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MATCH REPORT: Bideford 0 Salisbury 1

Bideford AFC 0 Salisbury FC 1

Evo-stik Southern League South and West Division

Saturday, 22 April 2017


By Alec Hayter


The Whites cemented their runners-up position, ending up with a one point advantage and a superior goal difference over third placed Tiverton Town, a four-point advantage over Taunton Town and a massive 9 points better than Semi-Final opponents Evesham United.


Even forgetting statistics about winning runs, those above alone demonstrate the enormity of a superb achievement, and the Whites are fully deserving of a finishing position which earlier in the season probably would not seemed possible. From the early stages it was almost a "given" that Hereford would gain promotion and it therefore became a dogfight between the sides in the division whoarguably appeared to be the strongest. The records will show that Salisbury FC finished second after their first season at Southern League level wherea,s normally, expectations can be limited to just consolidating in a new league.


I'm sure that the many who travelled to Devon, and especially those who made a great effort in cycling there for charity, realised that at this, the sharpest end of the scheduled season, results are everything, and the Whites did not let them down, doing the job supremely well in difficult playing conditions, and without two main squad members Justin Bennett and Eddie Perrett.


The pitch was brown in places. The pitch was rock hard and bumpy everywhere. However, what football was played came mainly from Salisbury, with the only threats on their goal sometimes as result of their own errors, but as they say, it was "all Wright on the night" as the prolific striker increased his lead at the top of the top scorers' chart and gave his side a precious lead with what turned out to be the winner.


After 12 minutes he might have opened the scoring but scuffed a very difficult chance in front of goal, and it took a further 10 minutes before the home side threatened, ex-White Chris McPhee volleying narrowly over the top from just outside the box.


In response, Taurean Roberts, for whom ball control seemed hardly a problem on the awful surface, exchanged passes with Wright before delivering an inviting ball into the danger area, just where Bennett would have been, but which was uninhabited on this occasion.


Shortly after this, the home side started to get forward more and had probably their best spell of the match in the six minutes before half-time. On 40 minutes a long throw by Ben Wood found its way to Ian Sampson whose finish was well over the top from 25 yards, and a minute before the break Salisbury were nearly caught out when Brian Dutton delayed a clearance and Wood charged it down before bearing down on goal. 

It took Elliot Wheeler, effective throughout the game, to save the day with a tremendous interception at a very important time.


Bideford’s style indicated that in the second half, with the advantage of the wind in their backs, their direct play may have caused problems, and this was confirmed straight from the restart when goal kick by home keeper Joe Moore reared up off of the surface and nearly went over keeper Alex Bass. McPhee got a contact but put the ball wide.


After a very slow start, second-half jitters were settled fourminutes in when Roberts again crossed and Jesse Waller Lassen was involved before the ball found its way to Lewis Benson. A quick cross, back into the danger area, saw Wright expertly dispatch a right foot shot across a stunned keeper, with his customary sharpness and skill.


In spite of loud appeals from the home side on 53 minutes, referee Daniel Glynn and his assistant were unmoved after Bass had expertly gathered the ball to end a home thrust, keeping it inside his area, although most of his body was outside the box, and although Bideford huffedand puffed it was the visitors who carried the more serious threat.


On 65 minutes the industrious Wright robbed Sampson of the ball and passed wide to Roberts who really should have done better than put the ball outside of the upright from about 8 yards, but although that to some extent blotted his copybook for me, perhaps I really ought to give him the benefit of the effects of the playing surface” - or maybe I should say “surfaces”!


With 8 minutes remaining Roberts might have done better than to try and dribble his way out of defence. He lost the ball, and a snapshot from Dan Weston luckily whistled over the bar, but as is nearly always the case, the Whites kept going until the final whistle and after Wright had held the ball up well three minutes into time added George Colson saw a good effort blocked.


The fourth minute of time added, (yes, the collective will of SFC fans to hear the whistle was in evidence long before that!), produced a great chance to make the scoreline look more like it should have when Wright got a touch to a Benson cross and Kane O'Keefe had a very presentable chance in front of goal. As, shortly afterwards, the referee blew, it mattered not that O'Keefe headed the ball over the top from close in!


So the Whites' campaign continues, and it now only boils down to a maximum of two games to reward anotherbrilliant season, putting the icing on the cake - promotion to the Southern Premier Division. If ever there was a time for Salisbury supporters to come out in force, then surely we are now at that point with one, and hopefully two games remaining.


I was not alone in being slightly disappointed that the Bank Holiday crowd against Wimborne Town did not break through the four figure mark, and hope that supporters will take whatever chances remain to seriously challenge our highest league attendance of the season. Your team deserves that, at the very least!


All teams left in at this stage will provide stern competition, and your support will be invaluable. Be loud, be proud (with apologies for using an Eastleigh FC slogan!).



Bideford AFC: Moore, Sampson, Reid, Downing, McGrath, Harrison, Bye, McPhee (Squire 82), Watson (Western 43), Wood (Tucker 56),  Andrew.

Subs not used: Richards, Barker.


Salisbury FC: Bass, Colson, Hart (Mundy 45), Whelan (Onoufriou 59), Dutton, Wheeler, Benson, O'Keefe, Wright, Waller Lassen (Clarke 69), T Roberts.

Subs not used: Herbert, S Roberts.


Attendance: 386      Referee: D Glynn

MATCH REPORT: Salisbury 5 Wimborne Town 2


Salisbury 5 Wimborne Town 2
Evo-stik Southern League South and West Division
Monday, 17 April 2017

By Alec Hayter

As has been proved before it is never a good idea to leave a game at the Ray Mac before the referee blows the final whistle! Today however it was a question of "all's well that ends well", but in order to guarantee a home game against Evesham United in the Semi-final of the play-offs, 3 points will be required from the visit to Bideford AFC this coming Saturday, unless other results go completely our way, which seems unlikely looking at the fixtures.

At least in playoff matches there is no chance of any team setting out to do what Wimborne did so well, for so long, today, and after the game Steve Claridge confirmed: "We didn't play well, they came to stop us playing, and that's exactly what they did. They were very well organised and made it very difficult. On the other hand we were a little bit lacking in intensity, and played for a long time in the comfort zone waiting for things to happen rather than making them happen."

The Whites often met a solid defensive wall but still might have broken through as early as five minutes in when an exchange of passes between Justin Bennett and Lewis Benson saw the midfielder one-on-one with keeper Gerard Benfield, but delayed reaction gave the keeper the chance to block. A few seconds later Elliot Wheeler fired well over the top from the edge of the box and on 14 minutes Jesse Waller Lassen forced Benfield to parry his effort into the danger area but no one had gambled to be able to pick up the loose ball in front of an open goal.

Whilst the visitors were very disciplined, the Whites appeared lacklustre and it also seemed that some of the team were still in Mangotsfield after Saturday's brilliant performance, and on 25 minutes some sloppy play presented Matt Neal with the ball in space, and centrally about 15 yards out. He pulled his shot well wide to the relief of most in the crowd before Salisbury briefly flickered once more with a Taurean Roberts cross finding Kane O'Keefe, who could not unfortunately direct his header on target.

Wimborne had successfully repelled Salisbury's efforts and then took the lead on 32 minutes when a long crossfield ball was not dealt with and Alex Bass crucially hesitated before coming off his line. The dangerous and sought after Toby Holmes nipped in and expertly placed his finish in the net from a narrow angle to give his side the lead.

The response was to apply more attacking pressure and the formation was changed to three at the back.

Eight minutes before the break a Benson 25 yard free kick tested Benfield who was forced to claw the ball away from the top corner, and a couple of minutes later George Colson, now in a more forward role, dribbled along the edge of the box before sending a left foot shot over the top.

For the remainder of the half it was even more so a question of eleven men trying to keep out the Whites, and before the half-time whistle two further opportunities were created, firstly when Tom Whelan pulled an inviting ball back to Waller Lassen just inside the box, whose measured right foot effort sailed just wide of the angle of crossbar and upright, and then in time added on when a Benson free kick, touched on by Brian Dutton, caused mayhem in the Wimborne goal area before the ball was cleared away by a sea of flailing boots.

I'm sure that I was not alone in thinking at the break that the Whites had gone from being heroes to zero's in the space of 48 hours, and after Claudio Herbert fired in a speculative 30-yard effort which reared up alarmingly in the face of keeper Benfield, the sinking feeling was to some extent relieved when Tommy Wright, introduced after 55 minutes, got on the scoresheet to level things up. Following involvement of Roberts and Perrett the striker found himself in virtually the same position as he had been in at Mangotsfield and produced an identical result to make the score 1-1.

Now, were the Whites going to get away from this tenacious Wimborne side? Well the answer took no more than three minutes and it was a negative as the Magpies went ahead once more, Louise Kellaway sprinting clear of a leaden footed defence to score, again from a narrow angle. By this time several Wimborne players appeared to be out on their feet and I'm sure many supporters were out of their comfort zone, but faith was restored on 83 minutes when an Eddie Perrett throw found Wright in front of goal. The natural instinct of a striker is to turn and try and put the ball in the net but on this occasion, it was Wright the provider, as with great presence of mind he knocked the ball back to Benson who did the rest to tie up the scores at two each.

Again, would the Whites now stride away? Answer, yes they would, and only seconds later, Dutton got a touch on a long ball and O'Keefe, at the second attempt, squeezed it into the net at Benfield's near post.

It was shades of Shortwood United all over again as Herbert surged forward on 89 minutes and went down under a challenge from James Stokoe just inside the area. Although referee Scott Williams had no hesitation in pointing to the spot some might have said that it was a fairly soft penalty. Soft or not, it was very welcome and Wright stepped up to calmly convert the spot kick to give the Whites a two-goal cushion for the first time in the match.

They were not finished however as, shortly after being named Man of the Match, Benson provided the icing on the cake as a clearance found him on the edge of the box. Without hesitation drove a right foot shot through a forest of defenders to give Benfield no chance, and also a final score which will have been devastating to the few Wimborne Town supporters who made the trip, annoying drum and all! (Please leave it in Dorset in future....please!) Three goals in ten minutes, what a finish! (regrettably there are no refunds available for the other 82 minutes!)

After the final whistle Claridge added: "Who would have thought that three months ago we would have been in second position today? Three months ago, we would have settled for being in the play-offs, two months ago we would have settled for fifth, a month ago we would certainly have settled for third and now we are in second, and in the box seat. We were 16 points behind at Christmas, although it feels like we've been 16 points behind a lot longer than that. We've got a very difficult game at Bideford next Saturday, who held Taunton to a goalless draw in Somerset today, but it's ours to lose now as far as home advantage in the play-offs is concerned”.

Regarding team changes, he added: “I wanted to give Jesse a full 90 minutes today, as he has done so well since joining us, and play Justin and Tommy for half a game each to keep them fresh, but it didn't work out like that. I feel very sorry that Jesse didn't get the minutes I had hoped, but the substitutions worked."

Salisbury FC: Bass, Colson (Herbert 73), Hart (Perrett 57), Whelan, Dutton, Wheeler, Benson, O'Keefe, Waller Lassen (Wright 55), Bennett, Roberts
Subs not used: Onoufriou, Clarke.

Wimborne Town: Benfield, Walker, Penny, Maybury, Oldring, Kellaway, Stokoe, Prior (Bayston 70), T Holmes, Neal, Lovell.
Subs not used: Collins, Traynor, D Holmes.

Attendance: 914                               Referee: S Williams (London)

Photo: Roger Elliott


MATCH REPORT: Mangotsfield United 1 Salisbury 3

Mangotsfield United 1 Salisbury FC 3
Evo-stik Southern League South and West Division
Saturday 15 April 2017

By Alec Hayter 

From my seat I saw the well-known pointed steeple of the local church, or, was it a mirage!? Why a mirage? Well in front of me and marked out with white lines was a pitch which had seen even less water than the Sahara Desert, or so it seemed. The surface was, to say the least, difficult. The Whites overcame that and a Mangotsfield side who until recently had been vying for a place in the play-offs, and it was easy to see why any team visiting Cossham Street would find it difficult.

After the game Steve Claridge commented: "Pitches are getting worse away from home but today this was a totally professional performance, and we are now looking very strong. I was pleased that, having conceded an equaliser just before the interval, we didn’t let that get to us and took the points.”

For the first 15 minutes however Mangotsfield had the majority of possession and early on Matt Groves cut in from the right but saw his shot deflected for a corner, from which Scott Brice put his header wide.

The Whites were stung into action and on 18 minutes thought they had the lead when Justin Bennett turned and netted, only to see the assistant's flag rule out the effort. Six minutes later Taurean Roberts cut in but his shot hardly troubled keeper Steven Phillips and on the half-hour, in spite of the balance of play moving towards Salisbury, the Mangos had another opportunity. Groves crossed and Dale Evans' contact sent the ball downwards before it reared up from the rock hard surface to force Alex Bass to touch it over to safety.

Minutes later, in the home side’s most effective spell of the whole game, the Whites could have gone behind to a bizarre goal. A Mangotsfield corner saw Elliot Wheeler, in trying to head away, loop the clearance towards his own goal, but his blushes were spared by Lewis Benson’s goal-line clearance.

Just after my notes had been embellished with the comment “Salisbury 70% Mangotsfield 30%” in terms of possession, the Whites obliged with the opening goal.

Tom Whelan, who now holds the record as the first player to make 100 appearances for Salisbury FC, has not taken that long I’m sure to learn how to deliver a trademark corner, and he duly obliged with an arrow-like delivery into the danger area where Kane O'Keefe and George Colson got touches, the ball landing at the feet of Tommy Wright. There was only going to be one outcome and Wright nearly burst the net to make it 1-0.

On 38 minutes another Whelan corner found O'Keefe at the near post but he disappointingly headed wide from close in, and two minutes later Lewis Benson chipped the ball forward to Wright who nearly pulled off that most difficult of skills with the ball arriving over the shoulder followed by a volley towards goal. Wright did the first bit okay but unfortunately the ball went over the bar. It would have been a spectacular strike had he succeeded.

Out of the blue, and by that time also very much against run of play, Mangotsfield snatched an equaliser when a looping freekick from their left touchline saw Ryan Batten bundle the ball home in amongst Salisbury central defenders. I'm not sure he knew a lot about it but that’s of no consequence as his side had grabbed an equaliser at an important time, but the at the worst time for the Whites.

It did not take long to see the Salisbury’s positive reaction and, with the wind now in their backs, they began to camp in the Mangotsfield half. My notes again echoed my thoughts – “they’re on a mission” - and three minutes into the second period Benson worked his way to the bye-line, but instead of pulling the ball back decided to finish the job himself with Phillips conceding a corner. Nothing came of that but on 53 minutes Benson was again effective with a free kick which found Wright, with his back to goal. He got a touch on the ball which looped just wide of the upright, and we were entering a period when my notes reflected "it's now all Salisbury".

On 54 minutes Roberts showed his trickery once more delivering a great cross into the box where Justin Bennett appeared to miss an easy header, but the ball was slightly behind him, making things more difficult. The home side were under pressure, and to complete his hat-trick of probing and effective actions in quick succession, Benson sent in a teasing diagonal cross. Conor MacCormack, in attempting to head clear, could only beat his own keeper, and the Whites were ahead for the second time in the match.

A lead in fortuitous circumstances maybe, but by that time it was a wonder that Salisbury had not scored anyway. Suffice it to say that apart from one breakaway where Lewis Powell was through, there was no further danger or threat to the Salisbury goal. Powell became the victim of the hard surface as the ball reared up and he handled. The Assistant Referee raised his flag but I have some sympathy with those who thought “ball to hand”. Had he scored it would have evened things up but with Salisbury in control, that would probably have had little, if any, effect on the result.

On 68 minutes Roberts again crossed and Bennett was guilty of missing a good opportunity, heading wide under pressure from a Mangos defender. Not to be outdone, two minutes later Wright had a great chance close in but fluffed his finish, allowing a relieved Phillips to gather.

In order to put that right the striker then worked his way to the byeline and pulled back an inviting ball across the box but O'Keefe's attempt was blocked out for a corner, and as the Whites came forward yet again Bennett tried a snapshot from 25 yards which shaved the upright.

It seemed inevitable that Salisbury would score again and they did so with on 78 minutes after a Benson corner caused chaos in the box, Bennett taking the opportunity to belt the loose ball in to make it 3-1, and make the game safe.

In spite of that the Whites still continued to press and on 87 minutes Wright saw a firm 22 yard drive go straight at Phillips. By this time Jesse Waller Lassen had joined the action and had been immediately impressive, nearly capping a fine if short appearance with a rasping shot on 90 minutes which brought the best from Phillips.

Shortly after Mangotsfield's Conor McCormack was dismissed for a second yellow card (at a time when it made no difference whatsoever to anyone), Colson also let fly with a 30 yard rocket which beat Phillips but unfortunately missed by a whisker. (Sorry George, but you did score on Tuesday night against Amesbury!)

This match was a difficult challenge and the Whites rose magnificently to the occasion, with some home supporters and officials indicating what we already knew – that Salisbury were the better side and had thoroughly deserved the points.

So with one difficult Bank Holiday game behind us there is an equally difficult local derby on Monday against Wimborne Town. Although they surprisingly went down 3-0 at home to Yate Town in the first of their holiday matches, don't be fooled - they will be no pushovers.

To some extent, success or otherwise in remaining matches depends not only on the players, but also on your support. Everything is set up for a grandstand finish to the season, and for the last scheduled home game of the campaign is there any reason why we should not get near the 1800 attendance against Hereford? Also we ought to be able to bank on a similar turnout for any home playoff tie.

To that end, husbands are advised to offer their wives their credit card to go on an unlimited shopping spree, (ensuring of course that the card’s expiry date has passed!), so that they themselves are freed to come to the Ray Mac, and bring their friends with them, for what promises to be an exciting tussle – the right result enhancing our chances in the play-offs.

Mangotsfield United: Phillips, Withey, McCormack, Batten, Brice, Warren, Evans (Tippins 67), Hogg, Monelle, (Hillard 75) Powell, Groves (Powell Jr 73).
Sub not used: Lloyd.

Salisbury FC: Bass, Colson, Perrett, Whelan, Dutton, Wheeler, Benson, O'Keefe (Clarke 80), Wright (Waller Lassen 79), Bennett (Onoufriou 78), Roberts.
Subs not used: Herbert, Ball.

Attendance: 325                               Referee: C Simpson (Crawley)


MATCH REPORT: Salisbury 6 Amesbury Town 1

Salisbury FC 6 Amesbury Town 1
Salisbury Hospitals Cup Semi Final
Tuesday, 11 April 2017  

By Alec Hayter 

We've become quite used to saying "we could be three up", but it's not normal to apply that comment to a team visiting the Ray Mac! We have at times this season had to say that we didn't take our chances, but on this occasion that applied to our visitors, who put in a performance well above their station and completely at odds with their recent form in the Wessex League. 

In the early stages it was "even stevens" with Amesbury's Paul Coventry firing over from an acute angle after only three minutes of play, but in reply, after a further six minutes Jesse Waller Lassen got clear on the left and tried to place the ball into the far corner, but Craig Wheeler cleared off the line to deny him. Shortly afterwards Waller Lassen was again through one-on-one with keeper Michael Weatherall, but stumbled, allowing the keeper to block his finish. 

There then followed a period when Amesbury might well have asserted themselves. On 13 minutes Adam Flint carelessly presented the ball to Coventry who wasted the chance by shooting wide from the edge of the box, and on 22 Coventry was through again but this time Nathan Ball made the first of several fine saves when he denied the Amesbury man. 

Three minutes later it was Luke Greenway's turn to suffer as Ball made another good save from his right foot effort, and just before the half-hour Coventry put another effort from 25 yards well over the top. On 31 minutes however, a brilliant point-blank save from Ball left Cameron Roach with head in hands, and it was against the run of play when, two minutes later, Claudio Herbert rose majestically in the Amesbury box to head home a Waller Lassen freekick.


Straight away Coventry had another opportunity but fired into the side netting. On 36 minutes though the Whites stung their opponents once more with a second goal - Franklyn Clarke showing great composure to place a low shot past Weatherall. 

With seven minutes remaining before the break Taurean Roberts should have made it 3-0 but pulled his shot disappointingly the wrong side of the post, and the Whites had to settle for just two goals at the interval although maybe they were fairly relieved to have even that lead. 


The second half was a different matter. Ball had been the hero for Salisbury in the first half but in the second period Waller Lassen sprang to life and showed what he could do, making things happen. On 53 minutes his delightful touch from the left channel put in Clarke but he fired over the top from close in, and just as Salisbury had scored in the first half against the run of play, Amesbury did the same on 57 minutes when a well aimed Kieran Stephens cross shot off the post beat Ball to give his side a deserved reward for their efforts, and make it 2-1.  


Almost immediately the Whites responded with Brandon Mundy setting Waller Lassen clear down the left. Whatever the intention, shot or cross, the result was the ball curling into the top corner from the outside of his right boot, giving Weatherall no chance. 


The game was safe at 3-1 and Salisbury then pulled away as Amesbury went off the boil, Clarke getting his second on 69 minutes following a superb reverse ball from Waller Lassen, who was again involved with nine minutes remaining in combination with Clarke, the ball fizzing low across the box where George Colson met it first time to make it 5-1. 


Two minutes before the end Mundy and Colson combined to set up Waller Lassen's second of the evening and Salisbury's sixth. 


Steve Claridge commented afterwards: "I'm sure they must have been disappointed to be behind at half-time and we rode our luck in the first half. We're getting luck in the second half of the season which we certainly missed out on in the first, but in the end I think a little bit of quality told. Jesse who showed us what we know he can do, and Franklyn didn't stop running. Nathan Ball was fantastic in the first half and I was particularly pleased with the crowd's reaction to his efforts." 


Considering the changes made for this match, and the number of normal first-team squad regulars watching, for once Steve Claridge has the best type of problem with team selection for the match at Mangotsfield United on Saturday, but whatever his final decisions we will be very strong. 


Please try and get to the game. 


Salisbury FC: Ball, Herbert, Flint, S Roberts (Colson 68), Wheeler (Perrett 75), Hart, T Roberts (Mawo 65), Onoufriou, Waller Lassen, Clarke, Mundy.

Subs not used: none 


Amesbury Town: Weatherall, Field, Wheeler (Palmer 55), Stratford (Gavin 76), L Ward, Parker, Greenway, Cook, Coventry, Roach, Stephens (Pearson 86).

Sub not used: Price. 


Attendance: 439                             Referee: J Welsh (Amesbury)