BOSS Steve Cuss saluted the display of goalkeeper Jason Harvell after Wimborne Town had frustrated much-fancied Merthyr Town on their synthetic surface.
Harvell pulled off a string of saves to thwart last season’s runners-up and beaten play-off finalists as Magpies claimed a valuable point in South Wales.
The visitors silenced home supporters among a partisan crowd of 421 at Penydarren Park when they opened the scoring through Matt Kemble in the 26th minute.
Kemble was on hand to tap home from close range after midfielder George Webb had supplied the assist following a superb burst down the flank.
Harvell was finally beaten when Ryan Newman’s 62nd-minute free-kick found its way through the defensive wall as the Martyrs hit back for a share of the spoils.
Cuss told the Daily Echo: “It was a fantastic result and performance. When the fixtures first came out, we knew we had been given a tough start.
“We knew we would be up against it a bit so tried to dampen that and started really well. We weathered the first 20 minutes, created a couple of chances and got the all-important first goal which gave us something to defend.
“Although we were still pressing for a second, which we couldn’t quite get, I thought a draw was a fair result in the end and we were delighted with our start. I was pleased with the chances we created but we were indebted to Jason.
“He made two excellent saves in the first half and an outstanding reaction stop in the second from a close-range volley. His performance was excellent. You need your goalkeeper to play well when you go to the likes of Merthyr and that is what he did. He was definitely man of the match.”
Merthyr, taken over by supporters after the club had gone into liquidation four years ago, laid a 3G pitch as part of a £500,000 revamp thanks to a grant 12 months ago.
Asked for his thoughts on the surface, Cuss said: “I am very relaxed about it. I think they have a problem when they go away and play on a grass pitch because they are used to a flat surface.
"I don’t think it gives anybody too much of an advantage. We enjoyed playing on it and would have no complaints if we had to again.”
Cuss hopes Adam Costello will recover from a back injury in time for Wednesday’s trip to Larkhall Athletic but thinks the clash may come too soon for striker Mark Gamble.
Magpies: Harvell, Arnold, Maybury, Costello (Davidson, 25), Oliver, Wilson, Stokoe, Blake, Webb, Griffin, Kemble (Brimson, 89). Unused sub: Phelps.