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Match Report - Salisbury FC - Hartley Wintney

Hartley Wintney

Salisbury FC 4 Hartley Wintney 2
EvoSstik South Premier South
Saturday, 17 November 2018

By Alec Hayter

The Whites moved back into second place in the table, one above Tuesday night’s opponents Weymouth, courtesy of another solid three points at the expense of the Row. In recent times Whites' supporters have been treated to high quality play, but although today's performance did not quite reach the heights we've become accustomed to, instead we had four quality goals, each of which would have graced Match of the Day and probably created a record four entries from one club in Goal of the Month! Today we had a mixture of individual skill and combined movement, although the final scoreline did not fully reflect the number of chances created.

Of course, the visitors had a say in the final scoreline and had their moments, showing great tenacity against a team described by joint manager Dan Turkington as "one of the best we've played", and at one stage when we had a short Whites' wobble the Row have got back on terms. Turkington added, "Before the game we would have taken a point, but to have taken three would have been a real achievement. We were beaten by a better team."

Apart from one 10/15 minute spell even one point for the visitors looked unlikely as, without perhaps some of their usual fluency, Salisbury got at their opponents from the start. After only five minutes Jake Wannell met a Lewis Benson cross but could only head at keeper Adam Desbois, and two minutes later Dan Fitchett fed Luke Hopper who turned his man brilliantly but then appeared to be hampered as his shot went over the top. Referee Robert Cockle waved away the appeals.

Desbois then may been relieved to be hardly tested by Tom Whelan’s right foot shot but he had to work harder on 15 minutes, blocking out Hopper who was trying to benefit from good work from Bay Downing and Benson, whose cross-shot eventually reached him after some desperate defending..

The attacking continued with Pablo Haysham feeding Aaron Dawson who narrowly missed the target from 25 yards, before, on 25 minutes, the Whites took the lead with Dawson being involved. A "regulation" pass to Benson saw the attacking midfielder take the ball right across the box, evading desperate lunges, before hitting a sweet, firm left foot finish low into the corner - a great individual effort.

benson Lewis shakes off the challenge   -   and leathers in Whites' first. Copyright Roger Elliott

 Three minutes later an inviting Benson cross nearly found Hopper, stretching, but he was unable to connect, and then, the Row unexpectedly got back into it to level on 32 minutes after at least four chances were missed by the Salisbury defence to clear,. When they did, the ball fell to Rowan Vine who clobbered in a volley from the edge of the box to equalise.

That jolt encouraged one of the many good Salisbury moves during the game and on 34 minutes one such resulted in the home side’s regaining the lead. Bay Downing started it, playing the ball to Benson, who in turn sprayed it wide to Whelan. The next we saw was the ball crashing in off of the underside of the bar which, as I write, a few hours later, might still be shaking from the impact! Needless to say, the keeper stood no chance whatsoever. When Whelan scores, he really scores!

Whelan celeb Lewis and Tom celebrate after Tom's rocket-shot. Copyright Roger Elliott

Hartley Wintney stirred themselves and a minute before the break a right foot effort from Nathan Smart forced James Hillson into his first serious action of the game, parrying the ball, and four minutes after the interval his second action saw him easily field another effort from the same player. The Row had made some changes after half-time and they were proving more effective, although had the referee seen an incident on 52 minutes, Salisbury may well have had a penalty when Wannell's header from a Whelan corner triggered appeals for handball.. In fairness to the official there were a good few bodies in his line of sight, so “hand to ball” or “ball to hand “– we’ll never know!.

At the other end, only seconds later, Hartley Wintney wasted a very good opportunity when Jack Ball put a free header over the top, but again this caused a Whites’ reaction and on 62 minutes their third goal arrived, again the result of a fine move this time involving Haysham, Downing and Benson, the one touch play giving Hopper the chance to prod home. It would not have been unreasonable to think that was "game over" especially when Fitchett had a good chance from 5 yards, but headed over, and that probably gave the visitors further hope. Again though they were wasteful as Smart was not so smart with a volleyed attempt which went over the top, when he should really have done better.

Hopper Goal2Hopper gets the third - "put on a plate, mate!" Copyright Roger Elliott

On 74 minutes the visitors did get within one goal of the Whites and Hillson can consider himself unlucky after getting to a fierce swerving drive from Ross Cook. However, he was only able to parry the ball and Vine was on hand to net from close range. I'm sure I was not alone in thinking "3-3?", but on 84 minutes came the fourth goal to settle matters, this time Darren Mullings sending in a superb, inviting, cross which allowed Fitchett to glance the ball into the far corner for 4-2.

Fitchett wheels awayDan Fitchett wheels away after scoring Whites' fourth. - Copyright Roger Elliott

Fitchett was not finished, pulling back a great ball to Chris Shephard with three minutes remaining but unfortunately the ball ended up over instead of under the bar. Supporters were then treated to another great move just before the final whistle which, although not producing a fifth, was something which, with all of the other passing movements, will surely stay in the memory. Another quick-fire move saw Haysham and Shephard combine with Whelan seeing the final opportunity blocked.

It was always going to be a tough game at Weymouth on Tuesday, but their surprise defeat at Kings Langley, and the Whites going above them, will make it even tougher. The Whites deserve total support for a difficult game and if only half of today's attendance made the trip on Tuesday, that might give them more justification for their decision to segregate the supporters! Please try and get along because, whatever the outcome, Salisbury have now put themselves in a much better position to maintain their challenge, with table topping Taunton having a two-point advantage, having played one game more.

Salisbury FC: Hillson, Downing, Sommerton, Whelan, Wheeler (Partridge 85), Wannell, Benson, Dawson (Mullings 68), Hopper (Shephard 72), Fitchett, Haysham.
Subs not used Kotwica, Herbert.

Hartley Wintney: Desbois, Kpohomouh, Paget (King 81), Ball, Eagle, Smith, Webb, Vine, Smart, Ciardini (Cook 67), Hart.
Subs not used: Hutchings, French, Campbell.

Attendance: 689 Referee: R Cockle (Bristol)


Match Report - Bradford Town v Salisbury FC


Standard away 01
Bradford Town 1 Salisbury FC 1 (Salisbury win 3-1 on penalties)
Wiltshire Senior Cup Second Round
Wednesday, 14 November 2018

By Alec Hayter

After the game, manager Steve Claridge commented: "What a journey! This place is right on the edge." For much of this match his team was the same, and Bradford Town might consider themselves unlucky not to have gone through to the next round.

However, there were some extenuating circumstances, but these are not in any way an excuse for a substandard performance. Changes were made to the side with the introduction of Development Squad players Charlie Rayfield, Charlie Cooper and George Tuson-Firth who all did well, and some players returning from injury were selected, but after the tremendous run of form and wins, this certainly did not seem like an 11th win on the bounce in all competitions. Realistically, at some stage a dip in form was inevitable and I think we should all be pleased that it occurred in this competition and not the League or FA Trophy. We must certainly hope that normal service is resumed on Saturday against Hartley Wintney.

Perhaps the trouble was that against a team two leagues below them, a goal after two minutes encouraged a very relaxed mood – almost too relaxed at times as the home side had chances which were denied by another excellent performance from goalkeeper Jake Hallett, but in truth, after taking that early lead, the Whites manufactured enough chances to have seen off their opponents.

Rayfield set up the Whites’ goal with a searching cross which forced the home defence to flap at the ball which landed obligingly at the feet of Claudio Herbert in front of goal, with Herbert making no mistake from 6 yards, but straight afterwards Hallett had to be at his best when he found himself one-on-one with the impressive Matt Morris.

ClaudioClaudio Herbert, who opened the scoring on 2 minutes - Copyright Roger Elliott

A further 13 minutes passed before Zack Kotwica fired over the top from just outside the box, before Herbert put a lovely ball inside the full-back for Kotwica who was blocked by Keeper Adam Forster. On 21 minutes Kotwica turned provider and saw Kane O'Keefe's finish blocked, and at that stage Salisbury could have been 3 or 4 ahead with better finishing.

Had they even scored for just a second time during that period it felt that the home side would probably collapse, but all credit to them, they kept going and Morris again severely tested Hallett from a through ball. The warnings were there, and partly heeded on 29 minutes when Cooper's cross from the right just evaded Herbert's dive, the header flying wide. Four minutes before the interval a Cooper right foot attempt brought a good save from home keeper Forster.

Kane O'Keefe left the action at half-time to be replaced by Jake Wannell but 11 minutes into the second period Bradford drew level when Jake Hiscocks, looking suspiciously offside, drilled a cross into the box where Morris did the rest from close range.

Five minutes later Pablo Haysham was just wide with an effort on the turn from the edge of the box and on 65 minutes Kotwica missed probably the best chance of the evening when a delightful cross from Cooper found him in the clear in front of goal, but the striker put his header straight at the keeper.

On 68 minutes Hallett was forced to make a point-blank save from James Rustell and 3 minutes later Charlie Maddison hit a 25 yarder just wide of the mark. It looked as though the match would go to penalties but that could so easily have been avoided had Haysham not headed over the top from 3 yards out on 89 minutes, after receiving a Darren Mullings ball.

So, to penalties, with Bradford having the advantage of first go. They duly took the lead through Will Hailston but the Whites equalised through Aaron Dawson. Morris then belted his penalty against the bar beforet Dan Fitchett made it 2-1 in the Whites' favour. Hallett then brilliantly saved Maddison's effort and things could almost have been concluded when Kotwica put the ball on the spot. Zack had other ideas and, for the life of me I can't think what they were as he sent a dainty chip straight into the keeper's hands. Hallett retrieved the situation from Martin Lenihan’s effort and it was up to Matt Partridge to see the job done, which he did.

So the Whites march on and we ought to be pleased................. didn't we?

Bradford Town: Forster, Shanley, Stocks, Maddison, Price, Pulman, Sloggett, Hiscocks (Hailston 74), Rustell, Best (Lennihan 25), Morris.
Subs not used: Witcombe, Greenland, Henley.

Salisbury FC: Hallett, Rayfield, Sommerton, Dawson, Partridge, O'Keefe (Wannell 45), Herbert, Cooper (Mullings 62), Kotwicka, Haysham, Tuson-Firth (Fitchett 62).
Subs not used: Wheeler, Benson.

Attendance: 180 Referee: R Smith.

Claudio Herbert, who opened the scoring on 2 minutes

Match Report - Salisbury FC v Merstham


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Salisbury FC 2 Merstham 0

Buildbase FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round
Saturday, 10 November 2018

By Alec Hayter

Pretty football, but pretty ineffective punch-wise, is how I would sum up Merstham's performance against the Whites, who really should have won by a bigger margin. As Isthmian league teams are known to do, they played a good passing game, but this was across rather than up and down the pitch, and therefore produced little threat, hardly getting into the Salisbury box. They actually came across a solid rearguard, and in front of them another six who worked well as a team unit. In fact their only shot from distance, and that not on target, happened just before the final whistle after the redundant James Hillson had enjoyed 90+ minutes as the 423rd spectator in a crowd of 422!

Whatever the opposition though, they have to be beaten, and the Whites did this with a Jake Wannell assist to Lewis Benson, and a Tom Whelan whack that gave the Merstham keeper no chance, but had they been quicker out of the blocks the visitors might have made the most of the half chance on two minutes presented to them by a short Jake Wannell back-pass that nearly embarrassed Hillson, but he was quick to react and avert the danger.

The Whites only had to wait 8 minutes before Wannell repaid, getting in the clear down the left. His cross-shot forced keeper Amadou Tangara to parry back into the danger area where Benson made the most of it with a left foot finish from close in. A dream start therefore for the Whites and the "M" team identifier I use in my match notes did not reappear until the end of the match.

Salisbury v Merstham 10th November 2018 RE 08Lewis makes no mistake for Whites' first. - Copyright Roger Elliott

With comparative ease, Salisbury imposed themselves, and on 21 minutes a Bay Downing cross gave Aaron Dawson, who had perhaps one of his best games for the Whites, a chance which he might have crowned with a goal had his header not been mistimed, before, 3 minutes later, Zack Kotwica laid the ball off to Benson who could only fire at the keeper. Another 8 minutes of pressure passed before Tom Whelan decided it was about time that the game was put to bed. A 30 yard right foot dipping shot into the corner gave Tangara no chance, although some around me thought the keeper might have been disappointed not to have done better. It’s difficult to see how with yet another goal of the season entry.

Salisbury v Merstham 10th November 2018 RE 40It takes two to handle Tom Whelan...    (Copyright Roger Elliott)   ...and four to ruffle his hair!

Three more chances came and went before the break, firstly on 37 minutes when Chris Shephard played a delightful ball inside the full-back to Kotwica whose cross shot whistled just the wrong side of the upright. Then, three minutes before the interval Pablo Haysham, who had replaced the injured Shephard, played in Kotwica again but this time the striker was foiled by a good block from Tangara.

A minute before the break Tangara was again forced to parry, this time from a Whelan corner, but Dawson could not keep his header down. Five or six up at half-time would not have flattered the Whites

After the break it was more of the same and on 47 minutes Wannell produced a superb crossfield ball to Benson, who squared the ball across the box to Kotwica. A goal would have been the result of a perfect move, but unfortunately Kotwica spoiled it by putting his effort over the top, and we were left with the lasting memory of the Wannell ball which started the move. You wouldn’t see better at St Marys, and those who went there and not the Ray Mac really missed out!

On 52 minutes Haysham fired over from the edge of the box and four minutes later Downing caught the same bug after receiving the ball from Whelan.

Dan Fitchett had joined the action at half-time, replacing the injured Danny Young, and could only aim a firm shot at the keeper after progressing across the edge of the box, but again it was Whelan who threatened from distance with a 30 yarder which frightened the keeper and the upright.

On 77 minutes the Whites had the ball in the net when Fitchett appeared to have grabbed Salisbury's third, but he was denied by the assistant's flag, and (sorry Zack, I have to report this) it should certainly have been 3-0 right on the final whistle when Dawson's clearance caught out the whole of the Merstham team who had pushed forward to try and get something. Incredibly Kotwica was inside his own half and in the clear, and you could sense the excitement building as he sprinted towards goal with only Tangara to beat. Only he will know how he didn't score but maybe he had much too much time to think about things, and the ball went narrowly wide. Merstham then mustered a shot off target, Kotwica's miss was of no consequence whatsoever, and he’ll move on! How about another Zack-trick soon – at Weymouth?

Having brushed aside Merstham's challenge Salisbury can now look forward to Monday’s draw for the 3rd Qualifying Round, the game being played on Saturday week, 24 November.

Cups are like buses at the moment and, lo and behold, the Wilts Senior Cup game at Bradford Town on Wednesday is next up. Manager Steve Claridge said recently that he needs games but his thoughts after today's game were that maybe that's not such a good thing now that we have suffered a further two injuries, one each to Shephard and Young.

However, judging by recent performances, as long as we are able to put eleven men and maybe three substitutes out for a game, it seems to matter little with the squad's confidence on a high. There is no doubt that the game on Wednesday against the Western League Premier side will prove a different challenge but, in reality, and in the overall scheme of things, that game has less importance than some, and the aim must surely be to get through it without incurring any more injuries as we return to league action on Saturday against Hartley Wintney who have made a good start as new boys in the Evo-stik South Premier Division South.

Supporters contemplating the trip to Bradford Town should note that kick-off is 7-30pm and not 7-45. Please try and make it to Bradford Town, and also to the Ray Mac for next Saturday's game against Hartley Wintney – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Salisbury FC: Hillson, Downing, Sommerton, Whelan, Wheeler, Wannell, Benson, Dawson, Kotwica, Shephard (Haysham 40), Young (Fitchett 45).
Subs not used: Searle, Partridge, Herbert.

Merstham: Tangara, Abnett (Guimares 45), Harrison, Kavanagh, Osborne, Hutchings, Sow, Beanie, Figueira, Samuels, Bird, (Davies 45).
Subs not used: Cook, Henriques, Kirwan.

Attendance: 422 Referee: N Clinton (Poole)

".........and four to ruffle his hair!"

Match Report - Salisbury FC v Paulton Rovers

Salisbury FC 2 Paulton Rovers 0
SCC Challenge Trophy Second round
Tuesday, 7 November 2018

By Alec Hayter

On a windswept night, nothing much happened for the first 45 minutes apart from Josh Sommerton putting a left foot effort just wide of the post on 35 minutes, and before that a sharp chance being missed by Dan Fitchett when presented with the ball by Rovers' keeper Rob Brown after a quarter of an hour. Paulton's only response was a 25 yard effort from Liam Monelle which sailed over the top.

There was much more to say about the second period and Fitchett fixed it, scoring a brace to send the Whites into the third round of the competition. Straight after the restart Luke Hopper hared away down the right before seeing his cross shot go narrowly wide of the upright, and seconds later Fitchett's effort at the near post from Sommerton's squared pass was blocked away. Little had been seen of Paulton in the first half and even less so later as, on 54 minutes, Lewis Benson, who had joined the action at half-time, crossed from the right, with Hopper holding up the ball well before laying it back to Fitchett who belted it into the roof of the net.

DF CustomFitch fixes it with a brace. - Copyright Roger Elliott

Barely four minutes had elapsed before the Whites got their second, and Hopper was again instrumental with another assist, robbing Joe Hillard before firing in a shot which was only parried out to Fitchett who did the rest. Three minutes further down the line a recently revitalised Hopper saw his acrobatic header saved after Claudio Herbert's shot was deflected, but maybe he should have done better with a chance on 62 minutes which he headed over the top from close range, from Matt Partridge's cross.

Salisbury were on easy street, but had a warning when on 63 minutes Paulton's Ben Withey crossed from the right for Dale Evans to put his effort wide, although a similar fate happened to Fitchett's attempt at the other end only seconds later he ran across the box before trying a right foot finish.

Paulton's Jack Ball cut in from the left on 71 minutes but couldn't keep his shot down whilst at the other end Partridge got well forward and saw his drive saved by keeper Rob Brown. After Lewis Benson tested the keeper again it was then time for Whites' keeper James Hillson to remind us all that he was still on the pitch, although previously virtually unemployed, as the visitors made last-gasp efforts in the final quarter of an hour to try and reduce the deficit.

Claudio2 CustomClaudio's 70 minute debut. - Copyright Roger Elliott

Firstly the young keeper made a superb save low to his right from Evans' fierce drive, then got up and made an equally great save from Withey, and with 7 minutes to go his right hand was put to good use again when he saved from Aysa Corrick.

So we await the draw for the next round and looking at the teams remaining, there must be every chance of further progress. Steve Claridge said it was basically a question of "job done" against but was also saddened by another injury to Darren Mullings. He also confirmed his desire that the Whites go as far as they could every cup competition, but warned, in advance of Saturdays meeting with Merstham:"They are in a very false position in their league and having had a run of wins theywill prove difficult opponents. It will be important for our fans to get behind the team on Saturday to ensure that we get the right result."

Should things not go as well as hoped, and there is a replay, that will take place next Tuesday, meaning that the Wilts Senior Cup game at Bradford Town would be postponed from Wednesday 14th until the following week.

The FA Trophy game will be difficult, but remembering the effect of noisy support on Hendon, let's make sure that Merstham know that they have been in a game. That bit is firmly in your hands as supporters!

Salisbury FC: Hillson , Wheeler, Sommerton, Dawson, Partridge, Wannell, Herbert (Kotwica 69), Mullings (Benson 45), Hopper, Fitchett, Haysham.
Subs not used: Shephard, Hallett.

Paulton Rovers: Brown, Anderson, Prictor, Hillard (Hedges 59), Laird, Tippins, Withey, Evans, Corrick, Monelle (Malpas 78), Lovibond (Ball 64).
Subs not used: Sen, Harrison.

Attendance: 300 Referee: S Mansfield (Chippenham)