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MELKSHAM continued their fine form with a home win against Hallen.
The Town went into their fixture showing two changes from the side that lost narrowly last week with Gary Higdon returning to lead the line , Stu Greener taking a central midfield role and Dave Thompson reverting to centre back in place of the injured Matt Cooper.
On the bench the Town were boosted by the return of striker Nick Ridout from Bradford. Hallen came into this game on the back of a tremendous 11 match unbeaten run dating back to mid October but knew they wouldn’t find it easy against a Town side who themselves have shown a decent run of form in recent weeks.
The home side started brightly at a windswept Conigre and after 6 minutes Shaun Benison’s whipped in swinging corner was met by the head of Gary Higdon but the strikers glancing header was deflected behind for another corner. On 12 minutes Melksham’s Ian Jeffery saw his dangerous free kick volleyed just wide by Dan Kovacs before at the other end Hallen’s Bament saw his 25 yard freekick tipped around the post by home keeper Tom Drewitt as Hallen started to settle into the game. On 27 minutes the Town were bitterly disappointed not to have been awarded a spot kick when after Higdon’s shot was saved , Kovacs was upended in the box but the referee was unsighted and failed to give the decision in the home sides favour.
On the stroke of half time Ibrahim was instrumental in the opening goal when his cleverly flighted pass found Kovacs who was unceremoniously dumped to the floor by Reid and this time the ref immediately awarded the spot kick.After some delay for treatment to Reid who was forced to leave the field Higdon kept his nerve and confidently slotted home his 18th goal of the season and with that the half time whistle blew.
At the break Melksham replaced Dave Thompson with Tom Stocks. As expected the visitors came out with the bit between their teeth at the start of the second period and the Town were indebted to fine last ditch blocks from keeper Drewitt and defender Luke Smith in quick succession to keep Hallen at bay on 50 minutes.
Hallen were enjoying a majority of the possession but were finding it difficult to create any clear cut opportunities with Melksham’s Ryan Bennet excelling in central defence although on 69 minutes Drewitt was again at full stretch keeping out a Cook freekick.
On 75 minutes the homeside won a corner kick out on the Town left and Benison’s driven corner was met powerfully at the far post by a towering Bennet header giving the keeper no chance as the ball flew into the net to put Melksham 2-0 ahead.
However if the Town thought they has killed off the visitors then their expectations were immediately dispelled when the visitors were awarded a penalty from the kick off when Thomas was bundled over in the area. Cook’s penalty was driven to home keepers Drewitt’s right but he managed to keep out the kick and was alert enough to block the second effort much to the delight of his team mates and the Town faithful to keep the Town 2-0 to the good.
Two minutes from the end Bennet nearly grabbed his second of the game but the Hallen keeper pawed away his header from a Rogers free kick and the final whistle blew soon after with the Town’s fine recent run leaving them in 8th position in the league .