It is with great sadness that I sit down to write this match report.
The team started the week leading up to the semi final in high spirits. A narrow but hard earned victory the previous week meant we progressed our unbeaten run to 14 games a huge achievement. Certainly the longest unbeaten run I have experienced with any team I can remember. Sadly during the week leading up to the final we sadly lost top scorer Massey to a hernia meaning we went into the semi final missing some key figures in Bruiser (knee), Jox (Iceland/Hamstring), Hart (wrist) and Massey (hernia). Not ideal but testament to the strength of the squad this season we were still able to name a match day squad laden with talent. To everyone's relief Al seemed to have finally fought off the vicious bought of sniffles which had incapacitated him since the Christmas break.
Astonishingly the boys bar SHEP who of course had the kit all arrived for the scheduled meet time of 12.45. If there was any indication of the size of the match ahead and the attitude of the team this is surely it. Rumours SHEP's late arrival was due to him getting a sharp new haircut in order to dispell rumours of his housing status and employment occupation are as yet unconfirmed. Eddie entertained the boys with tales of his strange come dine with me style dating event the previous week which everyone was ecstatic to hear involved Eddie and his motley crew meeting 3 separate groups of complete rotters before the booze got the better of the little man and resulted in him covering himself in cake before taking himself home to bed. GREAT SUCCESS.
Having kitted up the boys made their way out to the pitch and were all visibly aroused by the sight of a flat, grass covered pitch. Rain was falling lightly and for the first time in seemingly an eternity the wind seemed to be below 50mph. Excitement filled the air.
Merton lined up as follows:
Aron Anst Brough Suich
Poysden Parkin SHEP Winters Moulsey
Subs: Al Quinn
Parkside were very much the unknown. Having beaten them in the not too distant past over at Kimber combined with our unbeaten run we obviously had reasons to believe we were going into the game in a position of strength dare I say favourites. Since then their results including some very impressive victories suggested we were going to face a very different Parkside and how true that turned out to be. Roughly 3 faces were the same from our previous match against them and the remainder of the team was new including such characters as SPUD in net, ERROR on the right wing (oh error you naughty little bastard), JUAN SEBASTIAN GRAVESON and PAPA BOUBA DIOP in central midfield.
The sight of a referee and two linesmen was also a welcome sight. That is until the match began and it quickly became clear that we were dealing with a referee who's previous officiating experience had clearly been at his mums midweek volleyball league. From here on in the ref shall be referred to as 'Jobsy'.
Sorry chaps here we go.
0" Jobsy blows his whistle (an activity he was very fond of) The match kicks
10" 1-0 Parkside
Number ten dropping into the hole between the midfield and defence and with some nice feet wriggling into a few yards of space on the edge of the box getting a shot away which flew past wrighty with a slight knick on an outstretched merton leg on its way through
12" After a break down the right from Merton a ball poked to the far post saw Parkside scurry the ball our for a corner. The corner was delivered onto the waiting head of Mertons Dom Hague. Mass confusion as Dom connected with the ball which proceeded to fly back towards the half way line. A superb defensive header.
15" 2-0 Parkside
The ball was pumped long towards their striker who knowing he was going to lose the aerial contest with Mertons CB rock Chinston Reid was backing into Broughy. Broughy was standing his ground and proceeded to win the header. WHISTLE BLOWS good lord jobsy has deemed brough to have fowled the striker. Minutes before this an identical incident had occurred following which jobsy genuinely apologised to Chinston saying he has made the wrong decision. Clearly jobsy has the memory of Dory from the much loved Disney Pixar classic 'finding nemo' (NB. sequel 'Finding Dory' released later this year sure to be a hit for family audiences across the country). From said free kick Parkside found themselves breaking into the box. The striker stayed on his feet despite a swipe around the shins from Anst which would have been a stonewall penalty, he got his shot away which beat Wrighty only to find the post. Something happened and the ball ended up in the net*
*the ball bounced back off the post and hit the HUGELY UNFORTUNATE Poysden one yard out seeing the ball redirected back into the net. Poysden fell to his knees cursing the gods as the ball crossed the line
19" 3-0 Parkside
Jobsy gave another free kick around 25 yards out to the right hand side of Wrightys goal. Cant genuinely remember what this free kick was given for but lets assume it was a poor decision. Wrighty set up his 4 man wall ready for the anticipated effort on goal from the Parkside FK taker. Sadly the players in the Merton wall seconds before the ball was struck mysteriously were turned into paper mache figures. The tame strike pierced straight through the paper mache and the ball passed wrighty who was helpless in net. FUCK FUCK FUCK.
20" Merton sub as Quinn replaced Rhino and joining Moulsey up top as we switched to 3-5-2.
Merton very aware it was now or never upped their game and began to look much more dangerous. An early break saw Eddie get in down the line and cut the ball back towards the edge of the box to the onrushing Quinn who connected well but dragged the shot wide with his left. Merton were waking up and knocking on the door.
35" 3-1 Merton grab their goal
Following a better period of play Merton asking some questions saw Moulsey collect the ball and run at the Parkside defence breaking into the box. He was caught by one defender and Jobsy incredibly gave the correct decision and awarded Merton the penalty. Quinn stepped up and hit it high and hard he ball nestling a yard below the crossbar. Merton were back in it.
45" HALF TIME
The goal gave Merton a much needed lift before half time meaning we felt we were still in the game and it was far from over. We returned to the pitch desperate to push on and turn things around.
55" 4-1 Parkside
Jobsy once again gives a foul in the middle of the park. Not sure exactly what this was given for but suffice to say Merton were not happy and demanded an explanation. Anst asked for the ref to speak to him regarding the decision and ran forward, the ref moving the whistle to his mouth in a gesture seeming to invite the upcoming conversation. Unspeakably the ref then just as the whistle was about to touch his lips ripped it away and allowed a quick free kick whilst Merton players surrounded him all miles out of position. Parkside walk into the box unopposed and score a 4th. HEADS DROP
65" 5-1 Parkside
Cant remember this one, let's assume it was Jobsy's fault.
70" 6-1 Parkside
Dancing feet again from their striker who left multiple Merton defenders on the floor before firing past Wrighty who by this point looked very very sad. An altercation occurred here as PAPA BOUBA DIOP who had by this point been subbed off again in strange circumstances as he appeared to be about to receive his 2nd yellow for dissent started mocking Merton. PAPA shouted to his team mates 'is this the semi final or the first round'. Closest Merton player Aron Jackson proceeded to tell PAPA to f*ck off whilst RHINO stood waiting to restart the match screamed back 'where are you in the league mate'. PAPA sadly had the last laugh as he responded 'you're 6-1 down mate' By this point I think its safe to say we had hit rock bottom.
80" NOPE 7-1 Parkside
Their substitute left midfielder wriggled away from Edinson Suich on the edge of the box and let rip. The ball then hit the outstretched boot of the recovering Suich and looped into the top corner.
88" MERTON GET ANOTHER 7-2
A nice passing move led to LB2LB Al getting in a good position to deliver the ball which beat a number of men and found Eddie at the far post. Eddie struck the ball which hit a Parkside defender and came back to Moulsey who had his bite again blocked and back this time to Parkin who took a touch and struck the ball low and hard. SPUD got a hand to it but couldn't keep out the venomous strike.
Noteable incidents of an amusing nature:
Early in the first half Dom was asked by his opposite Centre midfielder if he ever made runs forward
At 5-1 or 6-1 down an angry exchange between Anst and Suich with the former wanting the latter to ensure we were operating a more effective multiball system. A comment from Eddie did not sit well with Anst who told Eddie 'f*uck off you prick' followed by chuckles across the park lifting spirits ever so slightly.
Parkside manager enjoying the performance of the delightful and infuriating ERROR on the wing proclaiming 'Error you're giving me a hard on'
PAPA apparently shaking Wrighty's hand at some point in the match and saying 'thanks for letting all those goals in'
The PASS where Anst chased a ball backwards to the edge of the area, ordering Wrighty back to his goal with a dismissive wave, tried to find Matt at right back but instead scuffed the ball out of play for a corner before deciding that his day was done and subbing himself off for Aron.
All in all a very very sh*t disappointing day for us all. We were well beaten and left very dejected returning to the Wandle to cry into our pints and try to recover from the harrowing experience.
Matt's report sums up pretty well. Circumstances leading up to the game conspired against us. Crucial players like Jox, Bruiser, Massey and Kyle all injured, a referee who's officiating was more annoying than damaging but still shit and a few excellent players in Papa, Gravesen and Error. Having said that though, disappointingly we weren't really at the races oursleves and we will have to up our game in the league fixture against the same oppo on 5th March. Man of the match was almost unanimous. Matt Poysden played with guile and verve for much of the game and one of the few players to emerge with any credit. Well played mate.
Look at this screenshot from Twitter and remember how much we now hate these smug bastards.
We've been lacking a grudge match over the last couple of years so this is a welcome development. I would now rather beat them in the league than win the other cup comp we're in. One good thing from the weekend is our two rivals at the top of the league both dropped points, leaving us with the slimmest of glimmers of winning the league. Kingston Albion's fixture list is extremely difficult but if we are to have any hope, we need to beat Parkside in two weeks time. In the meantime, get to the gym, go for a run, bang your head against a wall, get yourself ready for that game because it is a MUST WIN.