Melton Town turn up the heat in title race with Raunds win

Nathan Arnold broke the deadlock for Town early in the second half for his sixth goal of the campaign EMN-200801-102137002
Nathan Arnold broke the deadlock for Town early in the second half for his sixth goal of the campaign EMN-200801-102137002
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Melton Town moved within sixth points of top spot with games in hand as they claimed a seventh league win in eight at Raunds on Tuesday evening.

Tom Manship’s side were looking to cement their place in the top four promotion spots in Division One as they made the long midweek trip to Northamptonshire.

But thy knew a tough test awaited against opponents who Raunds recently held leaders Long Buckby and narrowly lost to second-placed Bugbrooke.

An uneven pitch and blustery wind made for a first 20 minutes lacking in rhythm, with passes from both teams falling short.

Jordan Lever slipped Sam Beaver in on goal, but fired way over the bar.

Chances remained few for the rest of the half, with Duncan forcing a rare save as he headed on Nathan Arnold’s free-kick, while Lever and Duncan sent long-range efforts over the bar.

Melton came out in the second half playing against the wind, but with more purpose and four minutes in broke the deadlock when Lever’s run down the right and low cross was tapped in at the near post by Arnold.

Six minutes later it was 2-0 when Lever’s penalty sent the keeper the wrong way following Gardner’s trip on Sandy when clean through.

It was almost 3-0 with the very next attack when Nathan Benjamin had a go from 20 yards, but Foulger got down well to save.

Raunds’ first shot on target came midway through the half when a free-kick found McWilliam unmarked, but he could only dink the ball into Johnson’s arms.

The final 15 minutes belonged to the visitors as they pressed for a third.

Zak Munton and Arnold were two-on-one, but the keeper tipped Arnold’s low shot around the post.

Duncan then flew past Hawkins and let fly with a rasping shot which Foulger had to tip over.

Corey Bucalossi sent an effort from the edge of the area inches over, and Foulger did well to deny a shot destined for the top corner from Cummings after the youngster had danced past two defenders.

Town’s only other alarm came when Joe Chub found himself unmarked at the back post, but his touch was headed off the line by Fray.

Third-placed Melton are unbeaten in 11 league matches and lie four points clear of fifth-placed Aylestone Park as they go into a run of three home in eight days.

Saturday brings another six-pointer against local rivals Harrowby (ko 3pm), and on Tuesday, bottom side Lutterworth visit Signright Park for a 7.30pm kick-off.

Town: Johnson, Beaver, Benjamin, Hibbitt, Gilchrist, Fray, Lever (Cummings), Bucalossi, Sandy (Munton), Duncan, Arnold.