MATCH REPORT: Salisbury 0 Oldham Athletic 3
Salisbury FC 0 Oldham Athletic 3
Wednesday, 12 July 2017
By Alec Hayter
Oldham Athletic Manager John Sheridan brought a squad of 19 players for this match and the enormity of the Whites' task was shown by the fact that only one of those, a goalkeeper. The remaining players all played some part in the 90 minutes with the keeper staying on the pitch the whole time. The match was the first competitive action for this group of players after a trialist, reserve and youth squad had started off the pre-season preparations with a win at Stalybridge Celtic.
In the early stages the Whites seemed overawed and the Latics left them chasing shadows as they controlled the game, especially after being gifted a lead with only two minutes on the clock. That lead came courtesy of some poor defending with a ball square finding Ryan Flynn, with too much time and space, sweeping a low shot into the corner past the outstretched arm of Charlie Searle. Even without such an early lead the task would have been daunting but this only served to make it more so.
A further 8 minutes elapsed before an almost identical situation offered the chance for a second and this time it was the effective Craig Davies who squared the ball for Darius Osei close in, but the striker delayed his finish allowing a blocked clearance for a corner, which was successfully defended. On 20 minutes the Latics spurned another good chance when from an Ollie Banks corner Peter Clarke headed just past the far post, but 11 minutes before the interval the Whites showed when the excellent Stuart Green sent a through ball to Mark Francis who seemed to half hit his finish making it easy for the keeper.
After the break play was concentrated more in midfield and Salisbury had more possession in the Athletic half, with the Whites gradually starting to better match their opponents. On 62 minutes Lewis Benson sent a free kick just over the top from the edge of the box and 14 minutes later, shortly after coming onto the pitch, Whites' Vance Bola chipped the ball towards goal to Sam Roberts. With the best will in the world Roberts is not a striker and, in a brave attempt to take the ball on the volley, only succeeded in sending it into row Z. However, it's doubtful whether a striker would have found the chance to be any easier.
Just when the Whites were building up a head of steam they were hit by another soft goal, this time when a ball in from Kallum Mantack gave Tope Obadeyi a free header which he duly dispatched past Searle from 5 yards.
Salisbury didn't give up hope however and had perhaps their best chance of the match with 6 minutes remaining when Marvin Brooks, making a cameo appearance after having “enjoyed”(!) a mammoth 18 hour flight home from his holiday, found himself in the clear in front of goal. Perhaps understandably a lack of sharpness allowed a defensive clearance.
Just before the end Searle excelled with a point-blank save from Osei, but the salt was well and truly rubbed into the Whites' wounds a minute before the final whistle when Obadeyi got his second after a lightning strike and finish for the Latics' third goal, giving them a slightly flattering scoreline.
In summary then, this was a good performance, but two soft goals affected the outcome. Both Steve Claridge and Mick Jenkins agreed that the Salisbury players had all performed well against League One position and that it was another good work out against a fully professional outfit who pass the ball with conviction and also did things early as you would expect. Mick confirmed "After only having been back for two weeks I thought the lads stood up well and, to be fair to us, towards the end of the game in all honesty I thought we deserved a goal. Steve Claridge added "Against that quality of opposition it’s very difficult to judge our players but that's not what it's all about and I have no issues with the way the team played. Maybe physically they were better than us but at times we matched them in the way we knocked the ball around. The way we worked ourselves back into the game I thought was fantastic. These games are now all about shape and balance, workrate, and understanding between players."
Salisbury FC: Searle, Colson, Mundy, Whelan, Wheeler, Wannell, Benson, Roberts, Francis, Green, Young, Brooks, Herbert, Perrett, O'Keefe, Flint, Tavares, Bola, Larbi, Ball.
Oldham Athletic: Bailey-Peacock, Dummigan, Clarke, Edmondson, McLaughlin, Green, Banks, Flynn, Fawns, Davies, Osei, Mantack, Wilson, Gerrard, Stott, Gardner, Fane, Obadeyi, Holloway.
Attendance: 487 Referee: I Parsons.