Melksham Town 4 - 1 Longwell Green Sports
Monday 12th February 2018
Melksham had more than half an eye on the FA Vase tie with Thatcham Town in 12 days time when they entertained bottom side Longwell Green Sports on Monday night but still eased through to three points, writes Kerry Miller.
With the rain seemingly not having been as sustained since Noah was visiting Ikea with a big truck, the pitch at Oakfields is still stunning and gives some bowling greens a bad name. Any visiting Thatcham Town spies would have noted the surface but may not have gleaned much more crucial information as Town weathered an early storm from Longwell Green before going 4-0 up and declaring with half an hour left, removing Gary Higdon who was on a hat-trick but giving Francois Allen an extended run up front alongside Tyler Sibbick.
The visitors showed why they have recently beaten both Brislington and Hallen by playing some bright football when they were allowed and Melksham did not have it all their own way as a Harry Pruett goal near the end was a reward for a night’s work which could have ended up a whole lot worse, which would have been an injustice.
Melksham were without Luke Ballinger and Jake Brown, sitting out the last games of their suspensions but were still strong although losing Chris Allen to a leg injury early in the first half was a worry for Kieran and Micky Baggs, who nevertheless would have pleased to see Gary Higdon knock in a tenth minute spot kick after Dan Demkiv was floored in the box. It was the lanky striker’s 249th goal for Town and came after a lively start where Sports’ Ben Lewis tested Rob Brown from 30 yards before Mike Perrott tried an overhead kick from 12 yards and Mark Cooper brought the first of a series of saved out of the impressive Adam Forster in Sports’ goal.
Ben Allen drove another shot from distance at Brown and his side were playing some nice passing football but were often let down in the final quarter which let Town off the hook. Allen limped off but just before the half hour Ben Thompson slung over a curling free-kick and the faintest of flicks from Olly Webb was enough to double his side’s lead and effectively seal the deal with an hour left.
Forster was again called on to save with his legs as Sibbick wriggled free but he could do nothing at the end of the half as Higdon latched on to another flick on to swivel and bury a right footer in the corner for the round 250.
Within seconds of the restart a long cross for the right was nodded home by Sibbick to make it 4-0 and at that stage it briefly looked as though a rout may be on the cards but Mitch Hogg’s side dug in and with Higdon given a rest on the hour with the big game in mind, Sports had a glimmer of a chance to save face which they took with a determined second half display. Substitute Sam Kamara hit the side netting from way out then Connor Davies was given the freedom of Oakfields but could not finish from eight yards. Francois Allen then latched onto a huge punt but was somehow denied by a lunge from Dan Vile before Kamara again went close, bringing a finger tip save from Brown.
Allen twice missed from close range as the half petered out but Pruett had the final word, curling a shot home past the static Brown for a well deserved consolation goal near the end.
With a Les Phillips Cup tie on Saturday the only obstacle now before the Vase quarter-final on Saturday week, the squad and the pitch can relax and prepare for what could be one of the club’s biggest ever days and a possibility of a crowd nearing 2,000.