ASSISTANT manager Luke Ballinger was Melksham Town’s FA Vase hero as he got both goals to see them win a place in the fourth round after a 2-0 replay win at home to Bridgwater Town.

Ballinger bookended the game between the Toolstation Premier Division rivals as he broke the deadlock for Kieran Baggs’ side just two minutes into Monday night’s replay before finally killing off the tie at Oakfields with a second goal in the dying stages.

Manager Baggs said: “It’s Luke’s first season as an assistant manager and it’s always tough finding the right balance with your roles.

“You’re trying to look after yourself in the warm-up but also trying to get all of the guys ready to play at the same time.

“Sometimes we’ve had to pull him out of games and sometimes he’s taken himself out, but every time he’s played, he’s been a credit to the club.

“He was excellent on Monday night and one of the goals he scored was an absolute cracker too.”

Melksham were forced to go the extra mile in their bid to reach the fourth round after Saturday’s original tie ended in a 2-2 draw.

Jake Brown gave the visitors a dream start in Somerset when he broke the deadlock in the opening minute but Bridgwater hit back and pulled ahead inside a quarter of an hour when Tyne Govier and Ryan Burrows hit the back of the net.

Gary Higdon’s goal ensured it was all-square once more at the break and neither side could then muster a winner in either the second half or extra time.

“We were disappointed not to finish the job off on Saturday because we had a goal disallowed right at the end of the game,” added Baggs.

“We took something like 80 fans down there with us, so it would have been good to send them home on the coach happy, but 2-2 was probably about the right result.

“It was always going to be a tight turnaround for the Monday night, particularly for Bridgwater having to travel after the extra time on Saturday, but we all knew that was going to be the case if it did go to the replay.

“Thankfully we were able to freshen things up a bit. Ben Thomson and Dan Demkiv both played for the first time in a long while after injury and the squad I put together was able to do the job.”

Melksham are currently fourth in the Premier Division table and return to league action on Saturday when they travel to Cadbury Heath.