Melton Town slip to midweek defeat at Rushden and Higham United

Town co-managers Jon Stevenson and Tom Manship EMN-180211-114547002
Town co-managers Jon Stevenson and Tom Manship EMN-180211-114547002
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Melton Town slipped to their second United Counties League defeat of the season with a surprise setback at Rushden and Higham on Wednesday evening.

Town travelled to Northamptonshire looking for their third straight win to bolster their promotion hopes against a side who sat 15th at kick-off.

But having led at half-time, Melton somehow managed to lose their way from a very dominant position with a second-half performance which would not have pleased manager Tom Manship.

The first half started brightly for the visitors and they took an early lead after nine minutes when the ball was played down the right to Jack Baker.

He cut into the box and saw his shot blocked, but the rebound found Jordan Lever who curled his shot into the bottom corner.

Melton continued to dominate, with Heath playing especially well, and his pass teed up Michael Reeve who danced past the defence, but his final shot fell into Brown’s arms.

Town had around 80 per cent of the possession and some of the passing was worthy of a higher division, but for all their dominance they failed to carve out many openings.

The nearest they came was when Lever’s shot from an acute angle hit the side-netting as Melton ended the half wondering why the score was only 1-0 having enjoyed so much control.

Rushden came out with a better attitude for the second half and caused Melton problems from the restart.

Their first chance of the match came after 54 minutes when a ball was played behind Tom Rigby and put Jack Dyson clear on goal.

Rigby got back in the nick of time to prevent a shot, but his pass back to Rob Peet was cleared directly off Dyson and slid past the post by inches.

A minute later Peet parried away a 25-yard shot from Aidulis, and Rushden were deservedly level just after the hour when a free-kick found Mann free in the six-yard box to head home.

Reeve nearly put the visitors back in front when his turn and shot was well saved by Brown.

But the killer blow came with 12 minutes left when a ball was played into the area and Joe Curtis picked up the loose ball and wrong-footed Peet as he slotted the winner.

Melton came close to an equaliser when Rigby’s long cross was dropped by the home goalkeeper, but the ball was hooked off the line by Cormack.

Town now have four successive matches against top-six sides and they will need to find some consistency if they are to haul themselves back into the promotion spots before Christmas.

On Saturday, third-placed Town travel to Aylestone Park who are two places and as many points adrift. Kick-off 3pm.

Town: R. Peet, T. Rigby, Levi Fray, W. Heath, J. Cobb, J. Hill, J. Lever, J. Baker, B. Punter, M. Reeve, S. Thorpe. Subs: C. Hibbitt, J. Lindley, K. Reek.