Byline: Mark Bloom
MERTHYR Tydfil's defence took the season of goodwill to all men literally as they gifted arch-rivals Newport County a comfortable win.
The Martyrs look certain to drop through the Dr Martens Premier Division trap door, unless they get back to the basic principles of defending and find a striker who can score goals.
For the second time in five days, basic defence went on leave and Merthyr became their own worst enemy, with all three goals down to appalling, desperate schoolboy defending.
If Newport had received shooting boots and a bit more selfconfidence among their Christmas presents, Merthyr would have been dead and buried before the half-time whistle.
The first goal came after 20 minutes when Jimmy Rollo tried to usher the ball over his own bye-line for a goal-kick, only for the persistent Garry Shephard to pinch possession.
And the striker cashed in on the present, delivering the ball into the box for Alfie Carter to fire home for six yards.
The second goal, 10 minutes after the break, was as bad, if not worse.
Darren Ryan had just led a Newport break which pitted three home attackers against one defender.
Ryan opted for a square ball instead of a shot, allowing Merthyr to scramble it away for a corner - but still the Martyrs did not heed the warning.
The floated corner was aimed at the obvious target of former Cardiff City favourite Jeff Eckhardt, but with the Merthyr defence looking on, he headed back across goal for Steve Cowe - the smallest player on the pitch - to head home.
Newport's third goal came from a 90th-minute Martin Paul spot-kick after Craig Lima brought down Ryan, just two minutes after being let off for chopping down Matt Rose in the box. …