Salisbury FC 1 Metropolitan Police FC 3
BetVictor Southern Premier South
Saturday, 14 September 2019
By Alec Hayter
There were two new names on the team sheet for this match, but neither Alex Lafleur nor the returning Bay Downing would have enjoyed the outcome as the Whites once again failed to find a way to beat an efficient Metropolitan Police side after what is now four attempts in two seasons.
The Met exploited the wide open spaces afforded to them in the middle of the park where the Whites were, to say the least, mostly pedestrian, and no one did more with the space than the impressive Ayoub Assal who made the most of his freedoms on loan from AFC Wimbledon.
It nearly started well when on 10 minutes Josh Sommerton fired in a corner for Darren Mullings, well forward, to miscue his header, but goal machine Jack Mazzone, who loves playing against Salisbury, threatened 3 minutes later when he cut in before bringing a great block from Salisbury keeper Tom Smith.
First chance to Darren Mullings - ©Roger Elliott
After Dan Fitchett had sent a difficult looping effort over the visitors' bar, they went straight to the other end where Mazzone profited from Oliver Knight's threaded ball to beat Smith who, in fairness, nearly kept out the effort. No need for immediate panic however so early in the game, but it was not until just after the half-hour that Salisbury came close, and it was Fitchett again who nearly scored, getting onto a Danny Young cross but heading against the post in a painful slo-mo.
Anyone going for an early cup of tea before half-time will have missed lots of action which started with Mazzone driving a ball across the box with no one on hand to finish the job on 39 minutes and then, seconds later, at the other end, Young connecting well with a ball in from the left to force a good save from keeper Charlie Burns.
End to end for a couple of minutes, and 3 minutes before the interval, the Met proved that Salisbury are not the only team to give away goals, when a sloppy clearance from a defender found Toby Holmes near the byeline. Holmes took a couple of steps forward and then belted the ball towards goal and, to give him the benefit of the doubt, he was credited as the ball entered the net although there was more than a suspicion of a defensive deflection involved.
Any thoughts Salisbury had of getting themselves back into it were soon dispelled when on 44 minutes it took a last-ditch tackle by Nathaniel Oseni to deny Assal when through, and just before the whistle doubts were confirmed when Mazzone chased the ball down with Kevin Amankwaah trying to shepherd it out to safety. Although it appeared that the defender may have been fouled the referee waved away protests which followed after Mazzone robbed Amankwaah and finished past Smith to give his side a 2-1 interval lead.
As if that were not enough, in the space of two further playing minutes the visitors extended their lead at the start of the second period when the diminutive Assal sneaked into the box and again had time and space against a sleepy defence to head home at the near post. Two very disappointing goals conceded had greatly improved the Met's chances of taking home the points.
The Whites began to have more of the possession but it was not until the hour mark that there was any real cause for optimism. That was a fairly vain hope though as appeals were turned down for handball after Holmes had leathered the ball at a Met defender from close range. VAR might have helped, or maybe not.
Then began a period of more possession, but again with little cutting edge, with George Colson trying his luck from just outside the box on 63 minutes but seeing his snapshot go just the wrong side of the upright. On 70 minutes Bay Downing, playing a wide right role, cut inside onto his left foot but saw his effort saved by Burns, and seconds later Aaron Dawson hit an effort, but again wide of the target.
There was always the chance of a breakaway and on 78 minutes it could have been 4-1 when the visitors got well forward and fired a ball across the luckily empty area in front of of the home goal.
With 7 minutes remaining Salisbury had their best chance of the half to make it an interesting finale when Colson delivered a great free kick into the box but Oseni could only glance his 6 yard header past the post. In time added another Sommerton corner found Colson who headed over the top to indicate that it was not to be for an underpar Whites side, and salt was nearly rubbed into the wounds when well into stoppage time firstly Mazzone whipped a left foot shot just past and then Knight spurned a golden opportunity, allowing Smith to save.
Nathaniel Oseni's late chance - ©Roger Elliott
Before the match Steve Claridge had described Metropolitan Police as a nemesis, and so it proved as they put a strong restraining order on anything that Salisbury could produce. They must however have expected a more difficult game, and it is imperative that things improve for Tuesday night's visit to Weston-super-Mare who, somewhat surprisingly, went down at Walton Casuals by 2-1. On Tuesday there will therefore be a game between two sides both wanting desperately to get back on track, and a good contest is in prospect. Both sides will also of course have one eye on their FA cup games on the following Saturday when arguably the Seagulls will have a tougher task at home to Merthyr than the Whites should have away at Portland all things being equal.
Nothing should be taken for granted though and to ensure that your team are given their best chance in these two away games a large travelling support would be appreciated, and would certainly help to get good results.
Come on you Whites, you're so much better than you showed today.
Salisbury FC: Smith, Colson, Sommerton, Dawson, Amankwaah, Oseni, Young (Downing 59), Mullings, Holmes, Fitchett, Lafleur (Knowles 55).
Subs not used: Betts, Bancroft.
Metropolitan Police: Burns, Akinwunmi, Fisher, Arthur, Robinson, Robertson, Knight, King (McCormach, 68), Mazzone, Assal, Sayoud (Appaiah-Allen 89).
Subs not used: Berchiche, Sterling.
Attendance: 737 Referee: A Hobbs