Match Report - Salisbury FC v Taunton Town
Copyright Roger Elliott
Salisbury FC 3 Taunton Town 2
Evo-stik South Premier South
Tuesday, 29 January 2019
By Alec Hayter
Match sponsors Value Cars got good value from the white-shirted "vehicles" on the pitch, as did the crowd, but as a footballing spectacle, many, like me, would have been disappointed with the overall quality on display.
Enough of that, as the game not only contained many different aspects and controversy, but it also had a couple of turning points for good measure, with keeper James Hillson making a first-class save to prevent the visitors doubling their advantage and maybe closing out the Whites' prospects, and then, with his usual skill, Taunton's ex-Salisbury Ryan Brett doing what he does best from a free-kick later on.
After the setback though, the Whites went on to overturn the deficit and were helped enormously by the effectiveness of Jack Sparkes and Buowe Bosma, who played in their "advertised" positions for the first time, having previously been forced to start elsewhere because of the injury situation. They looked like round pegs in round holes. Jon Beeden also had a very promising debut without any real “getting to know you” opportunity.
Copyright Roger Elliott
Salisbury might have gone ahead on 10 minutes when Sparkes crossed from the left but Luke Hopper was just too high with his finish and, as often happens, (too often!), the opponents swept to the home end where left back Shane White will probably not have had more time and space this season to net the Peacocks' opening goal, drilling in a low shot. This only served to spur on Salisbury and three minutes later, Hopper was unlucky when Irish pulled off a good save at full stretch from his shot on the turn. With 20 minutes gone Sparkes saw his long range effort whistle past the upright, but 6 minutes later Taunton had a great chance when Ollie Chamberlain was gifted the ball and squared for Brett, who brought the aforementioned super save from Hillson.
Having had the warning, the Whites responded and for the next nine minutes took the game to Taunton. On 27 minutes Bosma touched the ball back to Aaron Dawson whose effort was just wide, before, three minutes later, it was all square. A ball up to Hopper, this time on the left, saw him cut in and fire a 25 yard effort low into the far corner past the scrambling Irish. In the build-up to the goal, another ex-Salisbury player Ben Adelsbury received a yellow card, and this later saw him dismissed for a second caution.
Hopper cuts inside before scoring - Copyright Roger Elliott
On 35 minutes as Salisbury continued the pressure period Benson threaded the ball through to Hopper, but Irish made a superb stop before, only seconds later, the home side could have gone ahead when Bosma was through but a defender deflected the ball wide.
On 38 minutes Pierce Mitchell hardly troubled Hillson with his left foot effort from the edge of the box for what was Taunton's third and only real threat of the first half, but that it was still 1-1 was finally down to another blocked Bosma effort when Hopper won the ball and it broke to the midfielder just before the whistle.
Before the game someone must have persuaded the players that when the referee blew his whistle to start the game it was actually for the start of the second half, as the intensity lacking in Saturday's first half showing was instantly there for all to see. It might not have been unreasonable to expect a slackening off for a period in the second half, but this didn't happen and on 48 minutes another Benson ball gave Bosma another chance from the edge of the box, but he lifted his left foot finish well over.
When it seemed that the Whites were comfortable, Taunton were awarded a free-kick just outside the Salisbury box in Brett territory. The free-kick was questionable when related back to an unpunished similar incident on a Salisbury player a few moments earlier, but it was never questionable as to what Brett would achieve for his team. There was a feeling of worrying inevitability within the press box where many would have been able to say exactly where the ball would end up (to within 6 inches). It duly did, and, for me, this was the one and possibly the only highlight of Taunton's performance.
As Weymouth found out on Saturday, nearly to their cost, Salisbury do not lie down easily and they went straight back on the attack with Tom Whelan chipping the ball over the defence for Hopper who was unlucky with a difficult chance, the ball virtually coming over his shoulder. With 16 minutes remaining though the Whites once again got back on terms. More intense pressure created the opportunity with Benson's low cross finding Sparkes. The ball clattered the upright, but Dawson was on hand to get his fourth goal in his last five games.
Another long-range (!) Dawson finish. - Copyright Roger Elliott
There was bound to be a final response from Taunton, although by that time they were a man short, Adelsbury having received his marching orders. The response came (of course) from Brett, who, when I spoke to him afterwards confirmed very honestly that he didn’t mean it when he nearly curled a 35 yard free-kick straight in, but on 83 minutes Taunton's task became even more difficult when Keith Emmerson picked up a second yellow and was also dismissed.
Just before referee Baker signalled five minutes of added time (probably inadequate in view of previous incidents), Sparkes brought another good save from Irish with a 20 yard free kick, but the Peacocks’ delaying tactics came back to bite a few yellow backsides when three minutes into that five Dan Fitchett was quickest to react to a driven low cross forn the winner to send Whites' fans delirious - and rightly so. At the Viridor, delaying tactics had benefited the visitors -sometimes things even themselves out!
Dan gets in front to get the points - Copyright Roger Elliott
The last three games have produced no less than 19 goals with two wins and one defeat, so goal lovers cannot possibly claim that they've been short-changed. Neither can they claim that games involving the Whites are ever in any way dull. Tip: NEVER leave before the end of the game!
After the game Steve Claridge said: "That result was something of a payback after the match against Weymouth, and although we've said it before, tonight's result may be a game changer. We've previously not had much success against the top teams."
More of the same intensity please on Saturday at Hendon on their plastic pitch, and Basingstoke three days later, and good returns will certainly keep everything open at the top, although Weymouth did themselves no harm at all with a 2-0 win at Gosport Borough. It's there for the taking for more than one side!
Salisbury FC: Hillson, Herbert, Sommerton, Whelan, Wheeler, Beeden (Fitchett 65), Benson, Dawson, Hopper, Bosma, Sparkes (Young 90+5).
Subs not used: Hallett, Haysham, Mullings.
Taunton Town: Irish, Mitchell, White, Adelsbury, Palmer, Buse, Chamberlain, Brett, Wright (Nelmes 80), Emerson, Neal (Veal 85).
Subs not used: Dodd, Hall, Sullivan.
Attendance: 542 Referee: A Baker (Wimborne)