Match Preview: Melksham Town vs Tavistock AFC
Tavistock return to away action as they face 15th placed Melksham Town!!
By Luca Sperti
The Lambs will be happy to return to action; following Tuesday’s rearranged game versus Mousehole being postponed due to the weather getting the better of Trungle Parc. Tavi’s last match was last Saturday against Paulton Rovers, with the Red and Black outfit coming out on top, thanks to early goals from Joe O’Loughlin and Liam Prynn. An early goal in the second half by Paulton’s Jamarni Langlais made it 2-1 but Tavi held on for all three points and their third win in four matches. Melksham on the other hand, were beating comfortably at a inform Yate Town side, who are still unbeaten in 2024. Goals from Nick McCootie and winger Calum English-Brown put the Bluebells 2-0 ahead before the half-hour mark. However, a header from former Swindon Town Academy player, Ralph Graham put Melksham back into the game. Despite a good start to the second half by Melksham, goals from Yate’s Finn Bell and Oli Jenkins put the game out-of-reach for the Town.
Melksham have won one of their previous five games this season with that coming back in early January, against Bashley at the GlenMex Stadium. The Town has lost their previous three matches as well as shipping 15 goals in the process in those three matches. Including conceding four at Yate, the team from Wiltshire also let in five against Larkhall and six against free-scoring Bishop’s Cleeve at Kayte Lane. Melksham currently sit in 15th position only one place behind the Lambs, who currently occupy 14th. The Town are four points behind the Devonshire based outfit having played 21 matches one more than Tavi who have played 20. The Yellow and Black Outfit, have won six, drew seven and lost eight games this season and currently sit on a minus eight goal difference, which has not been helped by their recent shipping of goals. A victory for Tavi in the match could see the club move up to as high as 8th place if other results go the club’s way. As previously mentioned, Tavi have played 20 games this season winning nine drawing two and losing nine. The Club is still yet to draw a game away this season, winning five and losing five of their 10 matches away from Langsford Park this season.
The two sides have yet to play each other this season with the return fixture between the two sides being due to be played on Wednesday the 6th of March at Langsford Park. The last-time these two-teams faced each other, was back in January of last year with Tavistock coming out 1-2 winners at the Oakfield Stadium. The two sides played each other twice previously in the 22/23 season with Melksham coming away with a 0-1 win at Langsford in August. However, in October in the FA Trophy the Lambs won 3-1 at Langsford Park in front of a ground of 140 people.
Melksham Town Key Players:
Sam Hendy- The 23-year-old midfielder, started his career at Forest Green Rovers but did not make an appearance for the League outfit. Whilst at the Rovers, the midfielder spent time out on loan at Longlevens before joining Western-Super-Mare on a permanent transfer. At his first season at The Seagulls, Hendy made 32 appearances in all competitions scoring three goals. The tough-tackling midfielder made 25 appearances that season at Step Five of non-league where he was mostly used as a rotation player. The 23-year-old saw chances hard to come by the following season, with the midfield making a single appearance off the bench against Chesham United in the FA Trophy. The following season saw the versatile midfielder move to Melksham Town where he made an impressive 35 appearances scoring five goals in the 21/22 season. The Town fans were impressed by Hendy due to his excellent passing range and eye for goal. The following season was the now Melksham Captains best in his career to date, with Hendy making 38 appearances in all competitions scoring twelve goals, which included scoring five in six games back in October and a brace against Willand Rovers and Bristol Manor Farm. This season in a more of a defensive role, Hendy has made 24 appearances in all competitions scoring four as well as wearing the armband. The midfielder will be looking to control the game on Saturday and play the ball up to the attackers as well as concentrating on the defensive side of the game.
Ralph Graham- The 23-year-old started his career at Swindon Town where he signed a pro deal in the 19/20 season but did not make an appearance for the senior team in a competitive fixture. The centre-midfielder featured for Swindon in pre-season of the 19/20 season and was also on the bench for the Robins twice in the EFL Trophy. Whilst in SN1, Graham spent time out on loan at Highworth Town where he made six appearances. The all-rounded midfielder later in the season went on loan to National League South side Hungerford Town, where he made 14 appearances in all competitions scoring two goals. After not being offered a new deal at Swindon, Graham then signed permanently at Hungerford, where he found chances hard to come by as well as postponements in the season due to covid stopping the midfielders progress. The next season saw Graham move to Melksham, where in his first season in more of a defensive midfield role, Graham played 37 times. Last season saw the Graham make 40 appearances where the former Swindon man scored seven goals including three goals in only four matches in March. This season has seen Graham be one of the first names on the team sheet for Melksham boss Mark Collier, with the number seven making 21 appearances scoring six goals, including a header in the clubs last fixture against Yate. The all-rounded midfield is always a goal-threat from midfielder, and he also can play a ball on occasion which nobody else can see.
Benjani Mwaruwari Jr- The son of former Portsmouth, Man City and Zimbabwe international Benjani, Benjani Jr is on loan from National League South side Yeovil Town. The 19-year-old made his debut for Yeovil in the Somerset Premier Cup in the 21/22 season against Cheddar FC, in a 2-0 win for the Glovers. The next season saw Benjani Jr, make three appearances in all competitions for a struggling Yeovil side, who were relegated at the end of the season into the National League South. The Young Zimbabwean who also owns a French Citizenship, made two appearances for Yeovil this season in the Somerset Premier Cup even finding the back of the net for the club against Keynsham Town. The tall athletic striker, who can also play on the wing, joined Dorchester Town on loan at the start of the season where he made nine substitute appearances in step five before then joining Melksham on loan. Whilst at Melksham Benjani Jr, has made 13 appearances in all competitions scoring once which came in Melksham 1-5 home defeat to Larkhall Athletic. The young striker is very raw, but he is quick strong and can find the back of the net which will make him a constant threat on Saturday for the Tavi defence.
Melksham Town: Last Five Results:
Saturday 3rd February – Yate Town 4-1 Melksham Town
Saturday 27th January – Melksham Town 1-5 Larkhall Athletic
Saturday 13th January – Bishop’s Cleeve 6-1 Melksham Town
Saturday 6th January- Bashley Fc 1-2 Melksham Town
Monday 1st January- Melksham 0-2 Westbury United
Tavistock AFC: Last Five Results:
Saturday 3rd February- Tavistock AFC 2-1 Paulton Rovers
Tuesday 30th January – Yate Town 5-1 Tavistock AFC
Saturday 27th January- Bishop’s Cleeve 3-4 Tavistock AFC
Wednesday 17th January- Tavistock AFC 6-2 Frome Town
Saturday 13th January- Tavistock AFC 0-2 Exmouth Town
Saturday 10th February- Kick-off 3pm
From Melksham’s Twitter (2021 take note prices may have changed)
Ground: Oakfield Stadium, Eastern Way, Melksham SN12 7GU
16 and under- £2