Cooper double rescues Melton Mowbray hopes

Melton skipper Tom Cooper EMN-150303-122540002
Melton skipper Tom Cooper EMN-150303-122540002
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Premier Division

EARL SHILTON ALBION 2 MELTON MOWBRAY 4

Saturday brought another twist in the title race as Melton went six points clear at the top with six games to play.

Mowbray’s victory over an in-form Earl Shilton side was made even sweeter as filtered through of a second straight defeat for rivals Sileby Town whose season-long unbeaten run had ended just the previous weekend.

Sileby are now six points back with three games in hand, while promotion rivals Saffron are 12 points adrift but having played five games less than Melton.

The visitors were expecting a tough test against a bogey side who sat third in the form table, and that’s what they got.

Earl Shilton set out to frustrate with tough tackling, allowing Melton no time in possession to get their passing game going.

The visitors stuck to their task, continuing to play out from defence, and were rewarded for their positive play.

Levi Fray collected the ball in his own half, beat two players and played a pass inside to Hazeldine who picked out Aidan Black on the right. Black played it back across the area for Adam Bishop to loop a superb shot over the keeper’s head for his 15th goal of the season.

The strong wind continued to play its part as the hosts pumped the ball forward, but Melton’s defence looked solid.

But Shilton equalised on the stroke of half-time. Richard Cragg managed to punch away Shilton’s corner and Bishop cleared the resulting shot off the line, but Ash Palfreyman, under pressure, sliced the ball into his own net.

The second half was action-packed as Melton began to turn up the pressure. Aidan Black was sent clean through on goal but was denied by the advancing keeper who seemed to make a save at least five yards out of his area, prompting Melton calls for a red card.

And immediately after, Melton’s defence was caught napping and were lucky not to conceded a penalty when Leon Fray looked to have caught the home forward.

Aaron Black settled Mowbray’s nerves when he fired in his 18th of the season with a crisp half-volley from an acute angle.

The lead was short-lived as Levi Fray handled in the area and Shilton scored the resulting penalty.

Tom Cooper then came to Melton’s rescue. Trying his luck with a free kick 45 yards out, and with the wind behind him, his effort flew into the top corner.

Minutes later the defender was at it again, outsmarting the keeper from the same distance by floating the ball into the top corner.

Man-of-the-match, sponsored by Melton Building Society, was Tom Cooper.

Mowbray: R. Cragg, T. Cooper, Leon Fray, A. Palfreyman, Levi Fray, L. Mann (c), K. Clayton, A. Bishop, Aaron Black (G. Williamson), D. Hazeldine (J. Baker), Aidan Black (Love). Sub not used: Kitt-Geraghty.