We have been shocking recently, there's no denying it. Our points tally and goal difference don't lie, against inferior opposition we have been found wanting.So what could happen when we take on a team above us in the league?
The Gaffer took full advantage of the 1s game being cancelled by bringing Louis back into the 2s. However the Gaffer was a little suspicious of Scotty Too Hotty when the ever punctual keeper let Morty know he was gonna be seriously late....puzzling. The rest of the team arrived on time and cracked on with a warm up, whilst welcoming back centre back giants Joe Cox and Terry Denness from injury.
As the team finished their warm up, the faint sound of music could be heard, but what was the song? It was 'Staying Alive' by the Bee Gees and as the team looked over to the changing rooms all 12 of us saw Scott Fitzgerald strutting, no...swaggering, NO....Conor McGregor-ing his way over to the pitch, in a manner which suggested that his balls were made of brass and his cock was made of concrete. This was the walk of a man who had got some! The late arrival suddenly made sense, as did the dazzling new pair of football boots and smug grin which were both being worn by the goalkeeper.
As we lined up in a 442 formation, there was a good feeling within the team, as we knew we had brought 13 players who could easily come away with a win. This feeling was short lived however, as the opposition started quickly and tried to pressure Merton into making a mistake. The mistake didn't come and Merton settled into the game after some fine tackles from Abbey, Cox and Webber.
Shaftesbury were doing their best to come right through the middle of Merton, straight into the wall of Webber, Morton, Cox and Abbey. They offered precious little from wide areas, which meant that Wilson and Moores had the freedom of the park and used this to good effect as they were Merton's best players in the first 20 minutes. With Taylor and Findlater able to get forward as well, Merton were starting to pin the opposition back and force the defence into making mistakes. Josh was all over the park, finding the gaps between opposition defence and midfield with ease and was linking up well with Louis, who's pace and power was scaring the sh£t out of Shaftesbury's defence.
1-0 This is exactly how the first goal came about. Louis charged down the fast, slow and useless defender, barged past him, leaving fatty on his rear end, and laid the ball into Josh Tovey, who slotted he ball neatly into the bottom right corner. At this point Scott's shiny new boots had barely touched the ball.
With Merton in full flow and a whole host of opposition staff giving their players a hard time from the sideline, Merton moved the ball around the pitch, playing neat passes, but also ready to exploit space and go with a long ball for Louis and Josh to latch onto.
2-0 1-0 is a dangerous score line, it only takes one slip for the opposition to get a foot hold in the game, and although we had been comfortable, there was an obvious nervousness to our play. So when Jon Wilson, cut back from the byline and tucked his shot into the bottom right corner of the net, a weight was lifted.
From this point until the half time whistle Merton pressed forward, with chances for Josh, Chris, Louis and Jon all going begging. Morton and Webber were spreading the play across the park, with Taylor and Findlater driving past their respective full backs to create further chances.
Moores took exception to the ref (who had a shocker FYI) telling him that he was about to go into the book, and switched places with Larkin, who brought his rocket launcher throw-in with him.
On the rare occasion that the opposition could muster an attack, Abbey and Cox dealt with the danger, with Scott having little to do other than catch the odd daisy cutter.
The first half finished, and there was no way we could be disappointed with the way we had approached the game. Flowing football, incisive play and chances galore. But should we have killed the game off already?
The opposition could not have been as poor in the second half as they had been in the first 45 minutes. We were right. Shaftesbury poured forward and pegged us back for the first ten minutes of the second half. They didn't really create anything but their efforts resulted in a few corners, which have proved difficult for us to defend in recent weeks.
Then the moment that few of us could believe. The pitch opened up and their #7 unleashed a thunderbolt at goal. Scott, having lost a couple of pounds the previous night, leapt and made a phenomenal save, palming the ball away from goal, but the ball took a wicked bounce and landed at the feet of the guy with the shite haircut, fat gut, w@nker boots and bad attitude. From 2 yards out (not a typo), this d1ckhead managed to smash the ball over the bar. As we all tried to stop belly laughing, we knew that this was a let off. Time for us to start playing again.
3-0 With Louis injuring his hammy, Wilson came back on and went up front. Josh was set free by a cracking pass from Findlater and hammered the ball cross field to Wilson. With the keeper advancing, Jon Wilson made sure he won the battle and then tapped the ball into an empty net. Game winner for Merton, and smack to the (overweight) gut of the opposition.
The fight pretty much went out of the opposition and although they tried to get the ball forward, all they succeeded to do was open space in the middle for Morton, Webber and Findlater to work in.
By now Denness had marched on, and the Gaffer had changed to a 352 formation. Larkin was having a barn stormer at LB/LWB, however he still made time to get booked for a cynical foul on their striker. Just after this, their skipper scandalously tried to con the ref into awarding a penalty. Honestly it was appalling, a little pirouette, followed by a dainty flop and the ref did well not to pi55 himself in hysterics.
4-0 Josh had tormented Shaftesbury's defence all game, and he twinkle-toed his way across their box with the ball, three of the opposition took turns in kicking his heels, giving the ref no choice but to award a penalty to Merton. Using the advice of the wise Julian Dicks, Jon Wilson drilled his penalty as hard as he could straight through the keepers hands into the roof of the net. Hat trick complete for the winger, and now we had a chance to improve our goal difference.
Morton, Webber and Tovey all had chances to extend the lead, but the ball just wouldn't fall for them. Then the ball was played to Morton on the edge of the box, from the left wing. He laid the ball in front of Moores, who hit the ball first time straight into the bottom left corner of the goal. EXCEPT, the keeper managed to pull off a stunning fingertip save to push the ball round the post. Moores deserved the goal for the performance he had put in today. But it was not to be.
The final whistle blew and Merton were convincing winners. The opposition had been a decent bunch of lads, but had been outplayed in every area of the park. Which is why most of us were stunned to hear the opposition manager telling his players "with all due respect to the oppo, we should not be losing to a team like that." Paaahahahahahaha. There is no way on earth that Shaftesbury could complain about the result. A clean sheet and a convincing win show that with more consistency and belief we can compete with any team in this league. Cox and Denness had provided a calming influence on the team which had been lacking throughout December and January. We also played with a maturity that we also hadn’t shown recently, with players rotating themselves and making the day easier on the Gaffer. But this will mean little if we get stuffed in the next game. We need to carry this momentum forward and show teams what we can really do.
Man of the Match Every player came off the pitch knowing that they’d had a great game. However the votes talk, and this week our worthy winner is Jon Wilson, who bagged a superb hat trick, taking his tally to 4 goals in the last 2 games. Well done mate!