Having been knocked out of the cup at the hands of Lower Green a week ago, Merton Social's third team returned to King George's Park looking to get back to winning ways against a Petersham Puma's side who had been steadily climbing the league table. Heavy rainfall overnight had raised questions as to whether or not the game would go ahead, with left-winger Jack Bingham particularly concerned that it might not. Late Friday night it became clear as to why 'JB' had been hoping it might not...
Earlier in the week he had assured the team that the second kit needed for this game was in his flat, cleaned and ironed by Mrs Bingham ahead of the big game. This proved to be a lie and it had in fact been sat in his room for almost a year without being washed and would now not be dry in time for kick-off. Never again.
So the 3's arrived in the rain, in wet kits and with several sore heads having been out celebrating 2014/15 Golden Boot winner Tom Leach's birthday the night before. Things went from bad to worse within 5 minutes of kicking-off after captain Jack Dowell was clattered in to by the Puma's top-heavy centre-midfielder, and landed awkwardly on his arm which was later revealed to be broken. A real shame having had such a successful evening with two women the night before, confidence was high and he probably would have scored a hat-trick.
On came Buffey the vampire layer and a reshuffle of the midfield meant it took a while for Merton to settle, and Petersham took full advantage with one excellent finish and one calamatous piece of defending that resembled the 2014/15 campaign under Phil Bircham. It was only at 2-0 that the 3's started to get in to the game, and we got a deserved equaliser just before half-time - Freddie keeping his cool to find the far corner after JB's initial effort was parried back out.
HT, 2-1 and the Soche were right back in it. We started the second half just as we had ended the first, with Sam and JB having now formed a formidable partnership in midfield and the team dominating possession. The Puma's were rattled and couldn't get near the ball, which is why we had to give it to them in order for them to score. From a Merton free-kick, we managed to concede a throw in deep in our own half and two passes later we found ourselves 3-1 down. Another 'PB era spesh' you might say.
Last year the 3's might have given up at this stage, but we responded well and a lovely chest-pass from D Fizz put Tom through on goal, only for him to be denied by the legs of the 'keeper. Some tidy footwork from TK soon after allowed him to get a cross in to the box, and Tom's knock down invited a late challenge on Freddie inside the box. TK converted the penalty to give the fans hope for the last 5 minutes, but the Puma's kicked it in to touch at every opportunity before the referee decided he had seen enough.
FT: 2-3 Goals: Freddie, TK (p) MOM: Freddie
Positives to be taken then, despite results not going our way the past couple of weeks. Next up for the 3's are whipping boys St. Martins Reserves who should provide an opportunity to get out of negative goal difference!