Merthyr Town v Sheppey United
30 September 2023
Merthyr Town FC, Penydarren Park, Merthyr Tydfil, CF47 8RF
Frazer Thomas returned to the starting line up in place of the suspended Aneurin Livermore, as Liam Angel and Tom Hillman both came in for Nick Rhodes and Tom Stokes who had played in the win against Didcot.
The home side started well as a Ricardo Rees header hit the woodwork in the early stages and it was no surprise when Tom Handley in a tight space pounced on a pass from Alex John, lifted over the defenders, to open the scoring after just 16 minutes, capitalising on some loose defending by the Kent side after their long journey across the breadth of the country to South Wales.
However, the lead lasted less then two minutes when the visitors were level, and it came from a wayward Jamie Cogman pass meant for Jack Evans but ended up being intercepted by Josh Wisson who return the ball to the open goal.
That took some of the wind out of the Merthyr sails as the sides continue to battle out the remainder of the first half for overall supremacy. Noah Smerdon went off injured during the interval to be replaced by Joe Keeping.
But Sheppy soon set the tone with a couple of dangerous attacking moments early in the second half, a ‘double’ save in quick succession from Jamie Cogman also saw Sheppy hit the crossbar twice in the same passage of play, that was an early warning of what might be ahead for the Martyrs.
This went unheeded as Sheppy continued to cause problems. The second wasn’t very long coming as Richie Hammill’s effort from outside the penalty area skimmed into the bottom corner, stemming from another moment of carelessness – which you will often be punished for.
Things turned from bad to even worse for the Martyrs when Alex John went off injured after 70 minutes to be replaced by Lewys Twamley. Sloppy defending was the main cause of the third goal after 85 minutes, as Danny Leonard turned in the six yard box to tuck the ball past Cogman.
In time added on another raid down the left flank saw Bessy-Saldanah take the ball to the bye line, cutting it back into the six yard box where Oscar Housego had ghosted to the far post to turn the ball home from close range to complete a miserable day at the office.
The better side definitely won on the day, Sheppy were good technically, extremely well drilled, and they played with a physicality that upset our rhythm. The difference was in the boxes, we didn’t defend our box well enough and they converted their chances really clinically.
There was definitely something missing from our overall performance, but we have to give credit to Sheppy who played very well on the day.