The Saturday morning was bright and crisp as the Merton contingent made their way across the capital to North West London. Awaiting them was the impressive Hive Sports facilities, usually home to Barnet FC but today it was to host the gladiatorial encounter of Merton FC and NUFC Oilers.
The squad arrived with a bright, New Year optimism despite a mixed run of form. The usual stimulating conversation lit up the changing room; everything from consumer advice on sock purchases to insincere apologies for the toxic stench emanating from cubicle two.
The Merton team lined up in the tried and tested 4-3-3 formation with a balance of pace and strength. The first half was a fairly even encounter with Merton nullifying the creativity of the talented NUFC midfield and the back four standing resolutely to the physical prowess of the NUFC front line. The deadlock was broken through a first half goal from Josh who burst forward from midfield and after some slick link up play with George, slid it past the 6 ft 4 NUFC goalkeeper.
NUFC hit back almost instantly with a 25 yard strike that hit under the side of the bar. The away fans went silent as the ref looked down at his watch… VAR ruled no goal and the game carried on.
After more waves of pressure, NUFC scored an equaliser. Truth be told, I can’t remember an awful lot about the goal but as I recall there was a good save from Sherbs and there player turned home the rebound. This could be completely wrong.
The second half was a far more drab affair with certain members of the team blowing a little harder than normal due to a lavish Christmas break. Despite this, the Merton team defended extremely well across the pitch and special mention goes to man of the match Max who despite setting up their striker in the 85th minute, defended with honour and deserved the title of MoM.
DoD (yours truly) worked so hard during the match he forgot what the score line was and it wasn’t until he tried to push the team into an ‘all out attack’ mentality that Browner reminded him that we were drawing 1-1 and not in fact losing 2-1.
All in all, a very good point earned against a good team a long way from home. Up the Merton.
Sherbs, Max, Browner, Jimbo, Rat, Sam Harvey, Josh FS, Joe Grew, George, Jamie, Ivan subs: Jonny (ht for Van), Clappers (unused)