Match Report - Salisbury FC v Basingstoke Town
Copyright Michael Berkeley
Salisbury FC 2 Basingstoke Town 1
Evo-stik South Premier South
Saturday, 23 February 2019
By Alec Hayter
In recent times you have had to have a strong constitution to watch the Whites as they have left things very late in games, but of course, they can be forgiven as points have been obtained. Basingstoke's improved form of late was pretty obvious, and that combined with a subdued first half from the home side made for a tighter game than perhaps it should have been. For me, the first half was summed up admirably by a supporter at half-time, who said that she thought Salisbury were playing as though they had already won the match! However, that may well have had something to do with Basingstoke's very well organised performance.
That first half produced very few goalmouth incidents but by two to one the Dragons shaded it, starting well when on three minutes captain Sam Deadfield chipped an effort over the top from the edge of the box. After more midfield sparring, 16 minutes later keeper Liam Driscoll, making his home debut, had to save Sam Argent's effort at full stretch.
It was not until ten minutes before the break that Salisbury showed real purposeful attacking intent when Chris Shephard squared the ball to Dan Fitchett who just missed the target, but following the half-time brew, it was Salisbury who started the brighter. Almost immediately after the restart Lewis Benson had the ball on the edge of the Basingstoke box and pulled it back onto his left foot before firing narrowly past the upright.
Benson was getting some joy down the right and on 51 minutes delivered a great ball across the Basingstoke box. He was entitled to expect there to be someone in attendance to finish the job, but unfortunately, that was not the case. However, six minutes later the Whites took the lead with the first good flowing move they had produced thus far. Aaron Dawson and Tom Whelan combined well, the latter delivering the ball to Shephard who beat 'Stoke keeper Tom McGill with ease.
The finish....the celebration...Chris Shephard gets the first - Copyright Roger Elliott
As has been proved in recent times, a one goal lead can often look fragile and the Dragons responded on 63 minutes when Zidan Akers found himself in space, but launched his effort way over the top from 18 yards. That was a good chance, but an even better one was produced two minutes later when Kian Duncan out-fought Elliott Wheeler and cut back on his right foot to force Driscoll into another good save.
On 68 minutes it seemed that the Whites had settled matters when Jack Sparkes, who especially during the latter stages of the game was causing problems for Basingstoke right back Dean Stow, put Fitchett in on goal. The striker made no mistake with his finish, although many felt that the assistant who ruled out the effort for offside had made a mistake of his own. Had the "goal" counted it would have relieved the tension.
With 10 minutes remaining, Tom Whelan managed to wriggle free on the edge of the visitor's area but could do no better than fire his finish at McGill.
On 84 minutes the Dragons must have thought that they had earned a point when a ball through the middle of the Whites’ defence put Akers in to equalise, but after Sam Smart had wasted a further opportunity four minutes later, the visitors paid the price when Sparkes' pinpoint cross from the left found Fitchett in front of goal, and he made no mistake with his header.
Somewhere under the heap... Dan Fitchett..who scored the late winner. - Copyright Michael Berkeley
Such was the nature of the game that it was still not over. Four minutes into added time, the visitors nearly "did a Salisbury" but Ben Wright could and maybe should have done better than blaze over the bar from 18 yards.
Manager Steve Claridge had said before the game that with the majority of remaining matches being at home, it was necessary for the Ray Mac to become a fortress. The Whites got the points, but not without some difficulty, after a performance that in some ways lacked the flair that we've become used to. The fortress ramparts were nearly scaled by the Dragons, but at the end of the day it was "job done".
The next league outing will be equally if not more difficult as we visit Wimborne Town who continued an unbeaten run since 12 January with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Walton Casuals with Tobi Holmes getting back on the goal trail. Wimborne is not far from Salisbury so please try and make it seem like a home game by turning up in your numbers.
Salisbury FC: Driscoll, Alawode-Williams (Partridge 45), Sommerton (Hopper 86), Whelan, O'Keefe, Wheeler, Benson, Dawson, Fitchett, Shephard (Mullings 67), Sparkes.
Subs not used: Bosma, Young.
Basingstoke Town: McGill, Stow Gerrard, Atkinson, Fox, Wakely, Smart, Duncan (Wright 73), Argent, Deadfield, Pearse (Akers 36).
Subs not used: Orvis, Harris, Hunt.
Attendance: 779 Referee: C Scriven (Wedmore)