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Match Report: Melksham Town vs Tavistock AFC

Tavistock hold on for another important three points after a dominant first-half display at the Oakfield Stadium.

By Luca Sperti

The Lambs have now won four of their last five matches and move up to 10th in the table after a win against a struggling Melksham Town side. Just like last Saturday against Paulton Rovers, Tavistock started the game off strong with the first chance of the game falling to Liam Prynn in the 2nd minute. The former Torquay striker was played in and took a touch, but Melksham goalkeeper Joel Manning Butler came out and collided with striker, whilst getting the ball. In the 11th minute following a corner the ball fell to Tavi left-back Ben Cross who from outside the box let fly, but his shot went sailing over Manning Butler’s goal. In the 17th minute a huge chance for the home side saw a cross from right-winger Albie Hopkins find an unmarked Ben Brooks in the box. The number nine took the shot on first time with the whole goal to aim at, but his shot fell right into the hands of Dearing, who made a comfortable save. In the 25th minute following early pressure the Lambs took the lead. Right-winger Jack Endacott sent a lovely ball out to the left-wing to Joe O’Loughlin who brought the ball down lovely, before smashing the ball from just outside the box, with the laces of his stronger left-foot, into the bottom right-corner. Melksham number One, Manning Butler got a touch on it but couldn’t prevent the ball finding the bottom corner. It was O’Loughlin second goal in two games following his goal against Paulton Rovers last Saturday.

In the 27th minute a free-kick for Tavi was whipped in by central-midfielder Tallan Burns before being cleared by the Melksham defence. The ball was only cleared as far as Jack Endacott, whose shot was smashed high over the crossbar from the left of the pitch. In the 36th minute a chance for the home side saw former Oxford United man Hopkins find the ball on the right before cutting in on his favoured left-foot. The former Oxford City loanee, then smashed the ball from the centre of the box past the far post of Dearing’s goal. The winger looked dangerous and was trying to cut inside on every opportunity in the first half. In added time in the first-half another big-chance fell to the home side, with the ball once again coming in from the right-hand side and finding Brooks in the middle. The striker took one touch before getting his shot away which beat Dearing but was blocked on the line expertly by Charlie Elkington. The ball found it’s way back to Brooks whose second attempt was smothered by the onrushing Dearing. The Referee blew for half-time not long after with the Lambs going into the break with a one-goal lead.

Just like the first-half, Tavistock started the second-half stronger and nearly doubled their lead four minutes into the second half. A through-ball out to the left, saw the impressive Joe O’Loughlin beat the offside trap before taking a touch and floating the ball to the far-post. Plymouth loanee and right-winger Jack Endacott got on the end of the ball, but his shot hit the top of the bar and post and went out for a goal kick. Only two minutes later another chance for Tavi saw Prynn flick a header into the path of O’Loughlin. The former Tiverton and Yate man took one touch before smashing a left-footed shot, from just outside the box, over Manning Butler’s goal. The left-winger was a constant threat during the game and gave Melksham right-back Dion Molyneux a tough day on the pitch. In the 55th minute Brooks was once again given a chance inside the box for the Town. A cross from Melksham’s favoured right-wing by Oscar Bridgman found Brooks once again unmarked but the former Larkhall Athletic striker’s header was flicked over the bar, without troubling Dearing in the Tavistock goal. In the 60th minute the first change of the afternoon for Melksham, saw Bridgman replaced by Benjani Jr, the son of former Portsmouth and Man City striker Benjani. In the 63rd minute the first yellow card of the game was given to Melksham’s David Thompson for complaining to referee James Hooper on numerous occasions. Three minutes later, excellent dribbling by former Crawley man Alex Battle, saw the Tavistock attacker find his way into the box. The Number 10 let fly, from the left of the box, with his shot deflecting of Molyneux and out for a corner. In the 69th minute another chance from the right by Melksham saw the ball fall all the way to the far post to captain Sam Hendy. But the former Forest Green Rovers’ youth players shot was volleyed wide of the near post.

In the 70th minute following treatment goal scorer for Tavi Joe O’Loughlin was replaced by Jacob Bowker with 20 minutes remaining. The substitute moved on to the right-wing with former Tiverton loaned Endacott moving to his preferred left-side. In the 78th minute the impressive Endacott sent Molyneux inside and out on the left-side of the box, before the teenager smashed a shot with his stronger left-foot into the near post. In the 80th minute a second sub for Melksham saw the unlucky Brooks be replaced by Jaiden Pearce. In the 89th minute a dangerous challenge by Ralph Graham on the ankle of Tavi captain Ed Harrison resulted in the former Swindon Town man, picking up a yellow card. Following the challenge Harrison couldn’t carry on and the number eight was replaced by Ben Fowles. Tavistock striker Liam Prynn was also replaced by Exeter City loanee Alfie Cunningham, who was back after suspension. A late penalty claim by Melksham deep into the 6th minute of added time saw Referee Hooper blow his whistle but for a freekick for Tavi, for a foul on Jack Endacott. Hooper then blew his whistle for the final time not long later, with Tavistock coming out 0-1 victors. It was the Lambs first clean sheet since a 0-2 away win at Paulton Rovers back in October. The Red and Black outfit now have a week off without a game, with the club next fixture on the 24th of February away at Frome Town. Melksham are now winless in four and travel to Cornwall next Saturday to face Mousehole AFC at Trungle Parc.

Lineups:

Melksham Town: Manning Butler, Witchell, Bremner, Hendy, James, Thompson, Graham, Molyneux, Brooks (Pearce 80), Bridgman (Benjani Jr 60), Hopkins

Tavistock AFC: Dearing, Cross, Endacott, Scarff, Elkington, Burns, Harrison (Fowles 90), Prynn (Cunningham 90), Battle, O’Loughlin (Bowker 70), Harris