam E found some space on the right after some good work and picked a lovely pass to find the other Adam in the box, he smashed home and it was 2-2 with 10 minutes left! The Blues hit the post with a lovely effort from outside the box but really there seemed like there would only be one winner with most of the chances falling to Merton at the end of the game. However they couldn’t find the goal they needed and 2 all seemed like a fair result after a good game all round, onwards and upwards for the 7s. Starting XI: Martin (GK), Josh K-H, Dan A (C), Tom R, Dobson, Adam E, Steve, Adam B, Noor, Malcom and Scott
Bench: Jon and Nathan
Man of the Match: A close call but, Josh K-H for his marauding runs from full-back as well as tenacious defending. England’s answer to Dani Alves?
Dick of the Day: Again hard to call anyone out but Jack Taylor for not showing up and (as far as these reporters know) not telling us why, we miss his big beard