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Melksham Town 1-0 Ilfracombe – Toolstation Premier Division, Sat. 8th March

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Town entertained their North Devon visitors from Ilfracombe looking to continue their fine run of home form which had seen them win 7 and draw 1 of the last eight matches at the Conigre.

Ilfracombe themselves were on a barren run which had not seen them clock up a victory for 6 league games and were facing a relegation battle so were looking for some valuable points to assist with their climb away to safety.

The game was played in brilliant sunshine and a stiff breeze and bumpy playing surface did not lend itself to a great deal of passing football and the first half an hour saw little created by way of clear cut chances for either side although Melksham’s Stu Greener saw his near post shot well saved by Parkin after a Kovacs pass on 23 minutes. On 35 minutes Murrell threatened for the visitors but his well struck shot was too close to home keeper Drewitt who parried the shot away to safety.

Just on the half time whistle the game sprung to life when firstly Melksham’s Dan Kovacs, on a rich vein of scoring form, wildly shot over when through on goal after taking advantage of Jeffery’s through ball whilst at the other end, Ilfracombe full back Heafield was unlucky to see his lob clip the top of Drewitt’s bar and go over for a goal kick.

The interval was reached with the scores locked at 0-0 and both managers sensing the game was there for the taking.

The second period opened in similar fashion with no real clear cut openings and any pressure Ilfracombe applying being dealt with by Town central defender Dean Flockton who enjoyed a solid game at the back.

On the hour mark Town substitute Luke Ballinger was introduced for Jeffery and with his first touch he calmly slotted a clever through pass by Sean Benison past the visiting keeper to give the Town a 1-0 advantage.

Shortly afterwards Leigh Rogers was introduced from the bench for Benison and on 66 minutes Greener could not get enough power or direction on a near post header from a Rogers cross as the Town looked for a second goal to make the game safe.

On 80 minutes Kovacs nearly took advantage of a slip by the visiting keeper who dropped a high ball but his close range effort was bravely blocked and cleared away by Ilfracombe keeper Parkin.

On 83 minutes as the visitors pushed men forward Kovacs dragged his shot wide of the near post after set up play by Ballinger and with 5 minutes remaining Town manager Perrin made his final change of the afternoon when Will Thomson came on for Greener.

Melksham comfortably saw out the final few minutes without any great alarms and notched up another home victory and second successive clean sheet to retain their 7th place in the table.

Next up, a visit to Longwell Green on Saturday 15th March followed by Wiltshire Senior Cup semi at Calne v Purton on Tuesday 18th March.