The turn of the new year, signified an opportunity for a slightly out of form Merton to turn their fortunes around and start a fresh. What better opponents to do this against then, than the dastardly Kew, who, a few weeks before, sunk hearts with a mischievous aversion of a penalty late on and ‘their’ strikers last minute winner. Not gonna lie, man was still stewing.
With half the team plying their tekkerz at the Africa Cup of Nations, or something, Merton somehow managed to turn up with a decent squad, all be it a bit mis match on paper. The start of the game saw a cautious but solid tact from the blue and blacks. None better typified this resolute and solid lock down of the middle of the park, than the one and only Bingham. Every tackle was surprisingly pounced with the serene assurance of some kind of deft predator in the wild. His efforts didn’t just stop here. The guy was stepping into Oly’s shoes and proving that he too had a sweet nut and unrelenting desire to get his head on every ariel ball Kew offered.
As the half pushed on, so did Merton. The confidence began flowing and so did the chances. By the middle of the half, their ‘david de gea’ lookalike firmly believed his own hype and made some glorious finger tip saves to keep an out of sorts Kew alive. Much joy was also had down the flanks, with Felix and a hungry Fletcher assaulting their full backs with clear cut chances on goal and winning corners. Merton also found a lot of joy from the corner spot too with, the ball kindly popping out in front of an unsuspecting JD twice before the break, from point blank range. However, these bum clinching moments had locals questioning if it was gonna be Merton’s day going into the break.
The start of the second half saw a clear step up in intensity and class from the Soche. Gone, was the ‘dare to dream’ mentality of a win, now the boys knew a win was the only option. With Merton firmly parked in the Kew half, TK began linking the midfield up fluidly with, a funny looking Billy Dupee in attack. Chances galore. I can honestly say I have never seen a more fluid and sustained period of penetration in my, all be it short, Merton career. However still no goals. Finally the hour mark, saw all the fruits of Merton’s labour rewarded with a stunning strike from, who I now believed was a Blilly Dupee lookalike, 15 yards from goal. The ball fell to the young impressionist and he smashed it on the half volley placing it in the only spot it could go in from his unsuspecting position in front of goal. True class.
However, wave after wave of blue attack with only 1 goal scored, took its tole mentally and physically on the boys. Kew began to believe. All be it distressing to go through, a composed defence saw off the majority of Kews pressure. Tommy P, JD and Loveday proved the maturity of their combined age in steadying the ship. Whilst full backs Phil, Tindall and Andy put in valiant efforts to thwart their efforts in trying to get in behind us. Eventually we managed to keep it real in the midfield, with the solid caution of Freddie and a rejuvenated Fletcher holding up the ball well.
With so much attacking, Merton forwards found themselves in a series of one-on-one situations. I think the shock of such opportunity, was to explain for the lack of conviction in taking any of these chances. Perfectly summed up with a valiant effort from Fletch in the dying moments desperately cleared off the line by Kews full back. Should have probably passed it to Billy, but in all fairness people were beginning to clearly become suspicious of this guy’s true identity at this point.
Tensions ran high, as many wondered if Merton’s hearts would be broken again. However the only hearts that were scorned were that of the boys from Kew. Perfectly typified in a late sending off for their moody centre back and a disgruntled number 5 who made a series of heinous off the ball challenges. Merton secured the 3 points, and proved the lads professionalism, even in the wake of the Xmas/New Year sesh. Seriously impressive.