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MATCH REPORT: Highworth Town 4 Salisbury FC 3

Highworth Town 4 Salisbury FC 3 (at Melksham Town FC)
Wiltshire Senior Cup Semi Final
Tuesday, 21 March 2017 

By Alec Hayter 

Even bearing in mind the relative importance or otherwise of this competition, our exit from it at the hands of Hellenic League side Highworth Town was, to my mind, little short of a disgrace by their normal standards. That is not to take anything away from our opponents who, on the evening, took the game to the Whites from the start and in the end got their just reward for their efforts.

n my opinion, and after much thought, there were only two positives to come from this game, and they involved the inclusion of two of the development squad, one of whom, Nathan Connelly, played the whole 90+ minutes and looked easy in his surroundings, as opposed to some of his teammates. Max Whittaker did not look out of place either, getting 25 minutes or so before the end of the game. And that is about all that was good.

fter an early let off when it appeared that keeper Nathan Ball had handled the ball outside his area, both sides showed mutual respect, although at times Salisbury produced the passing football of which we know they are capable. They briefly flickered in front of goal on 13 minutes when Connelly made his first meaningful contribution, chipping the ball to Claudio Herbert who volleyed over. In any event the assistant's flag would have denied him had his effort hit the net.

The Whites' lethargy was not affected even when on 20 minutes Ball redeemed himself with a great save from Ashley Edinborough, and 5 minutes later the mood continued even though a move between Edenborough and Aysa Corrick gave Aaron Ferris a chance which hardly troubled the keeper. A second warning was thus ignored and the ease with which the Salisbury defence was being penetrated was quite alarming. A reaction came on the half-hour with Lewis Benson hitting a snapshot into the side netting, and two minutes later the Whites took the lead when Tommy Wright, working as hard as ever, did what he does best and beat keeper Kent Kaupinnen from just inside the box.

Just before the break Highworth's Luke Cousins had a long-range effort tipped over the top, and on 43 minutes in response Wright squared the ball to Benson whose right foot effort from the edge of the box brought a great save from the Highworth keeper.

It should have been "game over" when Wright grabbed a second in time added at the end of the first half, as that should have been the platform for progress into the final, but Highworth had other ideas, and instead of accepting their fate, to their immense credit seemed galvanised in renewed efforts. Seven minutes into the second half Ball was forced into a great save from Corrick, but seconds later Wright had a one-on-one which, had the keeper not blocked his effort, might have put the game to bed.

Highworth took heart from this let off and the lightning quick Kieran Gleed used his pace, outstripping George Colson before letting fly with a 20 yard effort which gave Ball no chance whatsoever. Instead of "game over" it was now very much a question of "game on" as Highworth continued get back on terms. On 58 minutes Ball thwarted Gleed once again and very shortly afterwards, Corrick wasted perhaps the most clear cut of chances when through on goal.

The Worthians' persistence paid off on 65 minutes and it was all square as John Davoile ambled through a wide-open Salisbury rearguard to make it 2-2. As the Whites stirred themselves Tom Whelan sent in a strong right foot shot on 71 minutes but Kauppinen was equal to it with a brilliant save, whilst a few minutes later Connelly flicked the ball to Whelan who again suffered from the keeper's expertise.

In what was, briefly, becoming more end-to-end, Edenborough was foiled by Ball in a one-on-one, and again what could have been a match winning moment occurred with 9 minutes left, a Herbert cross causing panic in the Highworth defence, with the unfortunate Lewis Brown unable to avoid scoring an own goal.

Surely, with so little time remaining, the Whites could hold out for victory, but two goals in the space of three minutes by the indefatigable Worthians gave them the success they deserved, with Edenborough bundling in an equaliser on 84 minutes, and Cousins putting the icing on the cake with an unstoppable close range shot just before the final whistle.

Highworth justifiably benefited from their efforts, whilst some Salisbury players could not seem to raise a gallop. I'm sure that any travelling supporters will wish Highworth the best of luck in the final, but would also expect a change of attitude from their side which of course will be absolutely 100% necessary when they face Hereford on Saturday.

Highworth Town: Kauppinen, Joyce, Brown, Adams, Cole, Davoile, Gleed, Cousins, Corrick, Edenborough, Ferris.
Subs not used: McGory, Riggs, McCarthy, McSharry.

Salisbury FC: Ball, Perrett (Colson 48), Flint, Benson (Whelan 45), Wheeler, Hart, Herbert, Mundy, Wright (Whittaker 65), Connelly, Roberts.
Subs not used: Blake, Holmes.

Attendance: 262                             Referee: M Rushton


MATCH REPORT: Tiverton Town 2 Salisbury 0

Tiverton Town 2 Salisbury FC 0
Evo-stik Southern League South and West Division
Saturday, 18 March 2017

By Alec Hayter

This game made it easy to forget that the Whites had been unbeaten in the league since early January, and although at some stage a reverse was not unexpected, it is unfortunate that it should occur against one of the other teams in the hunt for a play-off place. There will be references to fat ladies and singing, and there is some truth in that with another important result going against rivals Taunton Town, but my lasting impression is that the absence of a key player on this occasion had more influence than it should have on the final result.

The game was more or less over with only seconds on the clock, and this was confirmed by Steve Claridge after the match when he said that against lesser teams there would be a chance of clawing back and early goal, but against those more capable sides it was much more difficult. The pitch at Tiverton did not help – it was possibly the worst I had ever seen it and maybe beyond home club's control because of adverse weather, but was nevertheless more suited to the type of game that Tivvy played. In truth after their early lead, all they had to do was to contain efforts of the visitors, and, maintaining for the back against one attacker indicated to me that they intended to hold onto the slender lead and perhaps then seal the match with a 2nd goal late on stop this is exactly what they did and probably what Manager Martyn Rogers demanded.

Games start on the referee's whistle and it only took 22 seconds before Tiverton took the lead and unfortunately there were some aspects which set the tone. Levy Landricombe found himself centrally placed with the ball at his feet but completely miskicked in front of goal, but the ball kindly found its way to Jamie Price whose firm shot was too hot for Alex Bass to handle, the ball creeping agonisingly over the goal-line.

This signalled the start of some blatant time wasting which, surprisingly, only resulted in 3 minutes being added at the end of the first half and most of which therefore had probably escaped the attention of the referee.

With only 4 minutes on the clock, Tiverton were already in "breakaway" mode and speculative lob by Landricombe only just missed the target with Bass off his line.

Although the Whites were having a fair share of proceedings it took until the 26th minute before they produced a serious threat on goal and by not taking the chance which could have changed the course of the game the writing was on the wall. Adam Flint crossed from the left, the ball flying across the face of the Tiverton goal, but Claudio Herbert could neither control it nor apply the finishing touch, with keeper Joe Perry gratefully gathering.

ome 7 minutes before the interval Lewis Benson, who was one of the few players performing to their potential, sent a trademark free kick just over the top from the edge of the box and was not until 2 minutes into time added that Landricombe again produce something for the home side, blasting the ball well over the top from 15 yards again a 2nd goal at that stage would have completely settled matters.

The theory is that with only one and sometimes maybe 2 goals in a game there was always a chance and once more in the saga of "ifs and maybes" Salisbury might have pulled a goal back 3 minutes into the 2nd period when Taurean Roberts went close with a left foot effort from the edge of the area.

This brought a response from the home side when Jamie short had an effort easily saved by Bass denied minutes and then 2 minutes later when Bass was forced to make a great stop from Owen Howe in a one-on-one.

The tirelessly working, but lonely, Tommy Wright seemed to take on the whole of the Tivvy defence on 56 minutes, but his cross was just too high for Roberts header went over the top, and Wright himself might have done better with a 71st minute header from a Roberts cross which hardly troubled Perry.

The Whites were now at the stage of really chasing the game and paid the price in conceding a goal very similar to the one conceded against Winchester a few days earlier, with players caught upfield and what proved to be a devastating attack down the left side of the home side's attack. The ball was worked out to price and no one could argue the precise finish as he curled a right foot shot past Bass to finally kill off any hopes Salisbury might have had of getting something from the game, and the match finished with the keeper fighting his own battle against Tiverton who might well have had added to the final score without his efforts.

In the space of 2 minutes he made a good save from Landricombe and then denied how the great block after finding himself one-on-one with the striker, but how was guilty of a bad miss on 79 minutes were failing to convert from 3 yards after being supplied by Landricombe.

Howe might have grabbed a second-half hat-trick but with 5 minutes remaining he was again foiled by Bass.

Tiverton became only the 2nd team to take 6 points from the Whites this season and we can only hope that a trio is not completed when we play Hereford next Saturday, but in order to avoid that it is imperative that all, not just some, of those who play do so to their full potential. If that happens then there is every chance that effect of today's loss of 3 points can to some extent be remedied, but a different answer is required when, as at Tiverton, we come across a defence that makes it seem like we are playing in the land of giants.

I'm not quite sure what they feed to players in Devon but whatever it is seems to produce footballers in excess of 6 feet tall. At Tiverton even those coming off of the subs bench in the main qualified! 

Tiverton Town: Perry, Price, Hurst (Storey 80), Mammola, Kingdon, Gardner, Short, M Landricombe, Howe (Bath 88), L Landricombe, Rogers (Carter 83).
Subs not used: Norrish, Rosenquest.

Salisbury FC: Bass, Colson, Flint (Roberts 37), Whelan, Wheeler, O'Keefe, Benson, Mundy (Hart 68), Wright, Herbert, Perrett.
ubs not used: Blake, Ball.

MATCH REPORT: Salisbury 3 Winchester City 1

Salisbury FC 3 Winchester City 1
Evo-Stik Southern League South and West Division
Tuesday, 14 March 2017

By Alec Hayter

The Whites made it two wins out of three meetings with their near neighbours, but the 3 points came at a price with an injury to Justin Bennett, who scored his 41st goal of the campaign (a personal record), and captain Kane O'Keefe obviously struggling with his knee problem and having to leave the action late on.

The injury curse continues therefore and to some extent would probably explain the difference in the two halves of tonight's game. The home side went three goals up in 25 minutes, once more showing the kind of football which we all crave and which leaves opponents floundering. Winchester could hardly live with the high tempo set by a Salisbury side who, although having won their last game against Larkhall Athletic, had struggled, relatively speaking, in the first half of that game.

The best possible start was served up within the first minute when the impressive young Adam Flint pinged the ball forward down the touchline to Eddie Perrett, who took a touch before delivering a cross to Justin Bennett to power a header which keeper Lewis Noice could not keep out. This was disappointing for the keeper in the context of his later efforts as without his fine performance the score line could have been much more damaging.

After three minutes Claudio Herbert, enjoying his first start for a time, showed his lively intent, getting to the byeline and crossing for Eddie Perrett to put an effort wide, before Winchester showed that they too could threaten. Ex-White Sam Wilson found himself in on goal and got to the ball before the on-rushing Alex Bass but after flicking it over the keeper a second touch was denied by a superb O'Keefe interception.

Salisbury replied straight away with George Colson sending a delightful crossfield ball to Perrett who squared for for Tommy Wright but the striker's effort was blocked, and at the other end Winchester's Jamie Barron, another ex-White youth player, committed a second foul on Herbert on 9 minutes, having committed similar offence three minutes earlier. Referee James Durkin chose not to issue a second yellow card much to the dismay of Salisbury players. There seemed little difference in the two offences, which were the result of the lightning pace shown by Herbert. A different interpretation was seen in the Chelsea/Man U game on Monday!

On 13 minutes Bennett turned provider as he put in Wright who disappointingly fired his finish wide of the target when he probably should have doubled the Whites’ score, but it was only 5 minutes later when he made amends, being in the right place at the right time to meet a Colson cross and easily net from close range.

Halfway through the first half Tom Whelan lobbed the ball over a Winchester defender and Bennett met it with a sweet volley but Noice produced a great save to deny him. Salisbury were having a purple patch and on 24 minutes it was 3-0. Winchester must have wondered how many other players had the same step-overs in their lockers as Herbert when Whelan magiced his way to the byeline before delivering a pinpoint cross finished in style with Perrett's diving header.

Just before the half-hour, in what was becoming a rare visit near the Salisbury penalty box, Barron put a shot wide from 18 yards but in fairness he was under tremendous pressure from O'Keefe, but on 33 minutes the Citizens pulled one back through Sam Wilson after being set up by Craig Feeney. I heard the description "a lifeline" near me but at that time there seemed little chance that it was that because of the quality of the Whites' football until then. A real lifeline would have been gained had the normally dangerous Feeney capitalized  on a chance five minutes before the break. Feeney found himself in on goal but Bass was equal to his left foot attempt.

As if stung by the goal and the Feeney chance, Salisbury finished the half with another raid on goal, but Bennett screwed his shot wide. Just before the halftime whistle Barron again escaped the attentions of the referee when there was a third coming together with Herbert, but in spite of of Winchester's always looking to have the ability to inflict damage on the break, the Whites were fairly comfortable going in with a two-goal cushion.

It was probably unrealistic to expect the same high tempo in the second half and although chances were created it was against the backdrop of players probably beginning to suffer with injuries being carried. In spite of that however, the visitors did not record a single chance in the whole of the 45 minutes and some would say it was " job done".

Changes had to be made and Taurean Roberts' first meaningful action came on 59 minutes when Herbert sent in a deep cross from the right. Roberts got on the end of it but was unable to put enough power into his header to trouble Noice.

On 73 minutes Herbert was unlucky when a fierce drive was pushed over the top by Noice and the keeper saved his side once again two minutes later. Wright got through from almost as far back as the halfway line but was foiled by the keeper's block.

Inside the last quarter of an hour Perrett dribbled along the edge of the box before hitting a firm shot well over the top and in time added on Noice brilliantly pushed aside Benson's 20-yard free kick to once more prevent the Whites making the scoreline more realistic.

Salisbury had had to reorganise following Bennett's departure on 56 minutes and in doing so replaced Adam Flint with Brandon Mundy in a different shape, and this did the job of getting three more precious points, but any supporters’ delight at another win must surely be dulled by the injury situation, coming just before the very important game at Tiverton on Saturday.

After the game, Steve Claridge bemoaned the latest injuries saying "I think there must be a curse on us as we cannot seem to get through a game without picking up more injuries."

Salisbury FC: Bass, Colson, Flint (Mundy 57), Whelan, Wheeler, O'Keefe (Blake 84), Benson, Herbert, Wright, Bennett (Roberts 56), Perrett.
Subs not used: Higgins, Ball

Winchester City: Noice, Searle, Ford, Barron (Hill 86), Hyde, Hayward (Darling 81), Wilson, Green, Feeney, Neighbour, Hannan (Griggs 71).
Subs not used Roberts, King.

Attendance: 599                                           Referee: J Durkin (Portland)

MAN OF THE MATCH - Claudio Herbert
Chosen by Match Sponsor 'Charlies Cycling Circus' and presented by Stuart Cannell


MATCH REPORT: Salisbury 5 Larkhall Athletic 0

Salisbury FC 5 Larkhall Athletic 0
Evo-stik Southern League South and West Division
Saturday, 11 March 2017

By Alec Hayter

Patience was prudence in the end as the Whites overpowered a competent Larkhall side who were, on the day, better than their league position might suggest, and showed how they had achieved some notable results in recent times. The first half of the match was fairly reminiscent of games in the Wessex league days where teams would come to the Ray Mac in the hope of stifling Salisbury and taking one, or maybe sneaking even three points home with them. The difference was that the standard of football was of course much higher than in those days, and Larkhall practised the art better than any teams in last season's campaign.

The net result was that maybe supporters did not get the usual high entertainment level they are used to for 45 minutes, the game appearing flat, but in time added at the end of the first half Lewis Benson struck the opener which seemed strangely out of context at the time.

n fact it was the Larks who threatened first when in the second minute ex Hereford United Joe Tumelty went through the right channel but shot weakly over the top. Five minutes later Eddie Perrett ran at the visitors’ defence and squared the ball to Justin Bennett who was unlucky when his effort was deflected over the top, and shortly afterwards at the other end Larks’ Josh Egan latched onto the ball outside the box but saw his right foot effort blocked.

For a period the contest became one in the middle of the park but on 25 minutes the Larkhall broke that mould when Tom Knighton got down the left and flashed an inviting ball across the face of the Salisbury goal, but there was no one on hand to apply the finishing touch. Twelve minutes later a Benson free kick, deep into the heart of the Larkhall box saw Claudio Herbert glance a header wide from amongst a crowd of players, as the Whites responded to the Knighton warning.

Four minutes before the interval the Larks conjured their best chance of the half when Tumelty got round the back of the defence before pulling the ball back to Greg Peel who weakly side footed his finish wide of the upright, and the visitors were made to pay in time added when Benson venomously let fly from 25 yards, the ball's flight possibly deceiving Ben John although he was probably beaten in any event by the speed of the missile.

It was as if that goal shortly before the break was the opening of the floodgates and Benson nearly doubled Salisbury's lead four minutes into the second half when he launched a free kick from distance which nearly caught out the keeper who was off his line. Only Lewis will know whether his intention had been to shoot! 

he pressure was mounting and little was seen of the visitors’ attack. On 54 minutes a delightful Bennett flick put in Tommy Wright who uncharacteristically swiped the ball well over the top, when normally he could be relied upon to do better, and two minutes later another chance went begging when Benson's free kick into the danger area saw George Colson head over.

It was becoming a question of when, not if, the lead would be increased and the second goal duly arrived on 62 minutes with chief architect Benson feeding the ball into the left channel for Tom Whelan to turn and slot home past John from close range. The importance of this goal cannot be over-emphasised as it put the match well out of the Larks' reach. Six minutes later it almost became a question of how many as Colson's cross was expertly dispatched at the near post by Herbert who swept the ball in first time for the Whites’ third.

With the game entering the last quarter of an hour Larkhall's Egan saw a great 25 yard strike fly just wide of the mark but from that point nothing more was produced to trouble the home side. On 79 minutes it was Whelan's turn to blaze the ball over when he was once more set up by Benson but within a minute that was of no consequence as the score became 4-0 when Bennett profited from an expert Brandon Mundy through ball to calmly slot the ball past John. With five minutes remaining Bennett might have got his all-time scoring record with a 41st campaign goal but desperate defending denied him at. There’s always Tuesday Justin (41, 42 etc), and Saturday, and, and....!

Bennett turned provider however in the 93rd minute when he held the ball up well before tucking it through to Wright who this time delivered in style with a firm low shot past John into the far corner.

Injuries once more played their part with to Chris Onoufriou having to leave the action early with a calf injury whilst both Kane O'Keefe and Eddie Perrett sustained knocks during the game. Hopefully some or all will be able to be in contention for another important game (aren't they all now?) at home to Winchester City on Tuesday.

Elsewhere that evening Swindon Supermarine entertain Mangotsfield United and Taunton are at home to Shortwood United who defeated Tiverton Town today.

s if next Saturday's visit to Tiverton were not enough of a crunch game already, today’s Tiverton reverse and results in games involving those teams mentioned above could possibly make our meeting with Tivvy even more so. Life is very exciting at the moment and a good crowd today (a virtual 12th man), saw their team eventually come out on top and do their goal difference a power of good.

As the Whites embark on a difficult run of games your support as 12th man is invaluable, and if we get the right result on Tuesday, or even if we don't, a strong travelling support (to Devon yet again!) will be vital.

Salisbury FC: Bass, Colson, Flint, Whelan, Wheeler, O'Keefe (Higgins 69), Benson, Onoufriou (Herbert 23), Wright, Bennett, Perrett (Mundy 69).
Subs not used: Blake, Ball.

Larkhall Athletic: John, Restorick, Allward, Guy, Dryden, Bater (Tovey 70) Egan, Raynes, Peel, Tumelty, Knighton.
Subs not used: Arndale, Lyons.

ttendance: 677                                           Referee: B Williamson (Melksham)