PAUL Shanley says winning the Toolstation League First Division remains Bradford Town’s priority – but a cup final along the way wouldn’t go amiss for the Trowbridge Road boss.
Bradford booked their place in the last four of the Wiltshire Senior Cup with a hard-fought victory over Sydenhams League county rivals Pewsey Vale last weekend.
And Shanley was delighted to see his team bounce back from suffering their first league of the season defeat last time out.
“I felt that we deserved it overall in the end. We dug out a result really, and I think that in the cup, it’s more about results than performances,” said the Bradford manager.
“We haven’t had to do that too many times this season – they battled hard and made it difficult for us but I thought we just about deserved to go through to the next round.
“There are still some tough teams left in there but we’re in the semi-finals and anything could happen.
“The league’s our priority but you’d take a semi-final in a cup competition.
“If we can go on another run now, it should take us on to promotion, which was our aim at the start of the season - and if it means being in a cup final along the way, we’ll take that.”
Vale keeper Richie Payne denied Beau Blakeman early on before up the other end, striker Mark Field beat the Bradford offside trap but rolled his finish agonisingly wide of the target.
Pewsey’s Field went close again in the opening stages before the hosts’ Dan King shot just wide as he got on the end of a ball from substitute Dan Fowler in the second period.
The decisive goal came with around 15 minutes to go as Bradford’s Tom Welch picked out Leon Greenland with a superb cross-field ball, allowing the winger to cut back for Fowler to drill home down the centre of the goal.
Home keeper Nick Gingell almost gifted Vale an equaliser late on when he opted to punch a ball clear before crashing into one of his own defenders.
Ricky Franklin headed goalwards but full-back Andy Gilbert was on hand to clear off the line.
Shanley’s men host local rivals Warminster Town in the league tomorrow.
Progress is perfect for boss Perrin
MELKSHAM Town manager Darren Perrin declared his side’s season well on track after the Wiltshire Senior Cup holders booked their place in the semi-finals of the competition last weekend.
After trailing 2-0 at half-time to Hellenic League Highworth Town, Perrin’s men produced a stirring second-half comeback to clinch a 3-2 triumph and take another step forward in their quest to retain the county cup.
With Melksham sitting comfortably in mid-table in the Toolstation League Premier Division, the Conigre chief has the freedom to shuffle his pack in the coming weeks and months.
“We were awful in the first half and there were a few words said at half-time but after that, the players were fantastic and I’m pleased to get the win,” said Perrin.
“We want to try and retain the cup because it would be a massive achievement for the football club.
“You have to say that Bradford are the favourites because of what they’ve done this season but we’ve also beaten another one of the favourites in Highworth Town.
“Our other aim this season was to avoid relegation and we don’t want to be complacent but I don’t think we’re in any danger of that now.
“Between now and the end of the season, I want to take a look at some of the reserves and U18 players because I want to see every option we have – if some results go astray, then we’re prepared to deal with that as it’s for the good of the long term future of the club.
Matty Horsell and Sam Wadieh put Highworth in control last weekend but Gary Higdon and Dan Kovacs found the net in the second period before Will Stead took advantage of a last-gasp error from the visiting goalkeeper to seal Melksham’s progress.
On Monday night, Melksham notched up their eleventh league win of the season as they beat promotion-chasing Street 2-1.
Higdon and the dual-registered Luke Ballinger got the goals.
Honours even at Southbank
MATT Bown and Trevor Rawlings were in agreement that a draw was a fair result as their sides cancelled each other out on Wednesday night.
Corsham Town and Westbury United met at the Southbank, but it ended honours even as neither side could muster a breakthrough.
But Westbury manager Bown was pleased to see his team stretch their unbeaten run to four matches.
“I thought that we played ever so well. Corsham is a tough place to go and get anything, but I said that I wanted to get a clean sheet and that’s exactly what I got,” said the United boss.
“We changed the formation to a 3-5-2 and the performance was tactically very good.
“We did create some chances though – Mark Young hit the crossbar late on and we also had a blatant penalty turned down.
“Lally (Wayne Wheeler) was clattered by their goalkeeper (Mark Billingsley) and we got a free-kick, but I was told after the game that it was two yards inside the area.”
Corsham chief Rawlings reckons that there wasn’t an awful lot to shout about during Wednesday’s stalemate.
He said: “It was your typical local derby and there wasn’t a great deal of football played by either side.
“Westbury have been on a good run and the only disappointing thing was that our final ball wasn’t quite there.
“We were getting into good positions but then making some strange decisions - a draw was a fair result.”
Last weekend, Westbury striker Wheeler hit a hat-trick as United triumphed 3-2 at Roman Glass St George.
Wheeler struck twice early on before the visitors’ Paul Coles hit a brace of his own to level up the scores at 2-2.
But the Westbury man turned hat-trick hero as his 70th minute free-kick deflected off a Roman Glass head and looped over keeper George Dempsey.
Meanwhile, Corsham were knocked out of the Wiltshire Senior Cup at the quarter-final stage as they were beaten 2-1 at home by Hellenic League Purton.
Rawlings’ men saw Booker Woodford’s first half strike cancelled out by a penalty from the visitors’ Marcus Hall before Blaine Fitzgerald found the net at the death.
Graham can see the promise despite latest home loss for Town
WARMINSTER Town joint-chief Derek Graham is certain that his side are on the right track, despite slipping to a second defeat on the trot at the hands of promotion-chasing Welton Rovers last weekend.
Warminster fell behind as Dan Cottle fired home early on for the visitors after Andrew Keen’s strike was parried by keeper Carl Crabtree.
Graham and Andy Crabtree’s men pushed for an equaliser but their efforts were dealt a blow when Steve Seals was sent off for his part in a shoving match with Welton’s Cottle.
And the visitors killed off any chance of an upset as Paul Banks struck to make it 2-0 late on.
“Myself and Andy saw enough in the game to know that we’re going in the right direction,” said Graham.
“We were always going to struggle to get anything out of this run of games where we play Wincanton, Welton and then Bradford, but we played some good stuff at time.
“We were pushing for an equaliser and even looked like we might get one with ten men, but then they broke and scored again to make it look a lot worse than it was.”
Dual-registered Frome Town midfielder Alex Lapham looks set for his first Warminster start tomorrow as he continues his return to full fitness while Lloyd Matthews returns at local rivals Bradford Town.
Corsham can’t sink leaders
IN ONE of the few fixtures to survive the wet weather in the Wiltshire League last weekend, Corsham Town Reserves were unable to pull off an upset as they were well-beaten by Premier Division leaders Supermarine Sports Club.
The Swindon-based hosts took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Dave Rendle before substitute Jason Milhench fired home to make it 2-0 after his initial effort struck the crossbar.
Milhench then set up Rendle to make it 3-0 as Corsham, who are currently ninth in the table, suffered an unhappy return to action after an enforced winter break.
Corsham face another tough test this weekend, when they host second-placed Shrewton United.
In the only other game in the division, Marlbor-ough Town saw their five-match unbeaten run brought to an abrupt end as they were thrashed at Ludgershall Sports.
Marlborough, who had won four of their last five, were beaten 5-1 at Astor Crescent and go looking to bounce back to winning ways when Trowbridge Town visit Elcot Lane this weekend.
Wilts Calne Town take on near neighbours Devizes Town Reserves while FC Chippenham Youth make the trip to Wroughton.
In Division One, Melk-sham Town Reserves have been knocked off top spot after Intel beat Wroughton Reserves 5-1 last weekend.
Melksham face a vital clash with Wootton Bassett Town Development this weekend while Malmesbury Victoria Reserves go to Sarum Youth Seniors.
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