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.
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.