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Bridport 2-6 Melksham Town – Toolstation Premier Division, Sat. 22nd Feb.

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MELKSHAM Town travelled to Bridport to play their only game of February in this weather-interrupted season.

They were boosted with new signing Ben Thomson from Larkhall and the return of assistant manager Dave Macey who last played in October 2013 due to injury. In keeping with the Town’s desire to continue to use local players, under 18s player Dan Sibley was also brought into the squad for his first taste of senior action.

Bridport opened brightly and whilst they enjoyed most of the early possession the Town defence stood firm and keeper Tom Drewitt was relatively untroubled in the opening 15 minutes. On 16 minutes the Town took the lead with a goal that would grace any game. The move started when Will Stead broke up a Bridport attack and fed the ball out to the right flank to full back Sayeed Ibrahim whose flighted pass found Higdon, who in turn nodded the ball into Shaun Benison. He cleverly laid the ball into the path of on rushing striker Dan Kovacs who smashed the ball into the net, giving the home keeper no chance and putting the visitors 1-0 ahead.

Minutes later Ben Thomson, back in a Melksham shirt for the first time since May 2007, outpaced his marker but his scuffed shot was cleared away to safety. On 20 minutes the home side were thrown a lifeline when the referee pointed to the spot after a home player fell to the floor after a challenge by Bennet, much to the surprise of the Town players. Wise calmly slotted home the penalty to bring the scores all level at 1-1.

On 25 minutes the Town regained the lead when Benison’s corner was met by the head of Bennet and as the ball fell to Kovacs, the striker tucked home the chance with ease. Minutes later the Town seemed to be out of sight when Higdon picked the ball up mid-way inside the Bridport half and strode forward before dispatching a low drive into the corner of the Bridport net to put Melksham 3-1 ahead at half-time.

On 50 minutes Melksham’s Will Stead cleared the ball deep into Bridport territory and with the home defender looking to shepherd the ball into touch he was robbed by the outstanding Kovacs who ran down the line and squared the ball back to the ever alert Higdon, who slid the ball home for his 24th goal of the season and put the Town 4-1 ahead. Almost immediately the home side scored with a Condliffe cross shot which screamed into the far corner to bring the score back to 4-2 to Melksham. Any prospects of a dramatic comeback were dashed on 68 minutes when Benison’s inswinging freekick could only be helped into his own net by a home side defender and put Melksham 5-2 ahead and the three points in the bag. At this stage youngster Dan Sibley came on for his senior debut and was quickly joined off the bench by fellow Town youth player Will Thomson and veteran Dave Macey.

As the game entered into injury time Higdon latched onto Ian Jeffery’s long ball, beat his marker before crossing to the far post where Sibley knocked the ball home from a few yards out to score the Town’s 6th and complete a 6-2 victory and move the Town up to 8th place in the league. March sees a busy month as the Town play no less than 9 games looking to catch up the fixture backlog and includes a Wiltshire Senior Cup Semi Final.