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FOOTBALL: Taylor maps out the challenge for Vale
LEWIS Taylor wants his Pewsey Vale side to build on their battling performance against Bradford Town last weekend and have a big say in the Sydenhams League Division One promotion battle.
Taylor’s men gave the runaway Toolstation League First Division league leaders a stern examination at Trowbridge Road but succumbed to a solitary second-half strike as they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage.
The Vale chief was proud of his team’s efforts and is happy to concentrate on the positives from their cup exit.
“I am massively proud of my squad. We’ve gone through quite a bit of change in recent weeks with players coming in and out but I’m massively proud of the shift we put in,” said Taylor.
“You could see why they’re top of their league. But once we got our shape and our individual jobs sorted out, we frustrated them, “It’s just a shame that we couldn’t put a couple of chances away because if we had, I think we’d have shocked them.
“I’ve said to the boys ‘we can now build on this’. The second half against Petersfield (last week) and the performance on Saturday has put us right back on track again.
“If we can put a little run together, we can still put a little bit of pressure on Team Solent, Petersfield Town and Andover Town. “ Vale keeper Richie Payne denied Beau Blakeman early on before up the other end, striker Mark Field beat the Bradford offside trap but rolled his finish agonisingly wide of the target.
Field went close again in the opening stages before the hosts’ Dan King shot just wide as he got on the end of a ball from substitute Dan Fowler in the second period.
The decisive goal came with around 15 minutes to go as Bradford’s Tom Welch picked out Leon Greenland with a superb cross-field ball, allowing the winger to cut back for Fowler to drill home down the centre of the goal.
Home keeper Nick Gingell almost gifted Vale an equaliser late on when he opted to punch a ball clear before crashing into one of his own defenders.
Ricky Franklin headed goalwards but full-back Andy Gilbert cleared off the line.
Taylor’s men return to action when they travel to Andover on February 2.
Holders back in the hunt
MELKSHAM Town manager Darren Perrin declared his side’s season well on track after the Wiltshire Senior Cup holders booked their place in the semi-finals last weekend.
After trailing 2-0 at half-time to Hellenic League Highworth Town, Perrin’s men produced a stirring second0half comeback to clinch a 3-2 triumph and take another step forward in their quest to retain the county cup.
“We were awful in the first half and there were a few words said at half-time but after that, the players were fantastic and I’m pleased to get the win,” said Perrin.
“We want to try to retain the cup because it would be a massive achievement for the football club.
“Our other aim this season was to avoid relegation and we don’t want to be complacent but I don’t think we’re in any danger of that now.
“Between now and the end of the season, I want to take a look at some of the reserves and U18 players because I want to see every option we have.
“If some results go astray, then we’re prepared to deal with that as it’s for the good of the long term future of the club.
Gary Higdon, Dan Kovacs and Will Stead all found the net as Melksham roared back against High-worth.
On Monday night, Melksham notched up their eleventh league win of the season as they beat promotion-chasing Street 2-1 at the Conigre.
Top-scorer Higdon and the dual-registered Luke Ballinger got the goals.
Honours even at Southbank M
ATT Bown and Trevor Rawlings were in agreement that a draw was a fair result as their sides cancelled each other out on Wednesday night.
Corsham Town and Westbury United met at the Southbank, but it ended honours even as neither side could muster a breakthrough.
But Westbury manager Bown was pleased to see his team stretch their unbeaten run to four matches.
“I thought that we played ever so well. Corsham is a tough place to go and get anything, but I said that I wanted to get a clean sheet and that’s exactly what I got,” said the United boss.
“We changed the formation to a 3-5-2 and the performance was tactically very good. “We did create some chances though – Mark Young hit the crossbar late on and we also had a blatant penalty turned down.
“Lally (Wayne Wheeler) was clattered by their goalkeeper (Mark Billingsley) and we got a free-kick, but I was told after the game that it was two yards inside the area.”
Corsham chief Rawlings reckons that there wasn’t an awful lot to shout about during Wednesday’s stalemate.
He said: “It was your typical local derby and there wasn’t a great deal of football played by either side. “
Westbury have been on a good run and the only disappointing thing was that our final ball wasn’t quite there.
“We were getting into good positions but then making some strange decisions - a draw was a fair result.”
Last weekend, Westbury striker Wheeler hit a hat-trick as United triumphed 3-2 at Roman Glass St George. Wheeler struck twice early on before the visitors’ Paul Coles hit a brace of his own to level up the scores at 2-2.
But the Westbury man turned hat-trick hero as his 70th minute free-kick deflected off a Roman Glass head and looped over keeper George Dempsey.
Meanwhile, Corsham were knocked out of the Wiltshire Senior Cup at the quarter-final stage as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Hellenic League Purton.
Rawlings’ men saw Booker Woodford’s first half strike cancelled out by a penalty from the visitors’ Marcus Hall before Blaine Fitzgerald found the net at the death.
Town on good run
DEVIZES Town joint-boss Darran Walters thinks his in-form side have really hit their stride. Devizes notched up their fourth successive victory last weekend as they saw off the challenge of Chard Town at Nursteed Road.
Mark Barnes dusted himself off after being brought down in the area to take a first half penalty, only to see his spot kick turned behind by the Chard keeper before Jake Waters headed home from the resulting corner.
The visitors levelled in the second period but Jamie McLaughlin popped up with the winner.
“We’ve had a pretty settled side in the last few weeks and everyone is playing with a bit of confidence,” said Walters.
“We brought in a lot of players at the start of the season but they’re all really starting to gel together and we’re on a great run.
“We created quite a few chances and didn’t take them all but we deserved to win. It’s a shame that we don’t have a game this weekend because you want to be playing when you’re in good form.”
Simon takes his point
CALNE Town chief Simon Gardner thinks a draw was a fair result as his side shared the spoils with Keynsham Town last weekend.
Stuart Windsor took his tally to three goals in two games as he hit an early brace to put Calne 2-0 up at Bremhill View but third-from-bottom Keynsham, who are unbeaten in three matches, hit back through Patrick Davidson.
The visitors’ Szymon Gromek then popped up with the equaliser before half-time. “Going in to the game, they were the side in much better form than us – we can’t seem to buy a win at the moment,” said Gardner.
“Stu Windsor built on his impressive debut last week and could have had a hat-trick within the first half an hour but I think that a draw as a fair result in the end.”
Aaron Hopkins, Alex Hamilton and Windsor are all struggling with injuries but Jake Jeffries made his first appearance of the season against Keynsham.
Corsham are sunk
IN one of the few fixtures to survive the wet weather last weekend, Corsham Town Reserves were unable to pull off an upset as they were well-beaten by Premier Division leaders Supermarine Sports Club.
The Swindon-based hosts took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Dave Rendle before substitute Jason Milhench fired home to make it 2-0 after his initial effort struck the crossbar.
Milhench then set up Rendle to make it 3-0 as Corsham, who are currently ninth in the table, suffered an unhappy return to action after an enforced winter break.
Corsham face another tough test this weekend, when they host second-placed Shrewton United.
In the only other game in the division, Marlborough Town saw their five-match unbeaten run brought to an abrupt end as they were thrashed at Ludgershall Sports.
Marlborough, who had won four of their last five, were beaten 5-1 at Astor Crescent and go looking to bounce back to winning ways when Trowbridge Town visit Elcot Lane this weekend.
Wilts Calne Town take on near neighbours Devizes Town Reserves whilst FC Chippenham Youth make the trip to Wroughton.
In Division One, Melksham Town Reserves have been knocked off top spot after Intel beat Wroughton Reserves 5-1 last weekend.
Melksham face a vital clash with Wootton Bassett Town Development this weekend whilst Malmesbury Victoria Reserves go to Sarum Youth Seniors.
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