In the prematch programme much was made of building on last week’s dismantling of an
admittedly rather weak team. With that in mind Gaffer Anstey organised a rather boozy session at a Fitzrovia pub to watch the crucial home nations World Cup qualifying campaign group game,
accompanied by (the best left back in the pub at the time – due to Eddie’s injury)
notorious Untappd legend Al ‘distinct beer’ Gooding. Somehow a video of the Friday evening
session was leaked to the press and the rest of the team – half of who also seemed to be out on
the lash, as Aron confirmed just before kick off that he was on the back of a three-day bender.
Before the opposition could be overcome a very literal obstacle stood in the mighty Merton’s way.
A large puddle presented the kind of problem one would experience on a team building exercise but Merton's finest came up with a number of solutions. Top prize goes to Bruiser who used his engagement skills to ask a passing football dad for a lift across with an honourable mention for Moulsey who managed to get a train past the puddle to the train station outside the changing rooms. No such luck for poor HP8 though, belying his Guv’nor persona; his face told the story as he tip-toed gingerly round the puddle in his classic beanie and puffer combo, holding onto a tree for dear life.
With Kyle emerging from a bush at the other end of the field, smelling suspiciously of strong aftershave and mouthwash 10 minutes before kick-off, Merton warmed up for the game with a quick and high quality game of keep ball, after firing some shots into the adjoining field, with Massey leading the cry to bring the intensity into the first whistle.
Aron Anst Broughy Al
With that in mind Merton’s very own sat nav D. Hagu brutally slammed their number 11 to the
floor after being nutmegged from kick off, letting out a Broughy-esque cry, which was to set the
tone for much of the game.
Merton started the game in a very focussed and energised way with everyone wanting the ball
and challenging for not only the first but also the second ball – which was encouraging. The back
four were looking very solid against a classic little and large centre forward pairing. However,
Ewell were limited to pot shots from 35 yards and pumping the ball into the box, after Merton gave away numerous free kicks in an around the centre circle, with a flurry of first half bookings.
The big man was admittedly pretty good in the air, but Brough and Anst were tussling well with said big man and the full backs were keeping the wingers quiet, with everyone pressing well from the front.
Jack was looking dangerous down the wing – doing his best impression of Roadrunner and
terrorising their left back. He pulled a number of crosses back from the right but unfortunately noone could get on the end of them (probably needs to slow down a bit to allow the rest of the team to catch up).
After looking pretty comfortable at the back a rare lapse of concentration from a Ewell throw in
led to their big man having space in the box and he fired a sweet half volley off the inside of the
post – Ethon probs had it covered. This was a bit of a wakeup call for Merton.
In response to this Richard Brough decided to step up and really take it to the oppo. He launched
himself into an aerial challenge near the half way line but alas was felled by a brutal elbow. I’m
sure his life flashed before his eyes as he beat the ground with pain. A pantomime exchange
followed between Broughy and the baseball cap wearing ref:
"he elbowed meeeeeeeeee’,
‘oh no he didn’t’
‘oh yes he did refeeerrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee’.
However, Broughy heroically dusted himself off and continued to dominate at the back with the Anst, with his new yellow toe capped shoes and £300 insoles was looking different gravy.
The best chance for Merton came from a blistering run through the middle from Stefan De
Mouleou. He glided past several hapless Ewell defenders and drew the keeper but unfortunately
could not find the finish. Merton in general were looking really solid and dangerous on the break,
with Harry and Dom now winning the midfield battle. Their number 11 was a pretty decent player and kept driving forward with the ball dangerously, but HP8 and DH16 (we need a new shirt printed so Danny can be DW32) kept him in check and he was starting to get very wound up, shrieking in anguish any time a tackle came in.
The half time team talk saw the Soash in positive spirits as we knew if we took our time more in
the final third and relaxed in possession, the game would be ours for the taking. For the first time
in a long time Merton were very quick out of the blocks and we knew we were the stronger side.
On to the second half – Merton carried on where they left off – very solid and really started taking
the game to Ewell and dominating possession. The tricky centre forward switched to right wing
and had no joy as he constantly ran inside on his left-foot and into trouble, where the centre
midfielders and centre backs were at the ready. Switching to the left gave him no respite as Aron
absolutely mullered him every time, admitting after the game to purposefully creating 50-50s to
ensure he could really smash the tackles in. Needless to say the poor chap called himself off to
be substituted shortly after. I can’t really remember the sequences of chances but know that we
As the right back broke the lines Quinno, incredibly diligently tracked his man which allowed
commanding and handsome left back Al Gooding to swoop in with a slide tackle, turn and pass
forward to Dom all in one thrilling movement. Before the Ewell back line could even think about
getting set, Dom released Moulsey with a stylish yet text book slide rule pass in the inside left
channel. Mousley advanced on the keeper and tucked the ball away with his left into the bottom
corner– adding his second goal of the season. This is shaping up to be a bountiful season for Sir
Stephen, with this goal, added to his several assists last week.
Kyle made the natural exchange for Al shortly after the goal, left back to linesman, and Merton
really started to strut their stuff. In particular, the talismanic Scot, Paul McClean, was roaming
around putting in tough tackles and megging people for fun, the archetypal hard man/flair
player. Bruiser also had a lovely 30-yard half volley tipped onto the cross bar.
At one stage Bruiser even dummied the ball, and Quinno followed suit executing another dummy. The “double dummy” unfortunately found no one, but highlighted how much fun the boys were having out there.
The team saw the game out excellently with a few hairy moments, including what should have
been a double/triple red card as their number 11 broke through and was scythed by a combination of Aron, Anst and Broughy, but for the first time in the game the 11 stayed on his feet, and Ethon produced a really good save.
Other than that Merton were pressing brilliantly and trying to keep the pressure off the back four
and keeping a high line. The final attack of the game saw their 7ft substitute with a half chance
which he blazed over – this move had been flagged enthusiastically by Al after Anstey cried for
offside - the final whistle blew as Al was called ‘f*****g mug’ for flagging but no one cared as
Merton had won the game and won the day.
Not much to report post game– a few of the lads went on to the Balham Bowls Club to celebrate a fine victory and discuss how great we were over a few Neckoils. Anstey and Jack went onto a
cricket awards do in St Albans – yet to hear any tales from this. All in all, a great result for the
Soash and probs our best collective performance of the season, building on the 6-0 trouncing
from the week before. Apologies for the late match report - I’ve been welcoming back my long-lost girlfriend this week. I even caught some stick from Broughy for the whereabouts of the match report in Waitrose on Baker Street (I can only assume he was lost on his way to Greggs!).
Absolute pleasure this one lads. Enjoy the week off and let's have more of the same next week. Man of The Match was indeed Dom Hague (phew) who just edged out Aron for MOM. Can't stop giggling at the thought of Harry negotiating that puddle. HIs face on the first pic is amazing.