05 Jan 2019, Saturday
Merthyr deserved a point against a well-organised Salisbury outfit but it wasn't to be as the Wiltshire men completed the double.
Two second-half goals after an evenly contested first period did the damage with The Martyrs snatching a consolation score at the death.
"I thought things couldn't get any worse with our injuries," noted manager Gavin Williams aferwards, " but then we lost Ryan Prosser in the first 20 minutes."
Worse was to come with Kyle Patten going off midway through the second half. Prosser sustained an ankle injury and had looked in trouble during the warm-up. Patten damaged a hamstring.
It was fortunate that Jarrad Wright and Matthew Harris were able to return to the defence. the side having lost Craig McDonnell in the game versus Taunton. He sustained a shoulder injury,damaged a nerve and may need an operation. He could be out for at least three months.
There were few scoring chances either end early on.Merthyr sprayed around some good passes. When they lost the ball in the middle, Ashley Evans was there to respond.Ian Traylor pinpointed a pass to Prosser but he was unable to get in a shot on target.
Lee Lucas fired over the bar as did Chris Shepherd for the visitors before a Tom Meechan cross saw Prosser fire wide.
Merthyr missed the power of Prosser who went off for substitute Owain Jones on 24 minutes.
A spell of Salisbury pressure brought some flag-kicks but the home defence was firm and teenage goalkeeper Lewis Webb looked confident with his handling.There was a scramble near the Merthyr goal but Wright cleared.
It took until the 40th minute for Gavin Williams' men to earn their first corner. There was plenty of running but not many direct goal efforts.
Thomas Whelan, who had impressed, broke the deadlock on 48 minutes, bursting through and executing a deserved goal.Patten pushed up for Merthyr and went close from a Traylor free-kick.Matthew Harris went on some determined runs for Meechan to chase and from one move, the latter saw goalkeeper James Hillson clear.
Matt Partridge tried a Salisbury shot but it went well over the bar. Then Merthyr had to re-group with Patten going off with Kerry Morgan on.
It was a blow for Patten who had to leave his car at the ground after the game so bad was the injury.
A keeping error scared Salisbury but they managed to clear off the line.
Merthyr got three quick corners but on 85 minutes Salisbury dealt the killer blow. From a free-kick, Jack Sparkes hammered home although former Cardiff City and Newport County Academy player Webb got a touch.The task for Merthyr looked tough then but they battled on.
A Lucas goal in time added on which caught the visitors' defence sleeping raised hopes but Salisbury held out.
Cavan Williams replaced Connor Young after 83 minutes with Gavin Williams and Craig Reddy unused subs.
"It was frustrating," said one Merthyr player later."They had two shots and scored two goals"
The attendance was pleasing.Director Jonathon Davies commented:"It's a long time since we have had back to back gates of 500."
But defeat saw Merthyr fall back into sixth place and Salisbury stay third.