Confidence drained from the Martyrs following an early breakthrough for the visitors after just six minutes, when Liam Brooks played a defence splitting ball to Hanza Semakula who ran on before firing the opening goal through the legs of the exposed Steve Cann.
In the 17th minute an effort from Tom Hillman who created space in the box forced Burbridge to make a diving save as he pushed the ball away, then after 26 minutes Kerry Morgan delivered an inch perfect cross to Elias Youssef at the far post who saw his goal bound header tipped over the crossbar by Burbridge at full stretch, to save an almost certain equaliser.
The policy of playing out from the back led to disastrous consequences for the Martyrs as a mix up between Dan Barnard and Steve Cann, who were under pressure from Jayden Clarke forced possession to be lost before Clarke was 'fouled' in the opinion of the referee who pointed to the penalty spot in the 39th minute. Brooks fired into the bottom corner as Cann went the right way and almost saved the spot kick. This virtually put the game beyond the reach of the Martyrs.
The coaching team decided that an aerial presence was required to put pressure on the Hendon defence and brought on Eli Phipps at the start of the second half. A quickly taken free-kick in the 51st minute by Kerry Morgan played Morgan Clarke down the right hand touch line, but his low driven cross flashed in front of the face of the goal with no Merthyr player able to make the final touch.
Defender Toby Raison was sent on to play up front but even this positive change failed to produce the desired result as the Hendon defence held firm. Carvalho and Devine both forced Cann to make saves before the Martyrs exerted sustained pressure in the last fifteen minutes as they created a number of opportunities to score as the second half drew to a close with Olarerin clearing a goal-bound effort off the line.