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Match Report - Walton Casuals v Salisbury FC

Standard away 01

Walton Casuals 3 Salisbury FC 1

Evo-stik South Premier League South

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

By Alec Hayter

Manager Steve Claridge recently described Staines Town as a “typical Southern League club” in that "they win some they lose some" and, if they were not already defined as such, the Whites confirmed themselves as typical on their visit to the XCEL Sports hub.

In fact, they seemed to go further, as in the space of 90+ minutes they won the game in terms of balance of play, but also lost it, the latter being the only important outcome. With the majority of a fast-moving game in their control, the visitors' concentration was lacking on two important occasions, with Casuals' third goal arriving at a time when probably it didn't really matter, but also indicating that when it comes to good fortune, that also seemed to have deserted the Whites.

By the time Salisbury had got used to playing on the plastic surface they were a goal behind against a resurgent Casuals side still celebrating their first win of the campaign three days earlier, and bolstered by the return of Yuseff Bamba and ex-Salisbury fans’ favourite Taurean Roberts, both of whom, especially in the early stages, provided a serious threat. The playing surface is ideal for these types of player but that is not offered as any kind of excuse for the result as the Whites adjusted after a poor opening period.

It was Salisbury who had the first opportunity though, when on four minutes Chris Shephard fed Josh Sommerton whose first effort was blocked. The rebound to him provided a very sharp chance, the ball flying just wide of the upright. Four minutes later at the other end Jake Hallett came to Whites' rescue with a brilliant stop from Bamba, but on 13 minutes the Salisbury defence was absent as a ball in from the right was met with a firm header from Oliver Robinson that gave Hallett no chance. Only defenders will know how he was afforded so much space.

Salisbury v Staines Town 15th September 2018 RE 26Jake Hallett in action against Staines, but who had no chance with the goals at Walton. - Photo by Roger Elliott

To their credit, from that point on for the majority of what remained in the first half, Salisbury took the game to their hosts, Zack Kotwica putting a finish from the edge of the box over the top, and then on 23 minutes, Shephard worked his magic, picking up a clearance and weaving his way past two bemused defenders before disappointingly putting his finish just wide.

On 33 minutes the home side had the first of several escapes during the match when Shephard’s corner caused chaos, the home hacking the ball off of their line, whilst only seconds later a Lewis Benson free-kick narrowly cleared the bar.

On 39 minutes Shephard was again involved, this time receiving Sommerton's ball but just missing the target with a shot on the turn, and two minutes before the break Tom Whelan surged forward but fired wide from 22 yards.

Walton fired a warning shot in time added at the end of the first half when one of the many long throws gave Omari Hibert a chance to try an overhead, but that warning was not heeded when the teams returned for the second period, as sleepy Salisbury conceded again. Some of the defence were still in the dressing room as a long ball found Roberts one-on-one with the only defender in the vicinity. Roberts proved his capabilities in this scenario, tricking Matt Partridge before belting the ball past Hallett on 46 minutes.

In response, Kotwica fizzed a 25 yard effort just past the upright, but at the other end Roberts again threatened with a left foot drive which was initially blocked. The ball came back obligingly to him (where else?) and he put the rebound over the top. With Roberts in the zone he can be, and was, a thorn in Salisbury's side, but it was obviously not to be Salisbury's night when on 53 minutes another Shephard effort was deflected over the top, although Bay Downing restored some hope. For the second game in a row he found himself well forward and despatched a crossfield ball from Dan Fitchett on 61 minutes. The Whites had the lift of really getting something from the match at a good time.

20180909 Sal v Staines Town 7009Bay's right boot used to perfection for the second time in two games - keep it up! - Photo by Michael Berkeley

The game was opening up and Walton were wasteful on 69 minutes, with Isaac Sarpong somehow managing to head over the top from six yards out. In reply Tom Whelan's 20 yard pile-driver was kept out by keeper Denzel Gerrar before Whelan’s again tried a cross-shot which was somehow scrambled away.

Walton came again however and had the ball in the net through Sarpong on 79 minutes, but the "goal" was ruled out for offside, and seconds later a Roberts ball found Hibert who was foiled by Hallett's great one-on-one block.

Okay, so far two errors in concentration, but now, lady luck took a hand when on 87 minutes the ball was cleared, via to ricochets, to Kyron Farrell who will probably never hit a better left foot rocket that made it a flattering 3-1 to the home side.

In the fourth minute of time added it might have been 3-2 had Jack Stanley done better with his finish after beating a defender, but that would undoubtedly have been too late to affect the result.

Manager Steve Claridge summed up the game: "We dominated the match once again, and although I know that must sound hollow it was the case as we produced twice as many chances as Walton. Again more individuals have held up their hands because of errors, and that's fine, but we must work on eliminating mistakes. Once we can do that then we can begin to get the results our performances deserve. We are still only five points behind those at the top of the table."

Travelling fans last night will know that in general the performance was good, and the Whites will be hoping to get a fairer return for their efforts in the cup game at Western Super Mare on Saturday. Already there is a substantial travelling support, so please make a lot of noise and get behind the team.


Walton Casuals: Gerrar, Sheckleford, Robinson, Mills, Hicks, Harper, Sarpong, Wood (Austin 89), Bamba (Farrell 85), Hibert (Sodwale 56), Roberts.

Subs not used: Manuel, Battie.

Salisbury FC: Hallett, Downing, Sommerton, Whelan (Stanley 89), Partridge, Wannell, Benson, Haysham, Kotwica, Shephard (Fitchett 56), Young.

Subs not used: Hopper, Dawson, Searle.

Attendance: 178                   Referee: G Warren.

Match Report - Salisbury FC V Staines Town

Staines TownPhoto by Michael Berkeley

Salisbury FC 3 Staines Town 2

Evo-Stik South Premier League South

Saturday, 15 September 2018

By Alec Hayter

As an exercise in getting three points, it succeeded. As an exercise in keeping us all on tenterhooks (needlessly) it succeeded!

The net result of a very odd game was that the Whites moved up the table into 11th place following what looked, on paper, a narrow victory over Staines Town, whereas, in fact, there were probably not many who would have argued had the scoreline been vastly different in Salisbury's favour.

"We still cannot seem to put games to bed." said boss Steve Claridge.”With the score at 3-2 you couldn't help thinking that maybe one more ball into the box and two points would be dropped, but as it was we won the game."

The writing seemed to be on the wall when after only two minutes Salisbury took the lead, with Kane O'Keefe, playing as a central defender, sending the ball out of defence where Zack Kotwica was quick to latch on. A quick-fire square ball to the impressive Bay Downing, (in nosebleed territory for a full-back!), and an emphatic close range finish should have really set the tone. Three minutes later another chance came, and went, when a Chris Shephard corner gave O'Keefe a chance at the far post but although the 15 yard header was firmly aimed towards goal it flew narrowly over the top.

Bay Downing gets his home debut goal and Whites firstBay Downing gets his home debut goal and Whites first - Photo by Roger Elliott

On 11 minutes came Staines' first real threat when Harry Agombar sent in a right foot effort from distance, Jake Hallett producing a confidence boosting save low to his right.

Just before the half hour the Whites extended their lead when Hallett’s clearance saw Tom Whelan challenge Luca Charles-Valentine in the middle of the park, the ball coming off the latter’s head and putting Kotwica in a race with Elie Mbangu. Kotwica sprinted away but Mbangu caught him, before the striker turned inside the defender and fired home.

Things were going well and on 30 minutes could have been even better when Lewis Benson's corner fell to Josh Sommerton whose diving header went just past the far post, and this must have been something of a wake-up call to the visitors because, seconds later, ex-Salisbury George Barker found himself one-on-one with Hallett who produced a top-class save from point-blank range.

Josh goes close to the ground as well as the goalJosh goes close to the ground as well as the goal - Photo by Roger Elliott

The Swans pulled a goal back two minutes later with a sweetly struck free-kick from just outside the box by Makhosini Khanye, who was easily their best player on the day. Having been encouraged by this strike, Staines got forward and on 38 minutes Barker went through the right channel but screwed his finish wide of the post.

Salisbury looked briefly out of sorts but just before the interval they had another chance when Shephard’s free-kick saw Kotwica head over the top.

It was unnecessarily close at the break as, apart from one good chance early on and a short spell just before and after they scored, the Swans had looked second best.It was back to business when six minutes into the second half Benson was unlucky to find Staines keeper Manny Agboola equal to his effort, the first of many times the keeper would save his side in the time remaining.

Agboola was lucky though on 58 minutes when he let the ball slip under his body in trying to field a Tom Whelan effort from the edge of the box, the ball, squirming wide for a corner, and he was not troubled on 62 minutes when Benson's corner gave Kotwica an opportunity in front of goal but the striker misdirected his header.

The reward for further pressure came on 65 minutes when Whelan made a great run through the centre of the Swans' defence before providing Kotwica with a reverse ball, which he dispatched for his second goal of the game to make it 3-1. It could have been 4-1 a couple of minutes later but Elliot Wheeler was unable to direct a superb Benson corner goalwards.

Zak...and that's what scoring means to Zack - Photos by Roger Elliott

With 16 minutes remaining Staines gave themselves hope, and the Whites worries, when Marley Hamilton thumped the ball past Hallett for 3-2, and although some watching became more nervous, the team reacted positively, and could have scored no less than four times in the last 15 minutes.

Had the Whites taken half of those chances the scoreline would have been more realistic. On 75 minutes Agboola foiled Downing's right foot effort after a good move between Kotwica and Benson, and seven minutes later Kotwica robbed Agombar on the byeline and pulled the ball back to Pablo Haysham. Agboola did his job once more, and shortly afterwards Danny Young's cross allowed Benson to knock the ball down for Haysham whose shot on the turn went over.

Two minutes before the final whistle Kotwica was denied again, having been given the opportunity from a Benson cross, the Staines keeper brilliantly preventing a Zack-trick.

Three points always count as three points, however obtained, and the resulting move up the table is very welcome. Manager Steve Claridge has bemoaned the lack of luck at times, with good reason, and would you believe, we go to Walton Casuals on Tuesday after they have just obtained their first win of the season, 3-1 over Swindon Supermarine. Isn't it always the case?

However, it will be up to the Whites to boss the game and hopefully come back with the spoils. There’s no reason why spirits should not be high after two consecutive victories.

It seems that we will now be constantly on the road, unless of course there is a replay following next Saturday's game at Weston-super-Mare. Whilst it's a big ask for people to go to mid week games, certainly those in the London area, it's very pleasing that the Supporters’ Club report one coach (not minibus) almost completely full for next Saturday’s game. Why not make it two or three coaches to give your team the best possible help and a chance of progressing in the FA Cup?


Salisbury FC: Hallett, Downing, Sommerton, Whelan, O'Keefe, Wheeler, Benson, Mullings, Kotwica, Shephard (Heysham 73), Young.

Subs not used: Fitchett, Hopper, Dawson, Wannell.

Staines Town: Agboola, Pilbeam, Khanye, Handelaar, Mbangu (Montague 45), Agombar, Clarke (Hamilton 59), Charles-Valentine (Mohammed 79), Barker, Fry, Gogo.

Subs not used: Ndovi, Dixon.

Attendance: 565                               Referee C Hubbard (Little Canford)

Match Report - Yate Town v Salisbury FC

Yate Town 1 Salisbury FC 3

Emirates FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round replay

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

By Alec Hayter

This was, as expected, a very difficult game, but with a colourful, unfortunate red card  riot ending. However, it was job done and the Whites are safely through into the next round where they will visit Woodspring Stadium to play National League South side Weston-super-Mare on Saturday week.

This was the first Bluebells loss this season and it was easy to understand why as they looked in the early stages to maximise home advantage and gain an early lead.

On 5 minutes Salisbury were lucky when Jake Hallett nervously flapped at an Adam Price cross, the ball hitting Nick Peare's body but then shaving the upright. Seconds later the keeper uncharacteristically allowed the ball to escape his grasp again from a cross.

After 12 minutes Peare, who was equally effective in this game as he was at Salisbury on Saturday, sent a 20 yard free-kick over the top.

The home side could have been two up and it.was all Yate with very little being seen of the Salisbury attack until just after the half hour when Josh Sommerton's cross in from the left gave Danny Young a sharp chance at the near post where Young’s touch, or lack of it, let him down.

Six minutes before the interval Hallett regained some confidence when after a long run Ollie Mayhew tested him with a low shot which he did well to keep out with his left hand, but the keeper's respite was brief as he tried to punch the resulting corner clear but only succeeded in finding Josh Ford who hammered the ball in through a crowded box to give his side an interval lead, about which there could not have been too much argument. The first half had borne a striking resemblance to the first tie with Salisbury’s lack of tempo. However, before the half-time whistle went Lewis Benson cut in from wide right and sent in a fierce left foot shot which home keeper Ross Grimshaw dealt with, not without difficulty.

In spite of going a goal behind, that Benson effort must have lifted the spirits and two minutes after the re-start Chris Shephard put Young away down the left. Young, who has put in some more lively and effective appearances of late, squared the ball into the box where Zach Kotwica might have finished the job, but somehow got the ball stuck under his feet. His likely embarrassment was avoided with the award of what looked a fairly soft penalty as he tumbled to the ground.

Shephard was given the opportunity to equalise, which he duly did, and that seemed to have an extreme effect on Yate's approach as they immediately started to chase the game, possibly unwisely so as things then began to open up. They had their chances however and on 53 minutes Ross Langworthy ran from the halfway line after evading Jake Wannell's interception and hit a stinging cross shot just past the far post.

The Whites replied in the best possible way when four minutes later Shephard was again involved, squaring the ball, following a short free-kick, across the box where Wannell showed that he can score with his feet as well as his head, finishing the job. Manager Steve Claridge leapt at least two feet in the air as his side were at last beginning to show their capabilities.

Just after the hour Shephard was instrumental in setting up another opportunity with his crossfield ball giving Young another chance, but the winger’s well hit effort whistled past the far post with Grimshaw well beaten. Having impressed for most of the game Young then blotted his copybook when through one-on-one, courtesy of a Benson pass, by dallying and allowing himself to be blocked out.


Whites' goalscorers Chris Shephard, Jake Wannell and Lewis Benson, who ensured the chance to give Weston a 'mare in the next round late at Yate

Photos by Roger Elliott

Shephard left the action with what initially looked like a hamstring injury but thankfully turned out to be no more than cramp at a time when the game was looking far from safe for the visitors.

On 70 minutes Yate were unlucky when Price's shot was deflected and looped onto the bar, but, by the same token at the other end Tom Whelan tested Grimshaw with a shot of his own which needed a good stop.

As the Bluebells made a last desperate effort to force extra time it took a superb interception from Elliot Wheeler to deny Mehew who was clean through and about to pull the trigger. Seconds later the impressive Peare latched onto a long cross from the Yate right but could only loop his header over the top, but in the last minute of the intended time added Young squared the ball to Benson who calmly dispatched it for a two goal comfort cushion. The manager leapt at least 3 feet in the air this time!

Was that match over? Certainly not. An unwise and unnecessary tackle by Wheeler saw him receive his marching orders and in the following melee Referee Neal Platt decided to cool everything down by fanning his red card a further three times, once to Darren Mullings and then  to Yate's Charlie Hitchings and Mehew, when all that everybody really wanted was to get in their cars and go home! In defence of the referee however, who had not endeared himself to either side up to that point, the match was still in progress and he had no alternative other than delay our departure.

There must be a concern over the red cards which mean that  both players will be unavailable the next round at Weston-super-Mare. Any reduction in available squad numbers is regrettable to say the least, and to clarify the situation regarding Mullings and Wheeler, their three match bans will commence next Tuesday.

After this unwanted extra game we return to league action on Saturday at home to Staines Town who occupy 17th place, two below ourselves, on goal difference, so a close game is in prospect. That is quickly followed by a trip to Walton Casuals.

I wouldn't go as far as to say that the Whites have completely turned the corner after their win at Yate, but they've certainly got halfway round it. To ensure they complete the trip please make sure you make the trip to the Ray Mac on Saturday and, if you can, to the Walton game.


Yate Town: Grimshaw, Evans, Keightley, Peare, Ford (Boulton 82), Hitchings, Price (Sims-Burgess 77), Guest, Mehew, Langworthy, Twyman.

Subs not used: Kamara, Cann, Spruce, Rennie, Hawkins.

Salisbury FC: Hallett, Wheeler, Sommerton, Whelan, O'Keefe, Wannell, Benson, Dawson, Kotwica, Shephard (Mullings 66), Young.

Subs not used: Hopper, Fitchett, Haysham, Partridge, Cooper, Searle.

Attendance: 252                   Referee: N Pratt

Match Report - Salisbury FC v Yate Town FA Cup

YateSalisbury FC 1 Yate Town 1

Emirates FA Cup First Qualifying Round

Saturday, 8 September 2018

By Alec Hayter

There is a disturbing tendency that on the "big game" occasions the Whites fail to produce, and this was again the case in a match with a lot at stake. Salisbury should have won this match with something to spare, but made life difficult for themselves, the overall effect being that, apart from the second half, a frusrating lack of tempo made life too easy for Yate. Too many of the players were poor value. That means there is now a more difficult replay on Tuesday.

Luckily, Yate also failed to produce much of a threat, so both teams are in the hat for Monday's draw after an uninspiring cup tie. The result will possibly have been as unexpected as it was welcome to the Bluebells, even though they have made a solid start in their League, and on the day it was probably “job done.” for them. Hopefully the job is far from done as far as we are concerned.

The visitors threatened first when, on 4 minutes, Adam Price turned well just outside the box but fired well over the top, and in a slow-paced opening we had to wait until 20 minutes before the Whites showed anything in front of goal - from a Lewis Benson 20 yard free-kick which brought a good save from Ross Grimshaw in the visitors' goal.

On 34 minutes Yate had another opportunity when Elliott Keightley fed Price, but this time Jake Hallett was barely troubled.

The early malaise could so easily have been put right when on 37 minutes a Benson corner found Matt Partridge 3 yards out, but the experienced defender could only send a free header tamely over the top, although it looked as though that miss was to count for nothing when, 5 minutes later, Benson put a lovely ball through the left channel and Danny Young produce an equally lovely finish to open the scoring.

Salisbury v Yate Town 8th September 2018 RE 27Danny Young applies the boot for the Whites' opener. - Image by Roger Elliott

The celebrations, however, lasted less than a minute as the Bluebells equalised when David Sims-Burgess volleys along cross from the right across Hallett and into the far corner - surely a case of euphoria causing a dip in concentration.

In truth, at that time, there could hardly be any argument as to the 1-1 score-line as both teams had produced little, but straight after the interval, a slightly more applied Salisbury saw Benson threaten again with a low cross cum shot which brought a good take from Grimshaw.

Not to be outdone, Yate replied on 50 minutes but Sims-Burgess could not capitalise on a good through ball, putting his cross-shot wide of the mark. Five minutes later an Elliot Wheeler cross from the right found Benson near the penalty spot. Lewis is not best known for his heading ability and sliced a difficult chance wide of the far post.

Salisbury v Yate Town 8th September 2018 RE 10Captain Elliott Wheeler doing a captain's job keeping Yate's Nick Peare at bay. - Image by Roger Elliott

Yate’s best second-half chance came on 58 minutes when the impressive Nick Peare lined up a free-kick just outside the Salisbury area. The defensive wall did its job but the ball cannoned back to Peare who met it first time, sending in a firm left foot effort which Hallett did well to keep out low to his left.

From that point on there was no further goalmouth action to trouble the Whites, and on 63 minutes Luke Hopper might have done better with a far post header from Partridge's cross but put the ball wide. Six minutes later Partridge was again involved, slipping the ball to Young who produced a week finish, and shortly after Josh Sommerton, who was correctly named Salisbury's Man of the Match, read a short corner opportunity and sent in a cross which Dan Fitchett headed goalwards, the upright denying a second goal. The move was created by the youngest member of the Whites’ team, and, for me, provided just about the only memorable moment of the tie.

Salisbury v Yate Town 8th September 2018 RE 15Tom Whelan, whose late attempt from distance was foiled by Yate keeper Ross Grimshaw. - Image by Roger Elliott

On 73 minutes Tom Whelan, who was again influential in midfield, tried his luck from 25 yards and caused Grimshaw some difficulty spilling the ball. However there was no one on hand to take advantage, and 10 minutes before the end another great opportunity went begging when Young, in the clear, completely miscued, rolling the ball wide. By this time, late in the game, Pablo Haysham and Zack Kotwica had belatedly joined the action and Kotwica, in the few minutes afforded to him, worked his magic with some trickery to put himself in a good position, but could only land the ball on the roof of the net.

Steve Claridge commented after the game: “I don’t quite know what to say about that. I don’t think wec played with the intensity I expected, although we were better in the second half. We’ve had chances, and should have won the game. We know all that, but we’re not getting the breaks. For 45 minutes there was not enough movement up front, which you need to kill teams that sit deep. We had four or five players whose performances raised more questions than provided answers, and that has been a figment of the squad at times. There was no-one playing out of position in that team, and there’s no reason why the system shouldn’t have worked. However, we didn’t work hard enough in the first half. We have to address those issues, and players have to do a bit more if they want to stay in the side.”

Tuesday night in Yate is not the easiest of ties for supporters to get to, but as I am sure there will be a reaction from the players it would pay our loyal fans to try and make it to the game. There is the small matter of a prize of £6000 at stake and of course, by that time we will know who the opponents will be for the winners. If the Whites play to their full potential they have every chance of playing the drawn opponents in the next round, but the Bluebells will have a lot to say about that.


Salisbury FC: Hallett, Wheeler, Sommerton, Whelan, Partridge, Wannell, Benson, Dawson, Hopper (Haysham 70), Fitchett (Kotwica 86), Young.

Subs not used: O'Keefe, Colson, Cooper, Searle.

Yate Town: Grimshaw, Evans, Keightley, Peare, Ford, Hitchings, Price (Kamara 79), Guest, Mehew, Sims-Burgess (Spruce 69), Twyman.

Subs not used: Bolton, Cann, Rennie.

Attendance: 548                   Referee: M Underhay (Weymouth)