Merton 4s v IBIS – 10th November 2012
A very disappointing result as our series of draws / dropped points continues. The performance was poor and error-strewn in the first half, improved dramatically after half time but we couldn’t quite grab the 3 points we needed and possibly just about deserved.
We were all over the place from the first kick off. Everyone seemed rushed, and we gave the ball away too easily all against an Ibis side who started brightly and with real purpose. We could have already been 1 goal down by the time we conceded the first goal after 5 minutes. Lax defending from a throw in on the right of our area gave their busy front man time to nip past the stranded last man (me) and finish firmly past Ellis. The defence was all over the place, but the whole team seemed nervous and shell-shocked.
The next 20 minutes wasn’t much better as we struggled to gain shape and understanding. Things improved alot when Essex came off the bench and immediately caused major problems rampaging down the left. One of the first things he did was beat his man for pace and put in a great whipped ball across the 6 yard box, which begged to be finished, but just evaded Denys rushing in.
Suddenly we were more confident and on top, creating stuff in their half and applying good pressure. A stunning 30 yard trademark free kick (past the admittedly smallish keeper) from Thommo levelled the scores after 25 minutes. We were now on top, carving out several corners, but also still looked stretched and out of shape when defending, and paid for that with a breakaway sucker punch on 30 minutes. I won’t put myself through describing it in too much detail, but I did completely miss a bouncing ball I felt I had to go for on half-way when I was last man, and a few seconds later we were 2-1. Arrrgh! F!!
This didn’t help anything or anyone, and we remained disjointed, annoyed and disappointed until the break.
The gaffer made his feelings known at half time and agreed to change the shape from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2, as our our initial shape (both centre backs marking) could not cope with Ibis playing a deeper, floating forward (4-4-1-1). We have agreed to disagree on this and on precisely what was wrong.
Nevertheless, the change of shape worked a treat. Paul didn’t have a save to make during the 2nd half and it was largely one way traffic. We pressed and probed, enjoying long periods of possession in Ibis territory and eventually, deservedly, kicked down the door and equalised on 70 minutes when Jamie Buckley scored with a well struck 25 yard daisy-cutter into the corner of the goal.
Ibis, who were lacking subs, had one player who was carrying an injury and were hanging on and it seemed only one team was going to take the points. Pearcey was thrown up front (Merton DEFCON2) with 15 minutes to go but the change of shape didn’t work in our favour. Ibis, plucky all day, suddenly had a couple of dangerous breaks, including one down our left which resulted in a shot which fizzed past Ellis’s post.
We created enough chances, half chances, and possession in the last third and penalty area to win the game comfortably. Pearcey snatched at a great chance in front if goal when put through and I had a header from a great Thommo corner which was blocked by someone’s knee on the line. Hailstone broke though from the left and shot into the side netting from an angle when a squared ball or shot across the keeper looked set for a goal. After one scramble Pearcey managed to accidentally block one of our own shots on goal. Desperation gradually set in and we had far too many speculative shots from distance, none of which really troubled their keeper.
It finished 2-2 and we were all gutted to say the least. While we are still unbeaten this season we have drawn far too many games in the league that we should have won, while Old Actonians (who we drew with last week – but should’ve beaten) won again on Saturday and are now clear at the top of the league.
We have a cup game in Barnet on Saturday, and a break from league pressures may be a good thing. There’s still a long way to go this season. Heads up.
Report by:Shaun Jones