Merton 4s v Winchmore Hill – 26th November 2011
The 4s faced a daunting trip to North London to face the Champions of the Minor Division 1 last season (only the 4 leagues above us) in the AFA Minor Cup. Our prospects were not helped with the suspension of key player so far this seasdon, Dean Wilkinson and by Front Man Dean Porter climbing out of his sick bed.
That said it was clear that everyone was up for the challenge and we made it clear that we would not travel all that way to get rolled over, and at a minimum we’d let Winchmore Hill know they were in a game. Occasionally this boiled over, but it was a fantastic contest from minute one.
Winchmore settled into their game quicker than Merton, our new formation with new personnel wasn’t helping. They had the wind to their advantage and it was clear they had a favoured ‘out ball’ with their left winger being used as the young whippet chasing the hare. Tommy Savile had his hands full and the defence was being sorely tested. They soon scored after a couple of clearances were well charged down by the Winch attack and the bounce favoured their striker who finished well.
Then a flash point which helped define the game. The Whippet went in late on Richard Prosper, Richard stood his ground only for the whippet to grab him by the neck. Richard thankfully was pulled away before any retaliation but amazingly the Referee took no action. Soon afterwards there was salt rubbed into our wound when the Whippet was put through and round Lee to score and make it 2-0.
Amazingly, despite everything, Merton never lost belief and knew that the game would change in the 2nd half when we’d have the wind and their ‘out ball’ would be easier to defend and harder to use. We finished the half well, Seyang testing out their full back on a number of occasions and it was clear we had a real chance to turn this round. With the idea that ‘the next goal could win it’ ringing in our ears we started the 2nd half having given Tommy a rest and made a tactical change bringing on Jamie.
Chances came and went and it was getting tougher and tougher to believe we could turn it around. We started taking the odd chance going forward, but with Dutch Mo as our security playing brilliantly we continued to believe. Then with 10 minutes to go and Dean contemplating 3 up top, Thomas Taylor won the ball off their keeper and crossed for Charlie Radford to score the weakest header you’d ever see (I bet their defender is still having nightmares)… GAME ON.
Within minutes we were level, good work around the box and a finish from Glen Porter… But we didn’t want extra time, we wanted the win. Sure enough with time running out Thomas Taylor stepped up and finished an amazing 10 minutes of football to take the win. Amazingly we got a huge slice of luck to end the game. Winchmore piled forward and scored what looked like a perfectly fair goal, but the ref disallowed it for off-side and the game was over. He did look tired… perhaps he didn’t want extra time either :).
Special mention should go to Lee Wilkinson who made a number of decent saves, and man of match Moise Djunter. The team spirit of this team was put to the test this week and we’ve shown that together we are a formidable team. A huge thanks and respect goes to Dean Wilkinson who came to watch.
MOM: Moise Djuntier
Report by: Mark Chappell