So after another cup humbling at the hands of higher ranked opposition the previous week (match reports seem to go missing in the weeks following these results), Merton Social 1s returned to league action against Trinity FC.
As team gaffer/insufferable bore Anstey pored over their previous results he was left rather confused about the strength of a team we had not encountered before. Impressive wins over Oxted and TFT but poor defeats against Godstone and AC Malden meant that we needed to guard against complacency. If they turned up with their A game we would be in for a tough match.
Chat during the week largely centred around whether or not the game would go ahead, with at least two of our central midfielders hoping for the Friday night nod to cut loose safe in the knowledge they could sleep it off the following morning. Unfortunately this wasn't to be.
Another hot topic was Aron's claim that he once scored 7 goals in a season. This was mostly met with scorn, some refusing the possibility outright, some focusing on the quality of the "goals" scored. KQ and Harry stood up for their embattled brother with the latter single handedly doubting Anstey, Suich and Webber's goalscoring exploits. Some would say that's fair enough.
Merton were missing their pre-Christmas goal threat Citybreak Mclean, who was on a mid-season jaunt in Madrid for a few desayunos tardios. Merton still boasted some stinky firepower in Jox and Moulsey, so gaffer Anstey opted for a 3-5-2 formation to get both of them operating in dangerous areas. We also welcomed back Kyle for his first Merton appearance since the darts and Dom, who's new globetrotting habit quite frankly needs to be nipped in the bud. Travel jabs threatened to delay his arrival but as he is still nursing "the black hammy" he was on emergency bench duty.
Aron Anst Dunc
10 minutes in and the game had mostly been nip and tuck, the Fishponds surface making it difficult to pass on and even stay upright with Danny performing a quick boot change with Alex after a few Gerrardy moments. Aron, still brimming with injustice, decided to take matters into his own hands and decided the best way to avoid pitch trouble was to keep the ball off the ground entirely. Chesting a ball on half way and wading through the a couple of men before smashing a volley from fully 35 yards that dropped gorgeously over the despairing keeper to make it 1-0.
Swarmed by 9 of his team-mates, Moulsey was spotted skulking back to halfway, assuming he'd wrapped up Goal of The Season back in October. About 5 minutes later, Merton had made it 2-0. Moulsey, now shooting on sight, fired off a rasping drive that was too hot/slippy for the keeper to handle, allowing Jox to nip in. The job was far from done as Jox at first composed himself before lifting the ball over the keeper.
Any hopes Merton had of an easy afternoon were destroyed moments later by the referee who, clearly deciding that we were having too much fun, awarded a penalty for an offence that nobody is really sure about. He seemed to blame both Aron and Anstey for a tag-team foul on the same player who not only didn't hit the ground but didn't even appeal for a penalty. As Anstey arguably got away with 3 the week before he stayed quiet while the penalty was duly dispatched. This vow of silence lasted approximately 3 minutes until he was pole-axed in the opposition box and wasn't awarded a penalty.
Our discontent with the referee was getting worse by the minute as KQ joined Anstey as a resident in the referee's ear, but Mousley soon cheered us up with a truly stunning goal just before half time. Mousley was finding lots of room in the left channel and cutting inside was getting some testing shots off, this one a rising drilled effort just inside the left upright. Poor Aron hadn't even scored Goal of The Match.
Half-Time and the message was that we'd played well but still couldn't be too complacent. The formation was working quite well with Matt and Kyle both getting forward well. Trinity had been restricted to flinging crosses into the box that Aron, Anst and Dunc were dealing with fairly easily. It wasn't a fun day to be a centre mid, Harry and Danny maybe should have stayed in bed, but they were keeping it simple and trying to get the ball into wide positions as instructed. In periods we were actually playing some really nice one-touch football, with KQ instrumental in pulling the strings.
There were no further goals in the second half as Merton ran out victorious and went top of the league but that doesn't really tell the full story. Both teams battled to the end, Merton getting lucky with one that was put over the bar from a couple of yards while at the other end the Trinity keeper was making some good saves. Al came on for Kyle in a classic Merton Left Back switch and sured things up on the left hand side. Pat Moysden was desperate to show off the fruits of his free kick practice but unfortunately didn't get it right on this occasion....
MOM was Moulsey for a brilliant performance. Honourable mention to KQ who I thought was excellent in #10. In truth the whole team played well. Need to keep posting 3 points every week as our rivals at the top don't currently look like dropping points either. Let's enjoy being top, but do our utmost to stay there. WE'RE MERTON SOCIAL, WE'RE TOP OF THE LEAGUE. MTID.