7s vs South Bank Cuaco – 10.12.16
As Christmas draws ever closer the 7s were in the party mood as they lined up against South Bank Cuacos 4s on possibly the smallest 11-a-side pitch ever seen! Again opting for the reliable, robust, 4-4-2 that had bought them 4 points over the last two fixtures, Merton made a great start to the first half, surprisingly as Dan managed to get lost with the kit and turn up with 15 minutes to go, so the 7s got underway with minimal warm up. Only time for one or two pot-shots at an empty goal, contrasted with the usual 10 or 15! The team line-up announced with the 11 players on the pitch ready to start.
This lack of preparation for the game did not sway Merton, gaining an early corner from their first attack. From their first corner of the game an in swinging ball made it through the crowd to Dave, who hammered it into the far corner on the half volley, a lovely finish 1-0 Merton!
Merton were knocking it about nicely, keeping the ball on the floor and playing some lovely football. However, South Bank worked their way back into the game with a succession of long throws, free kicks and corners into the box and the 7s looked shaky trying to deal with these. The pressure paid off with Josh, caught up field with a ball over the top to the left winger who put a cross into the box which Martin failed to deal with leaving the ball at the strikers feet to tap in. 1-1. Martin must have been coaching West Ham’s Darren Randolph this week; the likeliness of the mistakes was uncanny.
Just like Randolph, Martin had soon made up for his error, comfortably dealing with the bombardment the sevens box was facing. The defence had weathered the storm and were soon ahead again down to a brilliant ball from Tom, doing his best Leonardo Bonnuci impression, pinging the ball to Scott who’d made a fine run, he made no mistake and slid it under the keeper. 2-1! The lead was doubled soon after with a repeat move, Tom found Scott, Scott found the net, brilliantly controlling the ball with his side boot before smashing it home. 3-1! The 7s were coasting at half time.
During half-time there was time to see that Merton now had players on the bench with Nathan and Dousch turning up sometime after kick-off. The second half began with Merton again looking to ball the ball on the ground. Merton had developed a canny system with Malcom dropping deep, much like Okazaki, for goalkicks and throw-ins to help quickly win the ball back so Merton could continue to attack. Mertons pressing paid off with Maclom picking up the ball in and around the box before simply slotting home. 4-1!
At this point Merton were cruising, with Dave and Anam giving Merton dominance and control in central midfield. Nathan was switched for Malcom to make a midfield 3 to give Merton even more control. With a delightful through-ball played by Dave for the Bale-like Adam to chase after behind the full-back. He duly picked up the ball in the box, smashing his shot across goal, was it his chance to get a first competitive goal for Merton? No, of course it wasn’t! The keeper managed to get the faintest of touches which allowed it to perfectly fall at the feet of Noor who tapped it in. 5-1 Merton.
At this point South Bank grabbed one back, from a breakaway attack they found themselves with a great opportunity in the box, the goal bound shot ball looped off a combination of Martin and Josh and agonisingly dropped into the net. Merton decided to make another change, Dousch replaced the injured Adam. Merton however barely blinked and just continued to score, with Anam making a run from deep being picked out by a lofted ball by Dave to fire one into the right corner, for a FIFA-like goal. Scott, looking for his third picked the ball up just outside the box, after some lovely work from Dave and smashed the ball into the goal off the bar, giving him a thoroughly deserved hatrick! The final piece of goal action was Josh who again preferring to push up rather than defend, swung a ball into the box which cannoned off the old South Bank centre back into the goal. 8-2 it’s finished to Merton!
First XI: Martin (GK), Josh K-H, Dan, Tom R, Tom , Adam, Anam, Dave (C), Noor, Malcom and Scott.
Bench: Nathan and Dousch
DOTD: Jack Taylor for again not showing up, this time he did tell us it was because he was hungover.
MOM: Tough, but Anam for his constant running and knitting of the midfield nicely.