Match Preview: Southern League Division One South
Melksham Town v Basingstoke Town
When: Saturday 31st October 2020 Kick-off 3pm
Where: infiLED Arena at Oakfield, Eastern Way, Melksham, Wiltshire SN12 7GU
Melksham Town (Nickname – The Town), Average 2020-21 Home Attendance 363
Admission Prices: TBC but 2019/20 Adult £8 Concessions £6 U16’s Free (Expected MATCH SELL OUT)
Having broken the seal on our first victory at our temporary home at Winklebury, plus having one our first league game on an artificial surface, we head back out on the road for the next two league matches, starting this Saturday against Wiltshire-based Melksham Town.
Well we met Melksham three times, twice in the league and the other game between the two league adventures was in first qualifying round of the FA Trophy.
Up first was our home game in October, and after taking a well-deserved two-goal lead, Melksham peg back level, before a Dean Stow free-kick gives a 3-2 halftime lead. A tense second 45, sees the Melksham left back, sent from the field for two yellow cards, before we finish the game in injury-time, when we win a penalty for that suicidal attack by the keeper on Riccardo Andrady, and it’s Stow again who settles it at 4-2. A week later it’s the FA Trophy match in awful rainy conditions up in Wiltshire. The game was pretty much even until 5 minutes before the break, when a shot of all of 40yds somehow beats then keeper Chris Rackley in goal. The second-half saw both teams fail to take their chances, and we end our cup participation for the season.
The third game was then the rearranged league game which took place on the Monday night in late February. This game saw us take a well deserved lead just past the half hour but as usual, we could not hold onto the lead for very long and Melksham equalised before the break.
The second-half then saw us miss a golden chance to take the lead as Ben Cook tries to walk the ball round the keeper, rather than put his foot through it. A controversial goal then puts us behind, which was followed by a weak goal left us trailing which we never looked like getting back and we lose 3-1.
Melksham, known as the Town, enter this game sitting in 18th place with a current record of Played 6 Won 1 Drawn 0 Lost 5 GF 5 GA 14 with 3pts. They have lost all three homes games, scoring just once in their opening day fixture 1-2 against Winchester City. Further losses to Cirencester (0-4) and Highworth (0-1). On the road they have not fared much better after picking up their only points in a 0-2 win at Moneyfields, they have since lost at Slimbridge 4-2 and last Saturday 3-0 at Thatcham Town.
Manager Richard Fey, have what seems the similar goal-scoring strike-force as last season with Jack Ball (2 goals), and Phillip Ormrod (1 goal), backed by incoming ex-Thatcham striker Felipe Barcelos who scored both goals at Slimbridge.
They have also just signed midfielder Elias Youssef previously from Chippenham Town, who is backed up by all-purpose Luke Ballinger, who is also an assistant under Fey.
Defensively they have long-term player Dave Thompson who has played more than 300 times for the yellow and black.
Their cup exploits including losing to North Leigh in a penalty shoot-out in the FA Trophy, whilst in the FA Cup , they initially beat little Exmouth, then won via a penalty shoot-out against division rivals Highworth Town, before then losing (yes you guessed it) via penalties to Southern League Premier club Wimborne Town.
Fortunately the latest weather pattern passed through Basingstoke prior to the start of Tuesday night’s visit of bottom-placed Mangotsfield Utd to Winklebury. On this night we were not to be denied, as two goals in the first ten minutes by Bradley Wilson and George Reid, plus Shaun Dallimore’s first of the season just after the half-hour was enough to seal a 3-0 victory our first back in Basingstoke and first ever league win on an artificial surface.
We now sit in 3rd place with a record of PLD 7 Won 5 Drawn 1 Lost 1 GF 23 GA 13 with 16pts. We sit behind AFC Totton on goal difference and Cirencester Town, two points above with 18pts.
This Saturday’s game could well see Daryl Wollers in contention for a starting role, but both Scott Armsworth & Shaun Dallimore did nothing wrong for Dan Brownlie to obviously remove them. With Lewis Hayden still possibly sidelined, could one of them moving into a holding midfield role that Lewis does.
With Simon Dunn now possibly sidelined again, and Harrison Cliff still suspended, this leaves more expectations from Ben Cook, Dylan Ive and the returning D’Andre Brown.
This leaves George Reid, McKoy Palmer and Bradley Wilson to do the creative work, but also to give striker George Hallahan the type of service that he needs to flourish.
In goal will remain Julian Schwarzer who again made two very important saves, which prevented Mangotsfield from getting back in the game.
On the bench is likely to be Lloyd Snell who should hopefully earn some more playing time. Alongside him will be Paul Strudley itching to get a start.
Whatever the line-up Dan goes with, he knows the travelling fans are almost expectant of three points. That’s an issue with success, but one he clearly would prefer to last season.
What we do know is that Melksham yet to pick up a point at home will come looking to break us down and we need to be at our sharpest to repel anything that is throw us.
It is hoped that a large contingent of fans will travel to Wiltshire this Saturday, and they will need to get behind the team in front of what is an expected full-house again.
Safe journey to the players, club officials and of course our travelling fans.
The weather currently does not look with heavy rain expected throughout the afternoon.
Match Preview by Martin French..