Merlins 2 - 2 Surbiton Sparticans
A hard earned draw
A wet and cold Saturday afternoon saw the fearless Merlins face the Surbitan Sparticans umpired by the experienced duo of Mike Barnes and Richard Cawthorpe.
Merlins had a full turn out from which playing Captain David Vincent selected his best side to suit the oppositions tactics and conditions. Merlins had a combination of the regular contingent supported by the Colts providing that extra pace when needed from Mahdi
Hosany, Finlay Bainbridge and Flynn Sturdy.
Merlins made a quick start, scoring a goal after only 10 minutes. A Merlins shot was only denied an immediate goal by the Sparticans post, but Mahdi Hosany quickly pounced to pick up the rebound and got Merlins onto the score sheet first.
Despite Merlins lead, Surbitan Sparticans fought back quickly and applied pressure to the Merlins defence of Duncan Sturdy, Colin Byrne, Doug Courtney, David Vincent & Noel Murphy. However, they stood their ground, showing their decades of experience with a strong defensive performance but not without Ronnie “the Cat” Fuller making a fantastic save off his helmet to protect the Merlin goal. (Nod again, Ron? ha ha!)
After 23 minutes, Sparticans managed to break through the Merlins line and draw level with a penalty corner goal from James Hamper whose shot squeezed the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.
Sparticans continued to press Merlins hard but were denied by a further two great saves by our evergreen in form Merlin keeper in the 30th minute. This was followed by a number of penalty corners in quick succession, despite which Sparticans were unable to score.
The Merlins continued to push for their second goal with strong attacks from George Wallace and Rob Newnham battling fiercely with the Sparticans but the score remained 1-1 at the end of the first half.
The second half opened well with Merlins repeating their first half start, scoring after just five minutes, this time. (Hang on! This is unheard of, surely, Ed). This goal cane through a strong side hit put in by Noel Murphy, followed by Dave Rennie putting a quick ball into the D for
Mahdi Hosany to score his second and put the Merlins back into the lead.
Twenty five minutes into the second half Merlins almost stretched their lead further with a penalty corner from Hans Kappelman supported by David Rennie from midfield, but sadly, the chance went begging. Later, Dave Vincent “DV” subbing as an unusual left wing in order
not to disturb the defence, managed to put a superb Mahdi Hosany cross wide of the goal from a few feet when it would have been easier to hit the goal! - he blamed it on the lack of oxygen so high up the pitch! (Penalty jug?).
Merlins continued to push hard, determined to produce an emphatic win against our strong rivals but against the run of play, Sparticans, on the counter, produced an equaliser with an unstoppable reverse hit from Shaun La Sheep which Ronnie Fuller had no chance of saving,
to draw the game 2 – 2 at the close.
With thanks to Mike Barnes and Richard Cawthorpe for their sympathetic umpiring.
However, back at the clubhouse there was embarrassment for Merlins as their management team had not informed the club of this extra fixture, so there were no teas for our guests.
The Man of the Match went to Duncan Sturdy for his outstanding work at the heart of the Merlins’ defence.