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Dorchester made to settle for a point by dogged Martyrs

By: David Williams – Dorset Echo.

DORCHESTER TOWN 1 MERTHYR TOWN 1

Ten-man Merthyr claimed a deserved point as an under-strength Dorchester side failed to fire at the Avenue tonight.

Ryan Prosser saw red for an elbow on Tony Lee after Charlie Davis’ spot-kick had cancelled out Guillem Bauza’s first-half opener for the visitors.

But even though they had a man advantage for the last 25 minutes the Magpies couldn’t find a winner.

Skipper Jake Smeeton and Bradley Tarbuck were both missing from the Dorchester squad through injury and illness respectively, while Jonah Ayunga and Nathan Walker also sat out the game through suspension.

Lee returned to the side and player-manager Mark Jermyn, Nick Crittenden and Jason Brookes all came into the team after starting on the bench against Poole.

With Smeeton absent, Matt Oldring took over the Dorchester captaincy for the night.

The crowd had to wait more than 10 minutes for the first chance of the game which fell to Lee.

Receiving the ball from a Lewis Morgan, the striker fluffed his initial effort before shooting tamely at keeper Tom Bradley.

Merthyr then had their first opportunity on goal in the 19th minute.

Full-back Adam Davies skipped past Jermyn and laid the ball back to Spaniard Bauza whose shot was plucked out of the air by Shane Murphy.

Davis and Morgan were finding quite a bit of space in the midfield for the hosts but the Martyrs’ defence was well marshalled by ex-Terra Rhys Baggridge and Jarrad Wright.

A less than convincing piece of goalkeeping from Bradley almost led to the opening goal of the contest.

A high ball into the Merthyr box was met by the fist of Bradley but went straight to Morgan whose attempt went a couple of yards wide.

A relatively incident-free encounter was then brought to life in the last six minutes of the first period.

First, Neil Martin was lucky to escape with only a booking following a wild challenge on Davies that resulted in lots of pushing and shoving between the two sets of players.

Then Bradley pushed a diving header from Lee, who had got on the end of Oakley Hanger’s cross, out for a corner.

And on the stroke of half time Dorchester stopper Murphy stretched to his left to palm away a Prosser header that looked bound for the far corner.

Dorchester were forced into a change at the break as Ryan Ross came on for his debut in place of the injured Morgan.

With that came a positional switch for centre forward Lee who was moved into the heart of the county town defence alongside Oldring with Jermyn taking up a midfield role.

But Merthyr broke the deadlock just six minutes into the second half.

The goal came from a free-kick given away by skipper Oldring just outside his own area.

The set-piece was fired low into the danger zone and when the ball was only half-cleared, Bauza drilled a fierce strike past a helpless Murphy.

Steve Jenkins’ visitors might have doubled their advantage soon after but Lee managed to get in the way of a Prosser volley to deflect it wide.

Then out of nothing came the Dorchester equaliser.

Crittenden got free down the right and his cross struck the hand of a sliding Ashley Evans, leading Poole referee Ben Cobb to point to the spot.

Midfielder Davis strode up with supreme confidence to slot the ball past Bradley.

Striker-turned-defender Lee was in the thick of the action again on 64 minutes.

This time he was involved in the incident that led to the away side going down to 10 men.

Prosser was deemed guilty of elbowing Lee by Poole referee Ben Cobb and promptly saw red.

Another melee broke out after the flashpoint and both Oldring and Wright were cautioned for their part in the fisticuffs.

Merthyr still looked dangerous despite being a player light, though the Magpies didn’t exactly help themselves with some questionable defending.

And the Welshmen could have snatched the three points had Elliot Scotcher’s superb shot found the target late on.

Magpies: Murphy, Hanger, Martin, Jermyn, Oldring, Crittenden, Davis, Morgan (Ross 46), Lee, Watson, Brookes. Subs not used: Pashen, Walker-Harris, Taylor, Dillon.

Merthyr: Bradley, Davies, Hugh, Evans, Wright, Baggridge, Scotcher, Brown (Jenkins 84), Prosser, Bauza, Tancock. Subs not used: Bloom, Morgan, Traylor, Bowen.

Bookings: Magpies – Martin (foul, 39), Oldring (ungentlemanly conduct, 66), Lee (kicking ball away 86)

Merthyr – Wright (ungentlemanly conduct, 66)

Sent off: Merthyr – Prosser (violent conduct, 64)

Referee: Ben Cobb (Poole)

Attendance: 307