Merthyr Town v Tiverton Town
15 August 2023
Merthyr Town FC, Penydarren Park, Merthyr Tydfil, CF47 8RF
Tuesday evening under the PP floodlights was a magical experience for a bumper mid-week attendance. It kept everyone in the ground until almost ten o’clock with all of the delays and added time, but the crescendo at the end was a totally fitting finale. It was a non stop, fluid display of attacking football in the second half – both teams trying to out do one another. Frantic defending from the visitors to cling on for a point and measured build up play from the Martyrs that hit a brick wall until that defining moment in the 96th minute, amid a cacophony of noise.
The buzz ahead of kick-off wasn’t that nervous hum of anticipation that we probably all experience as worried supporters, fretting over how the team will perform. This was a glorious summer evening as the sun was setting, the ground dancing with excitement and pre-match atmosphere building nicely. There were queues at the turnstiles 45 minutes before kick off, the mood in the ground was buoyant. Supporters weren’t just here out of a moral obligation, but privileged to be part of something that is growing organically.
And the game - played under the beam of the floodlights on a warm August evening was just enthralling - wonderful to watch . Our third win, an ambitious team, four man of the match contenders and a late, late, late show - including a celebration when we scored the winner that everyone was proud of.
A catastrophic mix up in defence gifted Tiverton a first half lead and for the second home game the Martyrs were behind at half time. Ten minutes into the second half Noah Smerdon capitalised on a Matthew Harris header to smash the ball into the top corner, for the place to erupt. Wave after wave of attack followed but the Tiverton defence held firm, throwing their bodies in the way to make block after bock, until the final minute of added time, when Frazer Thomas squeezed the ball to Ricardo Rees who struck his fifth goal of the campaign to send everyone into absolute delirium.
As the players wheeled away in celebration chasing the goalscorer and our fans went nuts on the terraces, the Tiverton players dropped to the ground in despair at losing so cruelly at the very end.
It was certainly a night to remember and one when you can always say I was there.
Is this all a mirage? It’s definitely too early to say, but something is building and you can just feel its different. We’ve left the starting gate with our nose in front. And we’re looking fitter and faster than we’ve been before.
On to Hanwell. It just feels things are moving in the right direction.