HARLEY PURNELL came off the bench at Merthyr to hit a late winner that lifted Yate off the bottom of the table.

The midfielder, who was the only player in the squad to have started every game this season before Saturday, scored his first goal of the campaign with six minutes left – one minute after Merthyr equalised – to secure a shock victory against a promotion-chasing side who won 4-0 at league leaders Hungerford Town just five days earlier.

Yate took the lead on just six minutes when Matt Groves’ cross from the byline was diverted into his own net by his former Mangotsfield team-mate Gary Colbourne.

Michael Meaker seized on a poor kick out by Merthyr keeper Giles Cutlan but this time Colbourne’s intervention deflected the veteran striker’s effort wide of the post.

Yate goalkeeper Josh Dempsey was called into action seven minutes after the break as he scrambled Gary Preen’s shot on the turn from 20 yards around the post, while substitute Adnan Hiroli hit the post with a fierce drive at the other end.

Merthyr equalised on 83 minutes when Jamie Rewbury finished Ian Traylor’s low cross into the box.

However, Yate responded immediately as Groves turned in the box and had a shot parried by Cutlan, with the ball falling into the path of Purnell to fire home eight minutes after coming onto the pitch.

Rob Cousins’ side have now picked up seven points from their last three games and leapfrogged Sholing up to 21st place.

Yate are due to face another play-off chasing side when Cirencester Town visit Lodge Road on Tuesday night (7.45pm).