Poole Town boss Tom Killick was full of praise for Southern League Premier South strugglers Merthyr, with the Martyrs pushing Poole all the way despite an eventual 3-0 win for the Dolphins.
Speaking to All Poole Aren’t We, Killick stated: “I was just impressed with them full stop. I thought they were defending well, they were really aggressive in pressing us.
“I just was a bit worried that they would sustain that level – I knew if they went in front, we’d really have problems. The environment and the atmosphere changes round here, we know that, and as a young side they’d probably go up another level again.
I just felt we couldn’t afford to let them go in front. It was important we got the first goal. Perhaps then, being a young side, the confidence they gained against Met Police might be slightly fragile.
“That possibly might be the case, but that might be being unfair on them because it’s common knowledge that they’re not the strongest financially supported club.
“I feel they’ve got a really young and energetic, good side together, so hopefully, from our point of view, they’ll cause a few other teams problems coming up.”
Despite eventually cruising to a three goal winning margin, Poole were kept quite by their hosts for the majority of the first half, with Dolphins’ best chance cleared off the line by Ismail Yakubu.
Yakubu hurled himself in a desperate attempt to stop the ball, and whilst the centre-back succeeded, it came at the cost of an injury that forced him off shortly after.
“I think we always felt that Merthyr were going to start well,” Killick stated.
“They were full of confidence after the result at Met Police – they’ve got some new signings. I always find that the fluctuations in confidence levels are much greater with a younger side.
“I spoke to the Met Police assistant manager before the game. I just knew coming to Merthyr, it was going to be difficult, particularly early on.
“Merthyr are quite a young side, they’ve gone to Met Police and won – they’re going to be really buoyed by it.
“I felt they did start well, they moved the ball quite quickly, they were quite tenacious in pressing us.
“We didn’t really settle, and we weren’t quite fluent in any way. But, we always felt that their levels might drop a little bit, if we could just stay strong and not concede.
“In the second half they did drop a little bit, and we were much better. We were a bit fortunate with the second goal, with the deflection – I think that was going well wide.”
Injuries derailed any chance of Merthyr getting a result, with their wounded pile added to prior to the game. New signing Corey Shephard, who impressed against Met Police, was a late withdrawal after pulling his hamstring in the warm-up.
Martyrs had to use two subs in the first half, with the aforementioned Yakubu replaced alongside forward Thomas Hillman.
“I’ve heard good things about the lad Shephard, who got injured in the warm-up – apparently he was impressive against Met Police, so that’s a blow for them.
“You don’t really know what sort of level of replacement they’re looking at. Then, to lose the big centre-half (Ismail Yakubu) I felt was a big blow for them.
They’ll feel a little bit hard done by in terms of that, but we just wanted to be resilient to start with, try and take the sting out of the game.
This environment becomes a little bit different if things aren’t going their way, and we knew if we could just weather the storm and then go in front, we could finish strongly – and that’s how it panned out.
“But I think in the end, we were well worth the win. Merthyr are a good young side, and they’ll cause a lot of teams problems if they can sustain their levels from the first half.