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.
Jake 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.
Bay'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.