Melton Town: Plans pay off for Manship in big County Cup semi

Co-manager Jon Stevenson (left), who made only his second Town start after injury, celebrates Parsons' opener
Co-manager Jon Stevenson (left), who made only his second Town start after injury, celebrates Parsons' opener
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Co-manager Tom Manship believes a new-found ruthless streak was key to clinching Melton Town’s first Senior County Cup final appearance.

Goals from Leon Fray, Josh Hill and Jordan Lever helped Town see off in-form Barrow 3-1 in their semi-final at Signright Park on Tuesday to set up a showdown with either Ashby Ivanhoe or Heather St Johns in April.

Jordan Lever got the killer third goal Picture: Phil James EMN-181217-110203002

Jordan Lever got the killer third goal Picture: Phil James EMN-181217-110203002

But the result of the evenly-contested tie may have been different had it come earlier in the season when the goals were not flowing as they are now.

Town have found the net 30 times in the last six games amid a run of 10 straight wins in league and cup.

“We were snatching at chances at the start of the season when everything was new and it’s taken five or six months to click,” Manship explained.

“But now everyone is more relaxed, know their roles and are doing their jobs.

Rob Peet made an important penalty save to head off any hopes of a Barrow comeback EMN-190213-131846002

Rob Peet made an important penalty save to head off any hopes of a Barrow comeback EMN-190213-131846002

“Barrow had chances and missed chances, we had chances and scored them; we were clinical.

“They started better than us and for the first five to 10 minutes I thought we were in for a real game, but we grew into it and got stronger.”

Allied to a superior cutting edge on the night, Manship believes the result also came down to doing the groundwork before Tuesday.

“We had them watched on Saturday and the week before, and we came up with a game plan to deal with their biggest threats which worked.

“Everyone did a job and I think the best team won, but it was a tight game.”

The tie attracted a near-record crowd of 189, and Manship is hopeful of another noisy following from the Pork Pie Army for the trip to Holmes Park in the spring.

“It was really important to us, especially on a night of big Champions League games when people could have stayed in and watched for free.

“I think Melton will come out and support the team, and that’s what I’m doing it for. We are trying to give a team back to the town.”

He added: “I have been in finals in different counties and won in Northamptonshire with Rushden and Diamonds, and in Gloucestershire with Cheltenham.

“It’s big – you want to be the best non-league team in your county. You could see how much it meant to the group after the game.”

The tie was due to have fallen as the second instalment of a big league and cup header.

But Saturday’s trip to league leaders, and title rivals, Anstey was postponed 24 hours before kick-off, to the consternation of some Melton supporters.

Yet Manship was quick to play down any rumours that the postponement had been a ploy.

“I wasn’t surprised because I think they have problems with the pitch flooding,” he said.

“I actually went down last week and had a look at the pitch when I went to take my daughter to Leicester and it was waterlogged on a dry day.

“I don’t think they have done it on purpose, I’m sure they wanted to play as much as we did.”