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Andr Belliqueux scored twice as Melchester Rovers defied North Vale's second-half

fight back to earn all three points.

Rovers dominated early on and led thanks to Belliqueux's two goals in the space of eight
first-half minutes. The young France forward cut in to rifle home from 25 yards, and added a
second with a cool finish.

North Vale improved after the break and Robbie Ewers' low shot reduced the arrears, but
they could not find an equaliser as Rovers held on. The win sees the defending champions
move up to fourth place in the Premier League, just three behind leaders Melboro who were
beaten at Portdean.

The Valiants, who have now lost their last eight games against Rovers, had goalkeeper
Bobby Abel to thank for keeping them in a game that saw the visitors dominate the first half.

Rovers had too much pace and power for their hosts and looked like they could score at will.
Abel produced an instinctive left-handed stop to deny Belliqueux's poke from the edge of the
six-yard box. The ex-Rovers youth keeper did the same moments later when he tipped Jake
Cheetham's shot from outside the box over the bar. But the visitors were not to be denied
and Belliqueux made it 1-0 when he turned inside and squeezed a right-foot shot just inside
the post.

The home side were hanging on under constant Rovers pressure and fell 2-0 behind just
before half-time. Abel saved Marco De Loon's initial shot but the ball rebounded to
Belliqueux and the 32m signing produced a calm finish from outside the box to double his
tally.

The visitors could have had a third when Abel was caught out as Rovers midfielder Tommy
Tonk's speculative free-kick hit the post.

Vale manager Alistair Stewart introduced Luuk Voorwaar at half-time and 13 minutes later he
delivered a square ball for Ewers to score his first league goal for his new club. The former
Rapid Alkmar midfielder gave North Vale some much-needed creativity and he started to
dictate the play as Rovers struggled to defend their lead.

North Vale's best chance to equalise fell to Voorwaar in the dying moments when he tried to
chip Rovers goalkeeper Santiago Tomillo, but the Argentinian saved.

The home side kept pushing for the equaliser but Rovers hung on to record a vital victory.

North Vale manager Alistair Stewart:


"We played against good players who punish you if you don't play for the whole game. They
are a good team, with an experienced manager with footballers with international
experience."
Melchester Rovers boss Johan Seegrun:
"I think it was an important win, we needed to take advantage of the Melboro defeat and we
have done that. The first half was as good as I have seen us play. We locked them in and we
had a more offensive look to us. We did not play as well in the second half but we at least
showed resilience that when Vale put pressure on us we can cope with it."

North Vale: Abel, Thrower, Austin, Moto, Barron, Twelvetrees, Andreasson, Powers,
Summers (Voorwaar 45), Baines (Hawkes 72), Ewers (Harper 84).
Subs Not Used: Williams, Moto, Cheirou.

Booked: Andreasson.

Melchester Rovers: Tomillo, Piedra, Soupillier, Vera, Small, Tonks (Jordan 86), Luik, Cleary,
De Loon (Marshall 89), Cheetham, Belliqueux (Jacobs 71).
Subs Not Used: Daniels, Page, Spink, Dickson.

Booked: Piedra.

Attendance: 27,203.
Referee: K Brotherstone (Lincolnshire).
***

Melchester Rovers moved closer to the second phase of the Champions League with
an emphatic victory over Racing Blue at Mel Park.

Two goals from Jake Cheetham, one in each half, a sublime chip by Danny Luik and a
clinical finish by Marco De Loon capped a superb display by the home side.

Rovers could have scored more against a Belgian side reduced to 10 men after Claudinho
was sent off on the stroke of half-time, but were denied by goalkeeper Loic Maisil

There was the odd lapse of concentration in the Rovers defence, yet Racing Blue never
really looked like punishing their hosts and were comprehensively outplayed.

The return to the starting line-up of Bobby Page restored missing aggression to the Rovers
defence, the centre-back quickly re-establishing his reputation as a fearsome tackler with a
crunching early hit on Jan Blokken.
Despite the absence of Andr Belliqueux, who failed to recover from a troublesome
hamstring, there was a sharpness about Rovers' attack that suggested there would be goals.

Indeed, a high-tempo start to the game saw Cheetham's goal-bound header from a Lucas
Cleary corner cleared off the line by Maisil with eight minutes gone.

Tommy Tonks - pushed forward alongside Cheetham as a double false-9 - was full of running
and the Rovers pair combined to devastating effect after sustained pressure. Luik slipped
the perfect pass to Tonks, who burst into the Racing Blue area and cut the ball across for the
waiting Cheetham. The Rovers captain, at his bewildering best, duly despatched Rovers'
opener after a fortuitous ricochet

The hosts' second was the perfect example of the creativity and confidence coursing through
the side. Another one-two, this time between Tonks and the impressive Luik, culminated in a
sumptuous chip by the Dutchman.

Racing Blue had arrived at Mel Park without an away win in 19 Champions League
encounters. And once the second goal had gone in, the game was over as a contest. The
Belgians' cause was not helped either by the dismissal of Claudinho for a crude tackle on
Luik a minute into first-half injury-time.

After the interval, Rovers pressed forward with the same enthusiasm they had displayed in
the opening period.

Again, Cheetham was the beneficiary of some good fortune as his attempted cross took a
massive deflection to beat Maisil at the near post. But there was nothing lucky about Rovers'
fourth which involved the evening's star performers.

Luik, who displayed his much-vaunted vision, found Tonks on the edge of the area. Instead
of shaping to shot, the England Under-21 midfielder unselfishly picked out De Loon, who
finished a sweeping move with his customary unerring precision.

Rovers have registered four consecutive wins and are playing with the swagger and
confidence befit of the champion side.

Melchester Rovers: Tomillo, Page, Carruthers, Vera (Soupillier 69), Small, Tonks, Luik,
Cleary, De Loon, Cheetham (Marshall 77), Jacobs (Jordan 69).
Subs Not Used: Daniels, Carpenter, Piedra, Spink.

Booked: Cheetham, Page, Vera.

Racing Blue: Masil, Jeonot (Geest 73), Timms, Doumeng, Fresno, Claudinho, Makapu, Van
De Beek (Derecha 59), Blokken, Wagoner, Voss (Diarra 45).
Subs Not Used: Hegedus, Casagrandes, Van Den Berg, Ramovic.
Sent Off: Claudinho (45).

Attendance: 55,902
Referee: G Blanc (France).

***

Melchester Rovers recorded a fifth consecutive victory as Jake Cheetham's goal gave
them a hard-earned victory over Everpool.

Cheetham was well-placed just two yards out to side-foot in Lucas Cleary's cross in the 19th
minute. The goal was reward for a bright start from Rovers, but they were matched by The
Blues for the remainder of the game.

However, Ricky Lloyd struck the crossbar with a free-kick and Roman Ludapey's shooting
lacked precision.
A point would have been just reward for the efforts of Karl Jensen's side, but having failed to
earn that they can take a lot of heart from a spirited display against champion opponents on
a fine run of form.

There had been much debate this week over how Rovers manager Johan Seegruns team
selection would reflect on his concerns over fixture congestion that he made public after the
win over Racing Blue last Tuesday.

In the event, he rested defender James Carruthers, Tommy Tonks and forward Marco De
Loon, restoring Matias Vera to the back line and Harry Jacobs to what was an attacking line-
up, featuring Cheetham, James Marshall and Andr Belliqueux. The latter having recovered
from the ankle knock that kept him out of the Champions League line-up in midweek.

The approach initially paid dividends as Rovers made positive and fluent early forays into
Everpool territory, one of which teed up Marshall, whose six-yard shot was saved by Michael
Helling.

Rovers capped their impressive start by taking the lead after 19 minutes, when Cleary's pin-
point cross from the left meant Cheetham had only to side-foot home from two yards out.
However, instead of kicking on, Rovers shrank somewhat and Everpool grew as a force in
the game.

Santiago Tomillo was forced to save a Kenny Macho snapshot and Graham Cooke fired
wide from 25 yards before Lloyd struck the crossbar with a free-kick from the edge of the
area as the visitors pressed hard for an equaliser.

Cheetham could have made the second half easier for his side had he finished a well-
constructed move with his shot from the edge of the box, but Helling's save set up a tense
second 45 minutes.

Rovers' growing nervousness in defence was clear to see as Ludapey twice tested Tomillo
with shots from the edge of the area. The home side then almost gifted The Blues an
equaliser when Bobby Page gave away possession. Fortunately for the defender, Cooke's
shot from an angle flew just past the far post.

With half an hour to go, Jacobs could have settled Rovers nerves but his shot from close
range, on an angle, was palmed over by Helling.

This left Rovers needing to show resolution and composure in the final minutes of the match
in the face of further pressure from the away side and - barring a penalty appeal for a
coming-together between substitute Gabri Delletja and Cleary - they did so with aplomb.

Everpool manager Karl Jensen:


"I think we are unlucky not to get at least a point out of the game. We played well and
Melchester Rovers had few attempts, especially in the second half. I thought we looked the
better side in the second half.
Melchester Rovers: Tomillo, Page, Soupillier, Vera, Small, Cheetham (Piedra 73), Luik,
Cleary, Belliqueux, Marshall (De Loon 56), Jacobs (Dickson 66).
Subs Not Used: Daniels, Carruthers, Tonks, Jordan.

Booked: Vera.

Everpool: Helling, Blackmore, Porschevski (Murcia 90), Ashley, Gijon, Gorris (Hendrie 83),
Cooke, Lloyd, Bemba, Ludapey, Macho (Delletja 76).
Subs Not Used: Tacedo, MacLean, Muerto, Lewis, .

Booked: Gorris, Cooke, Blackmore.

Attendance: 55,323
Referee: P Smith (Essex).

***

Melchester Rovers lost ground on their Premier League rivals after they were held to a
hard-fought draw by Carford City.
Johan Seegrun's men are now six points adrift of leaders Danefield and they can consider
themselves fortunate not to be further off the pace.

Nelson Miranda fired Carford into a deserved first-half lead following a flowing, breakaway
move. But Rovers stepped up a gear after the break and Marco De Loon displayed the
predatory instincts that have been somewhat hidden this season to hammer home an
equaliser.

Santiago Tomillo, Rovers unpopular Argentine keeper, then took centre stage as he saved a
Jaime Estera penalty and spared his side's blushes.

Rovers were sorely missing the bite normally provided by Danny Luik and Bobby Page -
both out injured - and Carford capitalised. De Loon and Andr Belliqueux looked out of sorts,
while Jake Cheetham appeared to be feeling the effects of the muscle strain that saw him
substituted against Everpool.

Indeed, sloppy play by the Rovers captain allowed John McCleary to release Jamal Austin
and he whipped a dangerous cross into the Rovers area. The ball eluded Rovers' leaden-
footed backline and fell to Miranda, who made no mistake.

The goal roused a sleepy Rovers and but for the brilliance of their former keeper Tobias
Olsen, Belliqueux would have restored parity just before the break.

Cheetham pushed further forward after the interval and he posed a far greater threat with
some probing runs.

The equaliser was a result of a mix-up in the Carford defence, De Loon capitalising to blast
the ball past Olsen.

Ralph Gordon's side pressed for a winner and almost got their reward in the 70th minute
when Matias Vera brought down the impressive Miranda in the Rovers area. The Argentinian
was awarded a penalty but his international team-mate Tomillo - who took gamesmanship to
the limit with some unsporting delaying tactics - saved Estera's spot-kick.

Carford City: Olsen, Di Matteo, Rasmussen, Kendrick, Austin, Miranda, McCleary (Oldman
78), Monteur, Luna, Baljaskuld, Estera (Mustapha 78).
Subs Not Used: Thyledge, Dos Santos, Masselberger, Davis, Clifton

Booked: Miranda.

Melchester Rovers: Tomillo, Soupillier, Carruthers, Vera, Small (Piedra 59), Cheetham,
Spink, Cleary, Belliqueux (Tonks 45), De Loon, Jacobs (Marshall 80).
Subs Not Used: Daniels, Carpenter, Jordan, Dickson.

Booked: Vera, Cheetham, Tomillo.


Attendance: 42,175
Referee: P Smith (Essex).

***

Melchester Rovers passed up the opportunity to climb six points clear at the top of
UEFA Champions League Group C after being held to a goalless stalemate by Racing
Blue.

Despite dominating possession in the Belgian capital, the visitors were unable to find a way
past the 1981 UEFA Cup Winners and struck the woodwork twice, once in each half, on a
frustrating evening.

Seeking a first win in the section, Racing Blue made a bright start and caught the Premier
League Champions on the break inside six minutes. However, Jan Blokken shot straight at
Rovers custodian Santiago Tomillo.

Rovers responded immediately with Tommy Tonks and Jake Cheetham having efforts
blocked inside the area before Ryan Small failed to hit the target.
Although they suffered a 4-0 reverse against Johan Seegrun's men last time out, Racing had
negotiated the first half with little cause for alarm until Marco De Loon almost broke the
deadlock on 32 minutes. The Netherlands forward raced onto Small's pass before his
outside-of-the-boot attempt bounced past the far post. It was the only opening for De Loon
who was withdrawn soon after clutching his a strained calf.

Resolute at the back, and in good form having won their last five league matches, the Blues
began to gain confidence with Blokken and Juanito Derecha looking lively. Yet there was still
time for Tonks to hit the woodwork with an inswinging free-kick before the interval.

Three points ahead of Santova Rapid before this tie, Seegrun introduced Andr Belliqueux
for De Loon and James Marshall for Harry Jacobs after the restart in a bid to push for victory.
Cheetham, quiet throughout, almost notched the opener from distance but rattled the bar
with Racing goalkeeper Loic Maisil stranded. Moments later, Eddy Soupillier nodded straight
at Maisil after the hosts fail to clear a corner. Marshall threatened a late clincher but Jan
Voordecker's team held on to claim a second point.

Jan Voordecker, Racing Blue coach:


I think today our team left everything on the field. Super concentration, efficiency and
selflessness, that's what helped us get this result. We gave everything and we were not
afraid of the opposition. The boys fought hard and they deserved this point it is not just our
point, it is for the whole of Belgian football.

Johan Seegrun, Melchester Rovers coach:


It was an interesting game. We were ready for such a response from Racing after last time.
They had prepared really well and did a good job with great support from their fans. We
didn't get the right result but we are looking to the future and we will carry on working hard.

Racing Blue: Masil, Jeonot, Koelens, Doumeng, Fresno, Timms, Makapu, Van De Beek,
Derecha (Casagrandes 82), Blokken (Van Den Berg 89), Diarra (Voss 75).
Subs Not Used: Hegedus, Geest, Casagrandes, Van Den Berg, Wagoner, Ramovic.

Booked: Blokken.

Melchester Rovers: Tomillo, Soupillier, Carruthers, Vera, Small, Tonks, Spink, Cleary
(Piedra 82), De Loon (Belliqueux 45), Cheetham, Jacobs (Marshall 50).
Subs Not Used: Daniels, Carpenter, Jordan, Dickson.

Attendance: 20,894
Referee: T Stoilov (Sergovia).

***
Ten-man Weston Villa frustrated the Champions Melchester Rovers with a hard-
earned draw in a dour Midlands derby.

Rovers dominated possession but fell behind to Ged Aliadear's superb left-foot strike before
Marco De Loon headed them level after the break.

Wesley King was dismissed for a challenge on Harry Jacobs, prompting Rovers pressure
and Tommy Tonk's header was cleared off the line.

They could not force a winner and sit seven points behind leaders Kelburn.

The West London side could extend that lead if they win their game in hand at Oldfield on
Monday and Rovers will look back at a timid first-half display as costly.

Manager Johan Seegrun asked his side to be better with ball before kick-off and they obliged
with 76% of possession in the opening half an hour. But against a Villa side without seven
players because of injury or suspension, their dominance did not lead to clear-cut chances
early on and they fell behind to Aliadear's clinical finish. He collected Alfie Eastmond's long
free-kick to pull down inside the box, create space and fire into the top corner, giving fans
hope of a first win over Rovers since 2001.

Villa's record is abysmal against Rovers, with just one win in 38 league outings and they will
look to a smart Santiago Tomillo save from Aliadear's early second-half header as a pivotal
moment. From there on, Rovers - operating a 3-4-3 system with Jake Cheetham in midfield -
looked more probing and after Andr Belliqueux and Jacobs were denied by keeper Paolo
Scoponi, De Loon broke through.

His fourth goal in five games arrived in the fifty-third minute, his header from Jacobs' cross
showcased the predator-like finishing he displayed so often in the title winning season
previous. In addition to earning a point, he completed 93% of his passes on the day and
played a full 90 minutes despite carrying an injury but could not serve up a winner.

MacLaren leapt from his bench in protest when King was shown a red card for what
appeared an honest challenge on his former team-mate Jacobs but the Villa boss will be
delighted with the resilience his side showed thereafter.

Villa are the lowest-scoring side in England's top four divisions but defended admirably late
on to move 12th in the table. In the circumstances, they will likely be thrilled with a point, but
Rovers have now not lost in sixteen years at Villa Park - the longest unbeaten away run in
any fixture in top-flight history.

Cheetham - again used in a deeper midfield role - glanced a header goalwards from a corner
but saw Jimmy Cheshire hook his effort clear and though supersub James Marshall was
introduced from the bench, added cutting edge failed to materialise.

Kelvin Dickson also appeared from the bench and tested Scoponi late on but Villa held out
for a first point against Rovers since 2010.

Weston Villa manager Andy MacLaren


"We highlighted at the beginning we were down to bare bones in a system we weren't used
to playing but I thought we looked great. I didn't think it was a sending off to be fair. Harry
Jacobs has said to Jimmy Cheshire that he made the foul on Kingy. That was not a sending
off, everyone in the ground saw that. We changed the way we played, our passing was a lot
better and we always have a threat up front. Look at the team, no MacDonald, Cotton, seven
of them, a fantastic point."

Melchester Rovers: Tomillo, Soupillier (Piedra 45), Carruthers, Vera, Small, Tonks,
Cheetham, Cleary, Belliqueux (Dickson 74), De Loon, Jacobs (Marshall 66).
Subs Not Used: Daniels, Carpenter, Jordan, Spink.

Booked: Piedra.

Weston Villa: Scoponi, King, Cheshire, Butcher, Volere, Eastmond, Jerinak, Brown (Turner
67), Alugbo, Aliadear (Amoah 55) , Zoynab.
Subs Not Used: Dane, Impey, Scarlett, Babos, Gaede

Booked: Scoponi.
Sent-off: King.

Attendance: 42,002
Referee: P Gurney (Devon).

***

Jake Cheetham scored twice as Melchester Rovers moved up to third in the Premier
League with a comeback victory over Kingsbay.

Cheetham's first-half double put Rovers in control after calamitous defending had led to
Nicky Morris' third-minute opener for the visitors.

Although the hosts threatened to overrun the Seasiders before the break, Jean Grimond's
side recovered well in the second half, pressing their hosts from the front.

Ollie Morrison could even have equalised as his accurate shooting twice tested Santiago
Tomillo, although Marco De Loon was also denied by Frank Back and had another effort
ruled out for offside.

An open and intriguing contest, this was another example of Rovers being saved by their
attack and, while they ultimately took advantage of neighbours Melboroughs failure to win at
Walford earlier in the day, there will again be questions about their defending, particularly
with Santova Rapid visiting in the Champions League in midweek.

Defeat for Kingsbay ended a six-game unbeaten run, although there were signs of a tactical
adjustment to the team from French coach Grimond, in his second game since replacing Joe
McCaffrey.

The legendary former international defender was certainly true to his pre-match word in
going for a win at the Champions who were unbeaten in eight.

Having earned a draw and a clean sheet in his first game against Everpool, Grimond's start
to Premier League life looked even rosier within three minutes as Morris capitalised on
James Carruthers' poor backpass and nipped in ahead of the stranded Tomillo to put Bay in
front.

But, Johan Seegruns Champions recovered quickly. Within six minutes they were level. The
ball fell to Tonks 35 yards from goal and he threaded a pass to Cheetham, who calmly
passed the ball into the net past Back.

It was a breathless start to the game, with Rovers committed to attack in a 4-2-4 formation,
and they could easily have scored twice before they finally got their second goal before the
half-hour mark with Tonks also hitting the post.

Cheetham pushed up front after holding the midfield at Weston Villa caused havoc with a
succession of fizzing runs. From one of them, just before the half-hour, the Rovers captain
sent the ball to the back post where Lucas Cleary volleyed it back to Cheetham to tuck in
from the edge of the penalty area.

Andr Belliqueux and De Loon could have added further goals before the interval, and with
Kingsbay also throwing men forward, there was no shortage of space.

The introduction of Jack Potter and Simon Michaels brought a measure of control to the
visitors' midfield after the break and Morrison, quiet to that point, twice gave Tomillo
something to think about with long-range shots.

The hosts endured a slack spell, giving the ball away several times and Tomillo fumbled
another Morrison effort.

It was enough to get Seegrun off his seat and he eventually brought on Miguel Piedra to
replace the struggling Bobby Page.

De Loon might have had cause for complaint after his header from Cheetham's cross was
ruled out for offside, but the hosts and their supporters were relieved enough to hear the final
whistle as Kingsbay ended the game strongly.

Melchester Rovers boss Johan Seegrun:


"For the first 30 minutes I thought we were fantastic, we played really well. But in the second
half Kingsbay have been the best team to play here this season. We were fortunate to win
the game. They pushed on top of us and didn't give us any time on the ball."
Kingsbay boss Jean Grimond:
"I'm very proud. But we leave with no points. We did play well but I'm upset at not getting a
draw at least. It doesn't console me. I think in the second half we played as we should have
done for the whole game. I think it's important for the team to know we can play that well."

Melchester Rovers: Tomillo, Page (Piedra 63), Carruthers, Soupillier, Cleary, Tonks, Spink
(Vera 68), Belliqueux, De Loon, Cheetham, Jacobs (Jordan 73).
Subs Not Used: Daniels, Carpenter, Small, Dickson.

Booked: Vera.

Kingsbay: Back, Sergio, Nascente, Van Dam, Earnest, Lavbakke (Michaels 45), Vagaro,
Lesuur, Eamal (Potter 45), Morris (Greenock 75), Morrison.
Subs Not Used: McLean, Yamada, Martis, Short.

Booked: Vagaro.

Attendance: 55,111
Referee: T Richards (W Yorkshire).

***

Clinical Santova Rapid closed to within a point of UEFA Champions League Group C
leaders Melchester as they recovered from falling behind to consign the English
Champions to a rare European home defeat.

It all looked to be going to plan for the hosts when Jamie Marshall marked his first European
start with the opener, but Alberto Linares had other ideas. The Spanish international pulled
one back from nothing before the break, then teed up 18-year-old Ricardo Gelos to make it
2-1 soon after the restart.

That proved enough despite a finale every bit as frenetic as the beginning. Oscar dragged a
fifth-minute shot wide for the visitors before a flurry of Rovers corners saw Jake Cheetham,
James Carruthers and Marshall all go close.

Gelos was denied by Lucas Cleary on the line, then Rovers forward Marco De Loon volleyed
over when well placed so an opening goal at either end was no surprise. It arrived via
Marshall in the 23rd minute, the 20-year-old latching onto a cushioned De Loon pass and
firing in.

The lead lasted all of 13 minutes until Linares rifled home following a ball over from the right.
And the Portuguese champions carried that momentum into the second half, completing the
turnaround when Linares spearheaded a counterattack down the left, feeding the 18-year-
old Gelos who would not be denied.

Rovers pushed for an equaliser but Iaki Villa was equal to everything they could throw at
him, meaning it was the Portuguese team who took the spoils to put pressue on Rovers at
the top of the group.

Johan Seegrun, Melchester Rovers Coach:


It was a great game and our opponents did very well in defence. We had chances to stretch
our lead in the first half but it wasn't to be and they scored through Gaitn. After going 2-1
down we tried to score but couldn't equalise. Santova did a great job and they deserved to
win. We need to focus on our finishing. It's obviously a bad result but we always had the
right attitude. We are second in the group so we're relaxed and we have to wait for the next
round of matches to see how the group pans out.

Melchester Rovers: Tomillo, Soupillier, Carruthers, Vera, Piedra, Tonks, Spink (Dickson 63),
Cleary (Jacobs 71), De Loon, Cheetham, Marshall (Belliqueux 77).
Subs Not Used: Daniels, Carpenter, Small, Dickson.

Booked: Cheetham, Spink.

Santova Rapid: Villa, Seglaro, Felix, Acero, Dizendo, Oscar (Tapito 72), Dito, Gelos, Alberto
Linares, Oceano (Depommier 80), Prata (Herradura 73).
Subs Not Used: Forte, Bamba, Artur, Teadoro.

Booked: Seglaro, Oscar, Dito, Gelos.

Attendance: 54,376
Referee: G Rossi (Italy).

***
David Patrie's late equaliser gave Gatesfield a deserved draw against Melchester
Rovers at Elm Grove and relieved the pressure on boss Josef Vilanov.

Johan Seegrun's side looked to be heading for a fortuitous victory courtesy of Marco De
Loon's first half goal. But just as Gatesfield- without a home win this season - looked to be
heading for another defeat, the dangerous Patrie did the trick for Vilanov's team with four
minutes left.

Melchester Rovers then brought two brilliant saves from Gatesfield goalkeeper Daniel Dear
in injury time, but a draw was the least the Goons deserved.

Captain Jake Cheetham was missing for Melchester Rovers as he started a lengthy absence
with a severe hamstring tear. But there was a surprise return for Richie Lyons following a
long spell out with a knee injury to compensate for the absence of injured Andr Belliqueux.

Patrie thought he had given Gatesfield the lead after 19 minutes as Vilanov's side were
desperately unlucky not to take the lead. Matteo Lavezzi crossed from the right and Mitchell
Angelo's powerful free header hit the post and fell for Patrie to divert home from close range.
But the celebrations were cut short by a linesman's offside flag. And for all Gatesfield's
endeavours, it was the visitors who went ahead eight minutes before the interval.
Lucas Cleary slid a neat pass to Lyons, and his pass was neatly flicked in at the near post by
De Loon.
Gatesfield's Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Dear was at his most unpredictable. He almost
gifted Lyons Rover's second when his attempted clearance from near the left-hand touchline
rebounded off De Loon. But Lyons could not find the target from around 40 yards out.

Patrie had been a constant threat to Seegrun's side, and he was desperately unlucky after
66 minutes when he lifted a composed finish over Santiago Tomillo, only to see the ball
bounce agonisingly off the bar. But he was rewarded for all his efforts four minutes from time
as Gatesfield scored a deserved equaliser.

Patrie stole in on Michael Lord's pass and finally beat Tomillo from close range. It brought
relief for Gatesfield - but they still needed two brilliant injury-time saves from Dear to hold on
to a point. First he denied Lyons after Jeremy Tudor's slip, and then dived to somehow stop
Eddy Soupillier's point-blank header.

Rovers will be hoping for more luck in front of goal in the derby at Melboro next weekend.

Gatesfield: Dear, Kamara, Tudor, Okeke, Angelo, Ondo, Lord, Waterman, Lavezzi (Amoah
74), Patrie (Ferhat 90), Sanou (Ferguson 66).
Subs Not Used: Alberto, Sorensen, Edson, Rere

Booked: Waterman.

Melchester Rovers: Tomillo, Soupillier, Carruthers, Vera, Small, Tonks, Spink, Cleary, De
Loon, Lyons, Jacobs (Marshall 66).
Subs Not Used: Daniels, Carpenter, Page, Piedra, Jordan, Dickson.

Booked: Cleary.

Attendance: 35,051
Referee: M Wragg (Lancashire).

***
Melboro ensured Kenny Davenport's first home derby as manager ended in delight
with a crushing victory over Melchester Rovers at the Enriat Stadium.

In contrast to the despair of his opposite number, it was a day of woe for Rovers boss Johan
Seegrun as he watched the rampant Boro make a powerful statement about their Premier
League ambitions.

Santiago Fuentes and Titus Yakubu gave Boro a commanding half-time lead and any slim
hopes of a Rovers recovery were snuffed out by further goals from Fuentes and Ravel
Penny within five minutes of the restart.

Richie Lyons late free-kick offered nothing in the way of consolation for Seegrun or Rovers
on a day of embarrassment that will sit uncomfortably alongside the famous Boxing Day
thrashing of the 2013/14 season.

Rovers may have been without Jake Cheetham because of a hamstring tear but the
absence of one player - no matter how significant - cannot account for the manner in which
Seegruns side were utterly outclassed.
This was arguably a more emphatic win than that Mel Park hammering, without the freakish
element and simply the result of Boro's vast superiority in all areas.

Seegrun cut an agitated figure on the sideline as Boro picked Rovers apart in midfield,
where Yakubu looked in a different class to Rovers' homegrown pairing of Tommy Tonks and
Billy Spink, and in defence as Fuentes tormented James Carruthers.

Davenport insisted this was a game Boro had to win - this they did and with the sort of
performance that put down a marker for how the Scot wants his team to play.

For Seegrun, it means a complete rethink of his midfield and the tactics used to combat the
absence of Cheetham.

Melboro had already taken control long before Fuentes put them ahead after 16 minutes. It
was a move typical of so much that was produced by Davenport's men as Penny linked with
Gilles Esperer, whose cross was volleyed home instinctively by the Argentine.

Lyons was virtually shouldering Rovers' burden alone and with mounting frustration. It was
no surprise when it boiled over and he was booked for a challenge on Boro captain David
Baker, but at least he was showing the intent and desire markedly absent in the rest of his
colleagues.

The only surprise was that Boro were still only one goal ahead as the first half drew to a
conclusion but they got the lead their complete dominance deserved in stoppage time when
Yakubu was unmarked at the far post to turn in Fabiano Silva's touch from Penny's corner.

If Seegrun harboured hopes that the respite of the interval would provide some inspiration
for his hapless Rovers team, they were shattered within minutes of the restart as Boro
quickly added two more goals to turn this derby into a rout.

The Rovers defence went missing in the 47th minute when Esperer and Dani Garcia
combined and the predatory Fuentes was once more the beneficiary with a simple side-
footed finish.

Boro were swarming all over Rovers and the fourth came three minutes later when Sylvain
NDiaye crossed from the right for colleagues who were queuing up to score, the outstanding
Penny completing the job with a perfect volley.

In what almost seemed like an act of damage limitation, Seegrun immediately introduced
Miguel Piedra for Marco De Loon, who had been arguably the worst among a whole
collection of shocking Rovers performers.

Melboro, understandably, eased off and at least allowed Rovers sight of goal, with Johnny
White saving well from Tonks and Eddy Soupillier striking the upright with a powerful header.

Lyons deserved something for his efforts and he got it with a brilliant free-kick that he did not
celebrate - but there was nothing else to please Rovers on a day when they felt the full force
of Melboro's power.
Melboro: White, Bernard, Baker, Sands, Esperer, Fabiano Silva, Yakubu, NDiaye (Velasco
71), Garcia, Penny (Souare 75), Fuentes (Sisito 86).
Subs Not Used: Camarero, Vendel, Zapata, Fabio.
Booked: Waterman.

Melchester Rovers: Tomillo, Soupillier, Carruthers, Vera, Small, Tonks, Spink, Cleary
(Dickson 73), De Loon (Piedra 52), Lyons, Jacobs.
Subs Not Used: Daniels, Carpenter, Page, Jordan, Marshall.
Booked: Small, Lyons.

Attendance: 47,444
Referee: H Webster (Cheshire).

NEXT Can the return of Richie Lyons push Rovers on?


Storky Knight

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