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Rollercoaster fortnight for Town with FA Trophy revenge, nail-biting league draw and league home win

Sat. 27th October. FA Trophy

Thatcham Town 1 Melksham Town 2

Tues. 30th October. Evo-Stik Southern Div. One 

Moneyfields 3 Melksham Town 3

Sat. 3rd November. Evo-Stik Southern Div. One

Melksham Town 2 Mangotsfield United 1

MELKSHAM Town FC has progressed to the next round of the FA Trophy, exacting revenge on the team that pushed them out of the FA Vase earlier this year. 

The club has also returned to its unbeaten ways in the Southern League, after their first loss last month. A nail-biting away draw and a comfortable home win now puts Town in fifth place in the league.

In the FA Trophy, Town faced Thatcham Town, who ended the club’s FA Vase hopes, beating them 1-0 in the quarter-final in February. This time round, it was Town who came out on top. Town’s manager Kieran Baggs said, “It was a great victory! We were 2-0 up until the 90th minute, and Thatcham managed to get one back, which was disappointing – but still a good win and nice to progress to the next round.   

“For the boys that played in the quarter-final of the FA Vase last year, the win meant a lot to them. Although both teams have changed a lot since we last met, it was nice to get one over them and to come out on top.”

Town’s goals came from Jon Davies and Luke Ballinger. “This was Jon’s 11th goal this season,” said Kieran, “he is on fire at the moment and long may that continue.”

Town play Leiston FC in the next round of the FA Trophy on Saturday 10th November. The club will be running a coach to Leiston, leaving the InfiLED Arena at 8.30am for the price of £10 per person. Contact Darren Perrin on 07855 742960 to book your place.

Kieran said, “Leiston FC means a trip Ipswich way, which is a long trek. They are in the league above and are doing very well, so this will be a free swipe for us as there will be no expectations. Hopefully we can get a good away crowd to come along for the ride.”

Three days after their away win over Thatcham, Town were away again to  Moneyfields in the Southern League. As the game approached full-time, Town trailed the home team 3-0, but three goals in the dying moments saw Town snatch an unlikely point with a 3-3 draw.

“This was the strangest game I have been involved in for a long time,” joked Kieran. “Firstly it was a nightmare of an away trip, and coming so soon after the Thatcham game, it took a lot out of the lads. But we went there with full strength, making no changes to the line-up. However,  goalkeeper Darren Behcet and captain Mike Perrott were both injured in the warm-up, which was very frustrating. Mike is a huge positive influence on the team, so that was a great loss.

“We were not at our best, but perhaps didn’t deserve to be 3-0 down. We were still trailing as we approached 80 minutes, so it looked like we would have to go into damage limitation. But new signing Brad Norris, who came on in the second half, got a quick-fire brace with a superb one-on-one goal and another from a header. We then got a corner in extra time and we threw everyone up there. Unbelievably, Dave Thompson scored his first goal for the club, making it 3-3.

“This game really demonstrated the commitment and character of Melksham – we keep going until the final whistle. The Melksham spirit really came to the forefront in this game. To come away with a point is great, Moneyfields are flying at the moment. This point helps keep us in touch with the rest of the league.”

Next up for Town were Mangotsfield United at home in the League. With manager Kieran away, assistant manager and player, Luke Ballinger, stepped in to lead the team to a 2-1 victory – also scoring the two winning goals.

“It was a very good performance,” said Luke. “We started well and got ourselves out in front and in the second half, we got a penalty that gave us control of the game. But soon after this, we switched-off, which made it a very nervous match – in this league you got punished for switching off. Unfortunately we conceded in the last few minutes, which made it a nervous ending. But overall it was a confident, good team performance.

“Playing and managing the team was difficult. But I have been doing well this season and I wanted to keep myself in the firing line. Luckily this paid off and I got the two goals to win.

“We had great support as always, with the highest Southern League South attendance that weekend – 352. The team really it appreciate it.”

The game against Mangotsfield also saw the return of Town’s top striker Gary Higdon, who departed the club in September to focus on his family. “We had a few players away and were light on numbers, so Gary stepped in to help – he’s always there if we need him. But the team is bigger than any one player, the important thing is that we get the three points, which we did.”

Following their home win, Town now sit in fifth place in the league. Luke said, “It looks good; we have made a reasonable start and we are in a good position. But it’s very close at the moment, so a win or a loss could change things completely. It’s normally after Christmas when things start to get exciting. For now we are focussing on each game as it comes and our next league game is going to be a tough one. We play Street, who came up with us last season from the Toolstation Premier Division.”

League table – see p30

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