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BRACING DEBUT: Joe Turner introduced himself to the AFC Totton travelling support with two goals on his Stags debut.

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ABOVE & BELOW: Penydarren Park in Merthyr Tydfil, the home of Merthyr Town FC.

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AFC TOTTON CLAIMED a hard-fought three points on the road as they beat Merthyr Town 3-1 at Penydarren Park.

On a brisk afternoon in the Rhondda Valleys, both sides started at a high tempo, trying to impress themselves early on their opposition.

The two sides met under a fortnight ago, with Totton taking a 2-1 home win in the FA Trophy, and the familiarity between the two teams prevented a slow start, although neither outfit was able to fashion any clear-cut shooting chances.

Joe Turner, making his Totton debut, tried an acrobatic overhead kick but couldn’t keep his effort down, while Oliver Mehew was threatening for the home side.

It was the visitors who took the lead after Alfie Stanley drove forward and slipped through Joe TURNER to coolly finish, slotting in at Jaimie Cogman’s near post.

The Stags did not have the lead for long, however, as Frazer Thomas, having been dispossessed by a superb sliding challenge by Luke Hallett, picked up the ball once more, squaring for Lewis POWELL to apply a calm finish to send the two teams level into the interval.

The second half began in a breathless fashion, with both sides taking it in turns to foray forward, although again the pressure applied by both defences made it tough to slice through for any gilt-edged chances.

Merthyr’s philosophy of playing the ball short from the goalkeeper and across the back was effective in helping to take the sting out of Totton attacks and build through phases of play, but there were some dicey moments against the away press and it did prove to be their undoing.

Noah Smerdon was hemmed in close to his own corner quadrant and undersold a pass back to Cogman, allowing Leon Maloney to nip in front and although the home ‘keeper did well to make himself big, the ball deflected to Joe TURNER to double his tally with a brilliant first-time finish from outside the area.

The Martyrs applied pressure late on in search of an equaliser, but this left them exposed at the back and another loose clearance got them into trouble, Scott Rendell bringing the ball down before being felled to earn a penalty. Scott RENDELL converted the spot-kick nervelessly to seal the win and the three points for the visitors.

Final Score: Merthyr Town 1-3 AFC Totton
Goalscorers: Lewis Powell (38); Joe Turner (35, 68), Scott Rendell (90+3[p])
Star Player: Joe Turner
Entertainment Value: 4/5
Attendance: 679
Word Count: 382
Author: Benjamin Rees

The LONG READ: Merthyr Town 1-3 AFC Totton

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