MELKSHAM Town manager Kieran Baggs was rewarded for keeping faith in the team that won away at Thatcham Town as his players prevented a late comeback from Bristol Manor Farm to win 3-2 in Southern League Division One South on Saturday, writes JONATHAN LEIGHFIELD.

Luke Ballinger and Brad Norris had put Town 2-0 up prior to half-time before Ballinger grabbed his second through a sublime ship from 30 yards out on the hour.

Town were left hanging on near the end, though, as they gave away a penalty – Owen Howe slamming converting – before a controversial second from Manor Farm's Jamie Bird threatened to curtail all of Town’s good work.

Yet, Melksham held on and now find themselves in sixth in the table – two points off the play-off places.

Baggs believed the final scoreline was closer than the game had been, but was satisfied that his squad was almost back to full-strength and ready to start picking up results again.

He said: “The boys were coming off the back of a really good result in midweek against Thatcham, so we kept the side exactly the same.

“That left Neikell Plumber, Nuno Felix and Jon Davies on the bench, so the squad was back to somewhere near as strong as it can be.

“I stuck with the boys that played at Thatcham and they duly repaid me with an outstanding performance.

“We were under pressure for about the last 10 minutes of the first half – they hit the bar, but we’ve gone 3-0 up from probably the goal of the season from Luke Ballinger.

“In my opinion, the scoreline reads a lot closer than it was, but it’s a huge three points for us and it takes us into that realm of sniffing about the play-offs again.”

With the game at 3-1, there appeared to be something of a flash point as Manor Farm recorded their second goal in the aftermath of an apparent drop-ball.

Baggs was left disappointed at what followed, and although he received an apology from the opposition manager post-match, he felt the goal should never have been allowed to stand.

“When you go 3-0 up, you know you should be winning the game. I’m disappointed with the penalty we gave away, it was sloppy, but there’s no complaints from me about the awarding of it," said Baggs.

“But the second goal had more than a spot of controversy about it – one of our players went down with a head injury, the ball was kicked out and we had a drop-ball and instead of us kicking the ball back to their goalkeeper, they went through on the drop-ball and scored.

“The referee couldn’t chalk it off and I don’t blame him for that, but I thought it was poor sportsmanship.”