Melton Town plunge battling Raunds into UCL danger zone

Laithan Hammond (left) struck the opener from the corner of co-manager Jon Stevenson EMN-190422-123722002
Laithan Hammond (left) struck the opener from the corner of co-manager Jon Stevenson EMN-190422-123722002
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Two teams met with differing motivations on Saturday, with Melton Town needing a win to keep their slim title hopes alive and Raunds fighting to avoid the drop.

A professional performance from Town and a 2-0 win kept their mathematical chances alive for at least another two more days while dropping Raunds into the relegation zone with just one match left.

Melton returned home after an arduous run of five away matches which had seen a defeat on penalties in the County Cup final and two setbacks against the teams above them.

Raunds started the game on the front foot, posing the bigger threat, and almost took the lead after seven minutes when a corner was missed by everyone and fell to McBride unmarked at the back post, but his header hit the foot of the post and out to safety.

Melton started to get more into the game by keeping possession, but lacked any penetration, with the only chance on target in the first half-hour falling to Westwood whose header from a Stevenson corner was easily saved by Foulger.

But a two-minute spell just before half-time turned this game Melton’s way.

Lever went down the right, beating Oswick for pace and sent in a low cross which Hammond got his head down low to guide the ball into the bottom corner.

Raunds almost equalised immediately when Allen’s free-kick was well saved by Peet.

His route one clearance found Reeve who outmuscled McBride and hit a shot hard and low past Foulger for 2-0.

Carter hit the crossbar with a thumping header right on half-time, as Raunds were once more out of luck.

The second half started very slowly with both teams suffering under the heat.

Parsons put the ball in the net on the hour, pounced on Reeve’s pass, but it was flagged for offside.

The visitors again went close when Zak Allen backheeled a pass to Hawkins on the edge of the box, but his shot went inches wide.

Parsons had Foulger scrambling to tip around the post when he chanced his arm from 20 yards, and in the last minute Allen’s deflected shot forced Peet into a great save to keep the clean sheet.

Town: Peet, Reek (Horobin), Rigby, Westwood, Wilson, Hammond (Arnold), Storey, Stevenson, Reeve, Parsons, Lever.