Ryan Robbins’ thunderous penalty earned Melton Town a valuable point, but it could have been more as a second half own goal meant a share of the spoils with unbeaten league leaders Long Eaton United.
Having won 15 and drawn two of their previous games, Long Eaton United came in to the match on the back of eight straight league wins. However, it was Melton that looked the more positive side in the early exchanges with the first chance coming in the 12th minute when Robbins played a ball into Henry Dunn who slotted it on to Zak Munton, his first time shot had Sam Wilson making a great diving save to palm the ball over the bar.
The very next attack saw a Tom Manship freekick finding Sam Beaver unmarked in the area, unfortunately, his header could only find the safe hands of the keeper. Melton were unlucky again when a long ball into the area was headed onto the crossbar and cleared away by the visitors. Robbins received a throw-in and his turn and low shot went inches wide of the near post.
Loanee Tyreace Palmer in action on Saturday afternoon. Photo: NEMM.
Long Eaton’s first real effort came on the half hour when a high ball into the area caught the wind and needed to be headed off the line by Town. The deadlock was broken in the 34th minute as a long ball was played into Ty Palmer on the edge of area, his quick footwork saw Romaine Graham clip the striker and the Referee pointed to the spot. Robbins converted the penalty with a powerful shot straight down the middle.
Long Eaton are league leaders for a reason and the second half saw them immediately on the front foot. A floated corner to the far post was met by Tom Marshall whose volley could only find the side netting. The same player was found in the six yard box with a diagonal cross ten minutes later but his controlled header went across the face of the goal missing the toe of Alex Marshall by inches.
Bill Harrison was in action to save a good low shot from James Taylor but for all the great defending of Melton it was an own goal that tied the game. A great cross from the right by Larell King was diverted into his own net via the head of Henry Eze. United then piled on the pressure looking for the winner with a succession of eight corners in a row but Town put their bodies on the line to block everything.
Mitchell Robinson tried an overhead kick which needed Harrison to palm the shot wide. A pulsating match that saw both teams give their all ended in a 1-1 draw that appeared to be a fair result. It will be some comfort to Melton that Long Eaton will probably go on and win this league but will look back at this match being one of their most difficult tests.
Melton now have two play-off hopefuls in four days when they visit Boston Town on Saturday, before ending 2021 with a visit from old rivals Anstey Nomads at The Sports Village on Tuesday the 21st of December.
Words: Sam Ellis