Melton Town fuel title challenge with eighth straight win at Birstall
Melton Town maintained the pressure on their United Counties League title rivals as they extended their winning run to eight with another goal-laden display at Birstall.
The trip pitted Town against last season’s manager Shane Jarram as they looked to improve on their frustrating draw at home to United last October.
The 4-0 win kept Melton in third, and within three points of Lutterworth Town and Anstey Nomads, as the top-three opened up a nine-point gap on the rest of Division One.
Backed by a large away following, co-managers Tom Manship and Jon Stevenson made just one enforced change, with Levi Fray replacing Gilchrist in defence.
Town made another quick start and in the first minute Reeve met a free-kick with a flicked header which landed in the arms of keeper Connor.
The next attack saw Rigby’s throw-in flicked on by Lever to Reeve who fired in a crisp low shot which Connor touched past the post.
Former Nottingham Forest professional Nathan Turner made his league debut for the hosts, but was well marked by Fray and Wilson.
His only chance of note came after six minutes when he turned and fired in a rasping shot from the edge of the area which flew a foot over the bar.
Melton broke the deadlock after 11 minutes when Parsons was played through and danced his way into the box before being tripped by Black.
The referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty, and Parsons duly sent the keeper the wrong way.
The game became scrappy with the hosts’ frustration boiling over at times.
Then on the half-hour mark, Lever’s excellent run down the right and fine cross into the box, was brought down by Stevenson on his chest.
He slipped a pass to Reeve who returned the compliment by completing a great one-two and the player-manager made no mistake with a crisp finish.
Melton took control as they left Birstall chasing shadows.
Town almost made it three before half-time when Lever beat two defenders and fired in a low cross which was touched on by Stevenson for Parsons, lurking at the back post.
He flashed a shot which Shillian just cleared off the line.
The second half started as the first had finished, with Melton on the front foot as Westwood’s powerful 30-yard shot drew a strong save from Connor.
But Melton made it three on the hour mark when Westwood’s floating cross from the left was met by Reeve whose flicked header beat Connor at his near post.
A close-range effort from Ethan Bibby had Town keeper Peet at his best to tip over the bar.
Birstall almost handed Melton a fourth when a corner was sent in and Vernon mis-kicked the clearance towards his own goal, but Shillian spared his blushes with another goal-line clearance.
Then, with the match entering injury time, Price made a run into the penalty area and teed up Reeve on the penalty spot who turned and shot low into the bottom corner.
With Bourne visiting Melton Sports Village on Saturday, Town will be looking to complete a ninth straight win ahead of their top-of-the-table trip to Anstey.
Town: Peet, Levi Fray, Wilson, Leon Fray, Rigby, Westwood (Price), Hill, Stevenson (Hibbitt), Parsons (Reek), Reeve, Lever.