Martyrs battle back to deny Dorchester Town

BY: Neil Walton – Dorset Echo Sport (@EchosportNeil)


DORCHESTER Town surrendered a 1-0 half-time lead at Merthyr Town as Adam Davies handed the Martyrs a fully-merited point in their Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division encounter.

Following a cagey opening to the game, Merthyr were punished for failing to capitalise on some promising attacking play when Blake Davies hit his first goal for the Magpies from a David Jerrard cross.

Merthyr continued to dominate and levelled when Adam Davies raced on to a through ball to score.

And a win was almost within the Welsh side’s grasp as Ian Traylor rattled both posts with a late shot, only to see his effort evade the net.

The Martyrs went into the game amidst an outpouring of support from the footballing community, as the club sought the players and funds needed to survive a financial crisis that saw them lose 80% of their playing staff before a 13-1 defeat to Chesham United.

Up to kick-off, a crowd-funding campaign had raised £18,340 of the £25,000 needed to settle the Martyrs’ outstanding tax bill, a whopping 73% of the target.

Merthyr were able to make 11 changes to the side that suffered the chastening defeat at Chesham.

Meanwhile, Dorchester made two enforced switches to the starting XI that began the 4-1 win over Kettering Town as Phil Ormrod and Sam Lanahan missed out due to hamstring injuries, meaning Dom Panesar-Dower and Blake Davies earned starts.

There were also places on the bench for Ed Bastick, Sol Ayunga and goalkeeper Jon Ross.

Despite their off-the-field struggles, Merthyr were in a position to recall several first-team players and duly registered the opening shot at goal when Ian Traylor, one such player, drove a shot over the bar from the edge of the area after three minutes.

Dorchester took longer to settle but, when they did, Dom Panesar-Dower fired over from a Billy Lowes set-up, moments after a Kyle Egan cross had sailed out of play.

After a brief lull in chances, Merthyr upped the pressure on the visitors with a concerted attacking period.

Traylor was again the fulcrum of a good move, but could only shoot over before Matthew Harris saw a strong penalty appeal turned down by the officials.

Dorchester goalkeeper Chris Weale was then called into action to make the first save of the match when Adam Davies lashed a shot on target.

Merthyr continued to probe the visiting defence and Ashley Evans became the latest player to shoot wide.

Having created little of their own, Dorchester took the lead on 38 minutes after a well-worked move on the left flank.

Billy Lowes and Jerrard were both involved before Jerrard swung in a pinpoint cross that invited Blake Davies to touch home for his maiden Magpies goal.

Davies’ goal proved to be the final serious chance of the opening half as Dorchester sneaked into half-time a goal to the good.

In the lead-up to the game Merthyr had created a #PackthePark initiative aimed at generating more support and income, and the majority of the 923 fans that came were rewarded when Merthyr equalised in the 52nd minute.

Forward Adam Davies was played in by an incisive pass and the Martyrs’ man was able to beat the advancing Weale to level the scores and delight the home crowd.

After seeing their lead disappear, Dorchester nearly struck immediately when Jerrard once more crossed for Blake Davies, only for the striker to place his header wide of goal.

Davies was then replaced by winger Aaron Rodriguez as Magpies’ boss Steve Thompson sought to reclaim the lead.

But the change initially did little to halt Merthyr’s momentum as Kerry Morgan fizzed a volley over the bar for the hosts.

A quiet spell then descended on the game as both sides made substitutions with the fixture finely poised. Thompson opted to bring on left-back Chris Clarke for Mo Baghdadi before a huge moment in the match.

Traylor, who had gone close twice before, was desperately unlucky not to score when his shot beat Weale, only to see it bounce to safety having struck both posts.

Merthyr came closest to deservedly winning all three points in the closing stages as Evans tested Weale with a header, but the Magpies held on for a point which left them in 20th in the table after Bishop’s Stortford drew 2-2 with Redditch.

Merthyr: Ca Clarke, Tancock, K Patten, Wright, A Davies, A Evans, Harris, Bowen (Flower 86), Jenkins, Traylor, Morgan (Williams 68). Subs not used: Doherty, L Martin, Hogbakken

Magpies: Weale, Egan, N Martin, Rose, Carmichael, Bowles, Jerrard, Lowes, B Davies (Rodriguez 59), Panesar-Dower (Bastick 85), Baghdadi (Ch Clarke 79). Subs not used: Ross, Ayunga

Attendance: 923