Dave Jenkins who took over the reins as AFC Melksham at the end of last season has guided his team to their first piece of silverware since they won the Premier division title under Mike Rogers in 2016. Melksham had to be at their best to see off the challenge from second division hotshots Devizes United and they were just that as an excellent all-round performance inspired in defence by Jaiden Pearce, Jordan De Silva and keeper Adam Dhinsa led them to a well-deserved 3-0 success as they lifted the AM Print & Copy sponsored Knockout Cup for the first time.
In front of a buzzing and vocal crowd at the Lye, Seend, Melksham made the livelier start with Jordan Kirk and Ian Jeffery going close in the opening stages before FC Devizes got a foothold in the game and started to make a contest of things. Melksham’s keeper Adam Dhinsa had to be alert to deny Jay Walters and only an incredibly timed challenge from Jaiden Pearce stopped Gabe Costello from scoring what looked to be the opening goal. Pearce was at it again as he put his body on the line to deny Walters a second bite of the cherry.
With half chances coming and going for both teams, neither were able to make the breakthrough in what was at times a feisty but entertaining first 45 minutes.
The second half was 7 minutes old when Devizes were awarded a penalty, up stepped Jay Walters hoping to put the division two side in front, but Melksham’s keeper Dhinsa was equal to his excellent strike as he produced an outstanding stop to keep the score goalless. Devizes had the bit between their teeth and only a great goal line clearance from Sam Tallis denied Dan Skinner from making it 1-0.
Having survived two quick-fire scares Melksham upped their game and took control of things and not long after substitute Dan Broom fired home from 20 yards to give Melksham the lead. At the other end Matt Swan fired wide of the target for the Devizes and Oscar Webster fired into the safe hands of Dhinsa and that was the closest Devizes were to get as with 10 minutes remaining a great finish from Seth Wain doubled Melksham’s advantage.
Although, Devizes never gave up any thoughts of a late fightback were ended by Ryan Baggs who pounced on a misguided Luke Enderby header to calmly plant the ball beyond keeper Evan Webster to seal what in the end was great 3-0 triumph for Dave Jenkins men.
Under strict Covid19 rules the winning players picked up their individual awards and captain Jordan Kirk lifted the cup for the winners. The player of the match justifiably went to 18 year old Jaiden Pearce who was outstanding from the first to final whistle.
Referee Chris Jones and his team of James Newbon, Dave Kemmery and Sam Gooding were on top form as they kept the game flowing and all 22 players on the pitch in a match that could easily have boiled over at times.