Cup Upset As Merton Take A Scalp
The Soche headed to Tolwell to take on Motspur Park Reserves in a truly David vs Goliath cup match (sort of!). After possibly the longest warm up/stretch session the thirds have ever seen, the game started with the Soche on the back foot with the opposition doing exactly what we were pre warned about by the 2’s – spraying the ball wide to their wingers and letting them do the rest. Unfortunately for Motspur, they hadn’t come against Tindall and Phil (and Freddie) this season who largely kept the wingers in their pockets.
The game was always going to hinge on who had the better of the midfield, fortunately we had an array of talent in that department with JD, Sam and Oly putting in a great shift to stifle the threat through the middle.
Motspur were largely on the front foot for most of the first half but were denied taking the lead by Powell on a couple of occasions and an Ashley Cole-esque off the line clearance from Phil. The longer the first half went on the more we saw of the ball and were looking dangerous and scored with our first shot on target (I think). A ball forward found TK, who took the ball down on his chest, turned towards goal and unleashed a dipping half volley which their keeper couldn’t keep out. Reminded everyone of this a bit...
The second half started nervously from our point of view and only a great interception at the back post from Tindall prevented a tap in for their winger. Merton then regained focus and put in a resolute defensive performance from the whole team which saw JD slot into a centre back position in place of Carl who went off injured at half time. With some expert time wasting from Powell which was swiftly recognised by one of Motspur’s midfielders who began doing the classic 6 second count, which the referee bizarrely decided to join, the Soche put into place a classic away side counter attacking tactic which saw Leachy denied by a great low stop by their keeper with Merton unable to follow up on the mini goal mouth scramble.
As time ticked down and Motspur only really looking dangerous from set pieces, Merton had a great chance to put the game to bed. TK, carrying the ball forward from midfield, stayed on his feet when the opposition tried to clip his heels, proceeded into the box when he was finally upended and the ref (in possibly the only decision he gave to us all game) pointed to the spot. Unfortunately, we were made to have a few more nervous minutes as TK saw his spot kick tipped onto the post (could have been more into the corner mate). Luckily the team saw out the final few minutes to spare TK’s blushes as we picked up our first win of the season and sailed through to the next round.