Melton Town beat battling Barrow to book first County Senior Cup final

Leon Fray and Josh Hill put Town on their way with the first two goals on Tuesday evening EMN-190701-093208002
Leon Fray and Josh Hill put Town on their way with the first two goals on Tuesday evening EMN-190701-093208002
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Melton Town reached the County Senior Cup final for the first time after coming through a testing semi-final against Barrow on Tuesday.

A near-record crowd of 189 turned out at Signright Park to see if Town could get past their in-form East Midlands Counties League opponents.

Co-manager Tom Manship made just one enforced change, replacing fellow co-manager Jon Stevenson with Josh Hill, and both teams started cautiously, with plenty of possession, but no real outlet.

Melton almost broke the deadlock when Levi Fray went on a run down the left flank and fed a great pass into Hill.

He squared for the unmarked Westwood on the edge of the six-yard box who sent a thunderous shot inches over the bar.

It took until the 15th minute for the visitors to have a goal attempt and it almost brought the lead.

Toby Wells’ floated free-kick was cleared to the edge of the area and his volley back towards goal crashed against the crossbar.

But minutes later Melton hit the front when Leon Fray attacked Hill’s corner and headed it into the middle of the goal.

The hosts almost made it two just minutes later when Gilchrist’s slick pass found Reeve who turned and fired a shot which thumped against the crossbar.

Barrow came close to levelling terms when a free-kick found Sheehan who turned inside Rigby and flashed a shot across the goal-line.

The first half ended with both teams tackling hard and with yellow cards waved about as the referee tried to keep the game under control.

Supporters had barely settled themselves for the second half when a long clearance caught Bradley Jones off his line and skewed his attempted clearance over his own bar.

Melton were exploring their opportunities down the flanks and one of these runs brought a free-kick just yards in from the touchline.

Hill’s delivery was missed by everyone, including the keeper, as it found the far corner of the net for 2-0.

Marriott should have halved the deficit on the hour, but headed inches wide while unmarked from a corner.

Reeve chased down a lost cause near the corner flag and pulled the ball back into the path of Parsons who headed wide of an open goal.

But then came a moment of brilliance which appeared to seal the victory.

Lever collected the ball in midfield and beat three Barrow players before slotting past the oncoming Jones.

But Barrow were soon offered a chance to get back into the tie in the 69th minute.

Peet saved Marriott’s free-kick low down at his near-post, but Sheehan was awarded a penalty for a trip as he chased down the rebound.

Town felt the decision harsh, but felt justice was done when Peet made a great save to his right to keep out Ben Law’s spot-kick.

Wilson was unlucky not to extend Melton’s lead when Gilchrist’s free-kick found him unmarked at the back post only for his header to ricochet off the post.

Melton had a moment to forget with just 10 minutes left when a pass across the back was too short and allowed Danny Page to steady himself and chip Peet for 3-1.

Barrow went in search of a comeback, but the hosts controlled the rest of the game to see out a deserved win against very organised opponents.

As well as the trip to Holmes Park, the result also made it 10 straight wins in all competitions for Town who turn their attentions back to the league on Saturday.

They host Rushden and Higham looking to avenge a 2-1 away defeat back in November. Kick-off is 3pm.