Laverstock & Ford V Salisbury FC

Salisbury arrived at near neighbours Laverstock & Ford looking to build on what had been a relatively successful pre-season campaign.


Salisbury arrived at near neighbours Laverstock & Ford looking to build on what had been a relatively successful pre-season campaign.

They had suffered their first defeat on Saturday against a Bristol Rovers side led by ex-Salisbury boss Darrell Clarke, but even this had not been an especially poor result for the Whites.

Whilst Rovers did put four past the Salisbury defence, Claridge’s side had matched Rovers for parts of the game, a fact which is itself impressive when considering Rover’s status as a League Two side.

With the beginning of Salisbury’s first campaign as a reformed club in the Wessex Premier drawing ever nearer, Claridge would have been hoping for an equally positive performance from his team against Laverstock.

Unfortunately, the match did not start promisingly for the Whites.  Laverstock had the better of the early chances, with a 4th minute shot flying narrowly over Monty George’s bar, before he was forced to tip over a James Clifton shot from the right-hand side of the box with only 10 minutes gone.

He dealt with the pressure effectively, read the game well and was not afraid to come out and claim any balls that were launched into his box from set-pieces, but in truth it was Laverstock who would have been the more disappointed team having not capitalised on their chances early on.

This changed in the 28th minute as Monty George was finally beaten in the Salisbury goal. The ball was lifted into the Salisbury box, headed towards goal and helped on its way past the Whites keeper by James Clifton, giving Laverstock what was surely a deserved lead.

Laverstock kept up the pressure towards the end of the first half, threatening the Salisbury goal without having any real clear-cut chances to double their lead.

However, when the referee blew for half time, Salisbury were fortunate to have only conceded the one goal. There were few stand-out performances from Salisbury’s trialists in the first half, with Monty George and Lewis Brailey, both having already signed with the club, putting in the most impressive displays.

However, the Whites started the second half far brighter than they had finished the first.  Early on, Cameron Hough beat a Laverstock player before crossing deep to the far post, only to see the ball hit agonizingly wide.

Nevertheless, this was an encouraging start to the half and chances continued to fall to the resurgent Salisbury team, with Mark Ford’s blocked shot falling into the path of Hough soon after.  Hough’s attempt was tipped onto the crossbar by the impressive Laverstock keeper, before Ford soon followed with a shot of his own which flashed across the face of goal.

It was therefore slightly against the run of play when Laverstock doubled their lead. An impressive team goal slotted home by Adam Jones again exposed weaknesses in Salisbury’s defence, and the bright start to the second half appeared to have been wasted by Steve Claridge’s men.

Nevertheless, the pressure on the Laverstock goal did not relent. Hough was a constant threat, and Eddie Perrett started to play his way into the game having come on as a second half substitute. Finally the pressure told, as the Whites managed to pull a goal back through trialist Mark Ford, who saw his shot hit the back of the net via a helpful touch off the post.

The introduction of Dan Demkiv further cemented Salisbury’s hold on the game. Demkiv immediately attacked the Laverstock defence head on, and it was no surprise when his class was rewarded in the 72nd minute with an equaliser for the Whites. Picking the ball up in midfield, he unleashed a shot which travelled a good 20 yards before nestling in the back of the Laverstock net.

With over 15 minutes left, Salisbury had time to chase a winner, although they were frustrated by a stubborn Laverstock defence. With Ford having hit the crossbar, and Hough having tested the keeper from long range, it took until the 82nd minute of the game for Salisbury to get their winning goal.  Good build up play by Demkiv was followed by impressive footwork from Eddie Perrett, before he slotted the ball past the Laverstock keeper to give the Whites the lead for the first time in the game, and ultimately the victory they desired.

This was no easy win for the Whites, nor did it seem likely during much of the first half. There were clearly frailties in the Whites defence, though this should perhaps be expected from a team made up almost exclusively of trialists.

Some players did show real promise, with Dan Demkiv’s performance suggesting at this early stage that he may be an incredibly good signing by Steve Claridge. It should also be acknowledged that most players already signed were not in the squad for the game against Laverstock, and so it would be difficult to draw many conclusions from the game regarding the squad as a whole.

Most importantly for Salisbury, the hundreds of fans who turned out to see the club play, following the attendance of 1,068 on Saturday against Bristol Rovers, showed the enthusiasm circling the new club at this time.  Having been through many tough times in the past few years, it is just a relief for many Whites fans that they have a club to follow at all, and as long as the Whites continue to entertain, enthusiasm should only grow in the coming months.

Match Report by Craig Anderson