Melton Town ease past Blackstones for 13th straight win
Melton Town made it lucky 13 as an important win over fourth-placed Blackstones kept the heat on the top two in United Counties League Division One.
A first-half double wrapped up a 13th straight win in all competitions which kept Town in third, three points behind leaders Anstey ahead of their clash next week.
Melton welcomed their neighbours from Stamford to Signright Park knowing anything but a victory could swing the title race back towards Lutterworth and Anstey.
The match started quite timidly with both teams trying to settle, and the first shot came after 10 minutes when Moore-Papworth’s 25-yards effort flew just wide for the visitors.
Melton were on top overall as passes were sprayed from one side of the pitch to the other trying to unlock the Blackstones defence.
And they broke through after 15 minutes when a clearance out of defence went down the middle of the pitch for Hammond, making his full debut.
He linked well with Reeve before the ball was played out wide to Lever who sent in an impressive cross for Reeve to finish past the helpless Bellairs.
Josh Hill was adding to his growing reputation with a commanding midfield performance, and midway through the half his defence-splitting pass teed up Hammond whose quick shot was blocked to Reeve, and his reflex shot was tipped around the post by a scrambling Bellairs.
Hammond almost opened his account minutes later after Parsons jinked his way through the defence, but Bellairs made a great save.
Then in the 27th minute Hammond finally got his well-deserved goal when Hill’s dangerous corner was met by Leon Fray.
His header was cleared by Pell, but only as far as Hammond who tapped in for 2-0.
An uncharacteristic error in defence let in Moore-Papworth whose pace took him clear, only for Peet to bravely dive at his feet and prevent an almost certain goal.
Reeve made a tremendous run down the left to outpace Bates before cutting back in, but his shot was deflected inches wide.
And from the resulting corner, Fray headed agonisingly wide.
A rare Blackstones corner found Jake Pell unmarked in the six-yard box, but his rushed header cleared the bar.
The second half became scrappy, but midway through, Hill floated in a free-kick which missed everyone and touched the outside of the upright.
Reeve beat the defence after running from midfield, but his rasping shot found the keeper’s arms, and similarly Westwood drove at the defence, but as it opened up, his effort on goal found the keeper too easily.
Blackstones best chance of the match came in the 90th minute when a diagonal ball into the box found Edmondson, and his half-volley flick over Peet whacked the bar.
The defence had another excellent game to claim a sixth successive clean sheet, and their ninth in the last 10 matches.
With 10 games remaining, the promotion race looks set to go to the wire with the top three separated by just three points.
Melton host Long Buckby on Saturday (ko 3pm) before their rearranged trip to leaders Anstey the following Tuesday (7.45pm).
Town: Peet, Rigby, Levi Fray, Sam Wilson, Leon Fray, Gilchrist (Westwood), Hammond (Reek), Hill, Lever, Parsons (Cain), Reeve.