Melton Town boss rues chance missed for another FA Cup shock

Town celebrate Leon Fray's opener
Town celebrate Leon Fray's opener
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Melton Town boss Tom Manship was left with mixed feelings after watching his side bow out of the FA Cup to higher-league Cleethorpes.

A club record crowd of 450, along with BT Sport cameras, turned out in sapping heat to see if Town could repeat their giant-killing feats of a fortnight before.

Goalscorer Leon Fray thanks a record Melton Town crowd EMN-190826-173332002

Goalscorer Leon Fray thanks a record Melton Town crowd EMN-190826-173332002

Town went out 3-1 against the Northern Premier League side, but had deservedly led at half-time, twice hit the bar and also saw a second-half penalty saved.

“I am proud, but also disappointed because personally I think we could and should have got something out of the game,” Manship said.

“It was a positive experience for the club and the result could have gone either way, but you need to take your chances at that level, otherwise they will.

“The first half we were the better team, Nathan (Arnold) missed a chance one-on-one, Kadeem (Price) missed from four yards, and Robbie (Parsons) hit the bar.

“If we went in 4-1 up at half-time it wouldn’t have surprised me.”

Having twice had the ambitious Lincolnshire side scouted, Manship drew up a game plan which for 45 minutes unsettled the visitors.

“Ilkeston high-pressed them and got a 0-0, but Lincoln United sat off and got hammered 5-0.

“We had to press, close down in twos and threes, defend as a team and use the ball well, and I think we did that to a tee in the first half.

“The only negative was we couldn’t take our chances.”

But the match hinged on a big five minutes either side of the hour mark with the score at 1-1.

Minutes after Price’s lob agonisingly hit the bar, the Town striker then saw his penalty saved by former Manchester United and Leeds United keeper Theo Richardson.

Within two minutes Cleethorpes led for the first time and never looked back.

“The penalty was the really key one,” Manship added.

“If we score that, I make a couple of changes, kill the game and we defend the goal with our lives.

“But they saved it, got their tails up and had the belief it was going to be their day.”

The two ties have netted Town £3,200 in prizemoney, as well as a share of gate receipts from both ties.

It has also given Melton a clear target of what can be achieved, albeit with a larger budget.

“We have acquitted ourselves well in both games, and haven’t let ourselves down,” Manship said.

“These are the kind of teams we want to playing every week – it felt like a proper football match.

“If we are at the level of that team (Cleethorpes) in three years I would be over the moon, that is the standard we have to strive for.”