Match Report - Highworth Town v Salisbury FC
Highworth Town 0 Salisbury FC 0 (SFC win 5-4 on penalties)
City Security Services Southern League Cup
Wednesday, 3 October 2018
By Alec Hayter
Newly promoted Highworth Town surprised the many Whites' travelling fans, and maybe even themselves, with a strong performance and showed why they occupy a high league position in their first season in the Southern League. Fans will remember the trouble they had caused us in the Wilts Senior Cup, and will no doubt be relieved that at last that particular bogey has been conquered.
Although there was plenty of good combative first half play, up to point (that point being both opponents' penalty areas), there were only a total of four threats on goal, two for each side. On 8 minutes a pinpoint George Colson cross found Josh Sommerton on the far side of goal but the youngster was unable to direct what was a difficult first-time effort, and 14 minutes later, Colson himself had an equally difficult headed opportunity go wide from Matt Partridge's cross. Highworth replied and might have taken the lead on 34 minutes when Callum Parsons played in the impressive Tumani Sidibi for a one-on-one with Jake Hallett but the wide man's finish went well over the top, and 10 minutes later the same result came from a Callum Ferguson free header in front of goal.
Even-stevens therefore, but it was the Whites who made the brighter start to the second period with Aaron Dawson’s right foot dipping volley going just over the target four minutes in, and then a clearance coming out to Pablo Haysham who could only screw his 18 yard effort the wrong side of the post.
Shortly after that, Sidibi managed to shake off Elliot Wheeler and really should have done better than to blast the ball over from 8 yards, but the Whites responded again when Dawson put in Dan Fitchett who was denied an effort on goal by a superb last-ditch tackle from Highworth's Wayne Turk(an ex-Salisbury favourite) proving, as he did when with North Leigh, that he has still a lot to offer.
Wayne Turk looking, annoyingly, no older than when he was at Salisbury. - Photo by Michael Berkeley
The ever dangerous Sidibi then got himself into a good position on the edge of the box but sent the ball wide before, on the hour, a good move saw Sommerton crossed to Colson who headed the ball square into a crowded box, but the danger was cleared. On 70 minutes it was Highworth's turn again with Callum Parsons' cross shot shaving the upright .
Two minutes later Lewis Benson’s freekick gave Partridge a headed opportunity, the ball again ending up well over the bar, and shortly afterwards Benson himself brilliantly left two defenders in his wake before sending in a vicious cross shot which was capably dealt with by home keeper Connor Johns.
Benson had joined the action along with Zack Kotwica and Danny Young on 64 minutes, and the triple substitution was not only correctly timed but also effective as Salisbury changed their formation. They had started the second half brighter and had gradually restricted their opponents more and more to their own half other than the odd breakaway.
Salisbury came closest to taking the lead on 84 minutes when Partridge met a Benson corner with a sweet volley which unfortunately clattered the bar, and four minutes later Colson fed Fitchett on the edge of the box. The striker manufactured space to turn but mis-cued.
In spite having been penned back, Highworth could have prevented the dreaded penalty shootout four minutes into time added when the experienced Ash Edenborough was clean through but was thwarted by the advancing Hallett, who went on to be Salisbury's matchwinner.
The shootout initially went to plan for both sides with goalkeepers not being able to get a touch to the first three kicks, but then Hallett bucked the trend when he got down to his right to keep out Sidibi's attempt. Having been in "catch up" position, with Highworth commencing the shootout, the pressure was then on for Aaron Dawson to finish the job, which he did, to make the perfect five, causing Wheeler to create perhaps one of the more memorable events of the evening. In tongue in cheek OTT celebration I’m sure, he could not resist rushing towards Salisbury fans, who made up most of the attendance! Perhaps, Els, you were only rehearsing for the time when you do that in front of 50,000 people! (you, and I, wish!).
The moment of truth - Jake gets the crucial first and only touch, out of all the penalty attempts, to send the Whites through. - Photo by Michael Berkeley
After the game Manager Steve Claridge, beaming for the second game in succession, confirmed that it had been a difficult but entertaining game. “Highworth are a good side, but we managed to come out on top. I'm pleased to be still involved in this competition as it gives us a chance to allow squad players to get minutes and also gives us the opportunity to try things in a matchplay situation."
Some good news for Whites' fans is that Chris Shephard, in his own words, will be fit for Saturday. Pity we don't have a game but I'm sure he'll enjoy training instead!
Salisbury's next game is on Saturday 13 October at Chesham United, quickly followed three days later by the visit of Merthyr Town. Salisbury's unofficial match-free break will surely allow all niggling injuries to recede.
The game at Chesham coincides with Non-league Day, so please try and get along and support your team as well as the occasion. Although at the time of writing Chesham are at the wrong end of the table that will probably make life more difficult for the Whites as the home side tried to regain their spurs and start their season. The lads will need and appreciate your support.
Highworth Town: Johns, Nesbeth, Wood, Turk, Morgan, Taylor (Lasan 84), Sidibi, Ferguson, Edenborough, Parsons, Grabe.
Subs not used: Beer, Haines, Roberts, Sproule.
Salisbury FC: Hallett, Colson, Sommerton, Mullings, Partridge, O'Keefe (Benson 64), Wheeler, Dawson, Fitchett, Hopper (Kotwica 64), Haysham (Young 64).
Att: 136 Referee: Dan Flynn