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Sat. 3rd February. FA Vase, Last 16
Melksham Town 2 Tring Athletic 1
Mon. 12th February. Toolstation Premier Div.
Melksham Town 4 Longwell Green Sports 1
WITH the quarter-final of the FA Vase looming, Melksham Town’s manager, Kieran Baggs, has said that the team are enjoying the ride too much for their Wembley dream to come to an end.
Next week, Town are attempting to win a place in the FA Vase semi-finals for the first time in club’s history. Thatcham Town, who haven’t been beaten in their last 20 games, stand in Town’s way. Kieran said, “Ahead of the FA Vase match I have been to see Thatcham in action. They are a fantastic side, currently on 20 game winning run and are favourites to win. Every single player for us must be in top gear for the game. It has been a great ride so far, and we are not ready for it to stop.
“I hope Melksham can provide us with another amazing crowd and in return the boys will give it their everything. It really does make a difference and it is intimidating for the other team. Let’s make it another record crowd!
“We have a big squad now, which is important being in contention for the Vase, as well as the Les Phillips Cup and promotion in the league. Having a big squad means that I can freshen things up for the next couple of weeks and make sure that we go in as strong as we can for the Cup and Vase games.”
About the historic 2-1 win against Tring Athletic in the FA Vase that saw them progress to the quarter-finals, Kieran said, “Chair Darren Perrin had provided us with a report on Tring Athletic and it was spot on. So I went off from that and used it in training. We knew that Tring would be susceptible to set-plays and worked on that in training.”
The nail-biting match got off to a thrilling start for Town when Mike Perrott and Rob Hobbs both scored inside the first 15 minutes.
“We hit them with a sucker punch nice and early,” said Kieran. “The keeper liked to play out because he struggled with his kicking, so we pressed on that. So it was the perfect start after 15-20 minutes.
“But we almost became a bit too complacent after half an hour and Tring deservedly got a goal back in before half-time. I had a chat with the lads at half time and encouraged them to get back to how we were doing in the first 15-20 minutes.
“In the second half, other than one chance at the start that Tring had, anyone could see that we were deserved winners and that it could have been 3 or 4 goals for Town.
“The crowd were absolutely superb, there was such a buzz in the stadium. We made history for the club that day and we hope to do it again in the quarter-finals against Thatcham Town.”
Away from the Vase, Town are continuing to perform well in the Toolstation Premier Division, as they push to get a spot for promotion.
Talking about the match against Longwell Green Sports that saw them take a comfortable 4-1 win, Kieran said, “It was a game we expected to win. Longwell are bottom of the league, but they have picked up since we last played them and are a lot better. For the match I made lots of changes as we have people coming back from injury and I wanted to rest some of the boys who have been putting in the minutes recently.”
250 up for Gary Higdon
The match against Longwell also marked the 334th appearance for Gary Higdon who scored two goals, taking his tally to 250 goals for Town.
“It was a great night for Gary, a fantastic achievement for him,” said Kieran. “He deserves all the accolades for being one of the top goal scorers in the Western League, so all credit to him. He’s a great leader and scored some important goals over the years for the club. It’s an incredible record at any level for someone to reach.”
The two other Town goals were scored by Tyler Sibbick. “We were too strong on the night for Longwell. The lads are fighting for places in the Vase match, so it’s a good incentive for them to play well. I could’ve been 6,7 or 8 goals to Town.”
Coming up for Town before the Vase match, the club take on Brislington as they continue their defence of the Les Phillips Cup. “I’d like us to give a good performance away to Brislington,” said Kieran. “We need to stay in the cup as players need the minutes, so if we stay in the cup as well as the Vase, it’s easier to rotate the squad”
Town take on Thatcham Town in the quarter-final of the FA Vase on Saturday 24th February, kick off 3pm. There is limited parking at Oakfields, so supporters are advised to walk to the stadium or get dropped off.