Copyright Michael Berkeley
Salisbury FC 1 Chesham United 1
Evo-stik South Premier South
Saturday, 23 March 2019
By Alec Hayter
The "get up and go" of a month ago seems to have "got up and went" in this latest event.
Although things are still tight at the top of the league, today, in terms of opportunity, it was a case of two points dropped against a side who, although substantially improved from earlier in the season, were still not much more than average opponents.
That the Whites did not get an important maximum return from the game is more down to them than the Generals who to be fair made life as difficult as any visitors to the Ray Mac, but as opposed to the game at Tiverton, where Salisbury could have been five up at the interval, on this occasion they could have been behind by more than one in the first twenty minutes.
On 6 minutes Chesham's Ronny Mfinda scuffed a reasonable chance wide from the edge of the box, and eight minutes later Jake Hallett was forced into a good save by Luke Heneghan. Two minutes later, Mfinda might have done better with an effort from 15 yards after the ball cannoned off of Matt Partridge into his path, before Hallett denied a Chesham attack in a one on one, and on 18 minutes Heneghan sliced another effort carelessly wide.
It was not until the 38th minute that the visitors took the lead and Heneghan took the chance to redeem himself with a searching cross to the far post. The impressive and vastly experienced Jefferson Louis got up well to head the ball square to the unmarked Bradley Clayton who could hardly miss, and didn't.
The Whites reacted briefly with Chris Shephard testing keeper Ben Goode with a shot on the turn, before, on 38 minutes, Lewis Benson's low cross found Dan Fitchett whose close range effort was deflected over the bar.
A minute later Benson played the ball back to Elliot Wheeler who, with his back to goal, could not direct his overhead effort, and just before the half-time whistle Hallett did well to keep out a Louis right foot shot with a good save low to his right.
Eight minutes after the restart it was Goode's turn to make a great save from Benson, the resulting parry to Fitchett being blocked by a massed defence, but at the other end on 64 minutes Hallett made an equally important stop when Clayton's well struck volley came quickly at him through a sea of legs.
Just after the hour new boy Chris Flood came on for his home debut and this produced more movement and fluidity up front although his first involvement disappointed as he sent a left foot shot well over.
Shortly afterwards Louis put a finish over the Whites’ bar from close in when maybe he could have completely sewn up the points, but on 71 minutes the lively Flood laid the ball back to Fitchett who could only send a low shot at the keeper.
Bay Downing's welcome introduction after his long injury lay-off saw him play a big part in the equaliser on 77 minutes when his deep cross caused Goode to flap at the ball. Fitchett reacted quickly and squared the ball across the box for the debut boy to notch his debut goal to the delight of the majority of the crowd (all but about 30 or so!).
Chris Flood prepares to belt in the equaliser. - Copyright Michael Berkeley
Although all of a sudden the Whites looked the more likely, there was still cause for concern when, with two minutes of normal time remaining, Eoin Casey had a great chance but headed straight at Hallett from no distance at all.
The Whites tried desperately to make the most of some 7 minutes of added time and another Downing cross found Kane O'Keefe, who, like Fitchett, managed to square the ball to Flood who this time, unfortunately, could not repeat his earlier effort, but at least a point was added when for long periods that had looked unlikely.
Late, but too late, goal action. - Copyright Roger Elliott & Michael Berkeley
Things are still very tight at the top of the league and almost anything remains possible. Salisbury have a chance to rediscover their shooting boots next Saturday when they visit Staines who were thumped 9-0 at Merthyr Town, and a high-scoring game in the Whites' favour would do no harm at all. However, it must also be remembered that Weymouth have yet to play at home against the strugglers, so any high-scoring win may be nullified, if even relevant between the Terras and ourselves. We have six cup finals left in the League, and must make the most of them, and if we do then, I repeat, anything is possible.
Salisbury FC: Hallett, Wheeler, Sommerton, Whelan, Partridge, Shephard (Downing 62), Benson, Dawson (O'Keefe 90), Fitchett, Hopper (Flood 63), Sparkes.
Subs not used: Mullings, Young.
Chesham United: Goode, Prosper, Warner-Eley, Mfinda, Murphy, Rolfe, Adcock, Clayton (Casey 78), Louis, Heneghan (Taylor 67), Pearce.
Subs not used: Sinclair, Murray.
Attendance: 676 Referee: A Baker (Wimborne)