It was National League South side Chippenham who made the short journey to the Oakfield Stadium to test Melksham in their 6th instalment of preseason action, and the fourth higher-league opposition as town set their sights to compete with those above them in the football ladder.
Having put in 3 positive and tireless performances against 3 football league sides, Melksham were looking to build on their hard work by putting Chippenham to test, and they did just that in the opening stages of the game, creating a couple of half-chances early on. First Jake Mawford headed wide at the back post following a Will Christopher cross from a free-kick, then Jay Malshanski forced the Chippenham ‘keeper into a low save with a strike from the edge of the box.
Town’s threat in the first half was mainly coming from the right as a series of dangerous crosses from Will Christopher asked many questions of the Chippenham defence, and was just lacking the final touch from a Melksham player to divert the crosses goal-wards. The closest Town came in the first half was from a set piece, as Phil Ormrod headed just wide from Jay Malshanski’s corner.
Good pressure from the Melksham forwards on Chippenham’s back line made it hard work for them to play out from the back, which resorted in a bombardment of hopeful long balls which Harry Rutty and Greg Tindle made light work of clearing up for Town at the back.
However, the quality of the National League showed as they were able to get around the so far sturdy Melksham defence, and a floated ball in across the face of goal made it simple work for Chippenham striker Marlon Jackson to head in from close range inside the six-yard-box with 36 minutes played.
Melksham went in at half-time rather unlucky to be 1-0 down, as the performance matched – or even arguably bettered – that of Chippenham’s. The most notable performance of the first half came from Melksham’s Jay Malshanski; the number 10 caused all sorts of issues for the Chippenham defence as he managed to find space all over the pitch and tested the ‘keeper with a couple of good efforts.
The second half began and both sides evenly matched each other for the first 20, but with Town continuing their pressure on the Chippenham back line, a chance opened up and a great ball in meant that substitute Jack Ball had a superb opportunity to level the scores with a free header, but it sailed just over. The linesman had flagged for offside after the chance was over, but it did look a tight call.
Despite the second half being as evenly contested as the first, Chippenham scored again with another header in the 70thminute, as a trialist nodded in from close range to make it 2-0 to Chippenham.
Just two minutes after Chippenham had gone 2-0 up, another Melksham substitute in Liam Monelle was brought down when he was seemingly through on goal, with the referee blowing for the free kick for a challenge that would have surely seen red had it been a competitive affair. The resulting effort from the free kick was sent over the bar by Sam Hendy and this was the last real action of the game as a cagey last 15 from both sides followed.
Chippenham left the Oakfield Stadium 2-0 winners with the quality of finishing being the difference between the two sides, however another pleasing performance against another tough side keeps the momentum rolling through a testing and tireless preseason for Town. Up next for Melksham is Bradford Town FC on Saturday 31st of July, 3pm kick-off.
Match report by Lewie Simmons.