Arbroath Harp 1
Merpro returned to Midlands action on Saturday with a short trip to Arbroath and a Bremner Cup second round tie.
Players had had a two-week lay-off and were keen to gain early control, starting at a high tempo and pressurising their opponents.
Bruce had the first opportunity, picking up an E. Duff lay-off, but fired his shot wide.
Still within the opening 10 minutes McDougall made a forcing run in off the left flank and the ‘keeper did well to deny him.
Whyte had a chance, following good pressure by Hector, to block a defensive clearance, but he fired his 20-yard shot wide.
McDougall made another good run and was brought down just inside the box. The referee decided the offence occurred just outside
With a quarter of an hour gone Merpro were well in control. Allan lobbed a cross into the box for S. Robertson to head goalwards for Murdoch but he was ruled offside.
Merpro almost opened the scoring when Murdoch made a strong forward run, setting up Hector to slip past a defender and fire in a low angled shot which just narrowly went wide.
The visitors finally got the reward their early play deserved when Euan DUFF picked up an Allan pass to hold off a defensive challenge and run in on goal to fire in a driven shot in 22 minutes.
Merpro had another penalty claim denied when a stonewaller was waved away. Hector dribbled past players at pace and rounded the outrushing ‘keeper, but was impeded with sliding tackle.
Harp began to come back without creating any significant chances until the last minute of the first half. A free kick was floated into the box and only partially headed clear, with Gall having to make a low brave diving save.
Half-time: Harp 0, Merpro 1.
The second half started with Merpro again pressing but the home side equalised, with CANT firing home from close range after a corner in the 50th minute.
Merpro quickly restored their lead after some good interlinking lead up play set up Euan DUFF to fire in a low drive from the edge of the box in the 53rd minute.
Merpro continued to dominate and Hector was unfortunate with he skilfully lobbed the ‘keeper from 18 yards, only for his effort to come back off the bar.
McDougall was next to break through but he was chopped down on the edge of the box. His resultant free kick just sailed over the bar.
Murdoch was next to break forward but he lobbed his effort wide a few minutes later. Merpro continued to press and Allan made a good run and left foot shot into the top corner which was almost flapped into the net by the ‘keeper.
Allan again fired in a dangerous cross but Murdoch, running in, failed to connect and the ball went across the goal face to Duff whose effort was well blocked.
The visitors had another opportunity with five minutes to go when Bruce made a darting run into the box only to be taken out with a lunging tackle. Yet again the official failed to award the penalty.
Harp pushed hard for an equaliser but Merpro continued to be dangerous on the break with youngster Petrie making some good darting runs behind the defence to keep them occupied in the closing stage.
This was a well deserved win, graciously acknowledged after the match by the Harp officials, with the scoreline not reflecting the Merpro superiority.
Merpro: Gall, Murdoch, S. Robertson, Whyte, Pert, N. Duff, Bruce, Allan, E. Duff, Hector, McDougall (Petrie). Substitutes: Graham, J. Robertson, Smith and Wink.