It was a reversion to the 4-3-3 formation for Merthyr for their third meeting with Bitton this season, Kris Leek making a welcome return to the starting lineup with Scott Armitage fit to return on the bench
The Martyrs had an early opening, started by Joe Perry with a long clearance down the left to set Ian Traylor
away leading to a couple of shots being blocked. Soon afterwards a 30-yard shot from Alun Griffiths
had the Bitton keeper scrambling across goal but it went wide. At the other end a low 22-yard shot was easily held by Joe Perry.
The game was proving to be more open than in the recent Cup tie with Bitton at Penydarren Park, and Jamie Thomas had to make a great saving tackle just as an unmarked Bitton player prepared to shoot.
Bitton had the chance of the match so far when a free kick was headed
back across the 6-yard area to a forward in front of goal but he put his header over the bar.
Scott Armitage came on for Marcus Griffiths
just after the half hour mark, and after the open start the game had developed into more of a midfield battle and Merthyr were finding it difficult to make any headway. But prompted by Kris Leek the Martyrs drove forward at Bitton from the start of the second half and took the lead after 48 minutes. Leek ran down the middle and put a great ball out to Garry Shephard
on the left to beat the offside trap. He took the ball into the area and finished with a fine strike over the goalkeeper and in off the angle of crossbar and post.
Adam Carpenter replace Laurie Marsh in midfield, and a minute later a run into the box by Alun Griffiths
saw him cut the ball back into the middle for the Martyrs to have a shot well blocked by the keeper. But Bitton couldn't get the ball away and it broke for Scott Armitage on the right of the area. As he tried to turn it past his man the linesman flagged for a penalty for handball, Armitage himself sending the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot kick.
Just 3 minutes after the penalty incident the game was effectively over when Bitton’s Dean Griffiths was sent off for a late challenge on Alun Griffiths
After his booking in the first half Ryan Dorrian had been living dangerously with two 'final warnings' from the referee, so very wisely he was substituted 12 minutes from the end, Joe Leahy coming on as Merthyr switched to 4-4-2.
Bitton looked a well-beaten side after the sending off, with the mobility of Ian Traylor
and Joe Leahy causing them problems at the back. There could have been further goals with well-struck shots from Kris Leek and Adam Carpenter, and Ian Traylor
putting a shot wide with the goalkeeper on the edge of the area and two defenders back on the line.