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Bradford Town 1-2 Melksham Town – Toolstation Premier Division, Friday 3rd April

Melksham travelled to near neighbours Bradford Town on Good Friday looking to continue their quest for league glory, anticipating another tough game against a Bradford side who had beaten them twice already this season.

In front of a respectable crowd of 219 boosted by a strong travelling support, it was Melksham who opened brightly and so nearly took the lead on only three minutes when Shaun Benison cut inside from the left and unleashed a 25 yard effort that seemed destined for the top corner, until the home keeper Bartlett threw up a left hand to tip the ball over the bar and behind for a corner.

Bradford responded almost immediately and Rob Brown in the Town goal held onto a Hiscocks drive at the second attempt on five minutes, whilst shortly after a weaving run by Plummer saw his effort fly over the bar on 10 minutes.

The opening goal of the game came on 20 minutes when a Ben Thomson free kick caused chaos inside the Bradford box and the ball fell invitingly at the feet on ex Bradford player Dan King who slammed the ball home from inside the six yards box to put Melksham 1-0 ahead.

Bradford continued to push forward and Brown reacted well to hold a flick on by Jordan from a dangerous inswinging free kick on 25 minutes and again saved well from Plummer on 28 minutes.

In an open game it was Melksham who next looked dangerous when Will Stead robbed a home midfielder and laid a ball into the path of Kovacs, and whilst the striker dragged his effort narrowly wide from 16 yards, on reflection a return pass to Staed may have been the better option.

As the half wore on the pace of the game slowed although Straddling was unlucky to see his driven cross flash across the face of the Melksham goal on 35 minutes with no home forward able to supply the finishing touch.

The half time interval saw Melksham holding onto their slender 1-0 lead but with all to play for.

At the interval Melksham introduced Ian Jeffery for Luke Smith at full back .

On 57 minutes Melksham nearly pulled further ahead when skipper Dave Thompson saw his header from a corner cleared off the line and on 67 minutes Melksham introduced Dan Griffiths from the bench for Benison.

On 70 minutes Bradford drew level when the Town were made to pay for not closing down Plummer, and the midfielder drilled his low 20 yard drive into the bottom corner just eluding the partially unsighted Brown in the Town goal.

Melksham responded immediately, and on 73 minutes a trademark Stead run saw him hauled down by Cornwall some 35 yards from goal giving the Town a freekick in a central position. King stepped up and hit a tremendous curling left foot effort towards the top corner of the home goal only for Bartlett to again make a magnificent save and touch the ball over the bar.

Both sides sensed the game was theirs for the taking, although on 76 minutes the game turned in the visitor’s favour when Bradford’s Percival was given a straight red by referee Rushton for an off the ball incident.

On 78 minutes a Stead 25 yard freekick was pushed away by the excellent Bartlett and on 86 minutes Jeffery became the first Town caution of the game for a shirt pull on Jordan.

As the game drifted into injury time and it looked as if both sides would have to settle for a point but the game had one final dramatic twist.

Melksham’s Dan Kovacs, who had worked tirelessly upfront, but with little reward, managed to dispossess a home defender near the half way line to set up a 2 on 1 situation and played a perfectly weighted pass into King who found himself through with only the keeper to beat. King calmly dummied the keeper and dribbled the ball around Bartlett and stoked the ball into the empty net with his right foot to put the Town 2-1 up with inevitable joyous scenes from the players and management team as well as the travelling supporters.

Town introduced their final substitute of the game when Leigh Rogers replaced Kovacs in a bid to run down the clock, and in the final action of the game Brown was forced into one last catch from a high ball as Bradford strove for an equaliser.

The final whistle saw the Town take the three points and meant the Town’s unbeaten run now stretches to nine games.

Their league form since the turn of the year has seen them pick up 11 wins and two draws from 14 league games which leaves them in a strong position in the race for league honours in this exceptional season for the club, who will now secure their highest league position in their Western League history whatever the outcome of their remaining three fixtures.

The next day saw the Town Reserves run out easy 8-0 winners over Vale of Pewsey in the Corsham Print Senior Cup quarter final thanks to a hat trick from Leigh Rogers, two from Ben Spong and goals from Tom Robinson, Nick Ridout and Gary Perrott.

The perfect weekend was completed when Melksham A won through to the Trowbridge & District Spring Cup Final to be played at The Conigre on Thursday 23rd April 7.30pm kick off.

Upcoming Games:

Saturday 11th April – Slimbridge (A) League, 3pm
Saturday 25th April – Buckland Athletic (A) League, 3pm
Saturday 2nd May – Willand Rovers (A) League, 3pm