Melton Foxes seal top five spot in Premier

Melton Foxes Under 18s with Colin Wilkinson of sponsors Planet-X (right). Missing from picture is Jimmi Cox of sponsors BAC Electricals EMN-170228-170637002
Melton Foxes Under 18s with Colin Wilkinson of sponsors Planet-X (right). Missing from picture is Jimmi Cox of sponsors BAC Electricals EMN-170228-170637002

Melton Foxes guaranteed themselves a top five finish with victory in a scrappy penultimate fixture of the season against Whetstone on Sunday.

A tacky pitch and blustery wind made fluent football difficult as the under 18s struggled to reach the levels of their previous match at leaders Coalville.

But they did enough to complete the double over Whetstone with goals from Shaun Smith, Tom Dryell, Alex Horobin and debut boy Henry Murch.

Foxes started well and hit the visitors with a goal after just two minutes when Marcus Rowland broke down the right and sent in a cross which Shaun Smith challenged for.

And as the ball ran loose, midfielder Dryell nipped in to sweep the ball home from close range.

Foxes pushed forward and Adam Lomas sent in a fine cross from the right which found Rowland who brought a good save from the visitors’ keeper.

Seconds later Smith raced on to a through ball before rounding the keeper, but mis-hit his shot and Whetstone cleared the danger.

Smith was given another opportunity when he found himself free on the edge of the box, but fired high and wide.

Rowland then teed him up again, but the keeper came to Whetstone’s rescue with a fine save from the striker’s well-struck shot.

Several corners kept the Foxes in the driving seat, but the visitors broke out to give them a scare.

A quick right wing move saw the ball swept across and forced past Chris Lovegrove in the home goal, but the effort was ruled out for offside.

And two minutes before the break the Foxes doubled their lead when Alex Horobin’s through ball allowed Smith to poke a finish past the advancing keeper.

The second half started with the Foxes well in control, but a spell of bad passes allowed the visitors to get back in the game without really troubling the Melton back four.

In the 65th minute, Foxes went further ahead.

Rowlands was brought down on the edge of the area and Horobin stepped up to curl a superb free-kick over the wall and into the corner of the net.

Cameron Steans, making his comeback after a lengthy illness, set up an opening for debut boy Henry Murch whose close-range effort was blocked by the keeper before Smith fired a vicious shot across the face of the goal with the keeper beaten.

Murch got clear onto Dryell’s pass, but his final left-foot shot lacked power and the keeper saved easily.

However, Murch was not to be denied and when Jake Dawkins saw his shot blocked, the ball was collected by Cameron Ainge whose cross was met by Murch from close range.

A result in their final game at the All England Ground against Allexton on Sunday, March 12 (2pm kick-off), could seal a superb fourth place in the top tier.

Foxes: C. Lovegrove, R. Gavin, J. Nickolls, J. Dawkins, G. Wilkinson, A. Lomas, A. Walker, A. Horobin, T. Dryell, M. Rowland, S. Smith, C. Ainge, H. Murch, C. Steans.