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Sat. 13th October. FA Trophy Slimbridge AFC 2 Melksham Town 3 Mon. 15th October. Wiltshire Senior Cup, New College Swindon 0 Melksham Town 10 Sat. 20th October. Evo-Stik Southern Div. One Blackfield & Langley 3 Melksham Town 2
MELKSHAM Town FC’s manager, Kieran Baggs, has praised his team for their performance so far in the Southern League after their first loss at the weekend brought to an end their unbeaten run.
The team will now set their sights on this weekend’s FA Trophy match, which will give them the chance to settle the score against Thatcham Town who ended Town’s FA Vase hopes, beating them 1-0 in the quarter-finals earlier this year.
Prior to their league game against Blackfield & Langley at the weekend, there was action for Town in the preliminary round of the FA Trophy against Slimbridge AFC and the Wiltshire Senior Cup against New College Swindon.
First up for Town, was their debut in the FA Trophy, up against Slimbridge AFC in the preliminary round. Kieran said, “Conditions were bad – there was really heavy wind. We probably dealt with the conditions better in the first half and should have gone ahead before the break.”
In the first half Jon Davies scored from a penalty, giving Town the lead. However, an equaliser from Slimbridge left the score at 1-1 at half time.
“In the second half we pressed on, but found ourselves 2-1 down. But the lads showed great character and didn’t give up. Luke Ballinger scored a great equaliser – he has been scoring some very important goals for us lately.
“The team kept plugging away and we got our reward in the 89th minute with a goal from Neikell Plummer, who has been on great form – he popped one in with assistance from Ballinger to give us the winner.”
In the next round of the FA Trophy, Town will be away to Thatcham Town this Saturday, 27th October.
“Last season we suffered that heartbreaking loss to Thatcham in the quarter-final of the FA Vase,” said Kieran. “This will be a great chance for revenge and to get one over on them. But Thatcham are a completely different team since their promotion, a lot like we are – so this will be a good game, with equal opportunity for both teams to progress.”
Next up for Town was an away game to New College Swindon in the Wiltshire Senior Cup. Four goals from Luke Ballinger, four goals from Neikell Plummer and goals from Lee Davidson and Nick Evans, saw the team waltz into the next round with a 10-0 victory.
Kieran said, “Games like this come with the territory in the Senior Cup – you don’t always play teams that are of the same standard, which can result in an unproductive game, for both teams.
“One positive is that we got to put some minutes into lads that have been injured or suspended, and we also got to look at some of the under 18s on the pitch, who played really well.
“We’ll take the result with a pinch of salt, but it was a professional performance. Great to score 10 goals and come away with a clean sheet. I’m really happy and I look forward to the next round.”
Returning to their Southern League campaign, Town faced an away game against Blackfield & Langley. Speaking before the match, Kieran said, “Blackfield and Langley are second in the league, so it will be a tough game and we will be the underdogs again, having just been promoted. But we haven’t been fazed by this so far. We remain unbeaten in the league and we will give the game our best shot.”
However, it wasn’t meant to be for Town, whose unbeaten run in the league came to an end with a 3-2 defeat against Blackfield & Langley. “We were below our usual standard and didn’t deserve to come away with anything from the game,” said Kieran. “It’s the first time in the league and the cup that we’ve not been at top level – which will happen from time to time.”
After a goal from Jon Davies in the 11th minute, Town initially led the match before the home team managed to equalise before half-time. Blackfield & Langley scored twice in the second half, and another goal from Jon Davies in the 85th minute brought the final score to 3-2 to the home team.
“Blackfield & Langley are second in the league, they are a great team and they punished us. There was a good period of the game when it was 1-1 and we were dominating the match. But we missed a penalty and that seemed to be a turning point for us. Blackfield & Langley’s number 10 was a great player and scored from 25 yards out, our keeper had no chance. We didn’t play as we could have and if you are not playing at your top level, you’re not going to come away with any points.”
The defeat brings to an end Town’s unbeaten run of seven games in the Southern League. Kieran said, “It’s always disappointing when a run like ours comes to an end. The boys have been magnificent and have put in some great performances. To get to the end of October and to now have our first defeat, you can’t be too disheartened. If you look at all the teams in the league we have already played – Evesham, Winchester, Cinderford – one loss is brilliant.”
• Town now lie tenth in the league with 13th points from eight games.