MELKSHAM Town boss Darren Perrin reckons his side will be firm underdogs when they meet local rivals Bradford Town in the Wiltshire Senior Cup final next month, writes Carl Field.

Holders Melksham sealed their final spot on Tuesday night, with Gary Higdon’s hat-trick and a Shaun Benison effort in a thumping 4-0 win over Hellenic League Purton at Calne Town’s Bremhill View.

But Perrin said Toolstation First leaders Bradford, who have lost just once in the league all season, are clear favourites against his Premier Division outfit.

“It’s going to be like the paupers against Man City, David and Goliath,” said Perrin.

“But we’ll look forward to it. Bradford have had a magnificent season and full credit to them for what they‘ve done.

“There is no pressure on us other than that we are the holders and want to retain it.”

Perrin praised his side for their dominant display over Purton, in a game that turned on two controversial penalty shouts just before the break.

Melksham were denied what looked a clear shout for handball on 37 minutes but, five minutes later, were awarded what looked a soft penalty after Jamie Richards was adjudged to have fouled Higdon.

Higdon converted from the spot before Benison’s volley five minutes after the restart and two further Higdon efforts capped a fine win.

Perrin said: “The penalty probably was a little bit harsh, but we were aggrieved we weren’t given one for a clear handball on the line.

“But overall I thought the boys were absolutely magnificent and nobody can have any complaints with the outcome.”

Disappointed Purton boss Chris Pethick admitted the penalty decision affected his side, but he had no complaints with the result.

“We just didn’t turn up and were poor,” he said.

“The penalty was a shocker – one of the worst decisions I’ve seen – and it affected the lads at half-time.

“It changed the game a little bit because I thought, up to that point, we had defended quite well.

“But that’s taking nothing away from Melksham, who took their chances and thoroughly deserved it.”

United taking their points loss on the chin as Brickley rules out appeal

WESTBURY United chairman Paul Brickley says that his side have no choice to accept their three-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player earlier this season.

Young midfielder Charlie Walton was sent off playing for Westbury’s U18 side and was subsequently banned from all forms of football while he served his suspension.

But Walton played in United’s 3-2 Toolstation League First Division victory over Welton Rovers on January 11 while still suspended and Brickley says that the Meadow Lane outfit won’t be appealing against their slap on the wrist.

“As a manager, you’d be gutted to see that happen to your team but we won’t be appealing against it because it’s an oversight on our part,” said the Westbury chairman.

“The lad got sent off for the U18s and then must have done something else, like mouth off at the referee, to get banned from all football – it’s just like getting sent off in Sunday League, which has happened to our goalkeeper Rob Brown this season.

“I’ve spoken to our secretary about it and we’ll just have to get on with things.”

Westbury boss Matt Bown added: “It’s frustrating because we played ever so well in that game against Welton.”

On Tuesday night, United suffered a late collapse as they surrendered a 3-2 lead at Chard Town.

Matty Jones, Mark Young and Joe Maloney had all found the net but the hosts hit back to run out 5-3 winners.

“We were 2-1 up and conceded a penalty right before half-time to make it 2-2, which killed us,” said Bown.

“Even then, at 3-2 we should be able to kill the game off but we were naiive and gave away some sloppy goals.”

Last weekend, with assistant manager Mike Kilgour in charge due to Bown attending a family wedding, Westbury drew 0-0 with Wincanton Town.

United have signed young Paulton Rovers winger Kyle Box on dual-registration forms.

Shanley stays relaxed over Mallet clash

BRADFORD Town have the opportunity to take another huge step towards securing the Toolstation League First Division title tomorrow but manager Paul Shanley says the pressure will be off when his side host their nearest challengers Shepton Mallet.

Bradford are 11 points clear of second-placed Shepton after back-to-back victories over Ashton & Backwell United and Wells City this week but Shanley wants his players to relax ahead of their top-of-the-table showdown.

“The pressure’s all on Shepton because they’ve got to come to us and win, so it might be an attacking game,” said the Bradford boss.

“We know what we’ve got to do to win the title and we want to try and do it as quickly as possible, but I want us to enjoy Saturday too and be relaxed about the game.”

Top scorer Sam Jordan netted a hat-trick while Dan King and Steve Hulbert were also on target against Wells on Monday evening.

On Saturday, hosts Ashton had three players sent off, with Bradford’s Nathan Flower also receiving his marching orders for grappling with an opposition player, as Jordan, King, Hulbert, Tom Welch and Dan Fowler all got themselves on the scoresheet in a 5-2 triumph.

It’s derby delight as Rawlings’ Town maintain fine league run against Park 

TREVOR Rawlings was delighted to see his Corsham Town side maintain their fine form in the Toolstation League First Division with a derby victory on Wednesday night.

Corsham cruised to a comfortable win over local rivals Chippenham Park at the Southbank, with Rawlings men, who are unbeaten in ten matches, stretching their record to just one defeat in their last 15 outings in the Toolstation League First Division.

Matt Jenkins put the hosts in front in the first half and Kent Kauppinen fired home from the penalty spot to increase the home side’s lead after Nick Holton was upended in the box in the second period before Jack Morris struck to round off the scoring.

“The run we’re on is fantastic and it should breed confidence for the lads,” said Corsham boss Rawlings.

“Chippenham Park are a young side, their energy levels are high and they’re very fit but in the second half, there was only one side in it – I thought that Kieron Gleed had a very good debut on the left wing, too.

“It was pleasing because we had eleven players out and could have fielded a decent Western League side from the lads that weren’t there. That includes Mossy (Jamie Moss) and Gary Blackwood, who are out for the season, but we’ve done well to still get a good squad of 15 out there and the players that did play deserved their chance.”

Last weekend, Corsham picked up a point as they held fifth-placed Almondsbury UWE to a goalless draw.

Gary Banks and Jackson Hamilton are expected to return for tomorrow’s home clash with 18th-placed Cheddar but the likes of Matt Windle, Jason Henley, Bradley Partner and Jamal Chevolleau all remain doubts to make the Corsham squad.

Warminster draw blank at home

WARMINSTER Town joint-manager Derek Graham thought his side were unlucky to come out on the losing side against Ashton & Backwell United on Wednesday night.

A first half goal from the visitors’ Conor Biggins was enough to condemn Warminster, who did pick up three points last Saturday as they beat bottom-of-the-table Portishead Town, to their 19th defeat of the season.

“It was a very tight game and a draw probably would have been a fair result – I expect that’s what (Portishead) would’ve said about Saturday too,” said Graham.

“The performance was good from us but we just couldn’t score a goal in the end.”

At Portishead last weekend, the vital breakthrough came with 58 minutes on the clock as forward Lewis Graham broke down the left wing and beat two players before crossing in for Jack Miluk to slot home and seal a 1-0 triumph.

Goal provider Graham and the hosts’ Ben Davis were sent off for their part in a late melee.

Vintage Reserves

MELKSHAM Town Reserves manager Steve Burns praised his side’s commitment as they kept the heat on title rivals Intel last weekend.

Melksham beat Malmesbury Victoria Reserves 3-0 at the Conigre, notching up their fourth victory in a row thanks to goals from James Worsley, Emilio Menghini and Nick Ridout.

“Every week they turn up and want to win every game, their motivation and attitude is excellent, ” said Burns.

“Saturday was probably the best we’ve controlled the game all season really, though we never had to get going. We played very well but within ourselves.

“We had lots of possession without having to create a lot but I felt if we’d needed to we could have stepped it up at any time. We just have keep winning our games. It’s ours to lose.

Melksham remain a point behind Intel and will have five matches in hand on the leaders by the time the two sides meet on March 29.