It’s that time of year again. The excitement and anticipation of the start of a brand new season is something that we all go through every August and the Southern League fixture computer has certainly set us up with a mouth-watering clash to get us going.
Hitchin Town make the long journey to The LoadLok Community Stadium on Saturday and it doesn’t take too long to think back to that play-off semi-final back in April in front of a bumper crowd. As we all know, despite an heroic performance it was the agony of a penalty shoot-out defeat that put the Canaries into the final against the eventual play-off winners, Leamington.
It’s probably fair to say that it’s been a frustrating pre-season for The Martyrs and Gavin Williams, with the departures of Kayne McLaggon, Scott Barrow and Keyon Reffell early on and a goalkeeping issue to resolve through most of July and into August as Oliver Davies confirmed his return for the forthcoming season last week. Including the departures, Williams has been monitoring the progress of injured skipper Ashley Evans, defence stalwart Curtis McDonald and target man Ryan Prosser. Despite the lack of game time, Ashley Evans is due to be declared fit for the start of the season while McDonald and Prosser may miss the opening few weeks.
Despite the challenges, Williams has made some positive moves in the transfer market. Prolific striker Stuart Fleetwood joins us after a season long loan at Weymouth and has already looked a threat during pre-season. Local boy Kerry Morgan makes a welcome return to Penydarren Park and is always a constant threat out wide and we also welcome midfielder Robbie Patten ‘Brother of Kyle Patten’ and loanee left back Cameron Pring from Bristol City.
A lengthy injury list is something that Merthyr and Hitchin have in common. The visitors are currently monitoring Connor Roberts, Connor Vincent, Liam Brookes and Jay Dowie ahead of Saturday’s game but The Canaries will still be a tough opening test as they aim for their third play-off spot in three years.
Webley’s will be closed for Saturday’s match due to a private function although Romans will be open for spectators. The brand new programme will also be on sale for £2 just past the main turnstiles.
It’s been a long summer. Here’s to the next 9 months.