A poor start to the second half cost Exmouth Town as they were beaten 2-0 at Oakfield Stadium by Melksham Town in the Southern League Division One South.

After a competitive first 45, Ben Brooks opened the scoring for the hosts four minutes into the second half, and Dion Molyneux confirmed Town’s first league defeat of the season.

It was the visitors who started proceedings the stronger, as Mike Landricombe intercepted a stray Melksham pass and took aim at goal, with his shot just fizzing over the crossbar. 

The hosts had a very good chance to score after 13 minutes, as Ralph Graham’s header was saved onto the post by Andrew Sowden-Bird, and Tom Gardner had slide across goal to prevent an easy tap-in.

Exmouth continued to provide a threat, as Ben Steer was able to steal the ball from Nuno Felix, but his near post effort was saved by Joel Manning. 

A quarter of the way through the game, Town did have the ball into the back of the net, as Landricombe excellently kept a hold of the ball under Melksham pressure, and his cross found Dean Billingsley who diverted his header into the back of the net, but he was ruled offside.

The home side managed to gain a spell of momentum following the offside goal, and they came close as Brooks was played through on goal and lobbed the ball over the head of Sowden-Bird, but the ball luckily bounced wide of the goal.

Melksham should have gone ahead moments before the first half came to a close, as some poor set-piece defending allowed for a free header, which was headed wide from close range.

The hosts carried the same energy into the first half, and this allowed them to go ahead, as a cross from deep found the head of Brooks, and he found the top corner to put Melksham ahead.

Exmouth struggled in the early going of the second half to provide anything going forward, but they were able to keep the hosts at an arms-length and not concede any chances.

Town’s resoluteness almost showed it’s complete benefit as Steer was played through on goal but Manning was able to deny his effort. 

The goalkeeper’s save proved vital, as with 22 minutes to go, Dion Molyneux took advantage of Exmouth’s set piece struggles and bundled the ball home from close range, after a Melksham player beat Sowden-Bird to the intial ball.

Town could and should have had one back quickly after conceding, as Callum Shipton launched a superb effort towards goal which was palmed into the direction of Orlando Anker, who couldn’t quite get a hold of the ball and his shot rolled past the post.

Unfortunately, Exmouth couldn’t quite put together any additional chances and tasted league defeat for the first time in the 23/24 season.

Town won’t have long to think about their loss, as they will be straight back into action this Bank Holiday Monday, as they welcome Bideford to the Circle of Care Community Stadium.

LINE-UP: Sowden-Bird, Richards, Field, Rowe (Walford, 74), Gardner, M.Landricombe, Slater (Harris, 66), Shipton, Steer, Billingsley (Anker, 56).

Subs not used: Powell, Lever.  

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