19 Jan 2019, Saturday
NEVER on a Saturday! As The Martyrs sneaked a win after defences were dominant, they paraded three players making their home debuts, with one of them having an unusual day. Jamie Veale was playing his first match on a Saturday.
Aged 22, he was with Cardiff City since he was nine, but the games he played there were on a Monday or a Friday, his grandfather John told me afterwards.
Jamie enjoyed his introduction to the club although he is normally used to playing a more central midfield role.
Football experts consider that Veale's signature was quite a coup for Merthyr.
Jay Foulston, on loan from Newport County, also started the game, with Ben Swallow, a loanee from Weston-super-Mare a substitute during the second period.All three newcomers did well.
Substitute Tom Meechan stabbed in the winner after 76 minutes.
The visitors' line-up bore no resemblance to the team listed on the programme.
The tussle began with both sides using long-passing tactics. Ashley Evans set up Ryan Prosser but he was unable to keep possession. Ian Traylor went on a run but was dispossessed by Dan Bayliss.The Martyrs headed away a flag-kick and replied with their own corner. With Prosser threatening, Basingstoke scrambled the ball away.
Sam Deadfield stopped a Traylor run,
The out-stretched hands of 'keeper Tom McGill, on loan from Brighton, saw Traylor's shot go for a corner on 23 minutes.
Then a Foulston header at the post went close after a cross.
Ben Wright's hopeful effort flew well over the home team's bar. Connor Young went close for Merthyr with the 'keeper coming out of goal.
Young had treatment after a bump before Prosser and Traylor tested the away defence.
Merthyr forced a corner each side but again the rearguard were firm.
Robert Gerrard got past Evans but Young was there to clear.
The pace of the game stepped up after the turn-around. Merthyr's Matthew Harris cleared well after two opponents combined on the right.
Harris again booted away from Sam Smart, the nippy Basingstoke wide man.Just before that Prosser made way for Owain Jones.
Time and again both defences did well, including Jarrad Wright, Merthyr, heading away more danger from Smart.
Merthyr began to press more up front. Lee Lucas' attempt was blocked and then Jones just failed to get to a Lucas ball.
The 66th minute saw Tom Meechan and Swallow come on for Veale and Young.
Wright threatened for Basingstoke but fired wide and a little later Harris again dealt with a centre from the right.
The threatened goal came on 76 minutes. Traylor ran into the box from a pass, showed neat trickery to set up ex-Newport County player Meechan who stabbed the ball home from close range.
Swallow added to the attack,beating opponents and gaining ground on the flank as Merthyr tried for a second goal.
Basingstoke struck back but they were held at bay by The Martyrs who gained a needed win.They stayed in sixth spot, five points below the play-offs.