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Match Report - Salisbury FC v Braintree Town

BraintreeCopyright Michael Berkeley

Salisbury FC 2 Braintree Town 1
Buildbase FA Trophy 1st Round Proper
Tuesday, 8 January 2019

By Alec Hayter

The Whites made light of a brittle Iron challenge to go through to the next round and face Carshalton Athletic in Surrey this coming Saturday. For the neutral, it would have been difficult to tell which of the two sides plied their trade in the Vanarama National League, although the Whites looked the more likely to be at that level, a thought confirmed by generous praise from Braintree officials after the game, who stated that Salisbury thoroughly deserved to win.

Because of Cup rules, both sides were forced to make changes with Salisbury's Jack Sparkes missing out, but he will be available for Saturday's tie. This seemed to make little difference, and neither did other changes, to the Whites' confidence , as Braintree were reduced to producing only four chances throughout the match. However, a team playing Salisbury's success in going through against them is no less creditable in what in terms of the scoreline appeared a tight contest.

MB Mullings powerDarren Mullings wallops a goal. - Copyright Michael Berkeley

For the opening period both sides sparred with each other before Salisbury produced a serious attempt. On 21 minutes, Dan Fitchett, who was very effective throughout the game, got round the back of the Iron defence but saw his cross-shot blocked, the ball rebounding to Lewis Benson who might have done better from close in. Three minutes later it was Benson however, who crossed in a low ball for Darren Mullings to direct a finish past visiting keeper Ben Killip, the ball having taken a slight deflection off a defender on its way in. Not a bad time to score your second goal for the Club, and there was even better to follow from him in the second half.

Before that, though there was the seemingly obligatory goal presented to the opposition when Tom Whelan lost the ball in midfield, Luke Allen grasping the opportunity to arrow a 25 yard swerving shot into the top corner off of the inside of the upright, giving Jake Hallett no chance whatsoever.

On this occasion the equaliser only served to spur on the Whites and within seconds, Whelan had raced upfield, but his left-footed attempt to atone for his error saw the ball narrowly miss the target. On 36 minutes, Fitchett was very unlucky to see his shot on the turn suffer the same fate, and then, shortly afterwards, another deflection prevented a Fitchett header doing damage. Within seconds of the interval, Josh Sommerton got forward to launch a high cross into the Braintree box which Killip fumbled, but the ball was scrambled away to safety and the margin remained a narrow one at the break.

For the first quarter of an hour of the second half it was more of the same pressure from the Whites, except that the tempo was noticeably raised, with Danny Young firing in a venomous shot which forced Killip to fist away on 47 minutes, and then Whelan surging forward but putting his right foot finish at the relieved keeper. The increased tempo then understandably slackened slightly and the Iron might have scored again just before the hour, when Justin Amaluzar saw Hallett make a good parry before the ball was cleared. On 64 minutes Callum Morton showed good skill to turn Kane O'Keefe in a one-on-one with the defender, but again was just wide with his effort.

RE CelebDarren shoulders the responsibility - and Dan Fitchett - Copyright Roger Elliott

The Whites then produced the ideal response when Mullings grabbed a second goal - one which would prove to be the winner. A looping Benson free kick was delivered right into the danger area and in one swift movement the ball was in the net from Mullings' right boot - a great strike which was in no way easy to execute.

At the beginning of the usual Whites' "dodgy" period Braintree had their final chance when Amaluzar again got round the back of the defence but was inaccurate with his finish, but instead of then conceding it was the Whites who finished the stronger with Whelan unlucky to see his effort from the edge of the box just a whisker away on 77 minutes.

It had already been an eventful night for Mullings, but, had it not been for the assistant's flag, it might have been even more so. From my position it looked as though the midfielder had somehow helped out the visitors by managing to get in the way of a goal bound shot which would have made it 3-1, but from a much better angle behind the goal I’m reliably informed that the ball was going wide anyway! Having said that, Mullings was in the thick of things in a good way, along with everyone else, from start to finish and helped Salisbury to another good win.

This game may not have reached the heights of the win at Merthyr Town, but this was a cup game and results are everything. I was amazed to learn that even though we were playing and beating a team two leagues above us, some dissatisfaction was voiced to prove my version of the old adage "you can't please some of the people any of the time!" Well, Saturday is another cup game, and on Tuesday there will be further cup action at the Ray Mac, either in a replay against Carshalton or a CSS Southern League Cup game against Blackfield and Langley, so hopefully another good result against either will satisfy everybody!

The value of the win on the 3G surface at Merthyr is even greater now that we are travelling to Carshalton, who have their own 3G pitch, and the experience gained in Wales should stand us in good stead. A further £6000 was added to Club coffers after the Braintree game, so wouldn't it be good to add a another £7000 for a win against Carshalton? It's not far to Carshalton, so please try and make the trip and help your team achieve what we all want, further success. I seem to remember going there many years ago and Salisbury coming away with a high margin victory, (6-0 I think!), but I suspect that there may be a different scoreline this time!. As long as it's in the Whites' favour, then any scoreline will do.

Salisbury: Hallett, Wheeler, Sommerton, Whelan, O'Keefe, Partridge, Benson (Herbert 90+3), Dawson, Fitchett (Hopper 78), Mullings, Young (Haysham 89).
Subs not used: Kotwica, Rayfield.

Braintree Town: Killip, Borg, Lyons-Foster, Gabriel, Curran, Allen, Richards (Barrington 56), Ochieng, Sagaf, Morton, Amaluzar .
Subs not used: Wray, Lamb, Iyayi,Bailey.

Attendance: 502 Referee: S Hughes (Sussex)