Category: Match Reports 5s
Merton 4s 2 v 0 Merton 5s (from the 5s perspective)
It is fair to say that this game had been highly anticipated, and the 5s entered it with an air of optimism despite recent performances, with the pressure off being expected to lose as the lower team. In truth, the game was and will be somewhat defined by what came before it but a few points are as follows:
With players turning up late due to severe delays on the trains, we arrived sporadically which affected our focus.
Being asked to donate a player to the 4s was a matter that took a lot of concentration away from our players on that game, and that showed throughout the game.
Despite these 2 factors, the team battled extremely well, and had some real opportunities in stages to score, which could have changed the game.
There were a few minor shouts that went against us including one dubious offside which may have seen Pete run through on goal, and one handball in the box which could have gone either way.
The difference between the teams was that the 4s had more composure in attacking positions and those little strokes of quality in front of goal that we just lacked on the day.
The 5s can be very proud of the performance; it was a close game and the effort was surely there. We have a week off but next game becomes imperative if we are going to demonstrate that we have the ability to play in this league, which I know we do as a team.
Saturday 8th September 2018 KO 14:15
Mighty 5s 2 – 0 West Wickham 6s
By Luke Newman
Dulanie Richards (Assisted by Andrew Stears)
Phil Truman (Assisted by Luke Newman apparently)
This Saturday marked the 5s first game in Division 4 having ran an extraordinary promotion campaign last term that saw us finish 7th but still get promoted; a feat only eclipsed by Poly 8s finishing bottom of the league but still getting promoted 2 years ago. Pre-match preparations were nothing short of shambolic. First, the kit was still at the Kimbers with no one home. Luckily we used the Merton time machine to go back to the 60s [a decade which Steve B remembers well] to find one that sort of resembled our traditional colours, so problem solved. Also the Council with their usual efficiency forgot to put the nets up, meaning that we had to do it ourselves. Seeing our shambles, the opposition matched it by having one player turn up 15 minutes late [which we sportingly delayed the kick off for] and 2 not showing at all, meaning that they were playing with 10 men.
They started with more possession despite being a man down, which was a regular feature throughout the match, however it was mostly across the backline/defensive midfielders and once we pressed, they had to go direct which our defence dealt with easily. We hit them on fast, sharp counters and had some moves of great promise. The first was a great ball through to Dulanjie who was running on to it past a static defence. Arms were raised and the referee blew for a dubious offside – much to our annoyance. They did not heed the warning though and minutes later, the same thing happened again. Andrew ran on to the ball in the centre of the pitch and played a lovely waited through ball to Dulanjie. Consensus seems to suggest that we thought he actually was offside this time, but this time the whistle didn’t go. 1 on 1 with the keeper, D calmly slotted it home to put us 1-0 ahead. The second followed not long after, with D instrumental once again. He unleashed a powerful shot from 20 yards which the keeper did well to parry wide. The ball came back in the box and some good movement from Phil saw him get in front of the keeper and chip the ball over him. With a defender on the line, Phil fired high into the net above the despairing goalkeeper to make it 2-0.
The lead was entirely deserved. Lenners in goal had nothing to do apart from come out and punch the ball away from a couple of corners, doing so in such a way that you can tell it’s not the first time he’s punched something. The only thing that mired the half was a little bit of moaning, epitomised by Tiggy throwing a strange tantrum over Tom wanting to take a throw in. All was, however, forgiven and we knew if we kept it as tight as that in the second half, we would win the game.
They put us under some pressure at the start of the second half, manufacturing a couple of half chances. A good ball from deep caught us out a little, however their player at the back post was stretching and headed wide. They also had their first [and last] shot on target when their midfielder broke lines to run onto a through ball. 1 on 1 from a wide angle, Lenners closed him down well and palmed the ball wide of the post to pull off a very good stop. Other than that, we were comfortable and had some great chances to seal victory. D’s cross went a little wayward, almost catching the goalkeeper out at the near post. A pullback with D and Yaw in the box just lacked a little quality, otherwise they would have had an easy tap in. The highlight though was a mazey run by Tom who picked the ball up from about 40 yards and just ran. He beat 2 or 3 players and the space opened up on the 18-yard box. He dragged just wide, however it was a great individual effort. We lacked a little bit of incision in the final ball with the game stretched, possibly a little more than we would have liked it to be as quite a few players were going forward quicker than they were getting back. All in all, it was a great performance and a fair result to kick off the second chapter of our quest for two promotions in a row.
There were a few contenders for man of the match. Lenners did everything he needed to well, the back four were solid throughout with Tom, Darren, Scott and Lyndon all getting the best of their attacking players. Our midfield dominated and pressed very well with Tiago holding, Andrew getting on the ball well and keeping the team ticking, contributing a very good assist, and Sam’s pace causing a problem for their defence with Steve coming on and adding some much-needed energy in the second half. Phil and Dulanjie were dynamic in attacking positions and caused the opposition all kinds of problems, with both getting vital goals, and Yaw coming on in an attacking role looked a threat. Man of the match was close between Scott and Tom, however Scott edged it in his first competitive game for Merton in what was a fine performance.
MOTD Scott Brown
DOTD Tiago Carvalho
It was a gloomy Saturday afternoon in Catford as the 5s arrived to equally gloomy changing facilities for a chance for the 5s to move further away from the relegation zone at City of London. The players arrived and there was already a major shock on the cards as Aaron Byrne was one of the first players to arrive! (Judging by the shock on Ackers and Chris’s faces this was a rare occurrence!) The rest of the team arrived in dribs and drabs and the atmosphere in the changing room was good, despite the dreary setting we were in leading to the comment “I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a dead body in here”. After settling in the changing room we were approached by the opposition manager who informed us that the game had not been assigned a ref (classic) and somebody from their club would be overseeing the game. This changed nothing for the 5s and the mentality remained that we would go out and get all 3 points. The 5s were out and getting warmed up, but as kick off drew nearer there was still no sign of the home side, until eventually they emerged from the changing rooms.
Warm up complete and Dwayne announced the line-up which was: Kieran in goal, a strong back four which could be described as something of a family affair with Ryan Burchell (Finally making an appearance for the 5s this season) on the right, Steve Burchell and Chris Outred in the centre, with Dan Outred on the left. The midfield was comprised of Endy and Nikko in the centre with Dwayne on the right and Josh on the left, with Dulanie playing just behind Aaron Byrne who was the sole striker. A bench of Ackers, Bitmead and Delman left the 5s with good options off the bench should they need them.
The game eventually kicked off and the 5s were dominating the early stages, Aaron picking the pocket of their defender and only the keeper being quick of his line prevented the 5s from taking an early lead. We kept up the pressure with chances for Endy who waited too long to get his shot off and Dulanie having a venomous shout from 20 yards out whistle past the post. However the 5s couldn’t make this pressure count and City of London started to grow into the game. The defence remained solid with Steve and Chris winning everything in the air and Dan and Ryan sweeping up every threat on the ground. City of London had a chance when a ball was whipped into their bearded winger, but upon realising that he was unable to control the ball threw himself to the ground and released a sound similar to that which emanates from Chris and Ackers work van on those cold winter weekdays. It appeared this particular player had a similar type of relationship to Ackers and Chris only he was infatuated with the ground as he spent as much time on it as he could. We managed to limit the oppo’s chances until Kieran decided he wasn’t having enough fun and decided to try and help City of London out. A free kick from the half way line was whipped into the box and Kieran looked to be in the perfect position to deal with it. However what followed was a cross between a Superman impression and a pisshead attempting to play beach volleyball, which given that Kieran had been to 2 pubs that morning leaned towards the latter. The ball sailed over Kieran but fortunately Ryan, having witnessed similar antics for the 7s this season, anticipated this and was there to spare Kieran’s blushes. There was another scare not long after when a ball was played over the top and a lack of communication lead to Dan two-footing Kieran just outside the box as they both went for the same ball. Their striker managed to get a shot away but Chris sensing the danger was on the line to clear the ball away before play was stopped due to the injury to Kieran. Halftime came and the 5s had largely dominated the first half, with Josh running riot down the left and Endy and Nikko controlling the centre of the park. (When Endy wasn’t doing keppy uppys on the edge of our box!) The team talk was positive with the 5s playing well and the request was simple, more of the same.
The second half began and the 5s were immediately on the front foot, Josh still dominating the left hand side and Dan was backing him up given the option to whip the ball in. The possession was good but the 5s were struggling to create chances and get a much needed goal. With City of London only having the counter the defence stayed in control and there were no real threats, except a couple of speculative long shots. Bitmead came on for Dulanie to try and give us a different outlet in the middle of the park. (Bitmead requested that it be mentioned that the score was 0-0 when he came on like “a knight with a sword, shining armour and a white horse to save the day!”) The 5s were in complete control of the game and the elusive goal finally arrived after a period of constant pressure. Josh again making a run down the left got the ball back to Dan who whipped in an outstanding cross to the back post for Aaron to head the ball across the keeper into the opposite corner. A brilliant and thoroughly deserved goal, which seemed to cause a surge in confidence of the whole team. A second shortly followed with Bitmead picking the ball up in the centre and playing through Josh who again beat his man and put the ball on a plate for Aaron to beat the keeper and pick up his second of the game. The 2 goal cushion was just what was needed and the 5s began to feel the game was secure. The defence remained strong with strong but fair tackles going in from Ryan and Dan, and the confidence was clear to see when arguably the moment of the game happened. With the ball rolling back to Ryan on the halfway line and one of their players chasing it down, Ryan delicately chipped the ball over the players head and collected it the other side as the player carried on running, presumably to go and get a hot dog. Unfortunately Ryan got carried away with this and his speculative volley didn’t have enough power to trouble the keeper. The nail in the coffin came right at the end of the game when Josh picked up the ball on the left and whipped it in to the head of Dulanie who nodded it past the keeper and the defender on the line to make it 3-0 and seal the three points for the 5s!
The MOTM and DOTD voting in the bar was a close and controversial affair. With Josh and Dwayne having a strong debate as to why the other one deserved to be DOTD, the votes were in and Kieran just stole DOTD for his Superman attempt and being late due to missing his train as he was in the pub! Ryan was voted MOTM just edging it ahead of Nikko who also had a fantastic game running the middle of the park.
A strong performance and a well deserved victory in a game that the 5s dominated from start to finish earning a valuable 3 points that should see relegation be avoided!
5s 2-1 HSBC
Following some poor results of late we started this game in the bottom 2. Hsbc were third in the league, so we faced a tough game to try and pull out of trouble. And the pitch signified the way our season had been going really – damp, bumpy and with poo on it (immunity from dick of the day goes to Josh for removing it). At least it wasn’t raining this time.
We tactically sent the oppo to the wrong pitches so we would have more time to warm up – we don’t seem to have long enough before a game as it stands! Unfortunately we forgot about the warm up part, however we started uncharacteristically well. We were stringing quite a few passes together despite the conditions and looking much more solid than recent weeks. They had the first chance against the run of play with speculative a looping header that was cleared off the line. It spurred them on to their next, with their player breaking through 1v1 against Kieran. His well struck shot was kept out by Kieran’s legs using his eagle-eyed concentration from the prematch beer. They were starting to get some rhythm which was worrying, however itdidnt last long.
Typically we were playing some good stuff in the middle of the park but failed to find the final ball. Some good play gave Nikko the space to finally pick the lock and play a killer through ball to Aaron b. In his current form he doesn’t need a second invitation. His first shot was saved but he reacted quickly to follow it into an empty net from just a yard out to make it 1-0.
The goal effectively killed the half and really, we should have created more after getting in some promising positions. We sensed at half time that this game was there for the taking, but it would be one hell of a battle.
Through necessity, they really came at us in search of an equaliser. We battled harder than we have for a while, putting in challenges at every opportunity, getting in their face and doing those cute tactical fouls that we hardly ever do. Despite our efforts to keep them at bay, we gifted them a way back into the game. Their striker latched onto a through ball and chipped the ball towards the goal. Chris did superbly to get back onto the line, however he did not quite so much with the clearance. It appeared something between a punch and a bitchslap – either way, a clear handball. The pen was a good one, and they drew level at 1-1.
Cue an onslaught. They threw everything they had at us, however we held out rather well. They managed only shots from distance and one clear cut opportunity where a blatant foul wasn’t given, their player ran through 1 on 1 with Kieran and shot low and hard. Kieran stuck put that trusty right boot yet again and kept us in with a good chance of winning the game.
A fundamental shift occurred when their player lost his head at the challenges we were putting in, with Josh’s the final straw. There may have been a little provocation centred around his cute little ponytails to throw into the mix, but nothing beyond the ordinary on a football pitch. His reaction resulted in some hardcore pushing with intent, and their team focused on calming him down and stop him trying to get to Josh – presumably with a kiss on the cheek. Whatever it was, it was clear that they were a little embarrassed by it. The call from their captain was for the team not to lose their heads, and very soon after they went 2-1 down. Funny how things work.
They had easy possession in their own half with Aaron B the only man high enough to press, however it was enough to force an error. A casual pass across the back line was well read and intercepted by Aaron, and he raced through to a 1 on 1 situation with the keeper. He kept his nerve (yet again) to slot under the keeper to put us ahead.
We had a great chance to extend the lead, with Aaron b played through yet again. He rounded the last defender however before he got to take the shot, Mike took over. His shot sailed over and I think it’s fair to say that Aaron B wasn’t too happy at the time, however secretly we are all sure that it was deliberate to avoid buying (or owing) the team yet another jug. And he did confess to this match reporter before the game that he thought he was only going to score a brace… all evidence points to a conspiracy.
In games gone by we have chucked leads away at will, and we gave this one a good go too. An overload on the right saw their winger break into the box. Running at pace and at Dan, he just about managed to get his toe to the ball to get it away from Dan and went over his legs to get the pen. It wasn’t as if the leg was outstretched so can be deemed to be a bit harsh, but it was given. Their new taker stepped up,, however Kieran read it perfectly. At full stretch, he caressed the ball to safety (out for a corner so not necessarily for us) and we held on to the lead from there. Terrific stop and a suitably dramatic way to end the game, however next time if we could be less mindful of Kieran’s golden glove points and more mindful on winning the game, that would be appreciated.
The team performed outstandingly as a collective, so picking a man of the match wasn’t the easiest this week. Darren and Dan at the back get a mention for being remarkably solid at the back, despite Dans insistence that he is a striker. They put several strong, at times last ditch challenges resulting in a welcome move away from our habit of conceding 3+ goals. Nikko was every bit as persuasive as the last game when he won MoM, complimented very well by Tiggsy who kept their dangerman quiet all game. Aaron B got a couple of votes for another couple of goals up top, and joshs and Dwaynes work in pressing and moving the ball through midfield shouldn’t be understated. The award, however, went to Kieran who had another superb game capped by an excellent penalty save.
Dick of the day was less contentious. Trials for the GB beach volleyball team for the 2020 olympics start soon, and Chris put himself firmly in the loop for a place. The only way it could have been more obvious would be if he picked it up and ran with it!
Well done lads, and if we can play consistently like this for the rest of our games then we will have a chance of finishing in a respectable position.
Mighty 5s 2-2 poly 7s(2-4 aet)
In truth, the cup was the only major thing w had to play for, so this game was incredibly important to us. The lady behind the bar might not have quite grasped that when our keeper asked if the bar was open so he could get his pre-match pint, but au contrere – it’s all for the greater good. We even warmed up and everything – although the team hasn’t quite grasped the concept of running in a line yet.
And our work showed in the first few minutes. We have started games slowly recently, so we were glad to cancel them out for a large period of the first half. They almost took the lead in what only would have been described as just our luck, as a mishit cross curled towards the near corner. Kieran adjusted very quickly and got a fingertip to it to divert it away for a corner. Great save. They did, however, take the lead in rather fortuitous circumstances deep into the first half. A first shot from distance was blocked and went straight to their striker. He snatched at a shot and it was heading harmlessly to the warm embrace of Kieran. Suddenly, from nowhere, delman the ballerina danced his way in front of the ball. Trying to get out the way, he just about clipped the ball with his back leg and sent it in the other direction. It slowly and painfully trickled into the bottom corner to put us 1-0 down and add another own goal to our extensive tally for this season.
Going down kicked us off as an attacking force, and we started to create opportunities. We managed to get Aaron Byrne through on goal twice – once flagged offside but was very marginal and once where he was going away from goal, managed to chip the keeper but it went narrowly wide. Shortly after, a well-taken set piece was well met at the back post by an unmarked Aaron Byrne. Unfortunately it was just a bit too high for him and he didn’t quite manage to get over it to divert it on target. Only one in it at the break, and we knew we could get back in this tie.
Conditions worsened through the first half, cutting up the pitch and making it ever the more harder to play our Barcelona-esque tiki taka like football in the second half. We started in the ascendency however, playing the better football and probing without firing too many shots at goal. It took us a while, but we finally made the breakthrough. One of the rare crosses put into the box caused havoc within their defence. The ball broke wide to Aaron, whose turn and shot rifled in towards the top corner. A level of clinical ness in the finish that comes with a striker on form. 1-1 – game on!
It didn’t take long though for our second act of self-harm that would cost us dear. A good interception saw Phil emerge with the ball and stride into midfield. Seeing the opportunity, he saw tiggsy free behind him and attempted the back-heel. Dingo didn’t pounce and their midfielder read it and got his foot to the ball. A favourable rebound saw him running into the space vacated by Phil the backheeler and slotted in past Kieran to make it 2-1.
We had to chase the game and it left holes at the back. There were a couple of sublime saves from Kieran that kept us in it. First, a decently struck free kick seemed destined to nestle into the corner of the net until Kieran flew from out of nowhere to get a good glove on it. Then there was a shot from just inside the post that flew towards the near corner that Kieran was equal to. Such was his Dutch courage that he even came out and dusted a couple of corners away – something that isn’t usually part of his game. Just as Popeye has his spinach, and Lenners has his coke, Kieran has his prematch beer; it keeps him alert and he was really on form today.
They put us under heavy pressure but we kept going and hit back with a really good goal. Skill from the newly introduced Endy saw him wiggle into the box. His shot hit the post and agonisingly rolled across the line. Fortunately, Aaron B was there to tap it home to draw us level and head for extra time.
Extra time was a disappointment. Whether it was the constant changes we had to make due to injury, them just being fitter than us, bad luck for their 3rd goal or a combination of the 3, I don’t know.
They scored quite quickly in the first half of extra time. A drifted effort hit Kieran’s far post and came straight back out to their onrushing midfielder who had an easy job of tucking it away. Any lower and Kieran would have saved it, any higher and it would have sailed over. In the second half of extra time, we probed and showed great strength and willpower to get ourselves back in the game, however dissent from Josh saw him sin binned, effectively killing off our opposition. They scored a fourth and if it hadn’t have been for some amazing saves from Kieran, it would have been more.
There were some very amusing scenes at the end of the game, with a melee over who should get dick of the day. It both as heated and ridiculous as a “my brother slept with my sister who is also my girlfriend” kind of bust-up on Jeremy Kyle. There were plenty of options. It came down to a straight fight between Delman the ballerina, Phil the backheeler or Josh the dissenter. The winner was very narrowly Josh, who took it graciously and humbly in his stride…ish. We hope to see him again soon.
Man of the match was a clear winner, with Kieran hoovering the vote like he did the pre and post match fosters. Everyone did well however; we showed battling spirit throughout the team and although we didn’t play as well as we did in the first round, we always kept ourselves in with a chance in this cup tie.
Merton 5s 3 – 2 South Bank 5th
A group of discombobulated, confused, lost men in a field. No, this was not the result of a 5s night out – it was in fact us at the very start of the game. A double booking on the pitch we thought we had booked left us aghast, in the middle of Wimbledon Common Extensions, not knowing where to turn. Thank the lord for Darren using his initiative; otherwise we may still be there right now.
And we started the game as we prepared for it. They were on the front foot and causing us all sorts of problems in the first 15 – 20 minutes. They created some decent chances forcing us into some last ditch tackles and blocks. A looping, well-placed header seemed destined to find the far corner, however Chris on the line anticipated it and backed up to nod the ball off the line. Kieran made a smart save from a 1 – on – 1, and shortly after was forced to dive from behind their striker, over his knee, to claw the ball away to prevent a certain goal. They did eventually make the breakthrough, however the goal came in unfortunate circumstances for us. With Phil clear favourite to win the ball, their centre forward ploughed through the back of him for what was a certain foul. Despite most players on the pitch [including theirs] stopping, their striker played on and slotted the ball in the near corner. The whistle was not forthcoming and they took the lead.
As the half progressed, we worked our way into it and it is fair to say that we dominated possession, playing good football in our approach play and stringing some passes together. Like Theo Walcott in his 12 years in Arsenal though, we promised a lot but just did not quite break through.
The second half started a bit more open than the first. We maintained the intensity of our passing and were starting to find some spaces in behind. We managed to force a corner and Aaron Byrne met it well, diverting his header narrowly wide having beaten the keeper. At the other end, Kieran saved another attempted chip with their player 1 on 1. In a moment of quality, they played an inch perfect ball through to their striker who rounded Kieran. With the goal gaping, Darren flew out from nowhere to block the shot and save a certain goal. However, the second goal did eventually come. It was from a corner, and the ball seemed to stick to their player at the front post. He managed to get a touch in a crowded area and poked the ball past Kieran to make it 2-0.
In times gone by, we would have got on each other’s backs and collapsed in that situation, however we were dominating possession and all had the belief that we could come back into this game. It got to around the 80th minute when we struck. It was a lovely, crisp, passing move which resulted in a good shot by Aaron being well saved. Fortunately, Gibbo was on hand at the back post to nod into the empty net, and the comeback was on.
A few minutes later, we drew level. A bit of a pinball in the middle led to the ball getting played out to Neeko at the edge of the box. He took a touch inside and, from what looked like quite an acute angle, curled the ball into the far corner giving their keeper no chance. 2-2.
In the ascendency, we felt we could get a winner in what little remained of the game and complete what would have been a fantastic turnaround. Lo and behold, from what seemed a fairly harmless position, Dwayne picked the ball up on the left and sent a searching ball in. Good movement saw Aaron Byrne at the far post completely unmarked, and he tapped in to complete the fine comeback to snatch the game and win it 3-2.
This performance was not vintage 5s by any stretch. In terms of chances over the course of the game, it could very easily have gone the other way. It is also true that the oppo had some decent players, especially at the back. But where we won it went further than just the possession we maintained for most of the game [barring the first 70 minutes], it was that we played better as a team, did not get frustrated that things were not going our way and maintained our belief that we could get back in the game. This was particularly spiriting to see and although we will need to play better in our quarter final next week, we certainly showed the togetherness that we will also need to pull of what would be an upset.
We didn’t get our strike force of Gibbo and Aaron involved in the game quite as much as we should have, but their movement was good throughout and they got two very important goals for us again today. The midfield of Ackers, Neeko, Dwayne and Josh dominated the midfield and our defence held strong with good saves from Kieran and goalline clearances from Chris, Phil and Darren. It’s a good win and we can take some confidence out of the game into the next one. Man of the match was shared by 4 people – Kieran, aaron, Dwayne and josh – and many more could have been added to that list.
Merton 5’s may have been a little late to the race to the top of the league, but they have took to the SAL Intermediate Novets Cup like a duck to… well you know the rest. After a confident and capable display against Norseman 6’s and a hearty 4-1 win (thanks to Darren for preventing the clean-sheet…again), we were to give this game a similar gritty approach. Up against Old Parkonians 7’s, we trained like only the maestro’s do, passing the ball around in a circle and demanding a first free pass.
It’s important to add that due to a few of the missing regulars, we opened the Merton 5’s doors to three Merton regulars, Denys z, Iain E, Neal D and Akram C. Starting with Neal and Iain in the centre midfield, they demanded focus and showed a true collaborative Merton spirit.
The game started with a fighting spirit from both teams, pushing to dominate control of the midfield. Opportunities were had at both ends, with defensive forces managing the attackers cleanly. The occasional break was had for the Old Parkonian’s, but credit goes to Lee for his capable catches of the ball. At the other end, Aaron had many a good opportunity, running onto the long ball, however, the referee gave offside. We still aren’t sure whether this is correct or Aaron is a devil to the defences (probs the latter). Furthermore, Phil (CB) had a good opportunity from a long cross from Darren, missing the goal by a margin – the keeper instead decided to sweep him out of the game, but alas, no penalty was given. The first half had all the ingredients of a draw for both teams, but credit goes to the keeper and the midfield for their dominant displays and confident handling of the ball.
The second half erupted with greater passion, both teams eager to score the first goal. The Parkonians edged closer, having some effective breaks through the middle, swamped by the central defenders to be put out for the throw-in. An effective through ball from their central midfield saw their striker collect their ball in the box, only for Lee (GK) to meet this with his own determined run, striding out confidently to block and defend the goal. A similar occasion occurred shortly after, with a powerful kick aimed at the target goal. If it wasn’t for the spines of Darren, Chris and Phil, who managed to deflect a string of shots aimed at the goal. As they say, fortune’s favours the brave, and today, Merton 5’s were brave for a favour. After a mature and well delivered cross, Aaron was on-hand to receive the cross at the back post. With a horde of defenders charging towards him, his composure was impressive. With all expecting an across the box finish, it was even more impressive to see him drill the ball low and left, with the keeper managing a weak save before the ball entered softly into the goal.
Merton had deserved this lead. They had worked consistently, as a team, and fought tooth and nail for this lead. Off went Aaron and his chase for the golden boot and on came Denys. With 15 minutes to go, the game could have gone either way. A low-drilled cross from the opposition had those on the front post unaware and the ball dribbled into the goal. Fortunately, the referee had already blown for it to be re-taken. Again, fortunes favours the brave! On the break and with minutes to play for, Merton 5’s countered down the right flank. With a well-positioned cross meeting the left foot of Denys, he calmy slotted the ball into the left-hand side of the net to make it 2-0. A note must go to Dwayne, Josh and Akram for their composure throughout both half’s, dictating the pace and dominating the game with precision passing, crosses and shots (well done to Dwayne for an excellent top-left bin shot – it should have gone in).
Merton 5’s were victorious, 2-0 against Parkonians 7’s and moved through into the third stage. A credit goes to the whole team and whilst MOM ended close with Neil (5 votes) and Lee (4 votes), many others names featured (Chris 3 votes). Good luck to Merton 5’s in their coming league and cup matches.
Actonians Association 8’s vs Merton FC 5’s
Saturday 9th December 2017 14:00
It was a cold Saturday morning and having seen all home games being called off early we thought there may be a danger of our game being called off as well. The sun obviously shines a bit more in west London as the pitch had thawed out, game on.
Once changed, we were treated to an additional warm-up. The 5 minute walk to the pitch. Not that this seemed to have warmed our players up as half of them went to the café for a hot chocolate and brownie. Not the sort of warm up Dwayne was hoping for the team. Josh needing an extra bit of warmth played the first 20 minutes with his hoodie under his shirt. Aaron Byrne tried to get an extra pair of socks on but his hands were too cold to pull them up. Even the boy from the Valleys, Richard Gibbs was wearing gloves.
After everyone was unsuitably dressed with more layers than the Michelin-Man and the ref finally arriving at 14:05, obviously not realising that we wouldn’t be on the main pitches, we kick off.
Actonians started confidently, which we thought they would do seeing as they are near the top of the table, we manage to contain them by winning the first ball, but we were failing to pick up the second ball. We weathered the storm well with Lee commanding the area to collect anything that came through.
About halfway through the first half we start to create a few more chances and we earn a corner. Josh took the corner from our right hand side swinging it in to the near post. Darren making a good run from the back stick arrives unmarked for a free header to go over narrowly the bar. Opportunity missed.
Not much later Actonians attack down our left hand side and put in a great cross to the back stick, Stormzy wasn’t close enough to the winger who heads the ball into the net.
We do a time check as Lee mentions he needs a bathroom break, there’s still 10 minutes to half time. Then about 3 minutes later the whistle goes, halt time. We can then hear cries from the opposition, shouting that this half was only 38 minutes long.
Halftime team talk went as well as can be expected. Lee dashed off to the toilet, and we knew what we were doing wrong. This game is not over. Two changes made with Jamie Clark coming on for Aaron Ackerman and Ricardo Iglesias replacing Stormzy at right back.
We started reasonably well but didn’t manage to create anything concrete in the final third and the long ball was being goggled up by the Actonians defence. We concede a corner which was well defended and Dwayne was in possession at our left hand post, trying to get it on his stronger foot to clear, his clearance went across the box and landed to an Actonians player on the edge of the box, he had time to bring it down and loft it into the goal for 2-0.
We still had plenty of time, assuming the second half is longer than the first half. Actonians keep up the pressure and attack well forcing Lee out to make a great save, the ball breaks to another Actonians player on the edge of the box, just like 5 minutes ago, but fortunately Chris clears this off the line.
We get control of the ball in the middle of the park and it is slipped through to goal machine Aaron Byrne who drives into the box and is taken down, penalty. Aaron steps up and puts it past the keeper, 2-1, game on with 20 minutes to go.
We finally manage to get the ball down and play our kind of passing football creating a great chance where Jamie Clark hits a powerful long range shot from distance, but it hits Aaron Byrne, who was offside. Not much time left and again the second half was cut short at this time about 40 minutes.
Not the best day out for Merton 5’s, however it could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for a great performance from Lee in goal
MOTM: Lee Lenihan – Was outstanding in goal, no fear and channelled the inner-spirit of the Monk.
DOTD: Dwayne Bedford – Dodgy clearance leading to Actonians’ second goal.
Mighty 5s 2 – 2 Old Sedcopians [3 – 3 AET, 2 – 4 Pens]
This game was, unusually, a game of four halves, each extremely different to the last. With the expectation being that we will only have 8 more must-win league games to salvage our season, a good cup run would be important to help us build some momentum. It would be fair to say that we were very motivated going into the game.
This week we had to shift a couple of players outside of their natural positions, with Dulanjie as a right winger [and making a bold statement that he scores every time from the wing] and Stormzy at right back, who started off trying to join the centre mids but very quickly found his feet and kept their pacey winger quiet. We started the game on the front foot, camping in their half and limiting them to very speculative efforts in the first half. We took the lead fairly quickly, capitalising on a mistake by their keeper. A long range shot was easily saved by the keeper; however he must have been distracted by Dulanjie closing in as he fumbled the effort. Dulanjie pounced and despite the keeper getting a hand to it, the ball tricked over the line for a deserved 1 – 0 lead. That bold statement from earlier seemed just a statement of fact now!
We did manufacture a few more half chances and probably should have extended our lead before we eventually broke through. Dwayne picked up the ball on the half way line and looked up to see the run of Aaron in behind. A perfect through ball released Aaron who latched onto it and placed the ball calmly around the keeper and in for 2-0. It was a goal of real quality and showed just how easily we could get through them.
We were defensively solid throughout the half despite the forced changes at the back due to injury. Darren had to go off briefly for a head injury, but back on again when Stormzy on our right injured his hamstring with this match reporter playing 3 positions in the first 30 minutes to cover! The second half, however, would be very different.
We started the half as if we had already won the game, with everyone from all positions trying to get up to help the attack despite our 2 goal advantage. They would make us pay for this on the break, with a long ball over the top exposing a gap in our defence. Their striker latched onto it and Keiran, constrained by the end of the 18 yard line, made a good effort to get a hand on it however the ball fortuitously went between his hand and his leg to bobble into the net for 2-1.
We aimed to be a little more disciplined, keeping our defence and defensive midfields in shape, however this didn’t last long. Their central midfielder picked the ball up around 25 yards and had years of space – he literally could have lit a cigarette, made a phone call and gone to the clubhouse for a quick beer by the time anyone got near him – and picked out the run of their winger. He headed it inside to their unmarked striker who placed it into the net for 2-2. Keiran again got close to it and was unfortunate not to get a hand to it, however it would have been quite a remarkable save.
There were a couple more warning shots, with the most noticeable being a good chance from 15 yards shot wide after this match reporter failed to get out due to an injury, however the score remained at 2-2 and we were heading for extra time. I think our shape wasn’t helped by the constant changes due to injury, with myself being the biggest culprit of that, but we still should have defended better and seen out this game in the first 90 minutes.
The next 10 [as the ref reduced the halves due to it getting dark] was played out much like the first 45. We reassumed dominance and it paid off with another goal for Dulanjie. Aaron was released following a great run down the right, and Dulanjie came in the centre to take up the space Aaron’s run had vacated. A terrific ball across the box was easily slotted home from 4 yards by Dulanjie, whose energetic performance deserved the 2 goals. We should have killed it off with a fourth, most notably from a free kick that was met at the back post by Ackers. His header went narrowly wide, just put off by the jump of the defender in front of him, and the whistle went for 3-2.
The second half of extra time was akin to the second half of normal time, however we were sitting in and holding on well. This was until the last minute, when their striker, going away from goal, went down in the box. I didn’t see it properly [starting to sound a bit like Arsene Wenger here] but the penalty was given. They hit it down the middle to equalise in the last minute of extra time and take it to penalties.
We don’t need to go into the penalty shootout – anything can happen and it was a lottery that we unfortunately lost on this occasion.
Aaron Byrne, for a terrific goal and 1 [maybe 2] assists was man of the match for an excellent performance – he really is showing himself to be a top striker for the 5s. Worthy of a mention is Dwayne’s creativity and Dulanjie’s 2 goals – he’s not going to like it but he did a really good job on the wing and might find himself there again in the season! Our front 3 did a really good job and could have scored more, however we cannot need to score 4 goals to win a game. We need to see it out better, and hopefully this will be a lesson for the games to come, in particular our crucial league games where we must win 8 games out of 8 to give us a glimmer of a hope at promotion
Mighty 5s 4 – 1 Old Norsemen 6s
It is fair to say that this season hasn’t quite gone to plan so far. At this point last season we were winning games, not conceding many and top of the league. We have been quite far off the standards we set ourselves the first half of last year and therefore it was important to put in a performance and get back to winning ways in this cup game – and boy did we.
This Norseman team had won 7 out of 7 games this season so we knew it would be a tough game. We started on the front foot and looked the more likely. For the first 20 minutes or so we were not very incisive in the final third; however we took the first real chance we created. The ball was played to Josh on the left who powered past the opposition right back to get to the by-line. He looked up and picked out Aaron who had made a good run towards the front post. The cross was firm and all Aaron had to do was direct the ball into the far corner to take a deserved lead. They then came at us a bit, and Sam was forced into a decent stop from their striker at the near post from a tight angle. A long ball into our box evaded Sam; however Darren was there on the line to clear away. Their good spell lasted about 10 minutes, however the defence then reasserted its dominance in order to see us through to half time 1 – 0 up.
In a desperate attempt to find some constructive criticism, Darren asked Lenners for his input, to which the response was “I have no complaints”. We were all stunned – and we remain stunned to this day.
We knew that one goal might not be enough as they had some tricky players going forward, so we would need another one. We started the second half strongly and kept them largely at bay. We manufactured a couple of half chances; however our second goal was a little fortuitous. Delman picked the ball up from 20 yards out and hit a powerful cross-shot [I believe that’s what they call it when you don’t have a clue which it was meant to be]. It went quite central, however the goalkeeper somehow managed to push it down, under his legs and bounce up into the roof of the net for a 2 goal cushion. Delman looked as surprised as anyone but it all counts – and congrats on Del for his first goal for Merton!
The opposition then reintroduced themselves to the game as they had been quiet since the second half began. They manufactured a couple of half-chances, especially from distance, however Sam would have covered them with relative ease. They were playing it out wide and getting crosses in early, and one of these did actually pay off. A cross from deep came into the box at foot height, but Darren had already committed to the header. As he swooped down his arm came out, and you can guess the rest. Although not in an unnatural position, he certainly had enough time to see it so it was probably a fair call. There was plenty of power in the penalty which left Sam rooted to the spot, making it 2-1 and now a very interesting game.
It did not take the 5s long after that blow to reassert dominance on the game. Visibly frustrated, their midfielder would not stop protesting at a decision and annoyed the referee enough to “sin-bin” him. At first glance it looked like it was a bit harsh, but in retrospect it is up to the referee’s discretion and perhaps a sign that refs will not be taking any abuse this season. The 10 mins elapsed with the mighty 5s having a lot of the ball, but not quite getting the final ball right in search of the third killer goal. Again visibly frustrated with the referee, another player got himself sin-binned for protesting a decision and this time we made them pay.
Chris on the left spotted Aaron B in the centre and played it to his feet. He turned, burst away from the defender and shot. He scuffed it which took the power out of the shot, however the accuracy was superb and the ball nestled in the far corner to put the mighty 5s 3-1 ahead.
This deflated them and from the kick off we won the ball back almost immediately. We broke with real pace and Dwayne, in an unfamiliar central role, slotted the ball through to Aaron B who had made a good run. Aaron’s touch took him away from the defenders and one on one with the keeper. He cooly slotted it past the despairing leg of the keeper to make it 4-1 and cap a fine performance up front with a hat trick.
We managed to see the game out for what was a terrific victory. The performance was really good; I’d suggest our best yet this season, but doing it against good opposition felt very rewarding. You can tell they were used to winning their games down to their frustration as we successfully stifled them. It was a cup game but if we can replicate this performance in our league, we will certainly start picking up a lot more points.
Despite a moment where he got confused in the box and thought he was playing volleyball, Darren had a good game and he and Phil kept their striker at bay throughout the game. Chris got a good assist and Delman’s started his journey on becoming a goal machine. Me and Tigsy held the space well providing the balance to our midfield which saw Josh, Dwayne and Ackers cause their defense havoc, with Dwayne and Josh both showing class in the final third to get good assists. Endy offered something different when he came on and held the ball extremely well on the right, giving us a respite when they were trying to get back into the game. MOM goes to Aaron Byrne; he keeps telling us he can play up top and given his chance, he certainly took it with three very well taken goals taking his tally up to a very respectable 6. Good performance all round and this is the level we need to perform at for the rest of the season.