Lack of strikers leaves Martyrs’ attack blunted
MERTHYR Town are still without prolific striker Ryan Prosser who has not been in action this season because of a back problem.
And with experienced front-runner Stuart Fleetwood serving a threematch ban until the weekend, the side were left with a lone striker, Mo Touray, on loan from Newport County. And he missed two games after being called up for the Wales Under-19s.
The Martyrs attack didn’t trouble Kettering on Saturday as the leaders inflicted Merthyr’s heaviest defeat since the club were re-formed from the ashes of Merthyr Tydfil – 5-0.
On Tuesday Merthyr faced another tough game – home to second-placed Slough Town.
Martyrs boss Gavin Williams said, before the Kettering clash, that they weren’t sure when Prosser, who took his goals tally for the club up to 150 last March in the home win over Cambridge City, would be ready to return. “Pross offers something different but the doctors have advised him not to train at the moment,” said Williams.
Williams had not considered bringing in another forward, explaining that if he did, in a few weeks’ time they could find themselves with four forwards.
All Merthyr’s players are non-contract and are not paid when not in the squad.
The loan period of defender Cameron Pring, from Bristol City, was due to end in midweek. Is a further extension likely? Williams would like that, saying the player has impressed management and fans. “I would like to keep him for the season but he is a Bristol City player,” Williams said.
Williams, the former West Ham and Ipswich midfielder, said that in recent games, playing a 3-5-2 formation meant that Ian Traylor and Jaye Bowen could enjoy free roles.
On Saturday Merthyr are home at The LoadLok Stadium, Penydarren Park, to struggling bottom team Gosport Borough (3pm). So Williams will clearly be looking for maximum points. Gosport have one point from 11 games, having scored seven goals and conceded 35.
At the weekend volunteers were called for at Gosport to carry out urgent ground grading criteria needed to be done by Sunday.
On the field, Mick Catlin, who left the club in January as assistant manager, returned recently as manager after the departure of Alex Pike. Then executive officer Mark Adams resigned.
The new manager quickly acted to bring back Jamie Brown who played a big role for the club when they reached the FA Trophy final in 2014. Afterwards, the 36-year-old played for Basingstoke and Winchester.
Gosport went out of The BigFreeBet.com Challenge Cup, losing 4-3 on penalties after 2-2 on 90 minutes, to Moneyfields, Catlin’s previous club. In his first league game back, Catlin saw Gosport go down 3-0 at home to Hitchin.
Last season Gosport faced four winding-up orders from HMRC and they were relegated from The National League Division One South.
Next Tuesday, October 17, Merthyr are scheduled to travel to Weymouth (7.45pm ko). Weymouth moved to seventh after beating King’s Lynn 3-1. Fleetwood netted 17 times for the Dorset side last season while on loan from Bath City. THE Northants team, with only one league defeat this campaign, tipped as one of the promotion favourites, took all three points on Saturday as had possibly been expected judging by their form.
So Merthyr crashed to their second league setback this season, showing they have much to do if they are to get to the Vanarama National League.
The home team could have scored more with Merthyr collapsing altogether in the second half.
Merthyr were a goal down on 24 minutes after poor defending. A free kick by Toseland evaded everyone and the ball ended up in the corner of the net via a header from Matty Stevens.
Stevens later made a great turn to get the ball away from three away defenders but the shot was blocked. Rhys Hoenes got the ball to the byline but Merthyr cleared. Merthyr broke but a cross floated away for a goalkick.
On the half-hour, Merthyr stepped up their play and got the better of exchanges as heavy rain came down,
Jordan Wright was comfortable in the home goal to deal with any Merthyr efforts as the pace slowed down for a while.
But Kettering got a crucial advantage before the break. Mulligan set up Richens who drove the ball determinedly from 30 yards and Stevens was there to flick the ball past goalkeeper Oliver Davies after 43 minutes, making it 2-0 after an assistant referee confirmed he was onside.
Kettering were quickly into attack at the start of the second period. Merthyr broke after a Kettering corner but Berry did well to clear. Merthyr broke quickly again and forced a flag-kick. Former Newport County player Aaron O’Connor laid the ball off for Milnes and there was a deflection for a corner.
A second corner followed and Merthyr gained a free kick after a foul on Ashley Evans. Richens cleared in the six-yard box after a free kick followed a sloppy foul. Stevens set up O’Connor but Davies saved. Mo Touray had a chance for Merthyr but missed the target.
Then Merthyr brought on Corey Jenkins and Curtis McDonald for Scott Tancock and Jaye Bowen. But almost immediately, Kettering got a third goal. A great ball through to Stevens saw him execute a perfect pass to O’Connor who beat Davies in goal.
Stevens and O’Connor both had shots blocked by Merthyr. Gary Stohrer followed up on a through ball to get around the keeper and net from a tight angle – 4-0.
And a fifth goal followed when a Toseland free kick was helped into his own net by Merthyr’s Eliot Richards. LOWLY Shortwood United, of Division One, with the worse defence in the Evo-Stik Southern League swept aside Merthyr Town’s development squad last midweek to boot them out of The BigFreeBet.com Cup (League Cup) in the first round.
Merthyr boss Gavin Williams decided to leave out all the first-team players who trained on the same night, with attention being given to some who were nursing injuries before the game at Kettering.
The youngsters were a goal down in the first minute and despite battling, they were well beaten. Merthyr won the trophy two seasons ago by beating Cambridge City over two legs, when Steve Jenkins was boss of Merthyr.
Levi Jones sent in an effort which almost replied to Shortwood’s early goal before Jacob Flowers had a fierce drive saved by goalkeeper Pickering.
On 32 minutes Jamie Jones set up Flowers and he chipped his shot over the keeper. But Merthyr trailed at the break by 4-1. It was 5-1 on 52 minutes but three minutes later Merthyr scored.
Flowers and Levi Jones combined only for Noakes to tackle for possession. Then Flowers robbed Pickering to put the ball over the line.
Yeshaya Lometey (3), Will Hawes (2), Liam Meredith and Joe White were the marksmen for Shortwood. For Merthyr Jacob Flowers 2.