A LAST-GASP strike by substitute Reece Rusher helped Melksham Town move to within one point of the Southern League Division One South play-off frame on Saturday following Town’s 1-0 win over Slimbridge.

Rusher, who linked up with Town after departing Winchester City, three weeks ago, came off the bench with only four minutes left in Melksham’s latest tie to net the game’s only goal and record the home side’s sixth league win of the season.

Despite picking up a timely three points ahead of a busy Christmas period, Melksham boss Kieran Baggs insists his side’s performance lacked the same edge they possessed at Highworth Town a week earlier – despite that game ending in a 3-1 defeat.

Baggs said: “I thought we were really good value for three points against Highworth, but we got hit with a free-kick in the closing minutes and we missed lots of chances to take the lead when the game was poised at 1-1.

“It is a nice feeling when you put in a performance and get the three points, but that wasn’t the case this Saturday.

“We had to grind the result out in a different way to what we had been doing over the course of the season.

“Slimbridge turned up with a game plan, and they were time wasting in the second half – trying to leave with a point.

“Over the course of this season, we’ve popped up with some late stoppage time goals, and it pleases me that we keep strong right until the end and keep fighting.

“Fitness levels are good, and we’ve continued to maintain them after the first few months of the season.

“We’re still in touch with the play-off pack, and when the end of December comes, we can sit down and have a look at where we are and what we can do better.”

Slimbridge’s defensive approach to the tie serves as a compliment to Melksham’s positive performances throughout the season so far during their first season in non-league’s fourth tier, according the Baggs.

Understanding that teams are arriving at the infiLED Arena with a game plan to earn a point has filled the Melksham boss with confidence, and he hopes to maintain that run when welcoming Barnstaple Town this weekend.

“I spoke to a couple of their lads afterwards and they were happy to frustrate us and sit behind the ball,” said Baggs.

“We had to be patient and keep ticking.

“It shows good respect to us, people are taking note of what we are doing.

“The infiLED Arena has become a bit of a fortress for us, it’s become a difficult place for teams to visit.

“We’ve got a couple of home games coming up, hopefully we can maintain this run.”