A GARY Higdon hat-trick fired holders Melksham Town through to a Wiltshire Senior Cup final clash with Bradford Town after brushing aside Purton at Calne Town’s Bremhill View on Tuesday night, writes CARL FIELD.
The big number nine put Melksham ahead from the penalty spot two minutes before the interval and added two more after the break, with Shaun Benison also netting for Darren Perrin’s side.
Purton - who had already won at Calne earlier in the competition - had the first clear opening of the night on eight minutes, but Steven May’s point-blank header was kept out by a fine save from keeper Tom Drewitt.
But that was as close as Purton came to scoring, as Melksham soon started to assert their authority on proceedings.
They went close to opening the scoring on 12 minutes when Benison’s cross from the left found the head of Dan Kovacs, but his effort was cleared off the line.
The game then turned on two controversial penalty shouts just before the break.
Melksham felt aggrieved when their appeals for a penalty for handball on 37 minutes were waved away but, five minutes later, they were awarded what looked a soft penalty after Jamie Richards was adjudged to have fouled Higdon.
Higdon converted from the spot to put Melksham 1-0 ahead at half time.
That lead was doubled five minutes after the re-start when Benison volleyed home a second from the edge of the box.
Higdon then made the game safe by adding his second - and Melksham’s third - on 70 minutes, converting an easy chance after Devon Brown had parried Kovacs’ initial shot.
And Higdon capped a terrific display four minutes from time with a fine individual effort, when he cut in from the left and glided home number four beyond Brown and into the far corner.
REACTION TO AND PICTURES FROM MELKSHAM'S VICTORY IN THURSDAY'S GZETTE & HERALD AND FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES