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Melksham Town 1-3 Bradford Town – Toolstation Premier Div, Sat. 25th March


In spite of a good crowd of 285, the early part of the first half was a rather muted affair, with early efforts from Bradford’s Jordan and a near post header from Melksham’s Stradling being the only action of note.

On 27 minutes Melksham’s Fielding picked up a caution, whilst Brown in the Town goal needed to be alert to hold a freekick from Cornwall.

On the half-hour mark, Thomson hit his shot wide after some good set up play by Hulbert and shortly after, Plummer picked up a caution for Bradford as the tempo started to increase.

On 38 minutes Melksham gave away the ball cheaply near the half-way line and Thompson was forced to bring down Plummer on the edge of the Town box, resulting in a caution for the player and a freekick some 25 yards out for Bradford.

Bradford’s Neikell  Plummer expertly lifted the freekick over the wall and past home keeper Brown into the corner, to give the visitors a 1-0 lead, which they nearly increased just before the break as Brown tipped over a Jordan effort.

Just before the break Melksham created a glorious opportunity to equalise, but the normally prolific Bennet headed over from close range after a Thomson freekick and the half-time interval saw Bradford 1-0 to the good.

The initial minutes of the second period saw Melksham’s Fielding go down after a heavy challenge and after some delay, the defender was led from the field of play. It later transpired that the player had broken his elbow and will now miss the rest of the season, and all at the club wish him a speedy recovery.

On 50 minutes Higdon latched onto a ball from Maidment but was unable to keep his shot down, whilst on 56 minutes, Jordan took advantage of some indecision in the Town defence and calmly slotted home Bradford’s second goal, leaving Melksham 2-0 down.

Melksham responded well and on 67 minutes pulled a goal back when Higdon headed in Thomson’s freekick from close range and the Town sensed an opportunity to get back into the game.

The home side ramped up the pressure and Higdon flashed a shot just wide of the post, whilst Stradling blazed over when well placed after some set up play from Higdon on 70 minutes.

Hulbert pulled up with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Kovacs and Barnett replaced Strading as Melksham strove to equalise whilst at the other end, Brown again was called into action to save from Wall, whilst Jordan knocked the rebound wide on 73 minutes.

On 77 minutes the game swung dramatically back in the visitors’ favour when the referee awarded a harsh penalty against Brown for a challenge in the box and despite vehement Town protests resulting in a caution for Perrot, the referee was unmoved. Jordan tucked home the penalty to put Bradford 3-1 ahead and despite further Town pressure, they held onto the lead at the final whistle.

Despite the disappointment of the defeat, the Town players have enjoyed an excellent run of form of late which has seen them climb the table and still have all to play for with  a Wiltshire Senior Cup final against Salisbury on Wednesday 27th April at Chippenham Town and the quarter-finals of the Les Phillips cup to play, as well as looking to finish in a favourable league position.