MELKSHAM Town boss Kieran Baggs highlighted an elite first-half display as the primary factor behind his side’s 3-2 win over Wiltshire rivals Highworth Town in Southern League Division One South on Saturday, writes JONATHAN LEIGHFIELD.

Melksham were looking to gain revenge following the 3-1 defeat they suffered to Jeff Roberts’ men earlier in the season – a game that saw two penalty appeals for handball turned down, while manager Baggs was sent off for remonstrating with the referee.

Baggs’ side started brightly this time, though, and were 2-0 up shortly before half-time thanks to a tap-in from Neikell Plummer and a wonderful right-footed strike from full-back Marc Cooper.

Callum Parsons halved the deficit early in the second half, but Cooper’s second restored the two-goal lead with 15 minutes to play.

Jordan Young’s goal for Highworth late on did little to change the story of the game.

Reflecting on his side’s sixth win in their last 10 games, Baggs says the opening half was as good as he has seen in recent months.

He said: “It was probably the best first-half performance that we’ve had for a very, very long time. I would say we were as close to top gear as we have been all season.

“We’ve been a little bit slow to start in recent weeks, especially in big games where we’ve gone behind early, but that wasn’t the case this weekend and the boys were right at it in really difficult conditions.

“We coped really well and created two really well-worked goals.”

The Melksham boss will be keen to avoid another slow opening to a half when they travel to struggling Slimbridge on Saturday and admitted that his team’s sluggish starts are an area of concern going forward.

He said: “We went in to the break against Highworth at 2-0 and I begged the boys not to start slowly in the second half, but Highworth came out fighting and after 15 minutes, they scored and made the game interesting.

“But we were comfortable once the third goal went in and we saw the game out until the 90th minute. Highworth scored a deflected effort to make the scoreline look a bit closer than it was.

“It was a good weekend for Melksham, and we look forward to taking that good run of form into Saturday.”