Merthyr’s interest in knockout competitions for the season came to an end with a 2-0 defeat at Lewes in the FA Trophy (2nd Qualifying Round).
In a game of equals, with the sides having near-identical records in their respective leagues, Merthyr had more of the possession and also territorial advantage, but two rather random first-half goals by the home team sealed their fate.
The Martyrs were without Ashley Evans and Kerry Morgan, both suspended, and lined up as follows:
Perry; Davies, Wright, McDonald, Young: Harris, Lucas, Lewis; Traylor, Meechan, Jones.
Subs: Jenkins (for Lucas 45mins); Williams and Prosser (for Traylor and Meechan 68mins); Patten and Hunt (unused).
Owain Jones was prominent in the early stages of his first start since returning from Nuneaton, and with Tom Meechan and Ian Traylor also testing the home defence, things looked good for the Martyrs. But a free-kick conceded on the edge of our penalty area changed the course of the game after 13 minutes. On the right of the box, James Hammond struck a perfect shot wide of Joe Perry to put Lewes 1-0 up. Merthyr could have equalised almost immediately but a Jarrad Wright header was saved on the line by keeper Lewis Carey with Owain Jones ready to pounce on any rebound
Without ever taking control, Lewes pressed well and Merthyr looked a little more ragged. Lee Lucas, who did not put a foot wrong in Dorchester the previous Saturday, was up against it having taken a knock, and Merthyr needed to get to half-time with no further damage done. This was the best spell of the game for Lewes, and they broke at pace after 40 minutes to score a second. Joe Perry appeared to push a strong shot from Luke Blewden over the bar. Agonisingly for the Martyrs, the ball dropped slowly into the net and Lewes went in at half-time having doubled their lead.
Second-half possession went Merthyr’s way from the start, though there was for a while disruption in the play, especially with home striker Ronnie Conlon being stretchered off after an innocuous incident in the Merthyr penalty area.
The appearance of Gavin Williams after 68 minutes increased Merthyr’s territorial dominance, with Lewes now definitely on the back foot, whether deliberately or not. Ryan Prosser demanded close attention, and Lewes held on determinedly to what they had got. Chances came and went, but to be fair they were half chances.
Two magnificent strikes from Matthew Harris, the second producing a fine save from Carey, showed that Merthyr’s pressure was unrelenting, but confirmed that it was not their day.