A share of the spoils at the GSK Sports Ground, especially when missing regulars, Olly Braid, Ben Cook, Chris Rayner, Will Taylor,Graham Willgoss and Marc Wilson would ordinarily be viewed as a point won. Merton, however, will see this as two points dropped, after they had fought back from a goal down to lead at half time, only then to find themselves on the receiving end of two poor decisionsfrom the match official, Mr Keane.

Despite neither team taking command during the early exchanges, it was evident this wasn’t the same BB Eagles outfit that had last week gone down by six goals to one at Carshalton. With the teams evenly matched, it was unsurprising the opening twenty minutes produced little in the way of goal scoring opportunities, although one speculative long-range drive did force Merton’s keeper, Alex Herbert to scamper across his six-yard line and acrobatically turn the ball out for a corner. The deadlock was finally broken in the 22ndminute when a ball down Merton’s right invited the Eagles’ winger to drive to the bye line and send over a dangerous looking cross that resulted in the ball deflecting off a defender’s boot and into the path of an advancing midfielder. The alert midfielder, despite not taking a touch struck a confident first time shot to finish from the edge of the 18-yard box. Undeterred by this setback, Merton quickly got a foothold in the game and they were soon on level terms – Jamie Clayton converting a free-kick on 25 minutes to open hisMerton account after Paul Pearce had been felled by the clumsy challenge of the Eagles’ centre-half. Ten minutes before the interval,the visitors deservedly took the lead after they won a throw-in deep in their opponents half. From the resulting throw, a neat exchange of passes saw the ball delivered into the feet of Oliver Ross who, having cleverly delayed his pass, set-up Jason Marsh who coollyslotted past the keeper.

After the break, just as they had last week, Merton took their foot off the gas, which saw the momentum swing slightly to the homeside. Although the hosts were now enjoying the lion’s share of possession, the away side always looked capable of containing them. And containing them Merton were, until that is the 58th minute when Eagles were handed a lifeline after they were awarded a soft penalty, the referee adjudging Merton’s left-back, Alex Morrison to have pushed an Eagles player from behind. The absence of any appeal from the hosts and the protests from the Merton players merely highlighted what was a really poor decision. The spot kick was expertly dispatched, putting Eagles right back in the contest. Moments later, still reeling from the injustice of the penalty award, the visitors were indebted to Herbert, who ensured the scores remained level with the save of the game – Merton’s custodian denying Eagles with an excellent reflex stop. The remainder of the game was played out with Merton defending an increasing number of attacks from thehome side but still themselves looking dangerous on the break. And it was from a break that Merton appeared to have been awarded a penalty when Ross was unceremoniously hacked down inside the area. Amazingly, though, the play was waved on with the referee indicatingsimulation. The outcome of this ‘simulation’ is that Ross will be out for at least four weeks with a metatarsal stress fracture. Thehome side again managed to breach the visitor’s defence late on, although the effort was correctly chalked off for a foul on Herbert who had dived at the feet of the Eagles’ striker before having the ball kicked from his grasp. Soon after, the shrill of Mr Keane’s whistle signalled the end of the proceedings and Merton trudged off feeling that yet again this season they hadn’t enjoyed an equal share of the rub-of-the-green.

Next up for Merton is the visit of Lloyds TSB Bank to Joseph Hood for an eagerly awaited all second division AFA Intermediate Cup third round tie.

Report by:Harry Hood

Posted in Match Reports 2s