The FA Cup trail continued yesterday with a trip to the unknown and another Country!! Here's the match report:
Merthyr Town 0 Hamworthy United 0
Emirates FA Cup First Qualifying Round (Saturday 4th September 2021)
This would no doubt be Hamworthy's toughest assignment of the season. First United had to endure their longest ever away trip, which took some three and a half hours to get there. Also, their Southern League Premier South hosts played two steps higher in the non-league pyramid system. Merthyr had recently taken a convincing win and a draw from their last two league games. The Hammers, with key players still unavailable, were at least able to welcome back Shane Murphy in goal, free kick specialist Steve Devlin and defender Adam Costello.
Despite the gulf in the leagues, there was not a lot to choose between the teams. In an entertaining first half, both teams tried to play good open football. On 15 minutes United were given their first real scare when Merthyr man Kerry Morgan's diagonal free kick passed a foot wide of the far post, with Eli Phipps just unable to get a connection. The Hammers themselves also managed to create some good openings. Midway through the half and after picking up Steve Devlin’s free kick; Max Wilcock's long-range effort, was only a fraction too high. However, the Martyrs were always a threat, and on the half-hour mark, a long powerful Phipps' effort passed just a yard wide of the far post. The half ended with the Town on top. On the stroke of half time, a short corner found its way to Frazer Thomas who made space for himself before his well-placed effort just shaved the far post. The Hammers could be well satisfied with their first half performance. Although the Martyrs used the width of the pitch well, with plenty of neat passing, only on the odd occasion did they manage to penetrate United's strong back line. Conversely United's more direct approach was always a threat to the hosts, although they rarely troubled Steve Cann in the Town goal.
The Martyrs raised their game after the break. After only a few minutes a low cross found Morgan in space. However, Shane Murphy earned his spurs by blocking his low shot. The same player then put the rebound over the bar. The Hammers' keeper got down well to hold onto another effort by Morgan that had followed a good build up. Hamworthy recovered from these alarms and were back on a more even keel for a period. However, they breathed another sigh of relief when Cameron Keetch's cross-come-shot bounced onto and over the bar. The odds surely now favoured Merthyr on 64 minutes when United were needlessly reduced to 10 men. Jamie Beasley had quite rightly won the free kick when his shirt was ripped when being tugged back by Adam Davies. Unfortunately, Beasley on the spur of the moment, retaliated which left the Referee with no other choice than to show him the red card. Ironically the visitors soon had their best chance of the match when Steve Devlin's dangerous cross, fortuitously fell to safety off the keeper's shoulder, this whilst under pressure from Wilcock. The remainder of the game saw a fascinating battle between the Town’s all-out attack, and the Hamworthy rear-guard, as the United goal lead a charmed life. However, a combination of some superb defensive marshalling when Merthyr had the ball; plus, some dodged defending, and a bit of lady luck, somehow kept the back gate shut. In particular Devlin twice superbly headed off the line. Also, for the second time, the Martyrs hit the woodwork when, Matthew Harris' articulate header from a corner came back off the bar in the last minute. It is true to say that the Hammers will feel the happier with the draw. They certainly matched their higher placed opponents in the first period, and the whole team, particularly the goalkeeper and defence, did all that could be asked of them in the second.
Hamworthy United: S Murphy, D Eccott-Young, H Wright, S Devlin, C Cocklin, A Costello, J Lovell (E Hodge 85), L Francis (c), M Wilcock (D Cann 75), M Neale, J Beasley
Unused Subs: J Filkins, B Walker