the real fa cup

Merthyr Overrun At Chippenham

So, onto the 2nd qualifying round of the cup and this time, we’re travelling in convoy so many of us there are. That’s 2 cars, almost full of people! And we’re travelling from Cardiff under the guidance of self confessed Merythrian (Tydfiler?) Johnny, who excitedly informs us that the two teams met in a league fixture the week before with Merthyr cruising to a 5-1 win (taking them to a stunning -1 points in the league) and that the fixture has a history of violence with 2 fans being ejected in a previous meeting.

We arrive to find we’ve stepped up a level in almost every way compared with our visit to Bishop Sutton in the Extra Preliminary round. They have a proper stand! An announcer! The teams come out to music! Fatboy Slim, in case you’re interested. Snacks! The teams shake hands! There are crowds! Flags! Singing! Brilliant!

We take our place near the hardcore Merthryites with their flags and unnecessarily aggressive attitude. Neither team takes control until 13 minutes at which point a routine ball is collected by Merthyr’s keeper, Andrew Delve, who catches the ball comfortably before inexplicably losing his grip, allowing Chippenham’s Ben Highmore to pounce and find an empty net.

Merthyr follow their disastrous start by exerting pressure on the Bluebirds, a neat Cruyff turn by Sam Allison amounting to nothing and a shot from the corner of the box travelling wide. With 10 minutes remaining until the break, what can only be called an 18 man brawl breaks out following a mid-pitch tangle. OK, it wasn’t really a brawl but there was shoving and it got quite exciting for a bit. The ref merely handed out a single yellow card to Martyr’s midfielder Michael Jones.

The incident caused one of the Merthyr fans to shout

stop you chopsin’

a brilliant mangling of the English language that could only possibly be understood by South Walians. Apparently it means

please quieten down there, old chap, I do not believe you have recourse to be making such prittle-prattle

In South Walian, to be described as being ‘chopsy’ is to be described as a bit lippy. Hence chopsin’, the verb of chopsy, hence stop you chopsin’.

Gaining control of the match, Chippenham extended their lead as Ben Highmore muscled his way through the Merthyr defence, keeping his feet well and planting a simple shot beneath the keeper. Going into the break, the Welsh side gave themselves a lifeline as Tarik Khalil toe-poked a through ball into the net to see the score at 2-1 going into the break.

Half-time saw both sets of fans swap ends, so we followed our frankly arsey set of Merthyr fans to get a different view of the game. What should have started off as consolidation time for Merthyr quickly turned to disaster when, 2 minutes after the restart, Highmore grabbed his hat-trick collecting a neat through ball on the edge of the area, resisting a shirt tug and planting it into the net for a 3-1 lead.

Still, the Martyrs pressed, gaining greater possession though few clear chances. That was, until the 64th minute when they were denied what looked like a fair goal, the referee presumably seeing a push by Merthyr’s stand out player, Garry Shephard. This proved to be the catalyst for considerable vitriol from the Martyrs’ fans, yelling “let him die” as Bluebird Shaun Lamb lay prostrate after taking a hit from a flailing arm from Cortez Belle and bemusingly abusing Chippenham’s physio as he passed (he responded by doing the ‘you’re all talk’ hand sign and cocking his ear towards them).

Merthyr’s final chance to get back into the game was cruelly denied on 75 minutes as a goalbound effort was blocked by the hapless Cortez Belle, the follow up charged down by a Bluebird defender. With 5 minutes remaining the result was put beyond doubt as substitute Kyle Bassett received a ball from the left, tapping past Delve in the Merthyr goal. The final moments saw Chippenham’s Ben Highmore replaced to a standing ovation and the inevitable Man of the Match award. His work was done exacting revenge on a Merthyr side who didn’t deserve the scoreline that came their way.

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