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Cinderford Town 1 Salisbury FC 1

Cinderford Town 1 Salisbury FC 1

Evo-stik Southern, West.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

By Alec Hayter

Although another valuable point was picked up away from home, for me it felt like two points dropped, but after the Whites did not build on an early lead a stirring late effort from the home side made it feel like a point gained. The Whites had youngsters Tom Roberts in goal, and Josh Sommerton starting on the left side of defence, and it appears, at the moment anyway, that they have unearthed not just one but two "finds". What a pity that, I assume for the sake of a formation change, Sommerton did not complete the 90 minutes, but he was on the pitch long enough to show his great potential. Roberts as well looked very much at home in new Southern League surroundings, looked assured beyond his years, and at the end of the game capped a great league debut with a brilliant block in time added on to preserve a point.

That last period of the game was totally unexpected as for the most part the Whites had been in charge and comfortable, restricting their hosts to midfield but conceding more possession for the first 15 minutes. After 11 minutes had elapsed Cinderford's Matt Macdonald got round the back of the defence but sent his effort high and wide, but 6 minutes later in their first real attack, Salisbury took the lead. In a lightning raid. Stuart Green got free on the right and squared the ball for Zach Kotwicka who made no mistake with a low first-time finish.

It looked as though the visitors would take over from that point, and four minutes after they scored George Colson nearly surprised everybody including home keeper Joe Perry with an up and under from fully 35 yards that landed in the side netting with Perry nowhere. On 25 minutes delightful Tom Whelan chip over the last man was just beyond Green’s reach, before, 6 minutes later Town nearly equalised. Roberts excelled himself, going full stretch low to his left to keep out Matt MacDonald’s shot from just outside the box and 10 minutes later Sammie Hicks forced his way through but the ball was cleared away from near the line.

The Foresters produced a brief late flourish, but right on the half-time whistle Sommerton produced a defence splitting ball to Kotwicka but home keeper Perry did well to block his effort. On the balance of the first 45 minutes the home press were wondering how Cinderford could get in the game as, in their own words, "we are not sure what they (Cinderford) have to do as they’re nowhere near Salisbury.

Maybe this was a little exaggerated as the Town went on to show just how, later, and not long after the break they equalised. Salisbury's goal had been of high quality, and in a different way so was Cinderford's. A corner was whipped in to the near post and good movement by Craig Norman enabled him to power a header past Roberts who had no chance from point-blank range. Although Norman's movement was rapid I'm sure questions will be asked about his marker.

Alex Battle soon became involved after joining the action, producing a good run down the right and an equally good cross into the box, but Green was well wide with his header, and that let off signalled a tremendous effort from the home side in the latter stages of the game. Town had fired warning shots on 69 and 74 minutes when firstly Hicks cut inside and launched the ball well over the top from 25 yards, and secondly when Robbie Atkinson did virtually the same with virtually the same result, although at the other end Battle saw an effort blocked by the home defence.

The Whites upped the pace and began to look the more likely, but that only served to spur on the hosts and in a rapid break, 4 minutes before the end of normal time, Nick Grimes squared ball across to Hicks whose 20 yard finish went wide of the target. A few seconds later Macdonald saw his shot cleared off the line by Rhys Baggridge and as we entered the three minutes of added time the Foresters made a great effort to take all the points.

On 91 minutes Colson carelessly lost the ball halfway inside his own half when he was robbed by Macdonald who squared the ball across the box but Liam Angel did not take full advantage, another good block denying him. A Hicks effort hit was kept out by the woodwork and just before the final whistle Roberts sealed a fine performance with a point blank save from McDonald.

I was left with mixed emotions from this match, and it's another one of those "what if" situations. I quite expected Salisbury to go on and put the game to bed after they had scored but it was not to be, although for the majority of the game they looked fairly comfortable even after Cinderford had equalised. The Whites, as usual, played the majority of the football but one part of me says that that performance wasn't quite good enough, whilst the other says that getting a point away from home is always a good return. Bearing in mind Salisbury's first half and Cinderford's grandstand finish then a draw was probably a fair result.

A brief word is due about today's referee Sarah Garrett, who controlled the game and players immaculately, and had no need to issue cautions. I'm fairly sure that with the exception of one utterance from the home dugout (the culprit’s face was a sight to behold as soon as he realised!) there was no foul or abusive language, and the game benefited from that. It occurs to me that on our recent travels we have had good refereeing performances and officials were a credit to the job. Could that be something to do with the West Country air? If that's the case then perhaps we can work out a way of importing some back into Wiltshire and Hampshire!

Next up is the trip to Larkhall Athletic on Wednesday in the Bigfreebet.com League Cup competition. Unfortunately I will miss this match, but judging by the tremendous 10 man performance against them recently, a good result is possible. If that happens things will be set up nicely for Saturday's game at home to second placed Bristol Manor Farm, this season's surprise package. They themselves must have been surprised to lose a two goal lead at home to Cirencester Town, and could be in for yet another surprise when they visit the Ray Mac. Please try and ensure another shock to their system by coming along to support the Whites.

Teams

Cinderford Town: Perry, Grimes, Bloom, Lewis, Clare, Alderdice, Norman, McDonald, Atkinson (Angel 85), Hicks, Waugh.

Subs not used: Humphreys, Michael, Clark

Salisbury FC: Tom Roberts, Colson, Sommerton (Battle 56), Whelan, Baggridge, Wheeler, Benson, Sam Roberts, Green (Herbert 75), Kotwicka, Young.

Subs not used: Dawson, Perrett, Rayfield.

Attendance: 192                               Referee: Ms Sarah Garrett.

MATCH REPORT: Salisbury 3 Swindon Supermarine 1

Wiltshire Senior Cup, 2nd round

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

By Alec Hayter

A message for anyone who chose their armchair and the TV over a visit to the Ray Mac - wrong decision, you missed out big time! In no way am I suggesting that the quality of Brazil was on show at Salisbury, but what was on show was an entertaining game between two sides who gave lie to belief that the Wilts Senior Cup is a "nothing" competition. This game, played in a good spirit, would have made a fitting Final.

The Whites' starting lineup contained only four players who had taken part on Saturday, whilst Supermarine's squad (if I’ve researched correctly) contained thirteen of their first team players, most of whom played a part at Yate Town on the same day.

Games in this competition are notoriously poorly attended but the 292 who came to this match (some 70 or so more than Supermarine's average attendance this season!) got very good value. It may seem strange to say so with a hat-trick man on Salisbury's side, but the real stars of the show for me were the youngsters from the Development squad who excelled themselves against good quality opposition, with none of them looking out of place. This is a testament to those who run the Development side and, having seen several of their games, I can vouch for the fact that their players normally perform to similar levels to those seen in this match. It augurs well for the Club that such good young players are available and although it is always difficult to be sure of consistent levels of performance from youngsters, in my opinion they should be given a further opportunity to be invloved with the first team in the remaining cup competitions, at least.

The action started early with, in the first minutes, Sam Roberts seeing his effort bounce off of the visitors' bar, and on  6 minutes Alex Battle, who made his first start, was unlucky to have an effort blocked. However, a long ball immediately after this attack eluded Rhys Baggridge allowing Josh Parsons to go through one-on-one with keeper Tom Roberts to open the scoring a minute later.

Shortly after, keeper Roberts kept out a Jack Alexander attempt, before, on 13 minutes, the Whites equalised. The impressive Charlie Rayfield started the move, feeding a great ball ball forward to Claudio Herbert who got to the byeline, easily holding off Ryan Morgan's attempt to rob him, before delivering the ball to Zack Kotwicka who did the rest.

Back at the other end the Whites survived a penalty appeal for handball as the contest became more and more interesting, but on 32 minutes an almost carbon copy attack saw Herbert once more get to the byeline, and once more cross for Kotwicka to make it 2-1. Just before the interval Battle's right foot effort took a deflection, forcing keeper Josh Hill to make a superb stop and maintain the one goal difference at the break.

Straight after the interval the home side had a chance to extend their lead when Hill came way off his line to challenge Kotwicka. The ball broke to Herbert who, from some distance missed the open goal........... by some distance!

On 48 minutes the lively Kotwicka was again  through one-on-one and squared to Herbert, but he was outmuscled by Morgan and the chance gone, before two minutes later Aaron Dawson could only send his right foot finish straight to Hill who saved easily.

Marine then threatened with Jon Else firing wide, before the post saved the Whites on 52 minutes, Connor Thompson crossing for Joe Shepherd to try a spectacular overhead which deserved better. Straight up to the other end then and Kotwicka, going for glory, blazed a great chance over the top when through on goal That miss could have proved costly when, on the hour, Josh Parsons went on a good run before shooting past the far post, but redemption was at hand for the Salisbury striker when Eddie Perrett  set up the third goal, and Kotwicka's hat-trick, with a superb ball through the Marine defence. Kotwicka  grabbed the killer blow, with the power of the finish beating Hill in spite of his getting a hand to the ball.

With 23 minutes remaining Danny Young shot straight at Hill before Marine had the first of two very good chances to get back into it. A great cross from Thompson into the danger area found Morgan, but, with hardly any challenge, he headed well over the top from close range when he should have done better. Some 6 minutes later Shepherd went on another good run and had done all the hard work before tamely shooting into the side netting to perhaps relieve both sides of the necessity to go through a period of extra time, and whatever.

Unfortunately the injury bogey struck once more when, very early on, and not the result of a tackle, Jake Wannell had to leave the action having rolled his ankle, causing manager Steve Claridge to exclaim question out loud what we have done to deserve these injuries. A very valid question!

A lot was achieved as far as Salisbury were concerned. Against good opposition they halted a very disappointing run which had seen them without a win at home, apart from the thrashing of Bassett Bulldogs, since 19 September, when Cirencester were put to the sword by 8-2. One can only hope that that run has now come to an end.

Perhaps the biggest bonus of all was the performance of the youngsters - goalkeeper Roberts, Rayfield, Sommerton, Stanley, and Burden, who all played an effective part alongside their more senior colleagues. Alex Battle looked mobile and formed a good understanding with Kotwicka, and there was no need to involve Tom Whelan and Stuart Green who remained on the bench.

On Saturday we make the trip into the unknown when Cinderford Town, relegated at the end of last season, are the hosts. Cinderford are in mid-table, but have not won for four games. However, they obtained a creditable 2-2 draw away at Bideford Town on Saturday. Their biggest home win of the season was back in early September when they put 7 goals past Didcot Town but since then their only victories have been by a single goal at home to AFC Totton and away at Wimborne Town by the same narrow margin.

Steve Claridge demonstrated his appreciation of the Wilts Senior Cup attendance after the game and naturally hopes to do the same on Saturday when a strong travelling contingent can help the team as twelfth man.

Teams

Salisbury FC: Tom Roberts, Rayfield, Perrett, Sam Roberts, Baggridge, Wannell (Sommerton 8), Herbert (Stanley 64), Dawson, Kotwicka, Battle (Burden 74), Young.

Subs not used: Whelan, Green.

Swindon Supermarine: Hill, Alexander, Morgan, Bennett, Coupe, Wood (Hathaway 36), Morris, Thompson, Kellow (Else 38), Parsons, Shepherd.

Sub not used: Diond.

 Attendance: 292                   Referee: M Rushton (Pewsey)

Whites 1 Larkhall Athletic 2

Salisbury FC 1 Larkhall Athletic 2

Evo-stik Southern, West

Saturday, 11 November 2017

By Alec Hayter

An impeccably observed recognition of Armistice Day was in direct contrast to what followed in a match which should have seen a further three points added to the Whites' season's total, but this did not happen for various reasons as the match descended into farce.

Even after being reduced to ten men, when Charlie Searle was dismissed, the Whites played the remaining 52 minutes making light of their numerical disadvantage and certainly deserved more than to come away with nothing to show. Larkhall made the most of their good fortune following that game-changing event and I am sure they will be delighted with another good result on the road.

After the game Manager Steve Claridge said: "We were 1-0 up, should have been 3-0 up, and were cruising and in complete control of the game, in spite of just having lost Kane O'Keefe through injury. I'm so frustrated that we are not getting a fair rub of the green and nothing seems to be going for us."

Half chances had fallen to the visitors in the early stages before the match really got going on 13 minutes when Lewis Benson's free kick brought a good save from Larkhall keeper Shaun Semmens, and in the next 4 minutes the Whites really pressed forward. Seconds after his free kick Benson turned provider, crossing for Stuart Green at the near post, but Semmens did very well to touch the finish onto the bar and to safety. A further few seconds elapsed before Zack Kotwicka's effort was kept out by the woodwork and even Jake Wannell tried to get in on the act, receiving the ball square from Benson before hitting a left foot effort over the top from 20 yards.

On 17 minutes Danny Young did well to go past his man and get to the byeline before pulling the ball back to Green whose effort was blocked, the ball running out to Sam Roberts who could not hit the target, and it took until the 25th minute before the visitors had a serious sniff at the Salisbury goal, Mike Baker's 30 yard free kick going narrowly wide of the upright.

After half an hour the Whites took the lead they had deserved and Benson was again instrumental, whipping in a cross from the right for Green to skilfully divert the ball first time from a position just inside the near post past keeper Semmens. It looked as though the floodgates would open and two minutes later Elliot Wheeler was unlucky to see his header, again from a Benson cross, just fail.

On 38 minutes came the Searle dismissal. The keeper had, not for the first time, rushed from his goal-line but this time he appeared to clip Corey Simpson, with referee Stephen Graham deciding that the tackle merited a straight red card. Although initial indications were that this was for violent conduct it transpires that the offence was one of denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, and in those circumstances, if an appeal fails, Searle will miss our game at Cinderford Town next Saturday, although he will be available for Tuesday night's Wilts Senior Cup tie. In the absence of the injured O'Keefe, who has in the past proved a capable emergency custodian, midfielder Sam Roberts found himself in Searle's shoes and, unsurprisingly, Larkhall sensed their chance. Roberts had only been 4 minutes into his torture when Simpson hit a left foot shot from some 25 yards which bounced in front of Roberts and slipped through his hands and into the net.

A 1-1 half-time score seemed rough justice for the home side, and after the break the visitors must still have fancied their chances but surprisingly seemed to lack ambition, withdrawing the talented Joe Tumelty further back and appearing to wish only to take a point back to Bath, but they showed some attacking intent when on 57 minutes Roberts was forced to touch Jacob Cox's right foot shot over the bar and 12 minutes later when a cross shot from Simpson went narrowly wide.

It was Salisbury however who looked the stronger and they continued to play their brand of football, putting their opponents under pressure. On 74 minutes Green got through one-on-one with keeper Semmens but pulled his finish wide of the mark before, at the other end, Roberts kept out a Greg Peel effort with little difficulty. However, on 79 minutes disaster struck when George King looped a speculative shot over the Roberts, slightly off his line, to give the visitors what was to prove to be a winning lead. It should not have been the case however as before the final whistle Kotwicka crossed for Green who disappointingly headed over the top to end Salisbury's hopes of taking anything from the game.

This match report makes little mention of the team of officials who, judging by the reaction below me from the away technical area, were equally unpopular with both camps. There is no need of further mention as the reaction of most of the near 700 crowd at the end was comment enough, although maybe the terminology used was fairly unfortunate.

Manager Claridge took some consolation and positives from the defeat: "I could not ask anything more from my players. I thought we were absolutely magnificent. It's very rarely that I can walk into a dressing room and feel as proud as I did today and that was as good a performance as I have seen for that amount of time with 10 men including a substitute goalkeeper. One part of me is really frustrated and disappointed to have lost a game that we were never ever going to lose in a million years before the sending off, whilst I know that we played fantastically well when at a man disadvantage. That augurs well for the rest of the season because if we play like that we'll get promoted."     

Another tough test follows on Tuesday evening against Swindon Supermarine in the Wilts Senior Cup. The visitors will obviously have an interest in retaining the title they won last season whilst the Whites will want to avenge a 2-0 reverse at the Ray Mac at the end of September. Supermarine suffered a surprising 2-0 loss at Yate Town, and that result combined with the high-scoring Bristol Manor Farm home draw against Didcot Town, and no league action for Taunton Town, ensures the Whites remain in second place in the league.

Teams

Salisbury FC: Searle, Colson, Wheeler, Whelan, O'Keefe (Hart 34, replaced by Battle 82 minutes), Wannell, Benson, Roberts, Green, Kotwicka, Young.

Subs not used: Dawson, Herbert, Perrett.

Larkhall Athletic: Semmens, Restorick, Cox, Adams (Slocombe 45, replaced by King 74), Guy, Baker, Lambert (Arndale 84), Bater, Peel, Tumelty, Simpson.

Subs not used : Seavill , Diallo

Attendance: 685                               Referee: S Graham (Totton)

Barnstaple Town 0 Salisbury 2

Barnstaple Town 0 Salisbury FC 2

Evo-stik Southern, West

Saturday, 4 November 2017

 By Alec Hayter

Barnstaple Town must hate the sight of Salisbury FC as, after suffering three losses against the Whites last season, they never really looked in with much of a chance of getting anything out of today's encounter. That is not down to their ineptitude but rather the comprehensive way in which Salisbury managed the game over 85 of the 90 minutes. The final scoreline did not reflect their superiority over their hosts and whilst it is disappointing they did not take more of their chances, the manner in which they gained another three valuable points is more important.This was a true team effort and some good football was played on a fairly difficult surface against a side about whom it was said to me before the game "we are scoring for fun but unfortunately conceding as well". In my mind that set up the possibility of another “Winchester-gate”, but it soon became obvious that the only possibility of a high-scoring match would come to fruition by the visitors' efforts. The home attack got little change from a reorganised defence which saw Kane O'Keefe join the back four, and he along with everyone else in an organised side gave an outstanding performance. There was hardly a weakness in the Salisbury side and they got their just deserts.

Right from the off the Whites went on the attack with Lewis Benson delivering two dangerous crosses within the first 6 minutes which might have produced goals. The first of these saw the ball fall to Zack Kotwicka whose right foot effort went straight at goalkeeper Neal Osbourne, and the second, shortly afterwards, and another cross from the right, almost reached Danny Young at the far post but home defender Max Gillard blocked the ball away in the nick of time.

 On 11 minutes Stuart Green had a chance in front of goal when the ball fell loose but he was denied by a mass of defenders, the ball being deflected to safety.

Any semblance of first half threats on the Salisbury goal, and they were little more than that, came on 21 minutes when Town’s Alex Gray found himself with an opening but spooned the ball well over the top from 20 yards, and a couple of minutes later when Chris Ibbeson sent in a volley from the edge of the box which was deflected wide.

That was all that was seen of the home aspiration as Salisbury dominated the remainder of the half. On 26 minutes Stuart Green worked his way into the box and tried to place the ball across Osbourne, narrowly missing the far post, but 7 minutes later he made up for that miss with the opener. A well worked move saw Kotwicka square the ball across the box where it was met first time by Benson's firm drive, so firm in fact that the keeper could only parry the ball. Green was the first to react and the ball nestled in the net for Salisbury's first goal, in the blink of an eyelid. (In fact I blinked and missed the finish – thank you Dave Todd for letting me know on the way home!)

Two minutes before the break Tom Whelan delivered a trademark corner which was met well by Kotwicka but his header struck the bar with keeper Osborne well beaten, and thus Salisbury had to settle for a one goal interval lead which in no way adequately reflected their control.

As could be expected after the half-time talk, Barum came out in determined mood and on 51 minutes a ball through the middle deceived Jake Wannell, going over his head and eventually falling to Jordan Charran who was not far off the mark in trying to chip Charlie Searle from distance. A few seconds later however the Whites restored command when Benson delivered a diagonal cross from the right towards Green who, being totally aware of his options and of others around him, cleverly dummied, allowing the ball to go to the left where Kotwicka opened his Whites' account with a very well taken right foot strike.

On 68 minutes Young beat his defender yet again and fired in a rising rocket which keeper Osbourne did well to push over the top, before shortly afterwards Barnstaple had a rare attempt on the Salisbury goal. Charran fed substitute Tallan Mitchell whose effort sailed well over the Salisbury bar, and this was catching as, a few minutes later at the other end Whelan spoiled a good build-up between Kotwicka and substitute Sam Roberts by doing the same with his left foot finish - well, it was his left peg!

On 77 minutes Green might have done better when through one-on-one with the keeper but, having said that, Osbourne excelled himself to stand up and block the finish at point blank range.

With 10 minutes remaining Charlie Searle had his first save to make but Mitchell's 25 yard effort hardly troubled him, and that was the last we saw of Barum going forward as the Whites played out the last 10 minutes at the same level of comfort they had enjoyed for the majority of the game. At the same time they were still able and willing to produce two further chances, firstly on 85 minutes when another Whelan effort went over the top and just before the final whistle when substitute Claudio Herbert sent in a wicked cross from the bye-line for Roberts to scoop the ball  over the bar from close in. It was though a very sharp chance.

The Whites had ended the game as they started and had played throughout - on the front foot, and Barnstaple really had no answer. They can have no complaints that the three points went Wiltshire way.

The many Salisbury travelling fans got their reward for their 240 mile odd round-trip, and although they did not enjoy a bigger winning margin they must surely have been impressed with the way their side played. Looking at the home and away aspects of Salisbury's season the trick is now to return their superb away form back into their home environment, starting next Saturday when they entertain Larkhall Athletic. The Larks also have an odd record in that they have had more success away from home than on their own patch - that is, would you believe, until today when they narrowly defeated Paulton Rovers at home. Let's hope that reversal of fortunes is repeated the other way round and that they lose the knack of winning away next week. Another impressive Whites’ showing, at or near today’s level, should see to that however.

After the game Steve Claridge concluded that there is a pattern and momentum now developing, and that he is more aware of what he is going to get from his players. He also said that he now expects greater success against the "lesser" sides, and I can see where he's coming from. It must have been very satisfying for him to be able to audibly praise his players from the dugout for the many correct decisions they made during the game. However, a stern test comes in the game against Larkhall, and this match is then of course followed by the equally tough game on Tuesday week in the Bigfreebet.com tie at home to Swindon Supermarine. His words will be fully tested in these two matches, and of course the team will need you as their twelfth man!

Come along in your numbers and help make the current 5 point deficit behind Taunton Town shrink. I would like to think that the Whites have had their shaky spell but I don’t think Taunton have had theirs yet, and every team does at some stage of the season.

 Teams

Barnstaple Town: Osbourne, Gillard (Humphreys 69), Walton, Gray (Croft 57), Ibbeson, Heeney, Radford (Mitchell 62), Nancekiwell, Charran, Harper-Penman, Gardner.

Subs not used: Holmes, Reay.

 Salisbury FC: Searle, Colson, Wheeler, Whelan, O'Keefe, Wannell (Perrett 81), Benson (Herbert 75), Dawson (Roberts 69), Kotwicka, Green, Young.

Sub not used: Hart

 Attendance: 177                               Referee: L Roberts.