Hit For Six. Deservedly.
Ha! What did Einstein know about footy, Right? He never played at the top level. He didn’t win a major trophy as a player/coach and he never appeared as a pundit on MotD. He didn’t even have a season ticket at the Arsenal. It’s like Joe Kinnear being called in to advise Nato on the removal of Nuclear Weaponry in North Korea. While people might think Einstein was just a patent officer that thought E=MC2, funnily enough, Einstein was quite the advocate of our national pastime and it was his love of Football in particular which inspired Dr. Michael Lipton’s research project in Translational Neuroimaging (2013) – aptly named The Einstein Soccer Study. His research study looked at Amateur footballers to try and determine if heading the ball had any effect on their brain cells or could give mild concussions. Pretty amazing stuff really. The problem with doing that kind of study on Merton Social is that we’d have to have brains to begin with which, after Saturday, I think is certainly up for debate.
Since Christmas, the passion has gone. Players don’t seem interested and certain people only turn up when we’re playing the weaker teams, leaving us relying on ringers and/or players from the other Merton teams to bail us out of trouble against the best teams in the league. We were 2nd at Christmas only to have won 1 game in that time since. Players have hung up their boots early to go to lunch with their girlfriends or go on all day drinking sessions. Paul Daniels didn’t die for this???!!
I’m just pleased Gavin Larkin wasnt there to bear witness. he'd have been seething at the lack of testosterone. Look we’re all mates and we’re all amateurs. No matter how good you are, you’re only as good as the player you pass to (or refuse to pass to!). What we lack in skill we make up for in effort, but when the effort isn’t there we might as well be a team of cones. On Saturday, Corinthians certainly made us look like foot-tall inanimate objects as they bypassed every limp leg dangled at them as they scored 5 goals from inside 8 yards.
For those with a fragile ego or a false sense of pride… please look away now…
We fell to the first goal within 10 minutes. A long ball into the channel wasn’t dealt with and a throw in was the result. The long throw delivered and an attacking header won. Merton’s defence played pinball as at least 3 players tried to clear the ball but it just kept bobbling around inside the area. Chance after chance came and went as Merton’s soldiers flicked a heel or a toe at the ball but it just rattled around until it fell to a Corinthian’s striker who poked it across to the back post where their winger was lurking. “After you sir,” said one Merton defender, “no please, after you….” Said another as the home team’s striker was on hand to prod the ball home. Technically he was offside, since the keeper was ahead of the ball and there needed to be two defenders playing him onside, but it’s an odd rule not usually adhered to in amateur football and with the flag down, the referee gave the goal to open the scoring.
There were brief glimpses of hope when Moffatt – who had been pulling the strings early on for Merton – played in Josh, but as the striker was through 1-on-1 the flag had gone up and the referee pulled it back. The linesman was clearly instructed to flag for EVERYTHING regardless of its legitimacy, yet the nice guys of Merton tried to play fair… proverbially finishing last in the process.
It was the failure again down the left channel to deal with a punted ball that granted Corinthians a corner. To which their forward headed in unchallenged from the result. Now, I won’t call anyone out, but I know who it was and, more importantly, the person who didn’t track their man knows who it was. Yet, nobody owned up to letting their man go, everyone stood around blaming each other. We have to take responsibility for our mistakes and try our best to atone for them.
Merton had no answer to the two goals as we continued to bypass the Merton midfield with long balls into the channel, that weren’t really working. Their trigger happy linesman was flagging Josh or Chris offside and because the balls were long, our wingers were getting too high up the pitch to receive the ball. In turn this meant that when the ball came back our fullbacks had no support and Corinthians had chance after chance to increase their lead. Had it not been for some world class saves from Sam, Merton would have been entrenched in the shit.
This is exactly how their third and fourth goals were scored.
Their fullback was allowed to get forward and over load ours as Shaun was in a 2-on-1 situation. Their winger got free and delivered a ball to the back post. One of our defenders swung a leg at it and completely missed it and poor Sam couldn’t prevent the cross from going in.
Similar situation on the left this time and their right winger was able to cross unchallenged. Shaun got up to expertly head the ball, but it fell behind him to their fullback who hadn’t been tracked back and he was able to volley well into the top corner. Nothing that could be done about a wonder strike, but not marking the runner cost us again.
We went in 0-4 down at half time and the gaffer was furious. Moffatt had been our most creative player yet no one wanted to help him out. People ran away from the ball rather than offering short passes and we were embarrassing ourselves and the club against an average team of grafters. Changes were made at half time to reflect this.
Ed Mac coming into midfield had helped things, as he and Webber had more of the ball as instructed and he was dominating in the air. Moffatt got on the ball more and had more opportunities to create and Morton as a target man was trying his best to hold up the ball. However, the lack of effort was still concerning. We kept striking the ball first time, despite shouts of “TIME” from all over the pitch. We inexplicably passed the ball to the opposition and some players didn’t listen to instructions and kept making the same mistakes from the first half – lumping it long and hoping for the best.
Corinthians deservedly scored again with 30 mins left on the clock. We opted not to play a routine pass, lost possession and allowed them to run toward goal. Two defenders collided and their player ran through free for an easy tap in.
We did have the odd opportunity and when that happened, it was usually Moffatt who made it work. A little one-two in the middle with Morty and Ed set away Andy Moffatt wide left, who beat his man, cut inside and curled a lovely shot with his right foot into the top corner of the net from the edge of the box. A lovely goal from its only likely source.
The goal had galvanised us briefly and when Josh went on one of his runs into the box, he smashed his shot straight off the arm of the opposition and the ref pointed to the spot. Wilson stepped up to take the penalty but smashed the ball narrowly over the bar. It still didn’t stop him though and Wilson kept driving forward on that ski-slope of a left hand side and very nearly created a second when he was barged in the back and won a free kick moments later on the edge of the box. Moffatt’s wonderful cross found Josh at the back post, but he’d been found offside.
The Nail in the coffin finally came though when a dreadful pass straight to the opposition found the defence having to make a tackle. It was won well, but the ball got stuck on the pitch and their striker was able to nip in and finish the one-on-one.
The final whistle blew and Merton were finally put out of their misery.
Man of the Match
Only really three candidates for this, Moffatt for a superb finish and a typically driving performance in the middle, Sam – who without him it could have easily been 15-0 as he made save after save after save but the MOM award goes to the third candidate - Ed Mac. Ed had a great second half, battled well and led the way with his effort to win every first and second ball. It’s a shame that more didn’t follow his shining example.
Remember, on saturday's we play as a team, we win as a team and - more importantly - we lose as a team. Everyone from the Manager, Assistant, Captain, Top Scorer right the way down to the lads who couldn't make it because they were having brunch with their girlfriends or out shopping with their mothers must take responsibility for this one. It has to improve the next few games, it has to, otherwise there might not be a Merton to come back to next season...