MELKSHAM Town manager Darren Perrin reckons his troops pulled off a tactical masterclass after stunning Salisbury to claim a third Wiltshire Senior Cup crown in four years on Wednesday night.

A stiff challenge looked in store for Melksham at Hardenhuish Park against a Salisbury side managed by Steve Claridge and already crowned Wessex League Premier Division champions this season.

However, the men from the Conigre produced a display built on true underdog spirit and after surviving an early storm, snatched a deserved win with two goals in five second-half minutes through Joe Stradling and Gary Higdon.

“It was an incredible performance. I played it down before the game but I always had a sneaky feeling we might produce something,” said Perrin.

“Salisbury are a good side. We knew they would have the lion’s share of possession. We let them have the ball and we played a counter-attack game and got it spot on.

“The team-talk was just to stay in the game for the first 20 minutes. If we could do that, I felt we would have a chance.

“From my experience of managing at Chippenham in the past, I always think that if you can defend the hill in the first half, then you have got a chance in the second.

“I can’t praise the players enough. They have been absolutely magnificent.”

There were few genuine chances in the first half, and although Salisbury had the better of them, a stubborn resistance from Perrin’s side kept them at bay.

Taurean Roberts looked the Whites’ biggest threat and a mistimed jump from Melksham captain Ryan Bennett allowed the striker to race in on goal but keeper Rob Brown was off his line quickly, staying big and blocking the shot.

Melksham came out much more positively after the break and broke the deadlock midway through the second period. A long Luke Ballinger throw was gathered by Mike Perrott and his shot took a wicked deflection but fell perfectly to Stradling, who poked home past Charlie Searle.

If their opener was fortuitous, then their second goal was simply superb. Ballinger found Higdon on the edge of the box and he held off Whites skipper Elliott Wheeler, swivelled and looped an effort over Searle and into the net to seal his side’s success.

An impressive crowd of 736 turned out to watch the match, with the majority backing the underdogs.

Perrin says everyone at club, from top to bottom, deserves credit for playing their part in the memorable triumph.

“From the manager to the players, all through the club, we have done it right. Even to the supporters – we outnumbered the Salisbury fans,” added Perrin.