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Sat. 17th February. Les Phillips Cup
Brislington 2 Melksham Town 1
Sat. 24th February. FA Vase Quarter-Final
Melksham Town 0 Thatcham Town 1AFTER heartbreaking losses in the Les Phillips Cup and the quarter-final of the FA Vase, manager Kieran Baggs has said that the team will have to pick themselves up and prepare to fight for promotion.
Town currently sit in fourth place in the league, but with only four points between them and Willand Rovers and Bradford Town who are second and third respectively. “The Vase and Cup may have come to an end, but our league campaign isn’t over,” said Kieran. “There are 13 games left to play and there are 4 points to make up between us and Bradford and Willand.
“Street are the runaway leaders and there would have to be a massive drop in performance for anything to change there. But I believe we can clinch second place and that will guarantee us promotion into the Southern League.
“We have the potential to catch up; we, Bradford and Willand all have tough games coming up, but if we don’t slip up, we can get straight back into this.
“This is a massive opportunity, it’s something we have tried before, but after the amazing run in the Vase, this gives us something else to aim at. This is our bread and butter, so we need the town to get behind us again and cheer us on.”
Reflecting on the Les Phillips Cup game against Brislington that saw them lose 2-1, Kieran said, “I shuffled the pack in preparation for the Vase. It was important to give players a rest and make sure that the team was prepared for the biggest game in the club’s history; it was incredibly important for us.
“The conditions were tough, the pitch was really hard and caked in mud. I was surprised that the game went ahead, but that’s not an excuse for the result.
“It was not the result that we wanted; I wanted us to stay in the Cup for as long as possible. The performance on the day was not the best. Some of the lads need to reflect and think about how they did on the day, as a few of them were not picked for the Vase game as a result.”
At half-time, Town were in the lead thanks to a goal from Tyler Sibbick. But the second half saw Brislington fight back, ending Town’s dreams of retaining the Les Phillips title, with goals in the 48th and 73rd minutes.
“The lads played in the second half like the job was done, which left us open to attack and we conceded two goals,” explained Kieran.
After the loss in the Cup, Town’s attention turned to the FA Vase quarter-final match against Thatcham Town – the biggest match in the club’s 142-year history.
“It was a great day all round despite the result; it was one of my proudest moments as manager for the club, to see so many people, the whole community come out in force, it was a personal delight,” said Kieran.
“The lads gave it their everything and to lose 1-0 in the closing minutes like that was heartbreaking. But that’s football for you, and we have been the other side before and snatched victory in the dying moments. It’s something you have to deal with and move on.
“Football is a cruel game, but you cannot knock the attitude of the team, and the town. After the match there were so many messages of support, telling us that they were proud of what we had achieved.
“We have raised the profile of the club and brought some much-needed revenue to the club. To be in the top six of non-league crowds that day is unbelievable, the town has done the club proud and I cannot thank everyone enough.
“But there would be no game without the players, so huge credit to them, they have been unbelievable. I hope there are many more days like this to come.”
Next up for Town is an away match against Wellington this Saturday.
Kieran said, “The lads are going to be disappointed, but we will return to training this week and pick ourselves back up and get ready for the game against Wellington.
“We’ve got a long journey ahead to Wellington, so I’ll make sure that we get morale back on point with some sing-a-longs and maybe some initiations for the new signings. It would be great to get 3 points and get us back on track; the perfect way to put the Vase disappointment behind us.”