WILTS SENIOR CUP: Highworth depleted and defeated
THREADBARE Highworth were eliminated from the Wiltshire Senior Cup by Melksham in a dramatic quarter-final at the Conigre.
First-half goals from Matty Horsell and Sam Wadieh gave the visitors the upper hand, but matters fell apart in the second period as Melksham scored three times to take a 3-2 win.
It was a tough result to swallow for John Fisher's men, who were missing nine members of their squad due to a variety of reasons, including suspensions and off-pitch commitments.
Fisher was left in a difficult situation on Saturday morning when three players pulled out, two due to illness and one due as a result of unavailability due to work.
Melksham's pitch survived two morning pitch inspections following the recent rain and the hosts could have been forgiven for wishing the game had not got the green light when they found themselves 2-0 down at half-time.
Horsell got the ball rolling before Wadieh tapped in number two and it could even have been 3-0, but Richie Saunders' header back across goal was cleared off the line.
However, Melksham came out fired up in the second period and were swiftly back in the game when they scored twice before the hour mark.
That was how it stayed until a mistake at the back allowed the home side to seal a memorable win, to the delight of their watching supporters.
Highworth manager Fisher was left with mixed feelings following the final whistle, being pleased that his bare-bones outfit had managed to make a game of it, but downhearted that they had not managed to go through after being in control at the interval.
"Three dropped out on Saturday morning - two of those were ill and one of them was called into work, so that didn't help," said Fisher.
"We had to drag some lads in and fair play to them because they gave a great account of themselves considering the amount we had missing.
"But then you are disappointed not to win when you go 2-0 up and it could possibly have been 3-0 as well. We played really well in the first half.
"It was the first quarter of an hour of the second half that's done us in, that's what killed us, we just didn't defend.
"In the second half they had the wind behind them and they were quite direct anyway, so we knew they were going to give it a good bash and they scored two goals in the first 10 minutes.
"Then with five minutes to go we've done a backpass to the keeper - which we shouldn't have done anyway - he's mis-kicked it and they've tapped into an empty net."