Betvictor Southern League One South
Thatcham Town 0 - 2 Melksham Town
Two rivals met in a highly anticipated match up in West Berkshire for a clash which could have seen Thatcham extend their impressive lead at the top of the table.
The pitch was in fine nick despite the fields around the ground being submerged and the recent rainfall causing problems for several local sides.
Melksham were going for their 8th win on the trot whilst Thatcham had only been beaten once in the League since August. Something was likely to give in what are usually competitive games between the two clubs.
It took only seven minutes for the first goal to come, and it was the Yellow shirted away side who took their chance. Phil Ormrod won a ball in the air and directed it to Jake Mawford. He controlled the ball and set the ball for Luke Ballinger on the edge of the penalty box. Ballinger didn’t take a touch but decided to strike it first time with the outside of his right boot on the half volley. The ball flew beyond the outstretched right hand of Thatcham keeper Paul Strudley and into the top corner of the net. It was a beautiful strike which is well worth a look on the Thatcham Town youtube channel.
Thatcham were not put off and looked to get the ball in to the Melksham box as quickly as they could, James Tennant on the left wing controlled and played the ball through for Kyle Tooze. Tooze controlled the ball well and brought a save from the scrambling Jamie Bartlett with an on target left footed strike.
Melksham then countered with Ballinger playing in Jack Ball as Thatcham looked for an offside decision. Ball controlled well and outstripped the defence as he entered the area. He managed to beat two defenders before Strudley saved with his feet as he looked to double Melksham’s lead. The follow up was diverted wide after good closing down from the defence.
Thatcham were next to threaten when a corner found Zak Westlake. He bundled a shot towards goal which was dealt with comfortably by Jamie Bartlett.
Halftime came along with both teams looking dangerous the break without really testing either keeper after the early goal.
The second half got underway and it was the away side who were first to threaten. Will Christopher shot narrowly wide from the edge of the area after good work by Jake Mawford and Phil Ormrod.
Thatcham then looked for an equaliser with Felipe Barcelos playing in Tooze whose shot was saved easily by Jamie Bartlett.
Phil Ormrod narrowly missed after his controlling well and shooting just wide of the goal.
Bartlett then saved well at the other end as Barcelos turned sharply in the box before shooting low towards the goal.
Matt Hurley forced a mistake from the Thatcham midfield and substitute Albie Hopkins capitalised emphatically. He danced through a challenge before hitting a dangerous shot 18 yards out to Strudley’s left. The ball bounced in front of the keeper and into the corner of the net. Melksham were now two nil up against the League leaders.
Thatcham then looked to pressurise the Melksham defence with a barrage of crosses and lofted balls into the box. Substitute James Guthrie looked a threat but even his delivery was met with a solid refusal to give up a clean sheet. Thompson and Rutty at the back both making big headers and clearances when most needed by the away side.
Will Christopher picked up a late red card after being caught up in a melee with Curtis Angell following a clearance from the Melksham man. Both players ended up on the floor and Christopher was deemed to have been too aggressive in his clearing of his feet. It was an unfortunate end to the game but one which didn’t take the shine off a fantastic result, and now means Melksham Town have secured 24 points out of 24 in the last 8 games.
Richard Fey’s team now have three home games to look forward ahead to, starting on Saturday 25th January with a game against Wiltshire rivals Highworth Town.
Monday Night Football then returns on the 27th January when Sholing visit Melksham for a 1945hrs kick off.
Full stats with substitutions and goal times can be found through the below link.