Melton Foxes U18s complete Anstey double

Shaun Smith was the Melton Times Footballer of the Year last June. Pictured with finalists Jack Baker (right) and Graham Wells (left), and Marshall Bradley of Specsavers EMN-170124-155141002
Shaun Smith was the Melton Times Footballer of the Year last June. Pictured with finalists Jack Baker (right) and Graham Wells (left), and Marshall Bradley of Specsavers EMN-170124-155141002
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A Shaun Smith hat-trick and a solo goal by Cameron Ainge were enough to seal the points for Melton Foxes U18s against 10-man Anstey.

The Foxes were nearly in front within two minutes when Marcus Rowlands’ shot was deflected into the path of winger Cameron Ainge whose final shot was saved.

But Melton did get themselves in front in the fifth minute, Alex Horobin broke down the right and his firm low cross was side-footed home by Smith.

Two minutes later the Foxes doubled their advantage. Rowlands cut in from the left and when his shot was deflected, Smith pounced again to slot his second.

Anstey responded through their nippy front men and keeper Chris Lovegrove was happy to watch a fierce cross from the left flash across the face of his goal.

Seconds later the hosts looked likely scorers, but Jo Nickolls came to Melton’s rescue with a superb block.

At the other end, another deflection fell to Rowlands who brought a fine save out of the home keeper.

Anstey did reduce the arrears after quarter-of-an-hour with a fine goal.

A long ball caught out the visitors’ defence and Anstey’s tricky centre-forward calmly lobbed the ball over the advancing Lovegrove into an empty net.

But the Foxes stretched their lead again on the half-hour as Adam Lomas combined with full-back George Wilkinson whose terrific cross was met on the half-volley by Ainge to score from six yards.

And five minutes before the break Foxes added a fourth.

Lovegrove became the provider as Smith just beat the advancing keeper to his huge clearance before tapping the ball into the empty net for his hat-trick.

Within the opening minute of the second half Smith almost added a fifth goal, but his lob over the keeper was just wide of the post.

Smith sent the ball across the face of the goal and then combined with Rowlands whose effort flashed over the bar.

The Foxes were guilty of some sloppy passing, and the home side had several opportunities to reduce the arrears late on.

A move down the right saw the Anstey striker put clean through, but Lovegrove came out to make a superb save at his feet, and in the very next attack the keeper repeated the act with an equally fine stop.

Lomas put Ainge clear on the right, but his low cross was cleared before Lomas and Rowlands went close.

Melton’s back four of Nickolls, Wilkinson, Dawkin and Gavin were in good form once again and keeper Lovegrove’s handling was faultless.

Horobin was in charge of the midfield battles, while up front, hat-trick man Smith and Rowlands kept the home defence busy.

Melton entertain Whitwick at the All England ground on Sunday (kick-off 2pm).

Foxes: C. Lovegrove, R. Gavin, J. Nickols, J. Dawkin, G. Wilkinson, C. Ainge, A. Walker, A. Horobin, A. Lomas, M. Rowlands, S. Smith, T. Dryell.