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Melksham Town 0-1 Longwell Green – FA Cup Extra Preliminary, Mon 18th Aug.

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After Saturdays 1-1 draw at Longwell Green the two sides met again only 2 days later in the FA Cup replay with a trip to Fareham town awaiting the victors.

Melksham’s line up showed a couple of changes from the original tie with Leigh Rogers and Nick Ridout starting in place of the injured Jamie Broom and Dean Flockton and Jack Morris on the bench. Town opened brightly and Ridout headed over a Ben Thomson cross after only 5 minutes whilst at the other end Bishop was proving to be a handful for the Town defence with keeper Tom Drewitt having to be alert on a couple of occasions to keep the striker at bay.

On 15 minutes the home side were indebted to a goal line clearance from Ibrahim as Peare header from a corner was destined for the roof of the net.

On 23 minutes Ridout was involved in an accidental collision with Ballard in the visitor’s goal and a lengthy 20 minute stoppage ensued whilst the keeper received attention from the physio before being led from the field of play to be replaced by Wood who was not a specialist keeper.

However this did not deter the visitors and on 40 minutes Whittington headed wide when well placed as the Town failed to take a hold on the game and the 1st period ended with the side’s level at 0-0.

10 minutes into the second period Melksham’s Ryan Bennet picked up a caution for a trip which was later to prove costly.

On the hour mark Melksham’s Leigh Rogers went close with a long range effort and moments later Will Stead drilled a shot wide as both sides struggled to take control of the game. Midway through the second half Higdon latched onto a Ridout flick but after turning past his defender his left foot effort slid wide.

The visitors Whittingham flashed a shot past the far post on 68 minutes and the game seemed destined to go into extra time.

On 82 minutes Higdon went desperately close to putting Melksham in front but his right foot volley from 25 yards curled away to safety at the last moment with the keeper motionless.

However on 85 minutes the game took a dramatic twist when the referee deemed Bennet worthy of a second caution and sent the defender off. From the resultant free kick Longwell Green’s substitute Tom Andrews smashed an unstoppable 25 yard pile driver into the top corner of the net to put the visitors 1-0 ahead and with one foot into the next round together with the £1,500 prize money.

Despite a late header from Higdon after a Morris free kick on 88 minutes the Town could not force an equaliser and were forced to concede defeat against a team who played over an hour with a stand in keeper. In truth on balance of the two games the visitors just about deserved their victory as the Town failed to do themselves justice on the night much to the disappointment of management and players alike.