Match report by Nick Wilson
It was a tough night for Basingstoke in Wales as they were handed a comprehensive 4-0 defeat by a strong Merthyr team.
The home side made a quick start and carved a couple of early openings but didn’t manage to trouble Alex Tocarczyk, while Basingstoke replied with a good chance for Sam Deadfield who was denied by home keeper, Glyn Garner. Merthyr gained the ascendancy as the half wore on, their midfield controlling the game and causing Basingstoke problems with their pace out wide. It was from the wide areas that the first goal came, Scott Barrow cut in from the right before driving a powerful strike from range inside the near post to give the Welsh side the lead just before half time. Basingstoke managed to keep the score down to one, despite a late flurry of threatening attacks from Merthyr and went into the changing room at the break knowing something needed to change.
Half Time: 1-0
Manager Terry Brown made that change, switching from a three man back line to a back four and bringing on Michael Atkinson for brother Robert, who picked up an injury late in the first half. The change also added support for lone striker Aaron Jarvis with Deadfield and Richie Whittingham pushing higher up the field. The changes seemed to help as Basingstoke threatened early in the second half. Jarvis had a big chance from a Tamile Roach cross but was foiled at close range by Garner and Matt Partridge glanced a header just wide. Merthyr replied with a couple of great chances. Kayne McLaggon hooked a shot over the bar before Scott Barrow failed to double his tally with a close range header.
Basingstoke threw on Ashley Artwell and George Hallahan in an attempt to find an equaliser but it was Merthyr who pushed on and doubled their lead through Ian Traylor. Traylor cut inside on his left foot and finished inside the near post in similar fashion to the first goal. Basingstoke rallied again and tried to get back into the game but after Hallahan’s long range volley was pushed away by Garner, the resulting clearance had Joe Gater sprinting back to cover. The defender tried to put the ball out for a corner but the ball spun awkwardly and slid past Tocarczyk into the bottom corner of the net.
Basingstoke’s misery was complete when Traylor cut in from the right once again, running at Michael Atkinson before drilling a shot into that same bottom corner to round off the night and put the icing on the cake for Merthyr.