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MELKSHAM Town took the spoils in their Boxing Day derby against local rivals Bradford on Avon, in dramatic style with an injury time goal.
A 91st minute winner from striker Ricky Hulbert gave Melksham the win in front of a crowd of nearly 500 in the Christmas match-up at the Conigre. Town keeper Rob Brown also saved a penalty.
The game was the last to be played at the old ground as the club gets set to move to Oakfields next week. Manager Darren Perrin called the derby win a ‘fitting goodbye’.
“It was a fantastic crowd and a massive result for us,” he said. “We had two or three chances in the first half that we should have put to bed, but we did not play that well.
“The pitch was bumpy and sticky and Bradford are a very strong side who are up in the top five with us. In the second half we were indebted to our keeper, Rob Brown, who saved a penalty and kept the scores level.
“Great play from Mike Perrott and Ricky Hulbert got us the goal in the 91st minute in what can only be described as great scenes for the last time at the Conigre. It’s testament to the players that we can beat a tough side like Bradford even when we’re playing poorly.”
Both sides had a player sent off in the match, with Ross Lye going off for Melksham and Alex Monks for Bradford.
Lee Fielding also received a yellow card, as did four more of Bradford Town’s players.
Melksham’s next fixture will be away against Bristol Manor Farm in the FA Vase this weekend, with Darren saying he is hopeful although he knows his side will be underdogs.
Town will then face Wells City on Tuesday before coming up against Manor Farm again the following Saturday, 14th January. The Bristol side, who are 14 points clear at the top of the table, will visit Town for the first game at the brand new Oakfields Stadium.
Manor Farm have handed Melksham one of their only two league losses this season, and the Bristol side have only lost once. Both teams have been undefeated in the league since October.
Perrin can’t wait for the game. He said, “This is going to be a massive day for the football club. The players deserve it and we’ve all been waiting for such a long time now. We’re very excited to play and feel honoured to be the first at Oakfields.
“The facility is unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it at this level of football. It’s the start of a new era for Melksham Town and the hard work starts now!
“I think the only problem will be that every game will be like a cup final for visiting teams. Everyone’s going to want to play here and they’ll be bringing their A game. It’s down to us to embrace it and turn the ground into a fortress.
“Huge thanks to everyone – especially Dave Wiltshire and everyone on the committee – who made this happen. They’ve all worked so hard to get here and are a credit to the club.”