CALNE Town boss Simon Gardner says his players have set their own benchmark after two impressive wins over Easter, writes CARL FIELD.
The Lilywhites followed up on a resounding 3-0 victory at Devizes Town on Friday with a shock 3-2 win over already-crowned First Division champions, Bradford Town, at Bremhill View on Monday.
First-half goals from Alex Hamilton and Neurin Jones gave Calne a two-goal cushion at half-time, before Tom Slater made it three after the re-start.
Champions Bradford launched a belated revival, courtesy of goals from Dan Fowler and ex-Calne man Dan King, but the hosts held on for a memorable win.
Slater and Jones were also on target for Calne at Devizes 72 hours earlier, with leading scorer Glenn Armstrong also on the scoresheet, as they ended comfortable winners at Rursteed Road.
Boss Gardner said: “I’m not surprised, because we’ve got a good set of lads here and I know what they are capable of – and I expect that week in, week out.
“We’ve been playing quite well all season but just haven’t had the experience to see it through.
“We deserved to win both games, we played Devizes off the park and then our performance against Bradford was pleasing particularly because they came at us like a steam train from the start and we did well to hold out.
“But full credit to the players, they grafted and showed some resolve when we were tested a little bit.”
The Lilywhites finish their season with a home fixture against Welton Rovers on Saturday.
Corsham Town picked up a battling point at Wells City on Wednesday night Keiran Gleed went close for the visitors early on, but Jamie Howson and Darren Maynard also had good chances for City.
Gleed was denied again just before the interval, but Corsham seized the lead on 56 minutes as Jack Morris fired home after a corner hadn’t been fully cleared.
Wells levelled as Mark Randall’s free-kick was met by Ross McErlain, who headed home, and the same player also crashed a later shot against the bar.
Trevor Rawlings admitted the draw was a fair result after his Corsham side were held 2-2 at home by Devizes on Monday.
Booker Woodford put the home side ahead before half time, although Devizes hit back twice in quick succession after the interval though Mark Barnes – before Ant Brown levelled for Corsham.
That result for Rawlings’ side followed on from a 3-0 reverse at Chippenham Park on Friday.
Rawlings said: “We didn’t play very well and looked very tired in the first half. But we scored a great team goal and were looking comfortable in the first 45 minutes and I couldn’t see them threatening us.
“Two bits of magic from (Mark) Barnes, in the space of five minutes, put us 2-1 behind but, to our credit, we stuck at it and got a deserved equaliser.”
Devizes boss Justin Webster, whose side had lost 3-0 to Calne on Good Friday, said: “We made 10 changes against Corsham and had a young side out, so we were happy with a point against a side seventh in the league, who have a good record on their own ground this season. A draw probably was a fair result in the end.”
The result for Corsham followed on from a 3-0 defeat at Chippenham Park on Friday, which saw the hosts avenge their loss by the same scoreline when the sides met at the Southbank last month.
“I was a bit disappointed with how we gave up really towards the end,” said Rawlings.
“There wasn’t a lot in the game really and it looked like it was going to drag out for a goalless draw.
Chippenham Park boss Dave Ferris admits his side were below par as they were forced to settle for a point at Warminster on Monday.
Sam Clift netted with an overhead kick for the home side before Park drew level with a penalty from Luke Murden in the dying moments.
The result followed Park’s impressive 3-0 home defeat of Corsham Town on Friday.
Mark Robinson, Shane Blackmore and a Corsham own goal secured the win, which avenged their defeat by the same scoreline in the reverse fixture last month.
Despite taking four points from a six over Easter, Ferris had mixed feelings, saying: “We’re disappointed that, after raising our game to beat Corsham, we haven’t raised our game in the same manner.
“On paper we should have beaten them but, on the day, we weren’t good enough to beat them and were below par.
On the win over Corsham, Ferris added: “We had a bit of a point to prove, because we lost 3-0 there last month and it hurt us a little bit, because we thought it flattered them, “But we were the better side on the day this time and they acknowledged that.”
Park finish their season at home to Wincanton Town on Saturday.
Pewsey Vale manager Lewis Taylor was pleased after his side recorded a 1-0 home victory over Laverstock & Ford in Sydenhams Division One on Monday.
Tom Ritchie grabbed the game’s only goal on 70 minutes when he headed home from a Michael Martin corner.
"The thing that pleased me most about the result was the clean sheet," said Taylor.
"It's been many a month since we last had a clean sheet and it was a good solid performance by us.
“It was a bit of a scrappy game although we did play some good football in spells.
"We also had Hayden Culliford – another U18 – make his debut at right-back and meant we had three under-18s in the side."
Pewsey are back in league action tonight at home against Amesbury Town.
Their scheduled league game at home against Hayling United on Saturday had to be postponed after Hayling reported that their minibus had broken down while travelling to Pewsey for the game.
The game has been re-arranged for Saturday, May 3.
Malmesbury Victoria boss Gareth Davies got the performance he asked for in their penultimate league game on Monday.
Financially-stricken Vics put their off-field problems behind them for an afternoon as they bounced back after being thrashed 7-0 at second placed Lydney Town on Saturday.
Dan Thomson and Ryan Lathem put the hosts two up at the break before Josh Newman and Scott Chillcott netted in the second half.
Davies said: “After losing in the manner we did at Lydney, we just told the players to forget about it, draw a line under it and just go out and enjoy it.
“I think the players knew in themselves that they had to put in a performance – and they did – it was a decent display and we were well worth the three points.
As reported in the Gazette & Herald last week, the cash-strapped club are facing a battle to survive, but Davies has tried not to let it affect matters on the field.
“We've obviously been told about the situation that we're in and, if we can help out in any way, we will do.
“But we’ve just been concentrating on the football side and trying to finish as high up the table with as many points as we can.”
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