Under 10s vs Sandgate – 06.01.2019
Merton U10s v Sandgate U10s – Sunday 6th January 2019
News arrived over the Christmas break of a well-deserved promotion from the top of division 5 to division 4 after a consistently successful first half to the season.
First up was as tough as it gets with a visit from top of the table Sandgate U10s on a dry mild morning.
The game kicked off and saw some good interplay from both sides on the sticky home pitch. A number of passes never made it to their intended recipient as was becoming the norm in the early phases of home games.
With Harry unfortunately out ill Ollie was playing on his own at the back with a more loaded midfield needing to track back and support as needed.
Dave was also watching on today with an arm fracture and cast on. To compensate we had our new team mate Bobby able to step in and support.
In an early exchange Maxwell won the ball deep in his own half and played in Farris who was up front and went on to create a chance for Rio whose shot was deflected out for a corner. Nothing came of it and on we went.
The first Sandgate chance then followed and Max managed to get to it and shepherd it out for a corner from which Maxwell cleared. This resulted in a chance for Farris which led to a Merton corner but to no avail.
Ollie was looking very solid at the back and choosing his moments perfectly to step in and challenge vs dropping off to let others join in defending. It was like having all of the judgment of Harry and the application of Ollie in one player.
Sandgate broke away and forced a good save from Max in a 1 on 1. His judgment and timing has clearly been improving over recent months.
But the first goal was not far away. It came from a Sandgate break and what was thought to be a good challenge from Maxwell but the ref awarded a free kick just outside the Merton box. It was a cracker and nestled in the top corner to give the visitors the lead.
Merton didn’t let their heads drop and the next chance fell to the home side with Maxwell cutting in from the wing and clipping his shot in for a deflection out and corner. Nothing came of it again and Sandgate cleared.
Then the equaliser came. Percy showed great persistence in the Sandgate box and pushed through 2 challenges. The ball fell to the keeper who attempted a clearance but straight at the on-rushing Percy and the ball was in the net. 1-1.
Both sides were straight back on it from the kick off and some good interplay from Sandgate led to a sweet cross on the ground and tap in for 2-1 to the visitors.
Then, despite the Merton work rate another break led to another good cross and 3-1. The Sandgate number 11 in midfield was a very calm and direct player who had created 2 of their goals. Merton were up against it.
There followed some good play deep in our own half from Louis who played in Farris who in turn found Rio. Rio played a gorgeous little chip over the keeper for Merton’s second of the match. 2-3 and game on.
The half time whistle blew and the boys stopped for a well-earned rest.
The second half started with more intense football and Ollie continuing his fine form.
As the game wore on there were chances at either end and Sandgate were shading it. Joe, Rio and Louis all looked shattered after their hard work and the Christmas break but kept going admirably. Max was called into action again and more often.
Some soft free kicks were being given now and another shot came in from the latest for Sandgate which led to another save from Max who was starting to play a central role in keeping Merton in this.
Suddenly Ollie won another ball and found Rio who played in Maxwell for his first one on one. He had a poor service since moving up front and was making no mistake with this one. He clipped it over the keeper and Merton were back level at 3-3. This was developing into a very good game but the opposition looking on were not best pleased and made their thoughts known through the odd questionable comment encouraging hard play from their team.
Sandgate continued to have some good play and in the latest, just as it seemed they would score up popped Ollie to clear off the line. There was hardly a Merton player now who looked like they had much left in the tank. Even the relentless Percy was looking tired. Having Bobby in the team was a great help with his calm solidity wherever he played on the pitch.
Rio was in the middle of the next key play for Merton after being played through by Farris but this time shot wide left. A win against the top team in this new league seemed within reach as the minutes ticked down.
Farris had another opportunity soon after but shot straight at the keeper as the ball stuck under his feet.
Then the sucker punch as Sandgate broke forward again and after some tight play around the Merton box squeezed the ball in for 4-3 and the lead as we entered the final moments of the match.
There continued to be quick fire chances at both ends, of which Sandgate had the better and forced some brilliant goal keeping from Max. He clearly wanted to get his hands on the Man of the Match trophy today.
The ref blew the final whistle to the relief of the Sandgate team and Merton had shown that they were a match for this level having taken the top team very close to a result.
Man of the Match was a high quality problem for Neal and Roy with a number of good performances. In the end it was double awarded to Max and Ollie who both richly deserved the accolade.
Neal and Roy let the boys know after the game how proud they were of their work rate and determination throughout a tough match. On another day they could well have got a win. On to the next match!