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Town return to winning ways but stumble against league leaders

Tues. 15th January. Evo-Stik Southern Div. One Thatcham Town 0 Melksham Town 3 Sat. 19th January. Evo-Stik Southern Div. One Bristol Manor Farm 2 Melksham Town 3 Sat. 26th January. Evo-Stik Southern Div. One Melksham Town 1 Moneyfields 3

MELKSHAM Town FC saw a change of fortune this fortnight with two away wins breaking their run of five defeats. But Town were unable to keep up the momentum against league leaders Moneyfields.

However, the two wins and one loss has resulted in Town climbing back up the league into eighth place, leaving them 2 points short of the play-offs.

Town’s first victory came away to Thatcham Town with a 3-0 win. Manager Kieran Baggs said, “We had a few lads back with us on the squad, returning from injury, work commitments and suspension. Mark Cooper, Mike Perrott and Dave Thompson all returned, which helped to strengthen the team and lift the team spirit – it was almost back to how it was before the bad run.”

Goals for Town came from Luke Ballinger, Ollie Webb and Brad Norris. “The lads were hungry and aggressive on the pitch and played well,” said Kieran. “It was a perfect routine performance. It was nice to have some relief – no-one wanted the bad run to continue. I’ve been upset by the amount of grief that the lads and myself have been getting – so it’s great to put those doubts to bed and show everyone that Melksham deserves to be where we are in the league. The lads have been tremendous this season – we are a newly-promoted team with a limited budget; there needs to be some perspective when it comes to expectations.”

Next up for Town was another away match at Bristol Manor Farm, coming away with a 3-2 win. Kieran said, “The scoreline reads closer than it was. We were 3-0 up in the second half, with some great goals from Brad Norris and two from Luke Ballinger – including the goal of the season so far, ‘Bally’ lobbed the ball over the keeper from just inside our own half.

“It was a good performance from the team, but we gave away a sloppy penalty, which gave them a glimmer of hope. It was Manor Farm’s second goal that was controversial. There was a dropped ball being passed back to our keeper and one of the Manor Farm players ran through, intercepted the ball and scored. It should not have been allowed, but there was nothing the ref could do – it was bad sportsmanship by Manor Farm.

“However, it was another win, putting us in sixth place in the league and two points outside the play-offs. We were never expecting to be in the position and we’re not expecting to make promotion, but it is nice to be up at this end of the league not having to worry about staying up. We’re enjoying it.” 

However, next up for Town was a home game against top-of-the-league Moneyfields, which saw Town stumble, losing 3-1 after taking the lead in the second half with a goal from assistant manager, Luke Ballinger.

“For the first half we were defending against the conditions,” Luke explained to Melksham News, “but I’d say that we were the better side, we played well without creating any chances. In the second half we started off well and took the lead, but that almost changed the game for the worst for us. It felt like we took a step back and played on the back foot. Moneyfields changed up a gear and took advantage of any opportunities that came their way.

“If the game had stayed at nil-nil, we perhaps would’ve drawn the game and won a point – we did play okay for the first 60. minutes. We need to be more positive when ahead, rather than sit back and try and hang on in there. This lets the other team take control. We need to believe in ourselves more when playing against the top sides.

“The team is still feeling good though. We are looking forward to this Saturday (2nd February) against Bideford. Hopefully we can get ourselves another good home crowd. The fans have been fantastic this season, we really appreciate it.”

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