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Sat. 29th Sept. Evo-Stik Southern Div. One Bideford 1 Melksham Town 1 Weds. 3rd Oct. Southern League Challenge Cup Larkhall Athletic 0 Melksham Town 2 Sat. 6th Oct. Evo-Stik Southern Div. One Melksham Town 3 Cinderford Town 2
MELKSHAM Town continue their Southern League campaign, remaining unbeaten, with manager Kieran Baggs saying the players are a credit to the town.
Kieran told Melksham News that he is seeing some of he best football he has seen since being manager and the team has adapted well to the higher standard of football. With the season now seven games in, the players are hungry to keep going and climb up the table.
In the away game against Bideford, a goal from Jon Davies gave Town the lead, but a last minute goal from Bideford meant that it was another draw for the club – their fourth in a row.
“It was a difficult place to travel to – it’s a long trip and the surface is not one you can really play football on.” said Kieran. “The lads and myself left disappointed not taking the three points after leading for so long.
“Bideford scored in the last 10 minutes, with a shot from 45-40 yards away. It was a real sucker punch. But overall our performance and the tenacity shown by the lads was good – and I was pleased with that.
“I’m happy with the overall result, it’s disappointing to concede a goal so late on, but to get another point and to remain unbeaten is a good run. This sort of unbeaten start was unthought of at the start of the season!”
Man of the match for Town went to defender Warren Maidment. Kieran said, “Warren had a hard job marking Kevin Squires who has played for Bideford for 400 games – he can be quite a handful, so Warren should be pleased with his performance.”
Next up for Town was a mid-week 2-0 away game win against Larkhall Athletic in the first round of the Southern League Challenge Cup. Kieran said, “It was another difficult place to go, especially mid-week, and the pitch there is bobbly. It was a game we could have done without after the long trip at the weekend to Bideford. There was an expectation that we would struggle – and the performance wasn’t our best. We got a chance to play some of the lads who have been away and two lads from the reserves team made their debut.”
Town’s winning goals came from Jamie Lyons in the first half, and the second from a Larkhall Athletic own goal, assisted by Lyons in the second half.
“Jamie played for Larkhall for 10 seasons,” said Kieran, “so it was nice for him to go back and visit and get the win!
“It was a comfortable 2-0 win for us – Larkhall gave us no problems. It’s pleasing to get through to the next round. After the run of draws in the league it’s great for the team to get that winning feeling back.
“We have Cinderford next who are a top level team and if we win, we should go into the top six of the league, which I think we deserve. It’s going to be a tough test and we need to be prepared.”
Last weekend saw Town take on Cinderford Town at home, that saw the team transform their league draws into a win, finishing 3-2, with two goals from Jon Davies and one from Neikell Plummer.
Dominating for 85 minutes, Town were punished late by Cinderford as the Melksham lads took their foot off the pedal, putting two goals past the keeper in the closing stages.
Despite the close score, Kieran said, “The way the team played during the game is possibly the best I’ve seen them play, they were fit, hungry and it was a great all-round day.
“We have had a great start to the season and have adjusted well to the higher level. The late goals were due to naivety; we need to make sure late goals don’t happen as that could make a big difference to our points tally. In the Western League we could have got away with taking the foot off the pedal, but these higher clubs will punish us and we will drop valuable points.”
In the 85th minute, Town were awarded a penalty as a defender tripped forward, Neikell Plummer, in the box. “It was clumsy defending,” Kieran added. “There were a few moans from the other side but from what I saw, it looked like the right decision.”
With seven games now played in the Evo-Stik Southern League, Town have had the opportunity to access the other teams.
Kieran said, “We have been really competitive already this season and have settled well. We have already played 3 or 4 of the top favourites to win the league and to remain unbeaten is great.
“We have had a good test and have passed it with flying colours, but now we need to kick-on. There is still a long, long season ahead and every point will be valuable. We will just have to see where we are come Christmas, January time.”
Town’s next game is against Slimbridge, away, in the FA Trophy.
Kieran added, “The FA Trophy is financially rewarding for the club, so it’s an important game. Hopefully it will go as well as the FA Vase did last year, we saw what it did for the town and gave us so much momentum to win the league, so hopefully it will be along the same lines.
“The competition is of a higher standard but if we get a good home draw, it’ll be another bumper day at the infiLED arena at Oakfields.
“Every single player has been superb from the start ‘till now, they are all a credit to Melksham and long will that continue.”