Updated Match Preview: Bet Victor Division One South
Melksham Town v Basingstoke Town
When: Monday 24th February 2020 Kick-off 7.45pm
Where: infiLED Arena at Oakfield, Eastern Way, Melksham, Wiltshire SN12 7GU
Well this is the updated match preview from the postponed game on 15th February due to ‘Storm Dennis’.
Since that postponement, we failed to find the net in a tough home-loss to one of Melksham’s promotion rivals Paulton Rovers 0-1. Melksham themselves kept the pressure on the teams above themselves winning by the only at Bristol Manor Farm.
Melksham who are pushing for promotion will be looking to get their revenge from a 4-2 defeat back last October. Back then we played them in back-to-back weeks, beating them in the league, but then losing on the road in the FA Trophy 1-0.
What is clear since those earlier games, is that if your team can get its act together and put a string of wins together, you can significantly change your league position as Melksham have done.
In 17th place back then they now sit in 5th place, behind Paulton Rovers on goal-difference, as Winchester City fell out of the promotion places after losing to two late goals at Larkhall Athletic (3-1).
Their league record now looks much better at PLD 26 WON 13 DRAWN 5 LOST 8 GF 53 GA 47 with a total of 44pts. That equates to 36pts from a possible 48pts, with just two losses out of their last 16 games.
Assuming there is no problem with the pitch, then Melksham, managed by Richard Fey, will look to his forwards to continue their promotion run.
Their forwards starting with 31-year-old Luke Ballinger has 14 goals. Ballinger, who previously played for Bristol City, Frome Town, Gloucester City and Chippenham Town, also holds a record unusual to normal players. He is the England record holder for Futsal caps at 108. Supporting him is fellow forward Jack Ball just 21, who has added 11 goals. They also have ex-Gillingham and Dorchester Town striker Phil Ormrod with 8 goals.
Their home record now sits at Won 6 Drawn 3 Lost 4, but only one of those losses has been since we met them in October.
As for your Basingstoke side, we head to Wiltshire following that rather disappointing loss at home to Paulton Rovers yesterday. The solitary goal, however it occurred was a kick in the teeth, especially as it will have taken an awful lot out of the players, with this game just 50 hours later.
This will be second of three back-to-back games against teams in the top five places in the league, as we face another trip, on Saturday to nearby Thatcham Town, who sat idle with their game at Barnstaple Town called off.
If Melksham’s rise was an impressive jump upwards, ours has been a rather disappointing slip down four places since the last time we met them.
Now sitting in 19th place with a record of PLD 24 Won 5 Drawn 3 Lost 16 GF 32 GA 64 with 17pts.
Our away record is not great and sits at, 1 Win, 2 Draws and 9 Losses.
After praising Harrison Cliff in his expected midfield partnership with Simon Dunn, in the Paulton Rovers match-preview, Cliff was on the sidelines injured yesterday, and is clearly struggling to get match-fit for this game.
With Bradley Wilson flying out to Australia, this leaves a gap in the team, but with Ben Wright still apparently injured, will this give Ben Dillon a start, or will it mean a start for Riccardo Andrady, who has sat on the sidelines in recent weeks, probably wondering what he needs to do, to get a start.
Both Ben Cook and Scott Armsworth took knocks yesterday, and it will be interesting to see Monday morning what squad of players, Dan Brownlie will take to Melksham.
Whatever, happens we need to tighten up at the back against a strong attacking Melksham team, and that along with possible squad updates, could see a more defensive line-up tomorrow night.
Lots of questions for Dan to make decisions on as we face a team on form.
What we do know from the previous two games against Melksham is that this will be a physical battle as they will try and strong-arm their way through the game. We also know yesterday and tomorrow’s games were catch-up games against our closest rivals Barnstaple, and if we fail to pick up a point, that gap between us gets worryingly close.
With no available home journey from Melksham, it means that those fans wishing to go will need to travel by car to the game, so could limit the number of fans supporting the club, tomorrow night.
Let’s hope I can report on a match where a point would be a significant useful result.
Match Preview by Martin French..