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MATCH REPORT: Salisbury Legends 6 Pompey Legends 4

Salisbury Legends 6 Pompey Legends 4
Roger Emms' Charity Match
Sunday, 7 May 2017  

By Alec Hayter

A mixture of current players and past favourites - or should I say “past it” favourites (sorry, a joke, and maybe a bit harsh!) - turned out to provide an entertaining day to raise funds for the Prospect Hospice, and they gave a truly legendary display. Salisbury crowds are used to goals and they were not disappointed with the net being tested on no less than ten occasions in this match. The array of talent on show was truly mind-boggling, and I have to confess that really only the Salisbury Legends were known to me although, at one stage, the Pompey Legends had more Leighs on the pitch than would find lees in a brewery after fermentation! To explain, the three Leighs were Ashton, who is still on Salisbury’s books, his dad Steve, and his brother whose first name escaped the attention of the non-existent team sheet. In addition, Pompey Legends included the famous, or maybe infamous, pie-man, Wayne Shaw who seemed to make a meal of conceding six goals. It seems he can make a meal of anything! If he sees this it's a good job for me that he's got a wonderful sense of humour!

He is currently not involved in football following his press exposure – good experienced goal-keeping coach anyone?

This game was certainly not like the new craze "Walking Football", but towards the end of a full 90 minutes it almost became so. Before that however it was a very competitive match, and the action started with a bang when Matt Tubbs opened the scoring with the simplest of finishes after only three minutes. That lead was doubled four minutes later when Paul Sales, still showing his poacher's instinct, scored from a Chris Ferrett cross.

The home side were reined in on 13 minutes however when the young legs of Ashton Leigh got him in the right position at the right time to score from close range, but the jubilation was short lived as Tubbs again converted another simple one-on-one chance to make it 3-1 with only 20 minutes gone. After that there seemed to be a lull in proceedings - possibly so that the players could get their collective breath back. That lull, possibly combined with a couple of substitutions, might well have supplied the extra energy to the Salisbury Legends but unfortunately didn't as Marc Bird bagged a second for the visitors on 43 minutes, strangely enough shortly after Matt Holmes came on!

It was 3-1 the break but these games are never like league games, as you never really quite know what is going to happen next. I'm sure that sometimes goals are conceded out of sympathy to put the outcome of the game in doubt, but often also scored with pure, mature skill, but whatever was the case, on 50 minutes Tubbs made it 4-2 with a hat-trick goal to once more put a little distance between the sides. A little distance may be, but for only a very little time, as 6 minutes later a Darren Hines rocket shot hit the back of the net to make it 4-3. Almost everyone from both sides applauded, with maybe one exception, Kevin Sawyer, a proud man.

On 66 minutes Hines grabbed his second and Pompey Legends' fourth to try and tighten things up once more, but then step forward Ian Savage. Although I did not immediately recognise Ian on arrival at the RayMac I certainly recognised him on the pitch and, as it always was, he was today Savage by name, and savage by nature, showing by words and actions from midfield an intensity, that perhaps didn’t fully rub off on others! It didn't take him long to get the bit between his teeth, and not long after Hines' second goal he restored the Salisbury Legends' lead with a left foot finish.

It just seemed as though it had to be that a sixth goal would arrive, and it was again Savage who netted with a low right foot shot past Kevin Sawyer to complete the scoring. Ten goals therefore in all shapes and sizes (and I’m not talking about players, although I could be, I suppose) to entertain the crowd who surely will have been pleased with what they had seen.

Some in the crowd might well have compared Paul Sales and Matt Tubbs playing in tandem to the present incumbents Justin Bennett and Tommy Wright, both of which combinations are and were "to die for" in their respective eras. We also had the pleasure of seeing Andy Cook, who looks no different at all from when he played here, and hardly any age effect seemed to have affected Robbie Harbut, Scott Griffin, Darren Lush, Simon Browne, and Aaron Cook who, along with Andy Cook, I believe played the whole 90 minutes. A certain amount of guesswork is needed to make that statement though because substitutions happen rather rapidly and very frequently in these types of game! I won't even attempt to tell you who replaced who and when, because I don’t really know!

The current Portsmouth FC’s success in gaining promotion meant unfortunately that some of the household names in their Legends side were engaged elsewhere and again it is difficult to even list out their side, but Stuart Doling, Darren Watts, Bill Cook, Rod Clark, and Shay Newman all appeared for varying amounts of time, along with the Leigh family. 

I must not let this account pass without mentioning fans' favourite Roger Emms, who seemed to glide through the game with the greatest of ease (not too quickly, but, it seems, always in the right place!) For all of the veteran players it must been a test of strength and will to get their legs working but of course, Roger has another stern test yet to come when he takes on the task of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, once more for Charity.

We know he will succeed and I hope that we hear from him when he's done so, and that he will also give us an account of what it's like to reach those heights (sic!). He is on a mission, and I'm sure we all wish him success, and know that he'll get to the top with the type of peak (!) performance he always produced for Salisbury City Football Club.

Roger, we wait to hear from you!

Everyone on the Salisbury side knew that they had to produce the goods today because in charge were Geoff Butler and Neville Beale, and when you report back it’ll be your chance Roger, to give your assessment of their performance as well!

And before I forget, it was a very good day all round for the Salisbury teams on show, as in the first match, which was almost finished before I could make it to the Mac, Salisbury Supporters demolished Winchester Gate FC 4-0, with a hat trick from Man of the Match Max Harris, and one goal from Nick Edwards. Thus there were no less than 14 goals to savour on the day!

Perhaps after reading the above, about the Legends, players of both Supporters’ and Winchester teams will be glad I was late!


Officials and captains...


Tubbs in on goal...


... Tubbs scores, surprise surprise!


Sales gets the second

Little and large - no contest


Kevin Sawyer launches a goal kick

Safe Hands!

Referee Conor Malone laughs off the Pieman's threat


Marc Bird scores for Pompey Legends

A contented Paul Sales leaves the action


Hat-trick man Matt Tubbs


Simon Browne doing a Swan Lake

Steves (Leigh and Richardson) opponents, but best of friends

MATCH REPORT: Salisbury 0 Tiverton Town 2

Salisbury FC 0 Tiverton Town 2

Evo-stik Southern Division South and West Play-off Final

Monday, 1 May 2017

 

By Alec Hayter

 

Like the majority of true supporters in today's magnificent crowd, I'm hurting, and the main reason is not perhaps because we fell at the last hurdle, but more because of the manner in which this occurred. If you are a TV licence payer I'm sure you've often been tempted to launch something at your television screen when you have to suffer repeats after repeats, and, for anyone who had been to Tiverton in our league match back in March, this match was an almost carbon copy repeat of that previous encounter, and I've only just stopped short of throwing something, somewhere. Unfortunately today some players let themselves down by not playing to their potential, in direct contrast to one who deserves a separate mention – Elliot Wheeler, my Man of the Match. He had given his all and he came off the pitch showing the signs of the battle, with his stitched up foot kept company by an injury to his forehead. He looked a bit like the victim of bad DIY technique, but was one of the few who could hold their heads up high. 

 

In Devon, Tiverton played to their strengths and protected a ludicrously early lead, breaking away to get a second goal to settle matters after the Whites had played the majority of the football on an awful pitch. On this occasion Tiverton again played to their strengths, their physical strengths, on a far superior playing surface which should have benefitted any team playing football. Tiverton manager Martyn Rogers had masterminded the win in Devon, and really changed very little for this match, and was never, it seemed, forced to change things during the 90+ minutes. After the game a Tiverton player remarked that it had been a very difficult match against technically superior opponents, and the comment about the Whites' players may be true, but that often counts for nothing against a well organised side, which Tiverton most certainly were.

 

At half-time today, and a goal behind, I made the painful prediction that Tiverton would get a second following a breakaway attack down the right side of our defence, and so it happened. I take no pleasure in saying "I told you so", and neither does it give me any pleasure to say that the Whites were well beaten on a day when it really mattered, but the similarities to the away game were there for all to see.

 

In the opening period it seemed as though Salisbury were inviting Tiverton to show them what they had in their locker and it was not until the 17th minute that the home side threatened. Lewis Benson sent in a diagonal cross which eluded the Tivvy defence and gave Tommy Wright the kind of chance which, all season, he's been gobbling up. This time, however, his tame header struck the side netting, but had he scored, the outcome of the game would most likely have been different as Tiverton would then have had to forsake their defensive game and possibly have become more exposed to the Whites' attacking threat.

 

On 26 minutes Taurean Roberts beat a defender with ease before cutting in on his right foot, but saw a firm effort deflected well over the top, and it seemed that the Whites were gradually beginning to exert some control.

 

Just after the half-hour Benson forced Tivvy keeper Joe Perry to make a good save at the near post from a fiercely whipped-in free kick, and as anticipation grew of better things to come, the visitors spoiled the party. One of the known strengths of the Tiverton side is effectiveness with set plays and getting the ball into the box, and they lived up to that reputation when, on 39 minutes a deep cross from the right saw Michael Landricombe power in a close range header to give his side the lead. Alex Bass did not stand an earthly. Were we going to see the same closing up of the game that we had witnessed at Tiverton after some 55 seconds? Well, no, it was just the opposite and on the stroke of half-time Jamie Short saw a right foot effort deflected.

 

As always, with the normal version Salisbury side we had watched all season (not the watered down version we saw today), it was expected that the half-time interval would see greater effort and a change of fortune, but it was Tivvy who pushed forward.  Levi Landricombe got through on 50 minutes but, under expertly exerted pressure from Alex Bass, chipped his finish wide of target. Four minutes later however, the keeper could do nothing to prevent Tiverton's second, and match-winning goal (even though their first may well have been that). Sloppy defending gifted the ball tthe same player who got to the byeline before squaring to Tom Bath  who was never going to miss from 4 yards withonly Bass to beat.

 

The Whites tried to get back into the game and in a goalmouth scramble on 66 minutes, Justin Bennett tried an overhead which must have stretched his niggling hamstring, but  his effort was in vain as the ball went at keeper Perry. Four minutes later Tommy Wright, who had been well shackled by the Tiverton defence all afternoon, produced his first and Salisbury's last threat on goal. Perry was forced to scramble to get to a well struck cross shot, but it mattered little that he failed as the ball passed just the wrong side of the far post.

 

Apart from the odd injury or five to Tiverton players, all of them seeming fatal but set aside after the miracle sponge had done its job, the visitors comfortably saw out the game, including just over five minutes of added time. They needn't have worried because I don't honestly believe that if Salisbury had been there for five days that  they would have scored.

 

After the game Steve Claridge confirmed that in his opinion it wasn't much of a performance, but acknowledged that Tiverton are a very good side at what they do, closing the game out well. "We knew we would be in difficulty if we fell behind. I had to take a chance on Justin Bennett today, and it didn't work out because he wasn't fit. He was way off the pace but with 40 goals to his credit I had to believe what he told me. We as a team did not do ourselves justice, but I feel that our play-off prospects took a dip when we lost midfielder Tom Whelan at Bideford. He is the one who gets us going and does things differently and I knew he would be a huge loss to us. It's been a very hard season where injuries are concerned and now we must regroup. Maybe we'll get a bit more luck season and get a little bit closer early doors and not have to play catch up like we have this season. It's easy to be negative and downbeat at the moment but we were the second  best team in the league this season, although it didn't like that today. There are a few players in that dressing room who know they've let themselves down and let the football club down. Tiverton are a good side and did not allow us to play, but then we had players either not fit or not right and it was a combination of both. For us to have beaten Tiverton we would have had to have been at our absolute best.  They're wily, professional, and know how to break the game up. It's not nice to watch but boy it was effective, and too much for us today. After they scored, I didn't feel  at any stage that we were going to get into it and, to be fair, I'm not sure the players did. The support today was fantastic but I'm sorry that we didn't give anybody anything to shout about, but I don't want to take anything away from Tiverton. On the day they were better than us."

 

Say that I have enjoyed reporting on the Southern League adventure would be an understatement although, as you would imagine, doing some reports gives me more pleasure than others. This was a one-off game in a season of very many highs.

 

Many teams on getting promotion seek only to consolidate their position at a higher level, but that was not the case for Salisbury who, after a fantastic run of results, probably even surprised Steve Claridge with ending up in second position in the League. I can't wait for next season to start, and although I don't subscribe to the view that success in the current season guarantees anything next term, I think that once more we will be entertained and possibly do even better.

 

Lest we forget, the football hasn't actually finished and we have the Final of the Salisbury Hospitals Cup against Bemerton Heath Harlequins here at the RayMac on Wednesday, 10 May. As Elliot Wheeler said to me after today's game: "We would like to win something after a hard season". Well Elliot, you think you're going to be fit by then? That's the spirit!

 

Teams

Salisbury FC: Bass, Colson, Perrett (Mundy 70), S Roberts (Herbert 64), Wheeler, Dutton, Benson, O'Keefe, Wright, Bennett (Waller Lassen 85), T Roberts.

Subs not used: Hart, Clarke.

 

Tiverton Town: Perry, Hurst, Pryce, Mammola, Kingdon, Gardner, Short (Carter 77), M Landricombe, Bath (Howe 81), L Landricombe, Rogers.

Subs not used Rosenquest, Storey, Walton.

 

Attendance: 2247 (highest league attendance of the season)Referee: S Jackson (Taunton)

MATCH REPORT: Salisbury 2 Evesham United 1 AET

 

Salisbury FC 2 Evesham United FC 1 (AET)
Evo-stik Southern League South and West Division Play-off Semi-final
W
ednesday, 26 April 2017

By Alec Hayter

Elation, frustration, determination, emotion, commotion................. all in the cause of achieving promotion that is now just a tantalising 90, or 120, or plus plus etc. minutes away, with Monday afternoon's game against Tiverton condensing a whole season's toil.

And that sentence, plus the other incidents - 2 penalties and a sending off - probably sums up the game against Evesham, and although I could end my report here, I would not wish to disappoint my reader and the many people who seem to enjoy reading about a game having watched it (something which I find quite strange in some ways), so here we go with the fine detail.

The visitors must have won the toss because, possibly in an attempt to disrupt things for the Whites, they elected to make Salisbury attack the PB Asher end, populated mostly by home supporters as usual. It didn't work however as those faithful supporters were treated to a first half of seeing their side buzzing around the visitors’ goal, their view only being partly obstructed by the man mountain who is keeper Kevin Sawyer, who played a big part in ensuring that his side remained in the game throughout that time.

He was nearly beaten as early as 4 minutes in however when an attempted clearance ricocheted off of defender Archie Haskayne but landed on the roof of the net. From the resultant corner Tommy Wright forced him to make a point-blank save, giving a flavour of what was to follow.

Only seconds later Wright outstripped the whole of the Evesham defence but disappointingly fired wide of the far post with Sawyer beaten, and on 11 minutes Taurean Roberts cut in on his right foot to curl a finish just wide of the upright.

As if to prove they had actually turned up however, Evesham's Adam Mann got clear from Brian Dutton on 18 minutes, and you could almost hear the sighs of relief as his attempt went tamely to Alex Bass. Back at the other end the bombardment re-started with Sawyer again doing well to touch over Lewis Benson's left foot effort from the edge of the box, and he again came to the Robbins' rescue 4 minutes later when a good move saw Wright feed the ball wide to Benson whose cross gave Kane O'Keefe a headed opportunity. Sawyer was in the right place to make a good save and deny the Whites once more.

The second and only other first half threat from the visitors came just before the half-hour when Paul Fahy, on the left, fired well over the top from 20 yards.

To complete the first half action, on the 30 minute mark Taurean Roberts put Brandon Mundy away on the left and a good cross saw Wright get under the ball, which finished up going over the top.

Most, and I include Evesham management, must have wondered how the scores were level at the interval, but there was a mounting feeling that, as with many games, in spite of all the pressure, the visitors might nick a goal on the break, and 3 minutes into the second half they threatened when Mann sent in a 25 yard left foot effort which forced Alex Bass into a good save low to his left.

Possibly stung by this incursion, it was only a few moments later when Kane O'Keefe flicked on a cross from the left, Sawyer did his best but not enough, and after Benson’s involvement the ball ran to Claudio Herbert who finished from close in to send the crowd wild.

On the hour the Whites were at it again as this time O’Keefe’s header from Benson’s corner was cleared off the line by Lyndon Dovey. On 68 minutes O'Keefe was denied by Sawyer after a deflected effort and the Salisbury Captain was again prevented from extending his side's lead on 74 minutes when he got on the end of a Sam Roberts diagonal ball, but could not stretch quite far enough to direct it into the net past the stranded keeper.

With 15 minutes remaining Wright rode two tackles before again testing Sawyer with a rising drive and on 78 minutes Mundy did the same with a carbon copy attempt.

A
ll seemed well, if not comfortable, and Evesham equalised to stun the home crowd on 84 minutes, a breakaway giving Mann the chance to show his skill by chipping the ball over the onrushing Bass.

With 4 minutes left O'Keefe's ball to Sam Roberts resulted in a shot over the top from 22 yards and two minutes later Benson’s corner gave Brian Dutton a chance, but again the ball went over.

Right on the final whistle for normal time Evesham might have snatched it when Lance Smith's effort went wide of the target following a cross from Garyn Preen, but Extra time loomed, and happened.

On 96 minutes Jesse Waller Lassen put in Taurean Roberts but his 25 yard effort went high, but moments later it looked as though the tie was Salisbury's when Wright was brought down in the box. A combination of what was, for him, a spot kick not up to his usual standards, and Sawyer's expertise, saw the keeper make a great save to keep his side in it. In the commotion after the spot kick was awarded at least three Evesham players went into the referee's book, to add to the red card shown for a thoroughly nasty tackle by Ashley Williams which had earlier put Elliot Wheeler out of the game.

Evesham were obviously buoyed by the penalty escape and then enjoyed a good 16 minute spell when firstly Mann looped the ball over the top, Bass was forced to make a good save from Smith, and then when Eddie Perrett cleared away from the goal-line.

However, he who laughs last laughs loudest, and there were only seconds remaining before a penalty shootout when Taurean Roberts was felled by Dovey in the box and, showing great courage for one who had already missed penalty, Wright this time made no mistake sending Sawyer the wrong way - and sending the majority of the crowd into ecstasy.

Thus the Whites were able to survive at the finish of an epic encounter where both sides played their part. A tough test had been expected, and a tough test certainly delivered by Evesham, but in spite of injury problems before and during the match Salisbury came out on top. There is an outside chance that some of the injured players will be available for the final on Monday but whoever plays the team will have to be at their very best against opponents who have taken the points in both league games against us this season.

Wednesday night's crowd was only just short of 1400, and I would hope that something approaching 2000 would be the figure on Monday afternoon, especially as no doubt Tiverton fans will travel in their numbers.

Come along, bring your friends, and support the Whites in their final push. COYW!!

Salisbury FC: Bass, Colson, Perrett, S Roberts (Onoufriou 96), Dutton, Wheeler (Herbert 44), Benson, Mundy (Waller Lassen 92), Wright, O'Keefe, T Roberts.

Subs not used: Clarke, Bennett.

Evesham United: Sawyer, Dovey, Odiero, Haskayne, M Williams, A Williams, Bryan (Smith 67), Brown, Magee (Sheehan 45), Mann, Fahy (Preen 79).
Subs not used: Stanley, Binns. 

 

Attendance: 1395                                         Referee: P Johnson (Walton on Thames)


 

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!).

 

Teams

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