Melton Town started the 2018/19 campaign with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over title contenders Irchester United on Saturday.
Town’s first opening day win for eight seasons was secured in front of a healthy crowd and could prove to be a valuable three points come the end-of-season shake-up.
Melton started brightly with Michael Reeve going very close to opening the scoring after just five minutes when he beat Josh Burge and cut in from the byline. His shot fizzed across goal, but no-one was alert enough to add the finishing touch.
Against the run of play, captain Appleton made an uncharacteristic error when he left his backpass too short, allowing Harewood to reach the ball before Peet, round the Town keeper and slot into an open goal after 10 minutes.
Irchester almost doubled their lead moments later after a great move. Ryan Lovell had a clean shot, but Peet made a great save to his left.
Melton continued their early pressure and were rewarded after 18 minutes with an equaliser.
Reeve found Sam Thorpe out wide whose first-time low cross was met at the far post by Robbie Parsons and his first-time shot found the net.
Melton’s dominance of possession was rewarded again after 35 minutes when Kyle Reek and Leon Fray linked up for a great one-two.
Fray then played a one-two with Reeve before firing into the roof of the net from the edge of the box.
Reeve had a couple of chances approaching half-time, but Melton were pleased to lead at the break.
The first attack of the second half almost saw the hosts increase their lead when the lively Reek beat Brown and cut back a pass to Reeve.
He moved it on to Parsons whose half-volley was well-saved by Hamilton.
Parsons continued to cause problems and saw a low shot tipped around the post having beat two defenders to put himself one-on-one with Hamilton.
Just a minute later it was 3-1 when Parsons beat Lee Kew and played in Reeve who placed his shot into the right corner of the net to give Town some breathing space.
Irchester upped the ante and halved the deficit in the 67th minute when Alfie Taylor’s shot was parried away by Peet, but the rebound to fall to Taylor who made no mistake the second time around.
Reeve could have put the game to bed with 18 minutes left when he bore down on the keeper after clearing the United defence, but Hamilton was down in time to save his powerful shot.
With Melton finding themselves defending deeper and deeper, Irchester edged closer to an equaliser as the chances increased.
In the first minute of stoppage-time, substitute Matty O’Neill clipped a pass into the penalty area where Ryan Lovell pulled off a fantastic overhead kick which was magnificently tipped over by Peet.
Town: R. Peet, Levi Fray, T. Rigby, S. Wilson, E. Appleton, Leon Fray, J. Lindley, S. Thorpe, R. Parsons, K. Reek, M. Reeve. Sub: B. Lapworth.