Fellow Yellows – Melksham Town FC

Wiltshire Senior Cup, Quarter Final
Melksham Town FC v Highworth Town FC
Saturday, 18th January 2014, 3pm
The Conigre
Entrance (inc. programme) £4
Distance 98 miles, Attendance 168
140118 WSC QF Melksham Tow v Highworth Town (24)w
At the final whistle – once I’d eventually got over my disappointment at the lack of Bovril – it was abundantly clear this match had left a pleasing warm glow.
Arriving early – having journeyed across the almost barren wilds of tank-abused Wiltshire – I’d found The Conigre romantically set, through an ornate stone gateway, tucked away in the corner of the old centre, beside the Town Hall.
140118 WSC QF Melksham Tow v Highworth Town (18)wPulling up in the ample car park, two locals kindly suggested I ignore the ticket machine as “no-one checks on match days”. Having adopted this “When in Rome” technique, I set off for a stroll about the locality, to admire some Bath stone architecture before, heading for the ground.
The entrance hadn’t been too easy to find however, the welcome at the turnstile was as generous as any I’ve found. Inside, fans and committee members were already mingling amiably with parents of the club’s celebrated youth team, who are currently on an extraordinary unbeaten run.
As the boys prepared to lead out the teams for this Quarter Final, adults proudly recorded their every movement whilst, rightly basking in some reflected glory of their sons’ dominance.
As reigning champions, Melksham should have been approaching this Senior Cup game with similar confidence but, a mixed start to this campaign, coupled with Highworth’s fine league form, was enough to keep this volunteer run club realistically grounded.
140118 WSC QF Melksham Tow v Highworth Town (81)Initially – with Gary Higdon looking strong – a couple of opportunities fell their way but, once the game evened out into a very combative first half, the Worthians just edged proceedings.  Through strong chasing and harrying all over the park, Highworth set down their marker and, this work rate was duly rewarded. Matty Horsell reacted first, shooting home after Tom Drewitt had deftly parried an initial attempt. Fifteen minutes later Dean Flockton cleared off his line, when Drewitt missed a cross but unfortunately – just past the half hour – there was no stopping the visitors doubling their lead as, Sam Wadieh bundled the ball home a loose ball following a corner.
???????????????????????????????By the interval Melksham had looked stronger than the deficit suggested but, all that was rectified once the changing room door closed. Whatever was said inside, the second half turnaround was an incredible feat; almost wizardry. Leaving my perch on the grassy knoll, after the break I headed behind the goal at the westerly end of the ground and, arrived just in time to see onslaught begin.
First Shaun Benison’s effort was cleared was off the line then, Ryan Bennett executed a game-saving tackle before superbly controlling his long pass up towards Higdon. Higdon made room and skipped free of his marker before, slotting past the helpless Kurtis Sharkey. At any level this one would have been hailed as a great goal.
140118 WSC QF Melksham Tow v Highworth Town (101)wMoments later – even before Bennett’s fine effort struck the post – the very one-sided period was drawing out the frustrations of the Worthian defence. Soon the linesman was yelling at players to put their ‘andbags away and, Dan Kovacs had fired home the equaliser. Benison, Higdon and Stu Greener all went on to have efforts well saved however; it was fresh legs, in an astute double substitution, that pushed Melksham over the line just before the final whistle.
We could spend ages analysing the fortune of Sharkey missing a through ball, nevertheless Will Stead passing into an empty net was a thoroughly deserved end to a terrific all-action comeback.
Whilst – founded in 1876 – Melksham’s history is a long one; their fortune in this cup is only fairly recent. Most of their life has been spent in regional competition but the activity both on and off the pitch, since the turn of the century, suggests this club may be going places at last.
In two years Melksham’s home in this wonderful romantic (yet cold) setting will cease to be; a shiny new ground on the Devizes road has already been proposed. It may not have such rustic charm, or the Narnia gates but, it will afford this friendly club the chance to progress much further. Let’s just hope, it’s still the kind of place, one can stop for a natter regardless of the queue, at both turnstiles and tea bar.

140118 WSC QF Melksham Tow v Highworth Town (67)w

shorts league
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Initially appearing in the 2013-14 Watford FC matchday programmes, consequently these reports will have a delayed publication on here.

Fellow Yellows programme (15)

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