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Melksham Town 1-3 Buckland Athletic – Toolstation Premier Division, Sat. 14th Feb.

Both these sides came into the game on the back of three successive victories, but is was the visitors from Devon who came away with the victory which extended their run with a deserved victory.

Prior to the kick off both sides perfectly observed a minutes silence as a mark of respect for Terry Gregory who passed away recently and had been a great supporter of Melksham Town and grassroots football in Wiltshire for many, many years.

Melksham made a couple of changes from the starting line up from the previous week’s win, with Luke Smith and Ben Thomson returning to the side after injury to replace Young and Benison.

After the overnight rain the Conigre pitch was playable but very heavy which made it difficult for the players, but it was Buckland who adapted better to the conditions and the 3-5-2 formation employed worked well for them with Revell prominent in midfield.

The visitors nearly went 1-0 up on 18 minutes when Jeffery cleared the ball off the line when a goal seemed certain, but Buckland did take the lead on 25 minutes when a Griffiths shot from a partially completed corner smacked against the bar only for Hammon to acrobatically volley in the rebound.

The home side were unable to gain any momentum going forward, although Will Stead tried to get the side moving when he surged past a couple of defenders on 40 minutes to set up a shooting opportunity, but could not get enough power and direction on his effort.

With Higdon and Kovacs starved of any quality supply the Buckland defence looked secure with Head dominant at the back, and Kovacs picked up a caution just before the break for a high challenge as the frustration mounted.

Just before the break a Melksham freekick from Thomson saw the Buckland defence strive to clear efforts from Perrott, Kovacs and Simpson in quick succession, whilst at the other end Brown in the Town goal held onto an effort from Gaze.

The interval was reached with Buckland 1-0 to the good.

After the break Town employed all their three substitutes within 15 minutes of the restart with Thompson, Rogers and Benison replacing Jeffery, Stead and Simpson respectively, and on the hour mark the Town drew level when a Benison near post corner was headed in by Higdon, which resulted in his 157th goal for the club in this his 200th game, and the Town sensed they might get something out of a game in which they were second best on the balance of play.

However their hopes were dashed only five minutes later when a long freekick was headed home forcefully by Lewington to put Buckland back in front.

The Town faithful were left disappointed to see a penalty appeal turned down on 70 minutes when Higdon appeared to be hauled down in the box, and on 72 minutes a Thomson freekick was easily saved by the visiting keeper, whilst Higdon headed over from an Ibrahim cross as Melksham threw men forward.

Buckland made the game safe on 89 minutes when Gaze picked up a clearance near the half way line, and embarked on mazy run before sliding the ball home to put the visitors 3-1 ahead and the game safe for a well merited three points and putting themselves in the mix as to league honours in the closest league finish for many a year.

The Town still sit at the top of the league with a one point lead and face another home fixture against another side with title aspirations in Willand next Saturday.

On a brighter note the Towns Reserves picked up a 3-1 victory at Sarum Youth thanks to two goals from Nick Ridout and a goal from Emelio  Menghini which sees them close the gap on the league leaders in the Wiltshire Premier League.

The A team played their penultimate game in the Trowbridge & District League and held onto top spot after   a resounding 16-1  Valentines massacre of The Stiffs, thanks to six goals from Dan Moore, four from Callum Demkiv, two each for veteran Dave Macey and James Dark and a goal apiece for Luke Turvey and Will Thomson.