Harrow Borough 1, Merthyr Town 0
Martyrs manager Gavin Williams was downbeat after his team fell to a bitterly disappointing defeat at Harrow Borough.
Northern Ireland international Michael Bryan scored the winner just after the hour and Williams said: “We were second best and physically struggled at set plays.
“The positive is that we can play a lot better and have the chance to put it right against Weston-super-Mare at home on Tuesday.
“Yes, we had six players missing and all of them would have been involved, but I’m not making that an excuse. The 11 who started plus subs were good enough to win the game.
“We must have the mentality that whoever plays we are capable of winning.
“The match against Weston will be tough. They have a good team. A lot of our players were below par at Harrow and now people are fighting for shirts.”
Harrow set their season off to a winning BetVictor Southern Premier start after Bryan’s curling, angled 62nd minute free-kick secured victory.
Borough were out of the blocks quickest Alex Harris in the visiting goal saved a curling free-kick from Bryan. A clever short corner routine then led to Bryan crossing for Jordan Ireland, who headed over at the far post.
A lovely move involving Maloney and Anthony O’Connor then set up Frank Keita for a low shot across Harris which crashed off the far post.
Merthyr’s first chance followed a quick break upfield after a Harrow corner. Ian Traylor’s shot was deflected wide.
Traylor went close again when he ran clear, but failed to place his shot wide enough of goalkeeper Hafed Al-Droubi.
Harrow’s Josh Andrew made a superb clearance, hooking the ball off the line after a Merthyr right-wing break.
Merthyr pressure increased in the last 15 minutes, but Harrow’s defence held firm and there was only the one clear chance when Traylor’s clever free-kick was glanced narrowly wide by Owain Jones.
The Martyrs now play Weston-super-Mare at the MetCoaches Stadium in Merthyr Tydfil on Tuesday (7.30pm).
Harrow Borough: Hafed Al-Droubi, Josh Andrew, Chinua Cole, Shaun Preddie (George Fenton 68), Adam Pepera, Jordan Ireland (Lewis Cole 72), Frank Keita, Kensley Maloney (Excellence Muhemba 79), Anthony O’Connor, Michael Bryan, George Moore. Subs not used: Max Holland, Will Turl.
Merthyr Town: Alex Harris, Adam Davies (Tom Meechan 78 mins), Ben Swallow (Corey Jenkins 78), Ashley Evans, Jarrad Wright, Kyle Patten, Kerry Morgan (Rhys Davies 59), Lee Lucas, Owain Jones, Jamie Veale, Ian Traylor. Subs not used: Gavin Williams, Cameron Clarke.
Referee: Jonathan Creswick