DARREN Perrin is amazed and delighted by the prospect of an “unbelievable” top-five finish for his side this season.
Melksham, winless and bottom after seven games, turned it round and could finish fifth with a comfortable victory over Buckland Athletic in their final match at home on Saturday.
That would follow Perrin’s men winning the Wiltshire Senior Cup by beating first division champions Bradford Town on penalties last week.
Perrin said: “The players deserve great credit and so does everybody at the club.
“It’s been a very rewarding season. To win the Wiltshire Senior Cup and then be where we are now after being bottom of the table after seven matches with one point is magnificent.
“Our reserves have got a (Wiltshire League) cup final on Saturday and if they win that they will have completed the double.
“Then our U18s are through to their county cup final as well, so there is a chance we could achieve a hat-trick of cup wins, which would be magnificent.”
Nick Ridout and Ryan Bennett scored at Gillingham on Tuesday as Melksham notched up their 20th league win of the campaign.
Perrin took over from Dave Clayton after the difficult start to the season, but the Conigre chief reckons the poor start might actually have helped them.
“To be honest, where we were in the table meant that we were perhaps a bit underestimated by some people.
“Maybe they took us for granted a little bit.
“There are very positive signs at the club and lots going on, with the new ground hopefully on the way.
“But we know next season will very tough again because a lot more people will know about us.’’
Melksham, now with only one defeat in their last eight league games, were also victorious on Saturday as they ran out 3-2 winners at Brislington.
Gary Higdon headed home Ridout’s cross to cancel out an earlier home effort before Higdon returned the favour for Ridout to make it 2-2 later on.
Higdon’s 34th goal of the season secured the points before half time.
Super Sam is Bradford’s top man at awards ceremony
BRADFORD Town goal machine Sam Jordan swept the board at the club’s end of season presentation evening last week.
The Bradford striker, who has hit a whopping 74 goals in 54 appearances so far this season for the Toolstation League First Division champions, was handed the player of the season, players’ player of the season and top-goalscorer awards.
Meanwhile, midfielder Steve Hulbert took home the young player of the season gong from last Thursday’s awards, which doubled as the club’s Sportsman’s Dinner, with former Liverpool defender Neil Ruffock in attendance.
Paul Shanley’s Bradford need a point from their final game of the season at home to Wellington tomorrow to break the 100-point barrier in the league.
The Trowbridge Road outfit made it to 99 points with a high-scoring victory over Oldland Abbotonians last weekend.
Captain Tom Welch, Dan Fowler and Hulbert were on target while the visitors netted two own goals as Bradford won 5-3.
Rawlings sets sights on progress
TREVOR Rawlings hopes to strengthen his Southbank squad during the summer so Town can challenge at the very top of the First Division.
Kieron Gleed’s first goal for the club and Jason Henley wrapped up Corsham’s 2013-14 campaign with victory on Saturday.
Town finished seventh and, after a tough start to the season marked by player losses and injuries, Rawlings was satisfied with that return.
“We were looking to be challenging for that top four but after what happened with unavailability and things like that, we’ve done okay,’’ he said.
“We had a good FA Cup run, which derailed us a bit in the league, but we had a long unbeaten run after Christmas and we weren’t beaten at home in the league after October.
“Hopefully, we’ll keep most of the squad together and we can strengthen it a little bit before trying to push on and perhaps challenge a bit next year.’’
Rawlings felt last weekend’s victory against struggling Portishead should have been more comfortable.
“It should have been more convincing, but their keeper made six or seven great saves,’’ he said.
Midweek win ends campaign
WARMINSTER Town joint-bosses Derek Graham and Andy Crabtree are looking forward to pushing on next season after ending their Toolstation League campaign with a four-match unbeaten run.
Steve Perkins and top-scorer Louis Sparey were on target as Graham and Crabtree’s men won at Cheddar on Wednesday evening while Warminster also picked up a fine 1-1 draw at home to Shepton Mallet last weekend, with Sam Babatunde on the scoresheet.
Joint-manager Graham, who took over at Weymouth Street alongside Crabtree last November, is looking forward to a full season at the helm.
“When you come in, it takes time to bring players in and get people playing the way you want to play,” said Graham.
“Our aim was to keep ourselves up and we picked up 27 points in our last 20 games, which would have been enough to stay out of the top two.
“Hopefully we can get ourselves up to mid-table next season and we’ll see where we go from there.”
Bown sees good signs
WESTBURY United chief Matt Bown says his young players have added a silver lining to a testing campaign at Meadow Lane.
Westbury host Barnstaple Town in their final game of the season on Bank Holiday Monday and Bown is hoping that his men can finish on a high after going six games without a win.
“It’s been a long season and a lot tougher than I expected – I got a good squad together at the start of the season but a lot of them have left for one reason or another,” said boss Bown.
“Around halfway through the season, I started bringing in the young players and they’ve been absolutely fantastic.
“There’s a bright future at the club if we can keep them all together.”
Westbury take on Barnstaple for the second time in a row after losing 2-1 in Devon last weekend.
Nick Taylor struck to put Bown’s men in control but two goals in the last 20 minutes sealed United’s defeat.
FOR MORE SPORTS NEWS, REPORTS & PICTURES SEE FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES AND FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @WTSport