Melton Foxes off the mark at Epworth

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Goals by Cameron Steans and Bradley Carroll were enough to earn Foxes their first league win of the campaign and the ideal Christmas present.

Buoyed by their battling draw with Khalsa, Melton started brightly and had the ball in the net after just 60 seconds. A through ball was only partially cleared and striker Steans nipped in to rob a hesitant defender and slide the ball past the advancing keeper.

Within seconds the striker was presented with another golden opportunity when the keeper deflected a shot into his path, but he shot wide of the gaping goal.

Foxes nearly went further ahead after five minutes when Alex Walker set up winger Kenny Jones on the edge of the area, but the winger’s final shot crashed against the post with the keeper well beaten.

Epworth grew into the game with slick passing and keeper Chris Lovegrove had to tip over a fierce shot from the edge of the area. And seconds later he repeated the save from a fierce cross-shot.

The hosts forced a series of corners and equalised in the 13th minute with a fine header.

Play evened out but Epworth looked the more dangerous and Joe Nickolls and George Wikinson had to work overtime to keep them at bay.

Alex Walker’s tenacious tackling and unselfish running helped Foxes get back into the game after the break.

Smith fired wildly when well-placed and Walker had two long-range shots easily saved before Lovegrove again saved well from the Epworth centre-forward.

Full-back Ben Wilkinson took a bad knock but returned after treatment to see Walker head over from Connor Beeken’s cross.

Two right wing crosses forced Melton into hasty clearances before they went ahead.

Nickolls’ long free kick was headed clear only for Carroll to chest down and hit a superb first-time volley past the stranded keeper from 15 yards.

The visitors came under heavy pressure, but restricted the hosts to long-range efforts.

Wilkinson and skipper Nickolls once again impressed in central defence, but Walker was man-of-the-match for his non-stop display.

Foxes: C. Lovegrove, B. Wilkinson, G. Wilkinson, J. Nickolls, J. Bates, K. Jones, A. Walker, B. Carroll, H. Mayes, S. Smith, C. Steans, C. Beeken.