Merlins 4 - 0 Camberley Owls
A fire and fury match!
Merlins took to the field at Braywick on Saturday, in wet and miserable conditions, against old adversaries Camberley Owls. This encounter was always going to generate as much Fire and Fury as The Donald meeting Michael Wolff in a pub car park after closing time. The Owls were a couple short and helpfully Nathan Jefferys and Jimmy Khan went on loan to them from the Merlins, enabling a well contested 11 V 11 match.
The game was evenly matched from the off. Merlins had the best of the possession but failed to reap the benefits as too many passes were misdirected. Unlike recent weeks they were strong at midfield with Roger ‘Biggles’ Bowes acting as a conduit from the back. Eventually he worked out that the preference was to pass to white rather than blue shirts and so attacks became more threatening.
An excellent hard ball crossed the D to a perfectly positioned Jack Hayward who directed it safely into the net. Merlins suffered a severe blow when experienced forward Bruce McArthur was forced to retire with an aggravated hamstring injury. He watched the game for a few minutes but then went home to listen to Gardeners World for an increased level of excitement. Not long afterwards Mahdi Hosany attacked and his persistence in following up a number of saved attempts resulted in a second for the Merlins. With the strong backline of Marc ‘Mystic’ Jones, Colin ‘Citóg’ Byrne, David ‘DV’ Vincent and Noel ‘Spud’ Murphy all playing well they held on grimly to this 2-0 lead until half time.
As usual, half time ‘counsel’ was broad and plentiful, if not entirely useful. Players were bamboozled by advice offered by Biggles when he recommended that you should avoid filling a diesel car with petrol. One can only assume this stemmed from personal experience. Merlins improved their passing accuracy as the second half got underway. George ‘Braveheart’ Wallace made some incisive runs down the right wing and got the ball into the opposition D with his idiosyncratic ‘windmill’ strikes. From one of these Kuljit Bhachu gathered and scored Merlins’ third. The Owls responded and made some good attacks of their own. One of these resulted in Ronnie ‘The Cat’ Fuller making the save of the day with his boot at full stretch. Numerous Camberley short corners were successfully defended by the strong Merlin defence ensuring a welcome clean sheet for ‘The Cat’. Merlins continued to press at the other end and the pressure was rewarded by another goal from Man of the Match Bhachu. Fitness of the Merlin players began to tell and as the game drew to a close, the gap between the teams grew as wide as a BBC male/female pay differential. The Owls crashed faster than bitcoin, tempers became frayed, and ex-Merlin Ian ‘Bootsie’ Nurcome was
green-carded for soccer-esque behaviour in the D, much to the amusement of the home team and opposition alike. The game ran out with no further scoring.
The teams repaired to Bray for first-rate teas as they praised the world-class umpiring provided by Mike Barnes and Doug Sykes. Some Merlins returned to the Clubhouse later in the evening (others never went home) for an excellent fund-raising Burns Night Supper. Even Hans ‘Free’ Koppelman hauled himself from his death bed (man flu) to partake in the convivial scoffing of entrails. The Celtic Captain Spud downed several glasses of amber liquid after which ill-advisedly he took to the dance floor. His dancing matched his hockey, in terms of plentiful ‘develish cantraip slight’ but little recognisable skill. He upset his ‘drouthy neibors’, leaving the White Sergeant dashing (for cover) and the Gordons not very gay. Well done to Bex Miall and Douglas ‘Leak-a- Cockie’ MacCourtney (should that not be ‘Cock-a- Leekie’?, Ed.) for excellent organisation.
Photos and a write up of the night can be found here.
Merlins face formidable away opposition against the unbeaten Teddington Tigers next Saturday, so hopefully we will field a strong squad.