Merthyr Town 1 Banbury United 3
United return to winning ways
With Jefferson Louis unavailable, Ricky Johnson played up front, Tom Bradbury moved to centre-back and Charlie Hawtin came back into the side at left-back. Replacing the suspended Darren Pond was Sam Humphreys who returned to help the club out. Named on the bench was former Didcot Town joint manager and player Jamie Heapy who has been helping out with the coaching at the club in recent weeks.
Banbury began the game well and there was an early half chance for Ricky Johnson in the eighth minute as he headed a Charlie Hawtin cross from the left wide from 12 yards. Two minutes later and good passing build up play finished with Sam Humphreys setting up Johnson with an excellent pass but the United striker’s shot from 10 yards went straight at Cameron Clarke in the Merthyr goal.
Just after the quarter of an hour mark a Tom Winters corner from the right saw Johnson get his head to the ball at close range in the six yard box but under pressure his effort went just over the bar.
But the goal that United had been threatening would arrive in the 23rd minute when Johnson did well to put Conor McDonagh through down the right whose fierce shot from a narrow angle on the edge of the six yard box flew past Clarke into the back of the net.
A minute later and it was close to being 2-0 when Winters crossed the ball in from the left but McDonagh’s shot from 10 yards was superbly saved by Clarke.
But just four minutes after taking the lead it would indeed be 2-0 when a corner from the left taken by Humphreys was headed home by Luke Carnell from six yards.
In the 32nd minute Humphreys set-up McDonagh but his effort was well saved by the home custodian’s legs at the expense of a corner. The resultant corner from Winters saw Johnson’s header cleared off the line by a defender.
The chances kept coming for Banbury. A low shot from McDonagh from a central position on the edge of the penalty area went just wide and the same player from the edge of the area down the left shot just wide of the far post.
Three minutes before half time there was a good run through the centre by Humphreys whose shot from the edge of the penalty area was well saved by Clarke.
Though Banbury looked relatively in control as the second half developed the chances which had been so abundant in the first half began to dry up. In the 51st minute a Hawtin cross from the left saw Johnson’s header hit the bar and go over. On the hour mark there was a superb surging run through the centre from the half way line by McDonagh right to the edge of the Merthyr penalty area but he then shot well wide and high.
Bur Merthyr were never going to give up and got their reward for their efforts on 82 minutes when they pulled a goal back through Ryan Prosser. Merthyr had the ball in the back of the net again sixty seconds later but Banbury were grateful to see the assistant referee’s flag up for off-side.
Merthyr now sensed they could get something out of the game and it looked like Banbury might rue all the chances missed in the first half. But with Merthyr pushing forward and leaving space at the back, Leam Howards caught the home side on the break and put through down the left he knocked the ball over the advancing custodian in to the empty net to make it 3-1.
Merthyr nearly had the last word though when in the second minute of stoppage time a Prosser header from close range hit the post.
Merthyr Town: Cameron Clarke, Adam Davies, Scott Tancock, Ashley Evans, Liam Martin, Jarrad Wright, Miles John (Ryan Prosser 68), Marcus Hogbakken (Matthew Harris 46), Jacob Flower (Craig Reddy 74), Jaye Bowen, Ian Traylor. Subs (not used): Ellis Holland, Jamie Jones.
Banbury United: Jack Harding, Charlie Hawtin, Jordy Ngathe, George Nash, Luke Carnell, Tom Bradbury, Sam Humphreys (Matt Peake-Pijnen 90), Jack Finch, Ricky Johnson, Conor McDonagh (Leam Howards 80), Tom Winters (Elliot Sandy 77). Subs (not used): Jamie Heapy, Charlie Wise.