Melksham Cosmos beat FC North Wiltshire 3-1 to avenge last season’s 5-3 and 4-1 defeats in a game played in good spirit between the two teams and for the Cosmos their fourth straight win keeps them sitting pretty on top of the Division Three table.
North Wilts were forced to make a last minute change to their starting line up and had to thrust debutant Jamie Newton straight in centre back for his first game in 18 months. After a fairly even start Cosmos took the lead after the referee awarded a penalty to the hosts after the ball bounced up and hit right winger, Stuart Donnelly on the elbow. Donnelly and his fellow players were gob smacked as his arm was tight to his body and had made no movement towards the ball. Marc Bowden converted the penalty.
Donnelly nearly made amends soon after with a left foot effort from the edge of the area following a North Wilts corner but the shot fizzed just wide. After half an hour North Wilts were reduced to 10 men after Daniel Gilbert was shown a controversial red card for a high foot challenge. Despite protests from both sides that the challenge did not merit a red card as there was little or no contact, the referee stuck to his decision. Melksham Cosmos players should be commended for their part in asking the referee not to show a red card.
With Gilbert having an early shower, the 10 men of North Wilts fashioned an equaliser. Matt Parsons saw his header from a corner saved but Jamie Newton followed up to nod the ball home for 1-1. Cosmos regained the lead shortly before half time when Alex Shaftoe was put through on goal and finished well. The goal stood despite the lineman flagging for offside.
North Wilts players, having been threatened with a “team yellow card” for complaining about the number of infringements awarded for accidental handball had words with each other at half time in an attempt to button their lips. With only 10 men, the large pitch gradually took its toll and Cosmos scored a third goal to finish the game with 10 minutes remaining with Alex Shaftoe bagging his second of the morning.