Merthyr Town v Taunton Town
15 September 2023
Merthyr Town FC, Penydarren Park, Merthyr Tydfil, CF47 8RF
The glare of the Penydarren Park floodlights on Friday evening replaced the furnace like temperatures of last weekend as everyone’s thirst was quenched for this eagerly awaited FA Cup Second Qualifying Round game. On a relatively balmy September evening in a vacuum packed ground with queues stretching back into Park Terrace, one could only imagine what the eventual atmosphere would be like.
If the players were visibly feeling anything, they certainly didn’t show it as the Martyrs were the better side for the majority of the goalless first half. The visitors were unable to show an major intent as they were more often than not forced to play without possession. A 50-yard effort from Booth nearly caught Jamie Cogman out of position but he was able to use his quick footwork to scramble the ball away for a corner.
After twenty minutes the Martyrs game plans suffered a major blow when Frazer Thomas, whose snaking runs had created problems for the Taunton defenders, was forced to leave the field after a heavy challenge on the edge of the penalty area.
Former Martyr, Lee Lucas appeared fortunate to escape a red card after a poor challenge on Jack Evans in the closing stages of the half, with the home fans calling for his dismissal. Probably the Martyrs best chance to score came in the final minute of the first period when a Tom Handley cross was deflected to Alex John who pushed his effort narrowly wide of the post.
A similar pattern of the game emerged at the start of the second half with only the occasional threat to the Merthyr goal. Both Keiran Evans and Matty Harris had efforts off-target. However, the Peacocks game plan had changed in an attempt to prevent the possession game of Paul Michael’s side. Frustrated with his sides lack of opportunities, opposition manager Rob Dray tried to disrupt the flow of the game which eventually led to a short period of pressure from the visitors that saw the opening goal. Substitute Ross Stern fed Nat Jarvis who appeared to back into his marker 8-yards our before spinning and curling the ball into the top corner after 68 minutes.
Undeterred by this disappointing setback the Martyrs continued to probe without any success, until the 82nd minute when Ricardo Rees created a pocket of space between the two central defenders and with a ball cushioned into his path by Tom Stokes, allowing Rees the time to make no mistake tucking the ball away in the bottom corner to the delight of the home fans.
In the final minutes of added time, a goalmouth scramble following a Merthyr corner was on the verge of crossing the line when the visitors were re-leaved to see the danger cleared. Cogman then produced an excellent save to turn over Morgan’s powerful strike which was the final episode of a thrilling night.
With the game all square the replay takes place on Tuesday evening at Wordsworth Drive.