The injury-hit Martyrs travelled to Frome for a lunch-time Boxing Day kick-off without several key players. At least two of the starting eleven were also less than fully fit, but following an ‘ugly’ home win against Chesham, Merthyr played with plenty of skill and passion to beat Frome 3-2 in another close game.
Connor Young; Craig McDonnell; Kyle Patten; Matthew Harris
Ashley Evans; Lee Lucas; Kerry Morgan
Ian Traylor; Ryan Prosser; Tom Meechan
Subs: Craig Reddy (on for Matthew Harris); Cavan Williams (on for Tom Meechan); Reuben Mackay; Keiran Lewis; Gavin Williams
The pitch, though firm and green, was a bit of a challenge, but Merthyr struck the right balance in mid-field, not over-elaborating, but also not resorting exclusively to the long ball. After Frome had gone close with efforts from Sam Teale and Jordan Rogers, Merthyr took the lead after 14 minutes when Tom Meechan hit a great right-foot half-volley from outside the box a, returning a clearance with favour into the roof of the net for 1-0. Kyle Patten had a chance soon after, heading a Kerry Morgan cross over the bar from six yards after 24 minutes.
At this stage, the midfield experience of Ashley Evans, Lee Lucas and Kerry Morgan across the middle was starting to control the game for Merthyr, but an opportunist shot on the turn from Rogers from a crossfield pass by Kris Miller beat Lewis Webb on his left side for 1-1. Webb came into his own soon after, with two very good saves, one showing good handling under pressure, the other an excellent full-length tip round the post. The other young keeper, Frome’s loanee James Carey was also in acrobatic action before the interval as the half ended level at 1-1.
After 51 minutes Ryan Prosser latched on to a through ball with a fierce shot to put the Martyrs back in the lead. However, within a minute this time, Frome gained a close-range equaliser from Ryan Bath after chances were missed to get the ball clear. Frome were confident after recent good home form and Merthyr did well to re-establish their hold on the game to a large extent. Loan returnee Craig Reddy came on for the injured Matthew Harris, and the defensive reshuffle left Ian Traylor at right wing-back, where he stayed deep and played within himself. Then late into the 90 minutes Traylor’s instincts took him forward and, collecting a long cross-field pass, he cut into the penalty area and turned inside Rex Mannings, whose outstretched leg brought him down. Referee Pearson took the responsibility from the linesman and pointed to the spot. Traylor also took charge and drove the ball to Carey’s right, low into the net for 3-2.
This time there was no way back for the home side despite frantic late pressure. The firm of Evans, Lucas and Morgan had been supplemented by Reddy, and over the 90 minutes as a unit they had arguably been the difference between the two sides. Frome were left to take heart from their larger than average attendance of 300 plus and their battling performance.