Match Report - Wimborne Town v Salisbury FC
Copyright Michael Berkeley
Wimborne Town 1 Salisbury FC 4
Evo-stik South Premier South
Saturday, 2 March 2019
By Alec Hayter
It was always going to take a very good side to halt a long unbeaten Wimborne record at the Cuthbury, but we were that team on this occasion, in spite of the second yellow dismissal of Kane O'Keefe on 40 minutes that was not allowed to seriously disrupt the acquisition of a massive three points and take full advantage of Taunton's midweek slip up. As it happened, with the exception of the Weymouth result, this turned out to be the perfect Saturday and just reward for the Salisbury travelling faithful who turned up in their numbers to make it feel more like a home game.
If Salisbury won the toss, then it was a masterstroke to elect to play into the teeth of a gale, but down one of the many Cuthbury slopes, for the first half, and on 6 minutes it was Lewis Benson who celebrated a great week for him with a rocket strike which gave Gerard Benfield no chance. To fully explain that comment Lewis became a proud Dad for the first time this week and I am sure that his strike and in fact his whole performance was for his new daughter Hollie. Congrats from all, and if that is the effect then keep increasing the family!
A Benson blast opens the scoring at Wimborne - Copyright Michael Berkeley
The opportunity came after Jack Sparkes played a short freekick to him and one sidestep later Benson made space for himself to launch a fierce right foot howitzer low into the corner – so low in fact that no amount of wind could slow the ball down.
An ideal start then, and 6 minutes later Benson might have got a second but after receiving the ball from Dan Fitchett could only hit the side netting.
The Magpies first showed their teeth seconds later when a Luke Holmes cross cum shot forced Jake Hallett to acrobatically touch the ball to safety. In reply, on 15 minutes, Fitchett squared a delightful ball to Benson whose attempt had Benfield at full stretch to keep it out, and 6 minutes later the home keeper also did well to save a Tom Whelan effort.
There then followed an unusual event when goal machine Tobi Holmes was in the clear but lobbed his finish wide of the target, having probably been put out of his stride by Hallett's actions.
On the half hour, the Whites doubled their advantage after Benson and Darren Mullings combined well to get the ball into the home box. In the mayhem that followed the ball broke to Matt Partridge, and he belted it through a forest of players at the second attempt.
Matt Partridge forces home the second goal, and is colleagues form an orderly line. - Copyright Michael Berkeley
The defender’s presence was then needed on the Salisbury goal line only five minutes later when Tobi Holmes fired goalwards. Referee Stuart Kane turned down vociferous appeals for handball by the Salisbury man, and I have to say that it appeared the Magpies' appeals could well have been justified.
On 37 minutes Wimborne's Billy Maybury should really have done better with a header wide of the mark but the home side got themselves back into the contest on 40 minutes when, in a breakaway, Kane O'Keefe was left struggling with Holmes who fought off the challenge and further attempts to deny his progress before planting the ball into an empty net. It was as a result of this attack that the Whites were reduced to ten men when O’Keefe received a second yellow. Salisbury, therefore, had to play 50 minutes with a man disadvantage, but it was very very difficult to tell that that was the case because of the high standard and application of the players who accepted the challenge.
Swift and correct action was taken with the substitution of Charlie Rayfield for Luke Hopper two minutes before the break, ostensibly to keep what was in the bag, but in fact, a committed Salisbury still produced the goods to worry the home defence.
The half-time talk obviously did the trick as well as, 5 minutes into the second half, Sparkes was extremely unlucky to see his freekick from just outside the box fly narrowly wide.
The match was still tight, and the Magpies might have got back on terms on 63 minutes when Luke Holmes' cross from the left was met by the other Holmes, who tamely headed wide from close in. Holmes' miss only served to spur on the Whites and two minutes later a vicious Sparkes freekick dropped in the most awkward position - in front of keeper Benfield - who could not claim the ball but only parry it into the path of Partridge who did the rest. In normal circumstances, restoration of a two-goal cushion would have indicated "game over”, but these were far from normal circumstances.
Cel..eb..ra..tion time again (as the song goes) - a Partridge pair - Copyright Michael Berkeley
In the latter stages of the game, Sparkes was having an increasing influence on proceedings, as he did against Basingstoke seven days earlier, and on 68 minutes he worked himself into a left channel position before hitting a left foot rising effort that really tested Benfield, who was forced into a superb save stretching to touch the ball over the top.
With 20 minutes remaining, however, it really was "game over" as Salisbury opened up a three-goal advantage. This time it was Benson the provider as the midfielder got to the byeline and, with great composure, tricked his defender, pulled the ball back onto his right foot, and then delivered a pinpoint cross onto Fitchett's head to score a goal to settle it.
Dan Fitchett may be almost hidden, but the result of his header is clear! - Copyright Michael Berkeley
Nothing further was seen from the Wimborne attack, which throughout the game had been managed superbly by a stubborn Salisbury defence, and the visitors might well have added to their tally, but Whelan's 74th minute effort sneaked wide of the upright.
Three minutes before the end two further chances were produced when another vicious Sparkes freekick caused more chaos in the home six yard box, followed by Fitchett’s effort being parried, again into the path of Partridge, with only a desperate interception preventing the defender from completing a striker's type of hat-trick.
A straight red card for Wimborne's ex-Salisbury player Franklyn Clarke has to be recorded, but two minutes into time added that only served to even up the numbers on each side, which had already looked even in spite of the Whites having been forced to play with ten men.
A great day out, therefore, especially when considering other results. Eight goals past the Magpies this season, therefore, but this time they were not allowed the face-saving comeback they had achieved at the Ray Mac.
Life is becoming even more interesting and as there is no midweek game, hopefully that will provide the opportunity for injured players to return to playing action soon.
It was good to see George Colson having a kick-around pre-match and, without actually knowing, I would suspect that Ben Morgan and long term injured Bay Downing might well be available for our match at home to Kings Langley in 7 days' time. Perhaps today's result was even more creditable because we were without the influential Aaron Dawson, who was serving a one-match ban following an incident at Taunton, which occurred coincidentally when today's referee Stuart Kane was in charge. Perhaps it was just as well Aaron was missing today!
I certainly couldn't name a man of the match today as everyone who played a part was worthy of that accolade. Continuation of this type of performance will ensure an extremely exciting end to a campaign where anything is possible, so please keep supporting your team at what is the most telling time of the season. Let's have some mammoth noisy crowds for the upcoming games against Kings Langley on Saturday and Farnborough Town three days later for starters.
Wimborne Town: Benfield, Clarke, Maybury, Davidson, Oldring, Francis, Stokoe (Pettefer 45), Penny (Young 60), T. Holmes, Burbidge, L. Holmes.
Subs not used: Collins, Owen.
Salisbury FC: Hallett, Wheeler, Sommerton, Whelan, O'Keefe, Partridge, Benson, Mullings, Hopper (Rayfield 43), Fitchett, Sparkes.
Subs not used: Shephard, Herbert.
Attendance: 624 Referee: S Kane (Saltash)