MELKSHAM Town boss Darren Perrin reckons his side will be firm underdogs when they meet local rivals Bradford Town in the Wiltshire Senior Cup final next month, writes Carl Field.

Holders Melksham sealed their final spot on Tuesday night, with Gary Higdon’s hat-trick and a Shaun Benison effort in a thumping 4-0 win over Hellenic League Purton at Calne Town’s Bremhill View.

But Perrin said Toolstation First leaders Bradford, who have lost just once in the league all season, are clear favourites against his Premier Division outfit.

“It’s going to be like the paupers against Man City, David and Goliath,” said Perrin.

“But we’ll look forward to it. Bradford have had a magnificent season and full credit to them for what they‘ve done. There is no pressure on us other than that we are the holders and want to retain it.”

Perrin praised his side for their dominant display over Purton, in a game that turned on two controversial penalty shouts just before the break.

Melksham were denied what looked a clear shout for handball on 37 minutes but, five minutes later, were awarded what looked a soft penalty after Jamie Richards was adjudged to have fouled Higdon.

Higdon converted from the spot before Benison’s volley five minutes after the restart and two further Higdon efforts capped a fine win.

Perrin said: “The penalty probably was a little bit harsh, but we were aggrieved we weren’t given one for a clear handball on the line.

“But overall I thought the boys were absolutely magnificent and nobody can have any complaints with the outcome.”

Disappointed Purton boss Chris Pethick admitted the penalty decision affected his side, but he had no complaints with the result.

“We just didn’t turn up and were poor,” he said.

“The penalty was a shocker – one of the worst decisions I’ve seen – and it affected the lads at half-time.

“It changed the game a little bit because I thought, up to that point, we had defended quite well.

“But that’s taking nothing away from Melksham, who took their chances and thoroughly deserved it.”

Ten-man Vics settle for point

MALMESBURY Victoria manager Gareth Davies was forced to settle for a point after his side were held to a draw by New College Swindon last weekend.

Matt Coote gave the Vics a first-half lead when his corner kick curled all the way into the net but the hosts were reduced to ten men after half-time when midfielder Dan Thomson was shown a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident.

New College’s David Kinuthia then struck to ensure that the visitors left with a share of the spoils.

“I thought that we were the better team in the first half but fair play to New College because they came out after half-time looking like a different side,” said Malmesbury boss Davies.

“We really wanted to win the game but going down to ten men obviously made it a lot harder – Dan has retaliated when someone’s caught him and the referee has clocked it.

“He’s not that type of lad, though, and he apologised to us and his team.

“We want to try and get away from the likes of Carterton and we might have games in hand on New College but I’d rather have points in the bag.

“We’ve got to try and be happy with a point from the weekend because we’ll take what we can get in the position that we’re in.”

The Vics were back playing at the Flying Monk Ground for the first time since last November and Davies admits that the playing surface, which was wrecked by flooding during the winter, proved a hindrance to the two sides last Saturday.

He said: “It was a scrappy game because in the middle of the pitch, players who would usually take two touches were having to take three or four, just to control the ball. It wasn’t ideal but it is what it is after what’s happened.”

Elsewhere, Steve May’s goal handed Purton a 1-0 victory at struggling Old Woodstock Town.

Bassett show cup strength 

JEFF Roberts will continue to play his strongest side in the Supplementary Cup after Wootton Bassett Town booked their place in the quarter-finals last weekend.

A brace from Levi Cox and a Lee Stevens strike saw Bassett see off Hellenic League Division One East Penn & Tylers Green in the third round and chief Roberts would love to see his side reward themselves with some silverware this season.

“It wasn’t really one of the cups that we were too interested in, but now that we’re through to the quarter-finals, everyone starts to get a little bit more excited,” said the Bassett manager.

“I’ve always said that I’ll play my strongest side in the cup games and we’ll carry on doing that and see how far we can get – if we could end the season with some silverware, that would be great.

“I’ve got a points target that we’re aiming for in the league so hopefully we can get ourselves on track to reach that too.”

Roberts’ men are without a fixture this weekend.

Vale halt losing run

LEWIS Taylor says his Pewsey Vale players were in high spirits after stopping the rot at Hythe & Dibden last weekend.

Vale had suffered six successive defeats in Division One of the Sydenhams League but brought that run to an end with a point at fifth-placed Hythe on Saturday.

Ricky Franklin and Mark Field found the net after Oluwaseun Olabiyi had given the hosts an early lead but a second from the Boatmen striker ensured that the spoils were shared.

“It was really nice to bring the losing sequence to an end and I even thought that we had enough chances to score a third and come away with a well-deserved away win,” said Vale manager Taylor.

“We ended up getting a draw but in the dressing room, the players were in a much more buoyant mood than they had been in recent weeks – hopefully we can build on this.”

Vale are next in action next Tuesday evening at home to United Services Portsmouth.

Glenn at double

CALNE Town chief Simon Gardner was delighted to see his side come away from Cheddar with a deserved three-point haul last weekend.

The Lilywhites brought a run of four games without a win to an end as James Darbyshire’s chip got them on their way in Somerset.

Top scorer Glenn Armstrong netted twice, his first coming from the penalty spot after he had been brought down and the visitors survived a late spell of pressure after substitute Jamie Lloyd-Davies was shown a straight red card for a forceful tackle.

“I was really pleased for the guys because they played really well and deserved to come away with the win,” said Gardner.

“We could have easily scored more but the pitch was absolutely shocking at Cheddar, so our guys did really well to perform on it.

“The game wasn’t without incident and we were up against it slightly towards the end but we came away with the win that we deserved and we’re concentrating on trying to enjoy the last few games of the season now.”

Calne’s Stuart Windsor is set for a spell on the sidelines after he sustained facial injuries when he was kicked in the face while deputising between the sticks.

Regular stopper Jamie Bartlett should return for this weekend’s home clash with Almondsbury UWE, with Jake Jeffries and Mark Dolman also back in Gardner’s squad.

Justin feels the pain

EVIZES Town joint-boss Justin Webster was frustrated that his side failed to build on their first half momentum against promotion-chasing Shepton Mallet last weekend.

Devizes trailed 1-0 at the break but took their foot off the gas as the home side drove home the advantage in the second period.

“We played really well in the first half, despite them getting the penalty, but the second half just wasn’t a good performance,” said Webster.

“They’re a side with a big budget, that are probably going to get promoted, but I just felt that we could have done more if we’d carried on playing like we were doing.”

It’s derby delight as Rawlings’ Town maintain fine league run against Park

TREVOR Rawlings was delighted to see his Corsham Town side maintain their fine form in the Toolstation League First Division with a derby victory on Wednesday night.

Corsham cruised to a comfortable win over local rivals Chippenham Park at the Southbank, with Rawlings men, who are unbeaten in ten matches, stretching their record to just one defeat in their last 15 outings in the Toolstation League First Division.

Matt Jenkins put the hosts in front in the first half and Kent Kauppinen fired home from the penalty spot to increase the home side’s lead after Nick Holton was upended in the box in the second period before Jack Morris struck to round off the scoring.

“The run we’re on is fantastic and it should breed confidence for the lads,” said Corsham boss Rawlings.

“Chippenham Park are a young side, their energy levels are high and they’re very fit but in the second half, there was only one side in it – I thought that Kieron Gleed had a very good debut on the left wing, too.

“It was pleasing because we had eleven players out and could have fielded a decent Western League side from the lads that weren’t there. That includes Mossy (Jamie Moss) and Gary Blackwood, who are out for the season, but we’ve done well to still get a good squad of 15 out there and the players that did play deserved their chance.”

Last weekend, Corsham picked up a point as they held fifth-placed Almondsbury UWE to a goalless draw.

Gary Banks and Jackson Hamilton are expected to return for tomorrow’s home clash with 18th-placed Cheddar but the likes of Matt Windle, Jason Henley, Bradley Partner and Jamal Chevolleau all remain doubts to make the Corsham squad.

Park make point at Chard

DAVE Ferris was happy to see his Chippenham Park side come away from Chard Town with a point last weekend, despite a below-par display in the second half.

Defender Shane Blackmore fired home the equaliser before half-time but in a cagey second period, a late tackle on Blackmore saw Chard have a man sent off.

The ensuing melee then led to Park midfielder Dan Smith receiving a second yellow card.

“Any point away from home is a good one and Chard is a tough place to go,” said Ferris. “We didn’t really play that well in the second half but we still had two good chances to get a winner.’’

Hornbogen goal lifts Vale off bottom

VALE of Pewsey manager Neil Stephens says his side are looking to continue climbing the Premier Division table after moving off the bottom last weekend.

Vale claimed a vital 1-0 victory over Devizes Town Reserves thanks to Jo Hornbogen’s strike and now find themselves up to 11th in the table, with two games in hand on ninth-placed Corsham Town Reserves.

“It was a massive game for us and a big win,” said Stephens. “Jo Hornbogen is usually a centre-half but he’s a tall lad so we stuck him up front.

“He held the ball up well, and we played using the second balls that came off him.

“We’re unbeaten in three games now and with the games we’ve got in hand on some of the other teams, we’re looking to try and move up another two or three places in the league before the end of the season.”

Meanwhile, Marlborough Town were beaten 3-1 at Elcot Lane by Southbrook whilst Wilts Calne Town also suffered defeat at the hands of title-chasing opposition as they went down 1-0 at home to table-toppers Supermarine Sports Club.

But Corsham managed to notch up an impressive point as they held second-placed Shrewton United to a 2-2 draw.