Melksham Town 1 - 0 Highworth Town
Melksham Town continued their rich vein of form by beating a determined and well marshalled Highworth Town. The Wiltshire derby was played in front of a vocal crowd of 438 on a cold and overcast afternoon.
Fresh off the back of the impressive win at League leaders Thatcham, the home side showed the ability to grind out a result and be defensively solid when faced with an industrious Highworth Town side who were packed with a mixture of experience and youth.
The first clear cut chance of the game fell to the visitors who broke through the Melksham back line on the right hand side with Edjidja Mbunga then squaring the ball for Ashley Edenborough. He struck the ball towards the goal but Jamie Bartlett somehow saved from point blank range and diverted the ball over the goal for a corner.
Bartlett would go on to have an impressive game, making a number of key saves as the match progressed.
Highworth looked the more likely to score in the first half despite a number of Melksham corners which caused the away side problems, and a Luke Ballinger free kick which was well handled by Connor Johns.
The game became more lively after the break and Steve Murray who was introduced at half time immediately started to have an impact for Melksham. In the 62nd minute Murray controlled well on the edge of the box before a well directed shot was saved by Connor Johns.
Highworth were sticking with the home team with Mbunga and Parsons both threatening. Jamie Bartlett remained resolute in the home goal.
Melksham roared on by a decent crowd began to get more of the ball as the game went on and both Hopkins and Monelle entered the battle injecting energy and pace.
Luke Ballinger's superb shot from around 20 yards was tipped over the bar by Johns, and he very nearly scored directly from the resulting corner.
Highworth also threatened on the break and the game looked to be heading for a draw.
Melksham had other ideas though and in the 78th minute new signing Steve Murray broke through the Highworth back line and calmly slotted the ball past the keeper clipping the post and rolling it into the net. It was a tidy finish and showed a glimpse of what Murray has been doing for Street and Bridgwater in recent seasons.
The game finished with both sides still testing each other but it was to remain a game where Murray’s goal would clinch the three points and nudge Melksham into a play off spot.
The next game for Melksham is tomorrow evening ( Monday 27th January 2020 ) at home when they entertain Sholing in a re-arranged League game with a 1945hrs kick off.
Full stats from yesterdays game can be found through the Betvictor Southern League site -