Improved Melton Foxes impress leaders Coalville

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Melton Foxes turned in a terrific performance to push leaders Coalville all the way, but late mistakes proved costly.

The visitors had knocked the Foxes out of the League Cup with a classy 6-3 win a fortnight before, but Melton were strengthened by the return from injury of Alex Horobin and the recently re-signed former captain Joe Nickolls.

Foxes were first on the attack when Dawkin put Marcus Rowland clear, but he sliced his shot wide while at the other end two dangerous crosses almost caught Foxes out, but Coalville could not add a finishing touch.

Dawkin drove wide from 12 yards from Shaun Smith’s superb cross, before his strike partner Rowland did brilliantly to beat a defender and whip in a cross which was scrambled away.

Captain Alex Walker worked hard in midfield, but was the subject of several heavy tackles, and from a free-kick for one such challenge Wilkinson crossed for Rowland to fire wide from a narrow angle when well placed.

Coalville has the ball in the net five minutes before half-time, but their centre-forward was clearly offside.

Foxes were again quickly into their stride after the break and Rowland chased down a hopeful ball and did well to flash a ball across the face of goal, but no-one was on hand to finish it off.

Keeper Chris Lovegrove saved a long-range effort, but Coalville then hit the Foxes with two goals in as many minutes, both from free-kicks which the Foxes questioned.

The first, on the hour mark, was pushed out by Lovegrove, but his defenders reacted slowly and the ball was steered in from close range.

Another free-kick was then awarded in a similar position and this time keeper Lovegrove misjudged its flight on its way into the net.

Despite these setbacks Foxes reacted well and in the 65th minute Smith sent a brilliant curling free-kick into the corner with the keeper well beaten.

Seconds later Dawkin dribbled his way into the area and looked certain to level, but blazed his final shot wide from close range.

Foxes were made to pay dearly for this miss when a break down the right looked a simple clearance, but Horobin miscued his header straight to a Coalville forward who steered the ball past Lovegrove.

Rowlands, Smith and Walker all had shots as Foxes tried to hit back, but the visitors broke again to snatch a fourth with a 20-yard piledriver into the top corner.

A much improved performance from Melton which the Coalville’s managers deemed as good as any in the Premier Division.

Foxes: C. Lovegrove, A. Doherty, A. Horobin, J. Nickolls, G. Wilkinson, A. Lomas, A. Walker, T. Dryell, J. Dawkin, S. Smith, M. Rowland, L. Thorpe, C. Ainge, B. Carroll, A. Kotarba.