Melksham Town 0-2 Barnstaple Town: Western League match report
THEY say to always save your best until last. That is exactly what Barnstaple Town did today as they came away from current Toolstation Western League Premier Division champions Melksham Town 2-0 winners in their final outing of the season.
At their last game at The Conigre, a record crowd of 916 watched on as Barum bettered their team in every department from the first whistle.
Defensively they snuffed out the threat which proved so deadly in Melksham’s 4-1 win at Mill Road back in January, the midfield dictated the tempo and forwards Ryan Turner and Dave Pearse – and also Scott Sharp and Will Nicholls as substitutes – didn’t give the opposing back four a minute’s rest.
Niall Heeney and Pearse got the goals, one in each half, as Barnstaple ended the season in second place and just one defeat in their last 18.
Steve Oliver’s latest clean sheet also ensured Barnstaple finished with the tightest Premier Division defence, shipping just 33 goals.
Melksham had removed the entry fee for the game to mark the end of their 96-year stay at Conigre and there was something extra charitable about the way they allowed Barnstaple to open the scoring after 15 minutes.
Jed Harper-Penman whipped an in-swinging corner from the left, a source of problem from the off for the home side, which was allowed to travel all the way to the back post where Heeney bundled home.
Heeney was at the heart of a three man defence including James Mayne and the returning Craig Allan. Against big opposition strikers in Gary Higdon and Dan Kovacs they looked solid and assured.
Scott Huxtable and Liam Gregory offered the width going forward and when the latter breezed past the challenge of Sayeed Ibrahim and into the box, it was out of sheer bad fortune his low ball wasn’t turned home for 2-0.
Town saved their best football of the first half until the last minute as Jack Jenkins turned in the centre of the park, played it to Lee Francis who drove 10 yards before slipping in Turner. Rob Brown raced off his line and denied the chip with his body
The always-willing Gregory was again involved as the lead was doubled on the hour mark. His ball into the left channel found the pacy Turner, he outmuscled David Thompson, took a touch and squared to Pearse who, six yards out, made no mistake.
After winning the Wiltshire Cup against Salisbury FC midweek, this seemed a game too many for Melksham. It took them 65 minutes to muster half a chance, and even that was drilled well over the top from 20 yards by Kovacs.
Melksham Town (4-4-2): Rob Brown; Sayeed Ibrahim, David Thompson, Warren Maidment, Adam Young; Luke Ballinger, Shaun Benison (Leigh Rogers 45), Mike Perrott (Callum Denkiv 73), Joe Stradling; Gary Higdon (Ricky Hulbert 54), Dan Kovacs. Subs not used: Kurt James, Chay Forester
Barnstaple Town (3-5-2): Steve Oliver; James Mayne, Niall Heeney, Craig Allan; Scott Huxtable, Jed Harper-Penman, Lee Francis, Jack Jenkins (Shaun Copp 65), Liam Gregory; Dave Pearse (Will Nicholls 69), Ryan Turner (Scott Sharp 80). Subs not used: Steve Holland, James Thorne.
Referee: Lewis Sandoe