Merthyr Town v Dorchester Town
5 August 2023
Merthyr Town Football Club, Penydarren Park, Merthyr Tydfil, UK
You never know what to expect on the opening day of the season and this was a box of delights with the outcome determined by a three goal burst in a ten minute spree that turned the game completely on its head.
Following a positive opening period during which Ricardo Rees forced a diving save from Lloyd Thomas, the visitors gradually started to impose themselves and were in control for the remainder of the first half.
A disallowed goal following a corner that appeared to cause some confusion for the Merthyr defence was only a short lived respite as the Magpies turned this temporary adversity into a positive outcome as Shaquille Gwenge rose unchallenged to head home Lewis Wasterfield's deep cross.
The Martyrs were second best for the remainder of the first period as they were unable to retain possession, look particularly incoherent and were restricted to efforts off target fromTom Stokes and Noah Smerdon that failed to trouble the Dorchester back line.
After some soul searching in the dressing room at half time it was a positive start to the second period as Rees hit the base of the post in the opening attack before the visitors resumed the upper hand. The Martyrs experienced a second reprieve when Thomas struck the underside of the crossbar minutes before Alex John scored the equaliser with a shot from twenty yards that unsighted Thomas.
This commenced a ten minute purple period for the Martyrs with Rees making no mistake to beat Thomas as he collected a ball missed by a defender to confidently open his account for the season. Minutes later the Magpies plans and their defence were in total disarray as Rees twisted and turned defenders one way then another to score a heart stopping third that should have guaranteed a comfortable conclusion to the game.
Matthew Harris and Callum Ryan-Phillips were introduced to see out the final minutes as part of the game management tactics but even this failed to prevent Olaf Koszela scoring from close range at the far post.
A satisfactory outcome in the end but very much a work in progress