Match report by James Hunter
IT WAS A long journey down to Shropshire for Scarborough Athletic, but a trip made worthwhile after a solid performance against Merthyr Town saw the Seadogs lift the Supporters Direct Shield.
Boro secured a 2-0 victory in the first ever shield final – organised by Trust umbrella organisation Supporters Direct and held at AFC Telford United’s impressive New Buck’s Head ground.
Boro boss Brian France was raring to go after re-charging his batteries on holiday, and his players were of a similar ilk – each of them putting in a top notch 90-minutes as they look to impress France before the season kicks off.
Their Welsh opponents are going through something of a transition, as they prepare for life in the Western League division one – the equivalent of the NCE division one. They were formed from the ashes of former Southern League club Merthyr Tydfil – who were liquidated at the end of last season.
Both teams cancelled each other out early on, with neither managing to create a worthy chance in the first twenty minutes.
Ryan Blott was Boro’s danger-man throughout the first half, as Merthyr struggled to keep track of the striker movement around the attacking third – his 20-yard drive against the bar on 30 minutes the closest to a goal during the first period.
Bill Law had two efforts blocked, and saw one swing just wide, as Boro looked to press their possession into an opener.
After half-time Boro’s pressure paid off. Unsurprisingly Blott was the creator – his turn into the box drawing a foul from defender Jamie Thomas. Scott Phillips calmly slotted home the resulting penalty.
Phillips came close again from Craig Palmer’s left-sided cross – the midfielder inches from a tap-in before a defender cleared for a corner.
But from that resulting corner Joel Hartley placed the ball straight on the head of centre-back Mike Gibson who powerfully made it 2-0.
Keeper Tom Woodhead – confident and commanding throughout – pressed his claim for the number one jersey with a fantastic save from Scott Armitage as the minutes ticked by.
At the final whistle came scenes of jublilation from the players and 200 travelling Seadogs, as Boro secured the first silverware of what they hope will be a season of many accolades.
Boro: Woodhead, Belt, Price (c), Gibson, Jenkinson, Joblon, Hartley (Nicholls 84), Phillips (Ricardo 80), Blott, Palmer, Law (Griffin 70). Unused subs: Gravill, Nicholson, Powley. Goals: Phillips pen 54, Gibson 77.
Attendance: Approx 350
Picture shows Boro skipper Mike Price presented the Supporters Direct Shield by Supporter Direct director and former Boro chairman Simon Cope