Sat 3rd Feb 2018
The Buildbase FA Vase - 5th Round Proper
Melksham Town 2-1 TAFC First team
TAFC goals: Luke Dunstan
Athletic bowed out of The Buildbase FA Vase in front of a record crowd of 1,236 after conceding two early goals at the impressive home of Melksham Town. The superb Oakland's Stadium was a great venue for this momentous game in Athletics history. With rain falling most of the morning the pitch was in excellent condition and a credit to Melkshams ground staff.
Athletic had problems before the game, Tommy Twelves was unable to play after pulling a muscle during training in the week and Mark Riddick, although played, had been ill all week with a stomach bug. Athletic did however welcome back Elliott Goward following injury.
With only 6 minutes gone the home side, who were fielding two of their recent new signings, nearly scored. The ball was played into Athletics area, several shots were fired towards the goal but each time desperate defending managed to block and finally clear the danger.
Just 2 minutes later, a long diagonal ball to the far post was powerfully headed towards goal by Mike Perrott, keeper Jack Hopwood made a terrific save but unfortunately the loose ball hit the post and dropped over the goal line to open the score for the home side.
Athletic were finding it difficult to get into the game, Melksham were, at the earliest opportunity hitting long balls upfield or into Athletics area as they had a height advantage.
Athletic then conceded a soft corner after 14 minutes. The cross went deep, was then headed back across the area and with no defenders on the post Melkshams Rob Hobbs had the simple task of scoring.
With more than half of the first half gone Athletic finally started to get their passing game together, winning a couple of corners in quick succession. A free kick for Athletic saw Mark Riddicks header go over the bar. Now Athletic were seeing more of the ball and playing some neat passing football and they were rewarded with the goal of the game. Luke Dunstan took possession of the ball in midfield and proceeded to dribble past several of the home sides players before shooting past keeper Rob Brown in the 40th minute. Nearing the end of the first half Max Hercules shot from distance was safely gathered by the keeper.
Half time: Melksham Town 2 1 TAFC
The second half began with Melkshams leading scorer Gary Higdon shooting just wide and Athletics Dave OConnor hitting the post with a header from a free kick. Play was now fairly even. Athletic were building from the back finding their players with some neat passing, however Melksham were constantly dangerous from set pieces. In the 67th minute the referee showed a yellow card to Melkshams full back Mason Winter for time wasting. A corner in the 70th minute saw the unmarked Gary Higdons header fly past the post. Then in the 77th minute again the impressive striker had another opportunity but his shot was saved by Jack Hopwood.
Both sides introduced substitutions during the latter part of the game. Athletic kept pushing forward to find an equaliser but were wary of any quick breakaways. The fourth official indicated 5 minutes of stoppage time. With just two of these to play a terrific volley from the edge of the area by Mark Riddick nearly sneaked in by the post but keeper Rob Brown just managed to hold onto the ball.
Full time: Melksham Town 2- 1 TAFC
Although Athletic got off to a disappointing start they fought back and at times played some entertaining football against a difficult side. The players looked deflated at the end but they should not be as they put everything into the game, they can be proud of their performance and what they have achieved on this historic occasion for the club. I am sure all those supporters who travelled to the game feel the same. What at turn out it was, with well over a hundred supporters making the long trip down to Wiltshire. You did the club proud.
Melksham Town:Rob Brown,Mason Winter,Ben Thomson,Chris Allen,Lee Davidson,Warren Maidment,Mike Perrott,Dave Thompson,Gary Higdon (c),Robert Hobbs(Olly Webb 81),Jamie Lyons(Dan Demkiv 62)
TAFC:Jack Hopwood,Ben Johnson,Chris Mason(Colm Parrott 79),Mark Riddick,Dave OConnor,Luke Dunstan,Max Hercules(George Carbery 74),Sam Joliffe (c),Chris Vardy,JackRead,Elliott Goward(Jack Sunderland 74)