The game kicked off and from the very start Merton were on the front foot. The defence were too quiet and slow to get up the pitch, the midfield were losing 1st, 2nd and even 3rd balls, and the ball wasn’t sticking up front. Defending across the whole pitch was poor and everyone seemed to have lost the ability to play a 10 yard pass. Credit to Merton, they didn’t make it easy with the front 3 in particular pressing and harrying very high up the pitch, but we know we’re better than the first half showing. The fact we went in at 2-0 down was a minor miracle, with Merton missing 2 or 3 other good chances, whereas the home side’s keeper was only tested once, when he made a good save from Shane.
HT 0 - 2
Half time brought some harsh words from the gaffer, a change of formation and the introduction of Khaneil on the left hand side. This changed the balance of the game and from the start of the second half we were the better team. Time and again Khaneil got the better of his man, who was visibly worried by his direct running and quick feet, and it only took 15 minutes before the winger got his rewards with a well taken goal after a scramble in the Merton box. A further 5 mins later the scores were level, a great ball by Khaneil found Clifford, who finished calmly past the keeper. 2-2 and Norsemen had real momentum. A couple of minutes later and Merton snuck back in the lead, a long ball forward wasn’t dealt with and led to Ballers bringing down the centre forward 20 yards from goal. The Merton midfielder hit a sweet strike that came back off the bar, landing kindly for the centre forward who headed home. 3-2.
The game became quite stretched at this point, with the midfield trio of youngsters Khaneil, Ollie and Kamali troubling the Merton defence, however the home side played well on the break and had a couple of half chances. With two minutes to go, Norsemen’s best move of the match saw Kamali feed Khaneil on the left hand side of the box. His return cross-shot had just too much pace on it for Kamali to get something on and the ball rolled agonisingly wide. From the goal kick again the ball wasn’t dealt with, and despite two good saves from JJ, the Merton winger slotted home at the third attempt.
Despite having the better of the second half Norsemen can have no complaints as Merton completely dominated the first half and put in a strong performance, even if it was aided but a terrible 45 minutes from the blues.
MOM Khaneil Brown, very nearly turned the game on it’s head with a great impact performance from the bench.