Match Report: Hartley Wintney v Merthyr Town

Post by KOB - 27-11-2022, 13:46

Hartley Wintney v Merthyr Town, Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South. Saturday 26th November 2022
Report by David Graham

Merthyr Town claimed the points thanks to two goals in the last 10 minutes at Hartley Wintney.

The Row started well and dominated most of the first half. Within the first minute, Shamar Moore had a fierce shot for the Row which was well saved by Will Fuller in the Martyrs goal.

Fuller was called into action again on 12 minutes with a decent save from Josh Webb after a set-up by Benjamin Purcell.

A minute later, a promising move involving Louie Paget and Zidan Akers for Hartley presented a chance for the latter, which was fired wide.

The visitors' first effort arrived on 20 minutes when a corner from Alex John on the right was cleared to Liam Angel, who saw his powerful shot skim the Hartley crossbar.

It looked like the Hartley pressure had been rewarded on 27 minutes when a slick move saw Paul Hodges cross from the left and Zidan Akers scored. However, the celebrations were cut short with an offside decision.

On 34 minutes the Row finally went ahead when a cross from the left by Zidan Akers was headed home by PAUL HODGES. (1-0)

Two minutes before half-time, a free-kick from Webb found Akers, who saw his close range shot saved by Fuller.

Merthyr improved after the break and took a firm grip of the match. On 57 minutes, Frazer Thomas found room at the edge of the penalty area and his parting shot was pushed around the post by Row 'keeper, Damian Niemczycki.

Despite being in the ascendancy, the Martyrs struggled to create any real chances, and Niemczycki was not called to make any saves. However, late in the match the visitors turned the game on its head over a three minute period with two goals.

In the 81st minute, a ball played into the Row penalty area saw defensive indecision, and MATTHEW HARRIS took full advantage, shooting home from the edge of the penalty area. (1-1)

The Row almost had an immediate response as Akers showed good skill to create a decent chance for himself. However, Fuller came out and parried the shot from a tight angle.

It was the South Wales side who scored the winning goal just 2 minutes later. A long ball forward found the Hartley defence all at sea, leaving CRAIG NORMAN to lob over the stranded Row 'keeper, Niemczycki, for the winner. (1-2)

In added time, Ricardo Rees for the visitors engineered a shot for himself, and Niemczycki was well positioned to save.

Very much a game of two halves. Hartley will probably feel they should have been further ahead at half-time after a really good first-half performance. However, they will probably also feel they could have defended both the goals conceded much better.

Merthyr, after a challenging first-half, made a spirited recovery and are a vastly improved team from last season. [D Graham]

HARTLEY WINTNEY: Damian Niemczycki, Tom Leggett, Louie Paget, George Spiers, Matt Drage (c), Toby Nevile, Zidan Akers, Josh Webb, Shamar Moore, Benjamin Purcell, Paul Hodges.
Subs: Jayden Hutchings, Antonio Dembele (on), Reese Jones (on), Jake Rumble (on), Cameron Rowthorne

MERTHYR TOWN: Will Fuller, Noah Smerdon, Liam Angel, Jack Evans, Frazer Thomas, Alex John, Craig Norman, Kieran Evans, Matthew Harris, Tom Handley.
Subs: Jaimie Cogman, Abubacarr Sama, Curtis Hutson, Callum Ryan-Phillips, Ismail Yakabu

Hartley Man of the Match: PAUL HODGES

Hartley Wintney Manager, Ian Selley, spoke with David after the match.
"I felt we started slightly slow but soon got into our stride. In the first-half we were on top and had three presentable chances, and I felt we deserved the lead at half-time, but I also felt we really needed a second goal.

"In the second period I felt we defended reasonably well until the last 10 minutes. The two goals we conceded were straight out of an Academy match: very disappointing. It was very much a game of two halves. We were on top in the first-half, Merthyr in the second-half."

On the injury front, Ian added, "Regarding injuries, it looks as though Harry Cooksley will be out for several weeks yet. Not sure about Kyen Nicholas at the moment."
  • David Graham

    29-11-2022, 16:02

    Hartley Wintney FC season 2022-23
    As we approach the half way point I offer a few comments following Kevin's invitation.

    In general I agree with the previous contributors to the forum, they sum it up well. A change of team management at the start of the season left most not really knowing what to expect. However it did not take too long to establish we were going to have a very challenging transitional season. Ross and Ty put a lot of effort into the technical side of the game, with much analysis on player and team performance. My feeling is the skill level of the players has generally been better than previous seasons. However a problem has been to assemble a regular side, and with the comings and goings it obviously has an effect on team performance.

    Clearly, any team losing players either to departures, injury or suspensions is going to struggle. Most especially when the players missing tend to be regarded as key players. The loss of top striker Kyen Nicholas for long periods has not helped. Captain Harry Cooksley being out with injury does not help. The loss of Adam Desbois at an important stage is a setback.

    The change of management, with Ian Selley coming in, has seen the team more disciplined than previous times, without losing the technical skills of the players. The return of previous favourites Louie Paget, Josh Webb and Paul Hodges has proved popular with the fans. However, a few fundamentals have not changed since the start of the season. The ability to give away the cheapest of goals, with last Saturday the latest in this chapter. Coupled with an inability to score enough at the other end, means all the matches are on a knife edge. Sending offs do not help; somehow a few must show more self discipline. Also, my feeling is some key refereeing decisions have not helped.

    The second half of the season should be interesting. My view is that we have a strong team of players who are every bit as good as previous times. The manager and his assistant put a lot of thought into matches, and this has been apparent in recent games.

    I agree with Kevin that behind the scenes, to compete at the present level, more people need to be involved. I look forward to all the matches, the match day experience is second to none. It can be depressing when the team loses, but that is part and parcel of football. Last Saturday was, I felt, a game thrown away, having played so well for the most part.

    I am an eternal optimist and I anticipate the Row will soon be winning matches again and creating more than a few shock results. After all, that is what the Row are good at.

    David Graham
  • Rob.b

    28-11-2022, 16:37

    I will always refrain from critising individuals, I know these guys are not playing for the money, they all have real lives and don't deserve crap from us. I think we have a decient selection of players and the managers are making a positive impact. In the Hayes game we had some luck but generally we have been short of that all season.
    We are a small fish in this league, and always will be with a population of 5000 verses the likes of Merthyr's 45k population. However we should still be looking at finishing mid table. We seem to have lost some of that Hartley spirit we used to have in gallons. I think since Covid we have had so many players go through the club that that has been diluted. I think it is massivley important to have somebody like Webby back, and Hodges for a while, we need a solid base to build around.
    I hope and believe we can do much better and I want football to be enjoyable again

    • KOB

      29-11-2022, 11:44

      I agree, Rob, that Covid had a huge impact on us, not just financially but in the Hartley spirit and the levels of stress on those running the club. It wasn't just the players; having the clubhouse shut, and the limitations even now on match days, has an effect on the fans and volunteers. For one reason or another we've lost a few people from around the club, in some cases very sadly. There is still a good vibe around the club, but it isn't yet quite the same as it was. The upheaval in the squad, recent results and the pressures on those behind the scenes hasn't helped. We need to rebuild the togetherness as that contributed hugely to us getting to where we are now. That's obviously linked to the fortunes of the team, but it goes beyond that to what is now needed to run a club at this level in terms of people and finances. We did it and we can do it again, but it's going to need another big collective effort.
    • Mick

      28-11-2022, 18:19

      Spot on Rob. The Club has been positive and appointed a Management team that has decent experience in a winning mentality and a plan in how to execute this. Important to back Ian & Mick to the hilt - I believe that they know the type of player required for this task this season. This may see departures as well as even more arrivals. Supporters have no influence over these matters and should continue to enjoy the journey. If I knew better, then I would be the Manager right now! :-)
  • Rob.b

    27-11-2022, 18:27

    Personally I was fuming after yesterdays game, particually at the Merthyr gamesmanship. With us 1 up and 15 to go one of their coaches sprinted round towards the Merthyr goal and clearly told their keeper to go down injured, which he did 1 min later. During that time their got all their players together and clearly changed things. In 30 years of watching football I have never seen anything like it, disgraceful.
    We should have been out of sight by half time but we have this inability to hold a lead, or even draw. Two draws all season is really not good enough. We have to do better than we are or it will be a relegation struggle.

    • KOB

      28-11-2022, 11:44

      Thanks for adding your thoughts, Rob. I get a little frustrated how few of our fans do that on here, so your input is much appreciated. I usually comment to try to encourage others, but having not been to the games recently, I can't say much at the moment. But to avoid any misunderstanding in saying that, I've been impressed with Ian's thoughts and messaging. Still early days for the new management team and they are clearly giving the current player group every chance to show their worth.

      I will take the opportunity to say it's good to see Jake Rumble back in the group; a good young player who started the season well, I've no idea why Rosco left him out of the squad and then let him go. He'll have had his reasons I guess; I can't know all that goes on behind the scenes.

      Perhaps it is too early to declare that we're in a relegation battle already. The coming month and the Xmas fixtures will make things clearer, maybe. Our relative lack of financial resources will always put us at a disadvantage at the level, which is one reason I admire what Millers achieved. Ian and Mick will face the same tough challenge, but they do seem up to it.

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