Saturday 1st April, Morty’s last game in charge where we had no dropouts and everyone turned up on time… LOL. To be fair, it wouldn’t have been a fitting end to Morton’s managerial dictatorship if we’d had a full squad and no dropouts. So when Joe had the shits from one of Sam’s dodgy quiz night burgers and Logan’s knee buckled when he was taking out the bins, Morty knew he’d be ending the season the way it started - with a bare 11 that included the injury prone Moffatt, Larkin and Wilson. The signs were ominous…
However, we were buoyed when we arrived to see a fantastic pitch and a beautiful shining sun. Everything looked set for a wonderful last game under the Morton dictatorship, however, as we know from experience… these things tend never to stick to the script.
On what was a beautiful day, the lads had turned up looking dapper as fuck in their Dugout sponsored training tops, all except Fryer who was clad in his Haute-Couture grey Joggers and a deep plunge, egyptian cotton white tee. In fact if there was a tinder set up specifically for Merton lads, the local lasses would have been wetter than an otters pocket…
The game kicked off and almost instantly, the heavens opened - unveiling the new merton social, skin tight kit. Fryer was reveling in the chance to show off his pecs and from the off he charged in putting Reigate under some extreme pressure.
Merton were bang up for this and a few crunching tackles went in early - mainly because the ex-squaddie whistler (who'd clearly stolen his jokes from Christmas Crackers and lolly sticks) had given Moffatt free rein to kill people - provided he got a toe on the ball first of course.
Josh and Wilson went close first, both lads forcing the oppo keeper into fantastic close range saves. Moffatt unleashed one from distance that went just wide and the keeper was on hand again to tip over a Morty header from Ian's dangerous corner and then again from a flick round the corner from a Josh delivery. It was looking like it would have been a cricket score had it not been for Reigate's #1 saving everything thrown at him.
He couldn't save everything though...
20 mins in and it’s one-nil to Merton. Fitting that it would be the skipper that got the goal in his final appearance.
Jon Wilson jinked and jived past a flurry of defenders before squaring to josh from the byline. Tovey played in Morton who took the ball around his man and smashed it home from 15 yards for his farewell goal.
The first half was full of Merton chances, with a spirited Reigate side offering little in the way of return. Tovey went close again with an effort and when Will Fryer found himself one-on-one, the footballing gods denied him what would have been his first goal in nearly two years as the opposition keeper made a great save to keep him out
Gavin had very little to do in the first half and was very unlucky to concede his only ever Merton goal when a combination of a wet pitch, a wet ball and a pair of wet size 7s contributed to Reigate having a tap in from 6 yards. They don’t score often so were visibly chuffed, however, Merton were keen to get going and fire in a few more goals.
The half-time team talk was just about keeping to what we were doing and sticking to the game plan. Goals would come if we were just patient.
It wasn’t long though before patience began to wear thin. Chance after chance was being created as Pysey, Fryer, Ian and Wilson were dominating the wings and putting in a number of dangerous crosses. The Reigate keeper was having the game of his life as he tipped one of Josh’s shots wide from a really acute angle.
Abbey and Hall were playing almost as DM’s, controlling the ball and passing it around neatly. Most attacks started from one of the pair dealing with the long ball and playing it indoors to Moffatt, who was really pulling the strings while Webber was doing the unfashionable thankless task of winning the ball back at every opportunity. One such opportunity consisted of Webber’s new signature finisher - “peparami-tackling” his opponent like a sausage roll to the floor.
With 15-minutes left on the clock, Morton made a tactical change and put fryer into central midfield. It seemed to pay dividends instantly, as the big man bustled his way through time and time again.
It was looking like the game was going to play out as a draw, when there was one last twist in the tale…
Cometh the hour, cometh the cider drinking Bristolian, as Josh Tovey tucked home his 13th goal of the season. Fryer had started the move after some good work with Moffatt in the middle and spread the play wide to Morton. The skippers through-ball was pounced upon by Josh who unleashed some wicked skill – i.e. smashing the ball straight into Jon Wilson’s leg. As it rebounded kindly, Josh could tuck the ball away and give Wilson an unbelievable assist.
The game ended and we all stood around drinking cheap cans of Kronenbourg like real athletes.
Man of the Match
Players let hearts rule their heads on this one and gave it to the gaffer after he marked his 150th and final game in charge with a goal and – more importantly – a win!
In 150 games, it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to don the shirt with such a good bunch of lads and the battling spirit of Saturday was testament to a team that’s gone up 5 tiers in 6 years on the footballing pyramid. We’re unrecognizable to the team that finished rock bottom of the lowest league 7 years ago and all we need now is someone to carry the mantle and take the team to that next level… Any one keen…? ;)