Sat 29th Jan. Southern League Div One. Att: 444 Melksham Town 4 Cinderford Town 2
FOLLOWING last week’s 2-2 draw away at Lymington, Town were looking to kick on and pick up their first 3 points of 2022 as Cinderford travelled to Oakfields.
Despite being in the lower half of the table, the visitors are a dangerous side; they’re off the back of a 3-2 win against Barnstaple and beat Town in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. This fixture also happened to be the 100th ‘competitive’ fixture at Oakfields, and as usual there was a good number of the Town faithful there to witness it.
Town started the game on the front foot, with Albie Hopkins and Ollie Webb going close in the opening 15 minutes, but were unable to find the net as the game remained goalless.
However, as Town continued to push, they got their reward in the 24th minute through Luke Ballinger when he slammed in his 11th league goal of the season from close range. As the pressure continued to mount on Cinderford, Jay Malshanskyj doubled Town’s lead when he delightfully headed in from Ryan Morgan’s cross.
The second goal calmed the game down; as Cinderford grew back into the contest they were able to restrict Town a lot more – however Albie Hopkins in particular was proving difficult to handle as he went close before the break. Town went in at half-time 2 goals to the good, but there was still a big 45 minutes of football to come.
The second half couldn’t have started any worse for Town, conceding just 2 minutes after the break when Harry Emmett pulled one back for the visitors. This opened the game up and gave the visitors a massive confidence boost, and as chances continued to appear at both ends, Cinderford managed to grab an equaliser through Zak Drew with under half an hour to play.
Oakfields hasn’t been shy of goals this season, so the crowd were expecting more twists and turns as the game progressed, and Jay Malshanskyj gave them just that, as he poked in from Luke Ballinger’s cross to give Town the lead.
A brace for Malshanskyj who looks to cement himself as a regular starter for Rich Fey’s side, as Town looked to be back to their free scoring best in attack. But they also weren’t done there; just a few minutes after retaking the lead, Ryan Morgan notched a lovely header into the top corner from Albie Hopkins’ freekick, calming any nerves for the last 10 minutes of the game.
In the end, Town came away with the important 3 points, the first after a winless run stretching back to the beginning of December, and a quality attacking display. The chance is there now to kick on and get back into form. Slimbridge travel to Oakfield’s this Saturday 5th February, whilst Town will be looking to replicate the 5-0 hammering in the reverse fixture.
By Lewie Simmons