Salisbury FC V AFC Totton
Salisbury’s last home pre-season friendly of 2015 saw them come up against Southern League Division One side AFC Totton, managed by ex-goalkeeper Steve Hollick.
Bournemouth started the game on top, showing the slick movement and attacking intent that would be expected of players representing a Premier League team. The Cherries had a number of half chances, with Matt Butcher’s early shot on goal sailing harmlessly wide, whilst Mason Walsh’s impressive run in the 10th minute came to nothing as his shot was off target. Filippo Costa was proving extremely effective for Bournemouth, getting forward at every opportunity and causing the Salisbury defence issues with his dangerous crosses into the box.
With 24 minutes gone, the Cherries took the lead. Harry Cornick was played in by Jordan Green, and Salisbury’s back line could only watch as he carefully slotted the ball past Gareth Barfoot in goal for the Whites.
Having scored the first goal of the match, Bournemouth continued to press, looking for the goal that would give them some breathing space. Sam Matthews had a number of opportunities, shooting just wide of the post in the 30th minute, before seeing his free kick harmlessly plucked out of the air by Whites keeper Barfoot soon after.
Despite all this pressure, the Whites did not buckle. Steve Walker in particular made a number of goal saving challenges, including from a Costa shot which had followed good build up play by Mason Walsh. Calum Brockway was also putting in a number of important tackles for the Whites.
Salisbury had a chance of their own as half time approached. Ashley Jarvis led an attack into the Bournemouth half which culminated in a free kick for the Whites. Steve Walker managed to beat the Bournemouth defence to the ball, but could only direct his header straight into the arms of Ryan Allsop in goal for the Cherries.
However, Bournemouth once again tested Salisbury’s defensive capabilities in the 39th minute. The Whites gave Cornick the space to run at Barfoot’s goal, and the time to get his shot away, but Barfoot made a good save to ensure Bournemouth did not increase their lead.
As the referee blew for half time, both Salisbury and Bournemouth would have been relatively happy with their first half performances. Bournemouth had looked the stronger team going forward, but Salisbury’s defence had stood firm throughout the first half. For all their attacking play, the Cherries had only been able to beat Barfoot on one occasion, ensuring Salisbury were still within touching distance as they headed into the dressing room for the break.
For the second game in succession, Salisbury shot out of the blocks at the start of the second half. Dan Demkiv caused serious problems early on, intercepting a pass by Stephane Zubar before forcing him to slice the ball over his own bar from a cross. Ashley Jarvis then saw his header cleared off the line after it had been dropped by Bournemouth keeper Allsop in an uncharacteristic error. Suddenly the Whites had started to assert themselves, pressing Bournemouth and forcing them into mistakes. The formidable defensive work continued for the Whites alongside this new level of attacking intensity, as Brockway made a goal-saving challenge on Green in the 55th minute after some good build up play by Cornick.
In the 65th minute, Salisbury finally got the break through that their second half performance had deserved. A free kick was lofted to the back post and met by Steve Walker who headed back across the face of goal, and Pip Nolan was there to bundle the ball into the back of the net from close range. The Whites had been on top throughout the second half, and it was no surprise that they had equalised against the Premier League team.
Following this, Salisbury continued to press, not giving Bournemouth the chance to play their way back into the game. Just as he had been against Laverstock, Demkiv was dangerous pushing forward, showing his pace and forcing the Bournemouth players deep into their own half. Nevertheless, the Whites struggled to find a second goal against what was a well-drilled Bournemouth defence.
The Cherries did continue to have chances themselves. In the 77th minute, Monty George, who had replaced Barfoot in goal for Salisbury, had his clearance charged down by Bournemouth substitute Joe Quigley, but the ball deflected wide of the post.
George was again called into action only a minute later. Quigley was given a clear run on the Salisbury goal, but George was quickly off his line to deny him a second for the Cherries.
Then, in the 80th minute, the Whites struck again. Mark Ford finished a slick Salisbury move from close range, after Sam Wilson, who had been strong since he had come on as a second half substitute, had turned the Bournemouth defence inside out. Salisbury, as a Wessex League side, had taken the lead against Premier League AFC Bournemouth, and were fully deserving of that lead based on their second half performance.
There was still time for Salisbury keeper Monty George to save a Jordan Green shot, but the Whites continued to defend superbly just as they had done throughout the game, and were not really troubled in the final few minutes of the match.
The final whistle brought to an end what had been an enthralling pre-season friendly, which had been worthy of the excitement surrounding the new club. This was not an undeserved victory for the Whites. They defended resolutely when under significant pressure in the first half, and were a joy to watch when attacking. Throughout much of the second half they took the game to Bournemouth, showing very impressive fitness levels against such a strong team.
Brandon Mundy may have been named man of the match, but there were many impressive individual performances for the Whites. Steve Walker stood strong at the back, whilst Demkiv again showed his class during the second half. Most importantly, this was a very good team performance by Steve Claridge’s men.
The night was filled with positives for Salisbury, with a 1,727-strong crowd showing the appetite in the area for the reformed club.
The Whites should travel to Portland United on 25th July full of confidence, with the buzz around the club suggesting this could be a very successful season for the Whites under the stewardship of Steve Claridge.
Match Report by Craig Anderson