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Longwell Green 1-1 Melksham Town – Toolstation Premier Division, Sat. 15th March

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TOWN showed great character and resilience in gaining a point from this game after keeperTom Drewitt was sent off after only 12 minutes, and then going behind with 15 minutes remaining.

On a difficult surface and facing a strong breeze, Town started in positive fashion. After only three minutes Leigh Rogers had a chance from 10 yards, but directed his effort over the bar. As Town continued to press, Gary Higdon, seeking his 28th goal of the campaign, shot straight at the keeper.

Within a minute, however, Town’s afternoon looked to become more difficult. Longwell Green’s Liam Crew received the ball clearly offside, but with no flag raised, raced towards Town’s penalty area. Tom Drewitt rushed out, and hauled him down just outside the area, with the inevitable red card shown, Luke Ballinger went in goal, as manager Darren Perrin re-organised his side.

Despite this, the home side didn’t trouble Town unduly throughout the rest of the first half. Luke Ballinger comfortably dealt with crosses on a couple of occasions. It was not until the stroke of half-time, that he produced an excellent block save at the near post to deny the hosts.

The home side applied early pressure in the second half, but Town nullified any potential threats. Midway through the half manager Darren Perrin made two substitutions within the space of two minutes, bringing off Gary Higdon, and then Dan Kovacs. They were replaced by Jamie Broom making his debut, and David Macey, presumably with Tuesday’s County Senior Cup Semi Final, in mind.

Town were still holding on comfortably, but after 75 minutes, conceded a free kick on the right hand side edge of the area. Mark Knapman’s strike from this found the far corner of the net, to give the home side an undeserved lead. A blow for Town but if anything, it spurred them on.

With Ben Thomson to the fore as they pressed for an equaliser, the same player was fouled some 20 yards out. His effort from the free kick struck a post and rebounded to the onrushing Ryan Bennett, who, at full stretch, could not keep his effort down.

Town desperately equalised on 82 minutes when another surging run from Ben Thomson saw him strike a fierce 25 yard shot past the keeper. Not content with this, and Ian Jeffery on for Shaun Benison, Town ended the game, the better side, as they nearly snatched a winner. This would not have been undeserved. Ben Thomson had a shot blocked, and Luke Smith following up saw his goal-bound effort blocked on the line. Right at the end Ben Thomson was foiled by the keeper, as the final whistle was blown a minute later.