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Melford got the monkey off their back today with their first win of the 2012/13 season, also a first win for manager Robbie Benson. After the early FA Cup exit, Melford looked determined not to fall at the first hurdle of the FA Vase and despite a few anxious moments they got the job done to secure £500 in prize money and an away tie at Woodbridge Town on Saturday 15th September. The win was a nice reward for the players' efforts during a tough opening month for the club.

After racing into a 2-0 lead through Errol Durell and then Jack Durey's wonder strike, this looked like being a comfortable win for Melford. However, the visitors improved as the half progressed and pulled a goal back before half-time following a well worked move. Bowers & Pitsea had a confidence boosting win against their local rivals Basildon United on Wednesday and looked increasingly dangerous going forward with prolific goalscorer Calvin Poku catching the eye.

Melford lost Durey and skipper Justin Crissell to injury in the second half and were under pressure for long periods with keeper Sam Mansfield making a couple of crucial saves. It was hard work for Melford who didn't have the attacking outlet they'd had in the first half. There was the bizarre sight of Martin Westcott playing as a makeshift centre half, which actually worked better than you might think, but with no Westy up front Melford had no one to hold the ball in Bowers & Pitsea's half.

Melford hoped to contain Bowers & Pitsea and pinch a goal at the other end from a counter attack or set piece and that's how the crucial third goal was scored. Paul Barnes gambled on the visitors' keeper spilling Dan Cann's free kick, which is exactly what happened, and Barnes netted the rebound to effectively send Melford through to the next round.

I'd imagine the two very different halves will have pleased Robbie and Jules in different ways: Melford played good attacking football in the first half whereas the second half (with several players in unfamiliar positions) was more a case of high work-rate and determination not to let the win slip away. ANDY CUSSANS

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