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Hengrove Athletic 2 – 2 Melksham Town – Toolstation Premier Division, Sat 2nd Nov

The Town battled to gain a point at Hengrove despite trailing 1-0 and 2-1 thanks to a last gasp equaliser.

For the first time this season the Town were able to field an unchanged line up for their visit to a windswept Hengrove, looking to build on their recent league form which has seen them pick up two consecutive league wins.

It was apparent that the wind would spoil the game as a spectacle from the kick off, and the first 20 minutes saw both teams trying to get a grip on the conditions. The first action of note came on 20 minutes when after Tom Robinson’s initial free kick was blocked, his effort slid across the 6 yard box without any Town player able to get a touch.

The rest of the half featured Town appeals for no less than three penalties, any of which could have been given, but for reasons best known to himself were waived aside by the referee. The first incident came on 22 minutes when Melksham’s Dan Kovacs went down under a challenge, only for the referee to award a freekick against Kovacs for holding.

On 31 minutes the Town were shaking their heads again, when after Higdon latched onto Jeffery’s pass, and his cross to Kovacs saw the striker bundled over in the box without any response from the official.

If the Town thought they were hard done by based on the first two decisions, there was an air of incredulity at the third incident on 35 minutes when Kovacs was clearly upended by a poorly timed challenge in the box, and the referee blew his whistle for the anticipated penalty. However the whistle was to indicate that the referee felt Kovacs had dived when this was clearly not the case, and to add insult to injury booked the bemused striker.

This seemed to upset the Town rhythm for the rest of the half, and they were grateful to a couple of smart saves from Tom Drewitt to keep out a goal bound freekick and a couple of long range wind assisted efforts.

The second half saw the Town have the advantage of the strong wind at their backs and both Shaun Benison and Tom Stocks saw efforts saved by the home keeper, and skipper Dave Thompson blasted over from a partially cleared corner on 64 minutes.

With 20 minutes remaining the Town brought on Stu Greener and Will Stead for Flower and Josh Robinson in a bid to force an opener, but as the half wore on Hengrove started to put a few promising attacks together and took the lead on 72 minutes, taking advantage of a weak clearance.

However the Town raised their game again, and on 83 minutes Jeffery’s cross was headed home by Thompson for his first goal for the season since returning to his hometown club a few weeks back.

Town manager Darren Perrin immediately introduced Dan Griffiths for Benison as he looked for all three points, but their hopes took a further setback on 86 minutes when the home side went 2-1 up after a calm finish from 20 yards, and Melksham were looking at going back to Wiltshire with nothing to show for their efforts.

The Town are not short on character, and on 88 minutes after a series of dangerous corners, Griffiths’s driven corner was guided over the line at the far post by Matt Cooper to bring the scores back to 2-2, and indeed only a goal line clearance in the 90th minute stopped the Town snatching victory at the end.

A draw was probably a fair result on the balance of play and the Town’s little unbeaten run gains momentum. Next up two games in the space of three days with Sherborne and Bristol Manor Farm visiting the Conigre on Saturday and Monday.

Man of Match: Ian Jeffery. Team: Drewitt, Flower, Jeffery, Stocks, Cooper, Robinson T, Benison, Thompson, Higdon, Kovacs, Robinson J. Subs: Greener, Stead, Griffiths.