Melksham’s penultimate preseason game, and the last one at the Oakfield Stadium, saw local rivals Bradford Town visit looking to disrupt Melksham’s so far so good preseason campaign.
Despite being a division below Town, Bradford Town was always going to put up good fight; with a lot of history and rivalry between the two clubs, the term ‘friendly’ was always going to be rather an understatement for the fixture.
Within the first 5 minutes of the first half, the competitiveness was evident as Bradford player Charlie Walton was shown a yellow for dissent, and an intense midfield battle led to many free kicks being awarded and the game struggling to find a rhythm.
Not only did Town have the wind against them first half, but they also had a stern Bradford defence to try and break down – who were making it hard work for the forwards to create anything of real use, however Towns main attacking threat came through set pieces as a few ‘nearly’ moments were the highlights of the first half. Town ‘keeper Connor Johns was tested a few times but made it look comfortable as he has done all preseason.
The sides went in at half time goalless, with Town looking to use the wind and the pace of the forwards to their advantage in the second half and create a more interesting spectacle for the Melksham faithful in attendance.
An electric start to the second half, as within a minute Melksham centre back Greg Tindle fired just over following a scramble in the Bradford box. Then two minutes later, tempers flared as Town midfielder Matt Hurley was unhappy with Charlie Walton’s tackle (who had already been booked), but the referee did well to calm things down and talk to the two players, and nothing else was to come of the incident.
Eventually, Melksham were able to break down the Bradford back line, as the ball pin-balled around the box, it was Albie Hopkins who did superbly to twist and turn to create some room in the 18-yard box and slam the ball past Jonny Hill in the Bradford goal.
This goal seemed to fill the Town forwards with buckets of confidence as they began to run Bradford ragged. Bradford forward George Box was booked for diving in the Melksham penalty area, for Town to then break forward allowing Albie Hopkins to tee up substitute Sam Hendy to slot it past Jonny Hill who was left stranded.
Melksham’s third and final goal came when Will Christopher picked up the ball deep in the Melksham half and, spotting the run of Malshanskyj in behind the Bradford defence, he fired an inch perfect pass for the winger to latch onto and finish with top composure.
Melksham were then able to see the game out with relative ease, coming out victors over their local rivals and rounding off a superb preseason campaign at the Oakfield Stadium. Next up is the final preseason game ahead of the new season, with Town taking a visit to Mangostfield, on Friday 6th August.
Match Report by Lewie Simmons.