PAUL Shanley thinks his troops displayed their champion spirit to seal the Toolstation League First Division title at Chard Town on Tuesday night.

After Sam Jordan’s goal had been cancelled out by the hosts’ Sam Clark, Bradford were forced to play with to 10 men after Tom Evans was sent off for directing foul language at an official.

With eight minutes to go, Dan King struck to crown Shanley’s men.

“We’ve found that when you’re top of the table, other teams raise their game by 20 or 30 per cent to beat you and that means you have to do the same,” said Shanley.

“We played the best part of an hour with 10 men. It got pretty dramatic but we got there in the end and I think we showed why we’re top of the table and why we’ve won the league.”

Town face Welton Rovers today (1pm) and Calne Town on Easter Monday before meeting Melksham Town in next Wednesday’s Wiltshire Senior Cup final.

Shanley said: “Their manager has said it’s David v Goliath but I think he may have it the wrong way around. They’ve got some great players and we’ll do our best to try and win it.”

  • Bradford Town Youth FC is holding its annual veterans’ tournament for six-a-side teams on Saturday, May 10. Contact Steve Johnston at for further details and entries.

Perrin looking forward to a meeting of the county’s finest

DARREN Perrin reckons the county’s two best Toolstation League level sides will come face-to-face when Melksham Town team take on Bradford Town in next week’s Wiltshire Senior Cup final.

Melksham go looking to retain the county cup against First Division champions Bradford next Wednesday and the Conigre chief is confident his side are ready to stand up to their title-winning rivals.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for what Paul (Shanley, Bradford manager) has done because they’ve entertained by scoring a lot of goals and recruited well,” said Perrin.

“They’ve brought in players with Southern League experience that have won promotion under myself, like Josh Brigham and Mike Reaney, and they’ve got a striker who has had an extraordinary season in Sam Jordan.

“But we know we can give them a game and upset the odds – that’s not mind games because the proof is in the pudding when you look at what Bradford have done this season.

“I think that the best two teams in Wiltshire at our level have made it to the final and I’m sure the Wiltshire FA are happy about it.”

Melksham have today’s clash with Radstock Town (1pm) and a trip to Odd Down on Easter Monday to contend with before Wednesday’s county cup showpiece.

Last weekend, 16-year-old Dan Sibley got the only goal of the game at Ilfracombe Town and Perrin lavished praise on his young players.

He said: “Five young players played a part in the game and it didn’t faze them at all – the senior players in the team helped them through it.

“Dan Sibley is just one of the exciting players that have come through the youth system and the important thing for the club is to try and keep them together now.”

Shaun Benison will miss the rest of the season with a knee ligament injury.

Rawlings seeking a response

CORSHAM Town chief Trevor Rawlings has called on his side to avoid defeat in their last four games of the season, after their stunning 15-match unbeaten run came to an end this week.

Corsham were unable to prevent Shepton Mallet sealing promotion to the Toolstation League Premier Division as they came unstuck in Somerset on Tuesday evening, with Jason Henley grabbing the visitors’ only goal.

Rawlings thought that his side were harshly treated by the officials. “It was 1-1 and we were quite comfortable until the officials decided to get involved,” said the Corsham manager.

“Shepton scored from a throw-in that was ours and when they took it quickly, the ref said play on.

“Minutes later, we had a shot that hit somebody’s hand but the ref said that it wasn’t a penalty because it hit the guy’s knee first. I think that a draw would have been a fair result and we didn’t deserve to lose the game.

“The feeling we had in the dressing room afterwards is one we’ve not had since last year.

“We’d been on a tremendous run and I said to the lads that we should try and make it just a blip by staying unbeaten in our last four games.”

Henley and Nick Holton netted as Corsham won 2-0 at Calne Town last weekend.

Graham savouring comeback

WARMINSTER Town joint-boss Derek Graham is looking forward to returning to Westbury United for this afternoon’s derby showdown.

The former Westbury chief takes his Warminster side to Meadow Lane (kick-off 3pm) looking to get back to winning ways after last weekend’s loss at Barnstaple Town.

“I was manger there for three-and-a-half years. That was 10 or 11 years ago and I’ve not been back there with a side,” said Graham.

“One of the best thing about this Western League is the amount of nearby games you have and I’m looking forward to this one.

“It was a good performance from us last weekend and they scored twice at the end to make it look worse than it was.

“We went 1-0 up (through Tom Golledge) and they equalised when we missed a chance to make it 2-0. Their manager said he couldn’t believe we were fourth-from-bottom.”

Absences rile Matt

WESTBURY United manager Matt Bown is frustrated he hasn’t been able to pick his strongest side on a regular basis in recent weeks.

Westbury had nine first team regulars missing as they slipped to a third straight defeat at the hands of Keynsham Town last weekend.

Pat Davison and Ben Stiff got the goals for the hosts and Bown is hoping for an upturn in commitment from his players in the final few weeks of the campaign.

“I had almost a full team of players that were missing and I feel a bit let down,” said the United chief.

“I’ve not been able to pick my best starting 11 two weeks in a row and it was always going to be a battle going to Keynsham because they’re fighting for their lives.

“It’s something that I’m going to have to try to address but we should have four or five of those players that were missing back for today’s massive local derby against Warminster.”

There’s no letting up for Burns’ Reserves

MELKSHAM Town Reserves manager Steve Burns wants his side to keep their foot on the gas until the end of the season after they were crowned champions of the Wiltshire League First Division on Wednesday night.

Nick Ridout, Rob Manning, Mike Hopkins and Ash Barnett all hit hat-tricks, with Ashley Caws also on target, as Melkhsam thumped struggling Blunsdon 13-0 to seal the title.

“We came into this league from the Trowbridge League and the plan was always to try and get promoted in the first season so that we’re as close to the first team as possible,” said Burns.

“It’s a great feeling to win it. But we’ve got four more league games we want to win to set us up for a (Junior KO) cup final too (against Intel on May 3).”

Elsewhere, Corsham Town thrashed Vale of Pewsey 5-0 in the Premier Division.

On Tuesday night, Trowbridge Town’s bid to affect the top-of-the-table shake-up suffered a blow as they were beaten 1-0 by Shrewton United.