Melton Town fight back to beat Rushden

Jack Baker slammed Melton in front at Rushden EMN-170116-150519002
Jack Baker slammed Melton in front at Rushden EMN-170116-150519002
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Melton Town followed up the home win with a hard-fought three points away at Rushden on Saturday.

Town welcomed back captain Lee Mann and Mike Hendy, unavailable the previous week, as well as Jordan Cufflin-Stableford from suspension, but the visitors struggled to make much headway in the first half on a heavy, thawing pitch.

John Love sealed the three points with his sixth league goal of the season EMN-170116-150506002

John Love sealed the three points with his sixth league goal of the season EMN-170116-150506002

They were regularly caught out trying to catch the home attack offside and keeper Ash King had to make a series of excellent saves to deny Rushden the lead.

The game was very open, a little too open for the liking of Melton’s management team, but Melton eventually started to make some headway.

Truman engineered some space on the right of the box and struck a shot which the keeper parried to Aiden Black who hit the outside of the post from a tight angle.

Rushden went ahead on the half-hour mark when a long ball down the left channel was latched on to by Davies.

But as Clayton covered the run, King unwisely advanced off his line and Craig Harrower scored with a precise angled lob into the far corner.

Things got worse when Slater was forced off with a re-occurrence of his recent hamstring injury, and managers Thorpe and Hendy changed to three at the back with John Love joining Truman up front.

Rushden missed a great chance to go two-up right on half-time, with Preston missing an open goal from a tight angle.

Melton came out a completely different side in the second half and tore into Rushden’s defence.

Love found Truman with a precise through ball, but with only the keeper to beat, his shot rolled agonisingly past the far post.

The trick was soon repeated with Love finding Truman directly in front of goal, but the striker missed the right-hand post when he should really have scored.

The breakthrough finally came when Hendy’s cross was blocked by a defender’s arm and Black calmly side-footed home the penalty to level the scores.

Mann, Clayton and Calver were now exerting far more control on Rushden’s counter-attacks as the game remained very open, and Melton took the lead on the hour with a brilliant goal.

Hendy again broke away down the left wing, avoiding a desperate lunging tackle, and squared the ball to the on-rushing Jack Baker who took one touch before smashing a left-footed shot past the keeper from the edge of the box.

The hard-working Truman deserved a goal for his work rate, but when a misplaced pass presented another one-on-one chance with the keeper, his left-foot shot again missed the target.

Another chance to punish the tiring Rushden defence went begging when Black weaved his way into the area and rounded the keeper, but his cross-shot just eluded both the far corner and the onrushing Town forwards.

However, Melton were determined not to let this result slip and Ben Lapworth, having a solid game in the middle, found Cufflin-Stableford on the right who crossed for Love to head home Melton’s third and seal the points.

A satisfying result for Melton who know they will have to start much quicker on Saturday at seventh-placed Potton United if they are to continue their 100 per cent start to 2017.

Town: King, Calver, Slater, Clayton, Mann, Cufflin–Stableford, Baker, Lapworth, Hendy, Black, Truman. Subs: Love, Griffin.