Merton Reserves vs Old Salesians – 9th March 2013
Merton Reserves Earn A Handsome Reward! A Cup Final!
AFA Surrey/ Kent Intermediate Cup Semi Final
These days, it is as likely that a Merton team will make it to a cup final as a member of Team Handsome will go on a night out and not be propositioned by a leggy blonde. It just doesn’t happen. Nevertheless, Team Handsome is full of indefatigable spirit and it brought all of it to bear (and in Sherbs case after his shower, bare) in a pulsating semi-final encounter that saw them gloriously continue their cup adventure with the defeat of first division Old Salesians at Old Schools Lane, Ewell.
It started badly; indeed, it started really badly. Straight from the kick-off a ball lost up front saw Old Salesians break forward, and a three-on-two situation translated into a neat finish and a lead after only 27 seconds. The hosts, buoyed by their early goal, then spent the next fifteen minutes making Merton look pretty ordinary. But feint heart never won fair maiden, and unattractive faces do not win semi-finals. It was thedecidedly handsome forehead of Femi Arogundade that put the away side back on level terms. In an early tribute to the retiring Michael Owen, Arogundade deftly lifted the ball over the advancing keeper and Merton began to dream, cheered on by an awesome travelling support that dwarfed the home fans by around five to one. Merton roared. Old Salesians had the temerity to score again, and Merton roared even louder, resulting in Ivan Gladkow sliding-in at the far post for an important second goal that meant the teams went in all-square atthe interval.
A rousing talk during the break sent the Merton boys out with their tails up. Chris Rayner, heretofore unusually quiet, seemed pumped more than most by half time’s combination of H2O, vitamin C and encouragement. He rose from his slumber like Mount Etna, erupting talent all over the pitch. With 15 minutes remaining he found himself at the by-line. Paul Pearce, hobbled, but straining every sinew, made his way into the area. Merton’s travelling throng drew a breath. Rayner’s trusty left peg found leather. Leather found Pearce. Pearce found the net. Merton found the final.
West Wickham, conquerors of John Fisher Old Boys in the other semi-final will be Merton’s opponents in the final, which will be played on Saturday, 6th April at the Old Wilsonians Association Sports Ground.
Report by:David Quainton