Match Report - Salisbury FC v Frome Town
Salisbury FC 1 Frome Town 0
Evo-stik South Premier South
Wednesday 1 January 2019
By Alec Hayter
The Whites welcomed in the New Year with a three point reward, but the 768 people who turned out to watch deserved better entertainment from a game which was not much better than pulling teeth. There was plenty of knife edge excitement of the wrong type as a slender 1-0 lead, judging by experiences of late, would always look fragile for the home side, and it was a good job that the visitors had no sharper talons than their hosts. The entertainment value was also greatly reduced by the "stop start" methods of referee Colin Hubbard who decided to talk through incidents instead of and before issuing cards which, apart from that shown to Joshua Morgan-Williams in the first half, arrived in the last six minutes of play.
Having said all that it was a great day to get three points (isn't it always?) with Taunton and Weymouth falling below their standards, and that, combined with a look at Salisbury's results over a period must maintain hope for a good last half season. It doesn't help that yet another serious injury following the Poole game has further depleted the squad but it has somehow managed to survive through those injuries with an unbeaten run going back to the end of September with blemishes on only two occasions in games at our other rivals. These could, and perhaps should, have yielded three points each. We will have the chance to avenge both set-backs later this month.
The winning goal from Chris Shephard, eight minutes before the interval, was worth the admission price on its own, and although that was the only time the ball hit the back of the net my notes reveal that in terms of chances the Whites manufactured eight as against Frome's two.
The busy Chris Shephard in action - Copyright Michael Berkeley
On six minutes Kane O'Keefe put a difficult volley wide from just inside the area and the same fate befell a Darren Mullings right foot effort eight minutes later.
In a rare break into the Salisbury half Frome's Rory Gorman let fly from outside the area and hearts were in mouths as James Hillson allowed the ball to momentarily slip from his grasp, although it must be said that shots bouncing in front of keepers are not the easiest things for them to deal with.
On 27 minutes Lewis Benson passed inside to Shephard whose left foot effort whistled narrowly past the angle of upright and crossbar, and that was the prelude to the game's defining moment. On 37 minutes the ball found its way to Shephard with his back to goal, and in the blink of an eye he turned and leathered a rocket shot past Frome keeper Carl Crabtree, off the woodwork and into the net.
Too quick for the camera and keeper, Shephard's rocket shot should have supporters flocking to the Mac. - Copyright Michael Berkeley
It should have been 2-0 four minutes later when Benson's cross found the well-placed Danny Young but, after taking a touch, Young leaned back a bit too far and the ball went a bit (!) too high.
A fairly low-key first half thus ended with the Whites in front, and the same tempo seemed to be the in thing throughout the rest of the match. Ten minutes into the second period, as the Whites took over midfield matters, Benson got to the edge of the visitors' box but fired narrowly wide and three minutes later it was Tom Whelan's turn to surge forward before hitting his finish at the relieved keeper. On 62 minutes Luke Hopper's cross shot went into Crabtree's arms, but as Frome began a late effort in what has been a fateful period in recent games, they had a good opportunity on 75 minutes when a long cross from their left to the far post found Ryan Bath who tamely headed into the side netting.
Salisbury saw out the final stages of the game, the half having already lasted for 47 minutes when the referee signalled a further three - quite enough given recent events!
The Whites can be thankful for the three points, and also the unusual and welcome lack of any further serious injuries getting them!
A different challenge awaits on Saturday when Salisbury visit Penydarren Park to play Merthyr Town, who must be on a high after dispatching Taunton Town by 3-1. The 3G surface obviously suited them, football -wise, more than Taunton and therefore it should suit Salisbury. The Whites took the points from the Welshmen back in mid-October and will be looking to repeat the result once more, although to do so has probably become more difficult following Merthyr's success.
Salisbury FC: Hillson, Wheeler, Sparkes, Whelan, O'Keefe, Partridge, Benson, Mullings, Hopper (Fitchett 75), Shephard (Dawson 77), Young (Haysham 72).
Subs not used: Kotwica, Herbert.
Frome Town: Crabtree, Fletcher, Teale, Knowles, Mapstone, Roberts, Gorman, Mehew (Mannings 43), Bath (Plummer 77), Morgan-Williams, Rogers (Davis 65).
Subs not used: Evans, Greaves.
Attendance: 768 Referee: C. Hubbard (Little Canford)