Merthyr eased past Histon FC pushing our hosts further into the battle to get out of the relegation zone. The blustery conditions and a hard, bumpy pitch made greasy on top thanks to a bit of rain meant the game wasn’t a classic but the Martyrs did more than enough to win it.
Garner took over in goal from Clarke and with Jones suffering from a badly swollen knee Wright slotted into the back 4. The midfield had Hugh, Brown and Traylor supporting Evans and Prosser, fresh from his superb hat trick against Cambridge in the Red Insure Cup Final 1st leg last Tuesday started upfront with Reffell. Work commitments meant that a few players were missing and a couple of Development Team players made the long trip, with one of them, Chappelle joining Bloom, Bowen, Jenkins and the aforementioned Clarke on the bench.
Histon kicked off playing with the swirling wind at their backs and Baggridge cleared their first foray into Merthyr territory with ease. Merthyr’s first attack involved Traylor and Brown who combined to set Davies free who came inside towards the 18 yard area and sent the ball wide left to Hugh whose initial cross was cleared by Bexfield and Hugh’s second attempt was charged down to Prosser who gave it to Evans who fed Tancock on the right but his pass to Traylor was intercepted and Histon cleared. In a scrappy opening Histon had more of the play with the elements in their favour and from their first corner of the game, indecision in the Merthyr area lead to a shot on goal which was deflected behind for a 2nd corner which came to nothing. A little later Evans sent a ball over the top for Traylor to chase and he was caught in the stomach by the boot of Gleeson on the edge of the Histon 18 yard area which resulted in a long period of on field treatment. The referee saw nothing wrong with that initial challenge and the game restarted with a drop ball.
Both defences were well on top and goalscoring opportunities at a premium with most attacks being dealt with by both sides on their 18 yard lines. Histon made an early change with Gleeson leaving the field presumably as the result of an injury to be replaced by Allan and the Histon defence was reorganised to take into account that change. Merthyr did have a spell deep in the Histon half when a good cross by Tancock was headed down by Prosser to Brown but his shot was charged down and was retrieved by Prosser who tried to find Davies but Bexfield nipped in with a challenge at the expense of a corner. Traylor took Merthyr’s first corner of the game towards the far post which was cleared by Humphrey but only as far as Baggridge who found Brown but his cross was headed clear.
Histon squandered the best chance of the game so far when a throw reached Carden on the left hand edge of the Merthyr area and he got it to the byline and the cross came into the Merthyr area, only for Allan to miss his kick and the ball came back out to Humphrey but his shot went well over Garner’s crossbar.
The rest of the half passed with no further alarms at either end with neither attack threatening.
Merthyr started the second half with the wind at their backs and the game continued in a similar vein although with the elements with them, Merthyr were spending more time in the Histon half with Prosser and Reffell starting to combine. Tancock made a good break down the Merthyr right which led to him getting to the edge of the area and his shot was deflected back to Evans who, from about 25 yards, tried to lob Chapman in the Histon goal who did really well to get up and tip the ball over the bar for a Merthyr corner which was dealt with by the Histon defence.
Davies then did well to intercept the ball in the Merthyr half and he found Prosser on the left but the ball was bundled out of play for a throw by Chapman who had raced out of his goal. From the throw, Davies received the ball and got it into the area for Reffell to send in a looping header over Chapman which landed on the roof of the Histon net. Reffell also had a shot on the turn from about 12 yards which went just wide of the Histon goal after some good play involving Davies, Hugh and Prosser.
In an attempt to freshen things up, Jenkins replaced Hugh and a little later just after Tancock was booked for an innocuous challenge he was replaced by Bloom who lined up on the left of the Merthyr defence with Davies moving across to the right.
From a free kick Humphrey sent a shot high over the Merthyr bar and then in the 72nd minute Reffell got the goal the game badly needed. A free kick found Reffell in acres of space and he ran towards the Histon area and from about 20 yards he sent in a low shot to the right of Chapman and into the net and Merthyr were one up.
Histon tried to hit back and Garner made a good save on the edge of his area at the feet of a Histon attacker and then sent a long punt downfield which was allowed to bounce a couple of times and it went just over the Histon bar with Chapman beaten. Shortly afterwards, Bowen replaced the tiring Prosser and a few minutes later following a free kick taken by Taylor, Jenkins got to the byline and sent the ball across goal which Bowen went for but couldn’t get a shot away but he found Baggridge who sent in a low shot across goal which went wide of Chapman’s right hand post and a good chance went a begging.
Then with about 2 minutes of normal time left, Merthyr’s second came from an unusual source. Davies won the ball in the Histon half and tried to find Traylor but the ball bobbled over Traylor’s foot and he went out wide to retrieve it. He set it back to Jenkins who got into the area and crossed to Evans whose shot was charged down and it rebounded to Bloomwho got into the 6 yard area and finished with aplomb sending in a low right footed shot into the corner of the Histon net for his first goal for the club making the score 2-0 to the Martyrs.
Merthyr saw the remaining moments of the game out easily and deservedly won 2-0 leaving us solidly in a mid table position.