MAN of the moment Tom Drewitt says Melksham Town’s dramatic Wiltshire Senior Cup triumph on Wednesday night caps a remarkable turnaround for the club this season, writes CARL FIELD.
Keeper Drewitt saved penalties from Dan King and Tom Evans to ensure holders Melksham retained their crown by beating Bradford Town 3-2 in the shootout, after a breathtaking final at Hardenhuish Park had finished 3-3 after extra-time.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Drewitt. “It’s also a great achievement, considering that we only had one point after seven games at the start of this season.”
Melksham had twice come from behind as first, King’s 10th minute strike gave Bradford a 1-0 half time lead before Ben Thomson levelled it up two minutes after the re-start.
King then scored again for Bradford on 61 minutes, only for Ryan Bennett to level matters once more on 69 minutes.
Dan Kovacs gave Melksham the lead for the first time in extra time before Andy Gilbert’s last-gasp leveller for Bradford in added time in extra time sent the game to penalties.
Gary Higdon then rattled the crossbar with his penalty while Luke Ballinger blazed over with his, but those misses didn’t prove costly.
Kovacs and Mike Perrott were on target for Melksham in the shootout, while Dan Fowler and Sam Jordan successfully converted their spot kicks for Bradford.
That meant the sides were level at 2-2 with four penalties taken each. Ian Jeffrey scored his penalty before Drewitt saved from unfortunate Bradford skipper Evans to send Melksham into ecstasy.
Drewitt also admitted afterwards that a few harsh words from manager Darren Perrin were needed at half time after Bradford dominated the first half.
He said: “The occasion got to us a little bit I think in the first half and we were just happy to get to half time only 1-0 down.
“But there’s a lot of confidence in that changing room and we came back out all guns blazing after a few choice words from the gaffer at half time.”
Melksham manager Perrin paid tribute to Drewitt after the keeper’s shootout heroics.
He said: “Tom Drewitt probably gets more stick from me than any of them, but tonight he’s the hero.
“He’s a great lad and is Melksham Town through and through. He goes to every club function every reserve game, watches every U18 game, never misses a training session and just epitomises what Melksham Town are about at the moment.”
Bradford: Porter, Reaney, Gilbert, Shanley, Evans (captain), Welch (Fowler), Hissocks, Hulbert (Milburn 111), Jordan, King, Baggs (Percival).
Subs not used: Gingell, Webb.
Melksham: Drewitt, Greener (Ibrahim 70), Jeffrey, Bennett, Flockton, Smith (Perrott 55), Ballinger, Thompson (captain, Rodgers 118), Higdon, Kovacs, Thomson.
Subs not used: Hiller, Broom.
Referee: Simon Hooper.
MORE REACTION AND PICTURES FROM WEDNESDAY'S FINAL IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES