Having heard that the 1s had been on a bad run, Merton’s Assistant Manager and general all-round good guy / man-motivator Eddie Suich decided it would be good of him to come down and watch the next game and give all the team the gee up they needed. Richard Brough looked particularly excited embracing Eddie with a big hug upon arrival. Eddie in return grabbed his chin.
The lads were coming to terms with the fact that Ethon, who had taken the kits home last week to wash, claimed that the professional laundrettes he had taken the kits to on Monday had not only returned them on the Friday still dirty, soaking wet and stinking. Gaffer Anstey was also thrilled to find that the book of forms he is responsible for giving to the ref had somehow also been "through the wash." Conspiracy theories abound as to what Ethon actually did with the kits but the most plausible so far appears to be dumping the bag in the River Wandle on the way to the game. Just as well we had our yellow change strip.
I wasn’t around for the warm up or team talk as I was buying a sandwich. But from the ‘Merton 1’s Brains Trust’ whatsapp group and the 472 messages between Captain Winters and Manager Anstey in midweek, I imagine it would have been something along the lines of ‘something needs to change’ and we ‘need to work a lot harder and encourage each other more’. With this in mind Anstey experimented with the teamsheet playing Danny Winters in an unorthodox right-wing position and lining up 4-4-2 as below:
Aron Anstey Brough Al
Danny HP8 Shep Quinno
With the opposition seemingly good on the ball but lacking in physical presence, Merton decided to try and go in aggressively from the start and let Acts 29 know they were in for a tough afternoon. HP8 went a bit OTT with this and in his own words acted like a bit of a ‘pecker’ when he took out the skilful number 7 and then screamed in his face to ‘get up you little f*****’. The ref admitted at half time that he should have sent him off and very nearly did which would not have been an ideal start. The Kaiser has competition for his slightly outdated views on people in the world. Must be something about centre mids....
Anyway Merton soon had the lead from their very first attack within the first 10. Danny played a pass to Moulesy on the right wing who absolutely gassed the left back and crossed into the area. The CB decided to miss the ball leaving Paul Bruiser McClean with an open goal at the back post which he took with aplomb. 1-0. A second goal soon followed but with less build up play from the boys in yellow. A long goal kick from Ethon landed to the Acts 29 player’s feet who inexplicably passed to Bruiser. Bruiser delivered a delicious lobbed finish over the keeper though to make it 2-0. Personally I thought it the keeper put his hands up he could have saved it but Dom was adamant it was a perfect finish so I’ll go with the Shep.
Acts had some decent, tricky players and provided some challenging moments. Aron nearly had his ankles broken when he was done 2 or 3 times in a row by the left winger which was pretty funny. However, the best moment of the half came about 15 minutes in when the striker ran one-on-one with Rich Brough, Merton’s rock and general hard man at the back. He decided to forget how to use his legs though and collapsed on the floor landing straight on his chin which looked quite sore. Luckily for Brough the cut back was not accurate enough and Merton got enough bodies back. In fairness he got the final block out for a corner which came to nothing. Definitely my highlight of the game from the sideline though (turns out he also came off injured in 7 aside midweek with a chin injury haha) :-)
It was 2-0 at half time and we had looked fairly solid but really hadn’t created a huge amount. Think we scored with our only two shots actually apart from a cross-shot from Danny that the keeper flapped wide for a corner and a couple of free kicks. We had looked really good down the wings, Danny was doing a good job there skinning his full back with some direct old school running a la Jesus Navas in his prime. I also thought Quinno was having a class game on the left wing. Every time he got the ball he kept it and delivered some class balls spreading the play. Although as he put it though, he was ‘starving’ as we seemed to be concentrating most of our attacks down the right hand side.
Maybe showing the strain from their last few results, Merton ended the half by winding each other up which entertained me at least. Firstly, Anstey was giving free spirit Quinno a few too many instructions on how to take free-kicks. This was not something he took kindly too with an eventual response of ‘f**k off’. Then even funnier was when MOzilsy started telling Anstey how to defend. Anstey (under his breath but loud enough for Harry to hear) levelled a similar response to young Stephen. I’m pretty sure Anstey would have happily switched positions.
Anyway, about 60mins into the game and Stephen did keep his mouth shut, did a Mesut-esque turn travelling with the ball into the middle of the pitch before releasing Danny with a beauty of a through ball who made no mistake burying it into the far corner. 3-0 and Winters' second goal of the season! Alex Gooding remains odds on favourite in the end of year race at this stage now. At this point, Louis and Kyle came on for Danny and Dom with Bruiser going back into CM and Quinno moving to right wing.
Louis made an instant impact and began charging around and on one of his forward forays, out strengthened his much weaker opponent before he was fouled for a penalty. Quinno allowed Bruiser to complete his hat trick burying it into the bottom left hand corner. Soon after it was 5-0 with our best goal of the game. Aron recovered from his ankle break to pass to MOzilsy who delivered a great ball in the box for Harry to cushion a volley into the top left. Before too long MOzilsy (I have only just realised this is Eddie comparing Moulsey to Mesut Ozil) delivered a corner right near the end which Harry tried to head back across goal but his 50pence head saw it go into the net. A nice brace for HP8 and 6-0 for the Soash. Anstey also got booked for his second or third hack down of the afternoon.
Kyle had a funny moment where he turned round to pick up an opponent from the ground, despite the referee not actually stopping the game, his teammates shouting at him in unison to chase the ball.
Acts 29 did have a couple of chances including one shot that came off the post but Ethon was rarely troubled and the clean sheet was intact. Al had a couple of runs on the left wing in the last 10minutes which he was delighted Anstey kept suggesting to him. A very solid game in fact from Al too. Final action from the field was Ethon claiming his shoulder had popped out (probably to retrieve the kits from the Laundrettes) and Harry pulled his arm to get it back in.
After the game a few of the lads went to the pub and watched the Chelsea vs Everton game which was almost the best footballing masterclass of the day… but they only scored 5, not 6 like the mighty Soash! Can’t really remember much as I was hooned pretty early but Al ate the greasiest burger of all time, I got excited about a Thai takeaway later on so I could get some meatballs and I explained to everyone why Quinno was MOTM. It turned out nearly all other votes bar mine went to Moulsey for his 4 assists (but no goals as I reminded him) and Brusier for his hattrick.
Great performance and sees the mighty Merton move up to 3rd in a league where it looks really open. Top of the league next week with Massey back in the squad so things are looking rosy again. From my perspective great to see everyone again and watch a comprehensive win- especially Broughy who showed the type of form that could get him close to a TOTY nomination this year!
Think Eddie's summed it up quite well there, Great performance but we'll have to be at the races again next week in our HUGE game. we need to BUILD A WALL at the back and GRAB THEM BY THE.... you get the gist.
Well played Bruise top notching and MOzilsy (don't think this will catch on) excellent work in the channels supplying four assists.