Salisbury FC 1 Swindon Town 6.
Tuesday 16 July 2019
By Alec Hayter
If people learn by their mistakes then after last night's game against a strong Swindon Town who seemed to be taking the game very seriously, the Whites will have improved tremendously, and as was obvious to most, in certain areas a vast improvement is necessary, although of course it is unlikely (hopefully) that we will meet the quality of the opposition on display during this game.
There is always something to be learned from friendly matches and this game was of course the sternest test so far, but perhaps the most disconcerting thing about it was the ease with which the visitors were able to open up a disjointed defence.
It started well however, with Josh Sommerton's through ball finding Lewis Benson who rounded keeper Luke McCormick but could not keep the ball from going over the byeline, but this was the last we saw of any real attacking threat until just before the interval.
In the meantime, Town could have been out of sight with Brandon Thomas-Asante being wasteful in the 4th minute one-on-one and then 9 minutes later when trying an ambitious lob which went over the top. Both chances resulted from long balls which were not dealt with.
On 15 minutes Gerard Benfield, one of the few Salisbury players to come out of the game with much credit, blocked Rob Hunt when he got through on the right, the ball falling to Thomas-Asante who should really have done better from 12 yards.
Gerard "busy" Benfield - ©Roger Elliott
Swindon threatened again on 19 minutes but Benfield did his job in blocking a one-on-one attempt by Kane Woolery, and it was really no surprise when two minutes later the visitors took the lead through the same player, although the free header came as a direct result of a central vacant space about 2 yards out a gift that was a surprise of the unwelcome type!
As Swindon pressed forward at will, another long ball found Woolery, who this time was denied by a brilliant one-on-one block by Benfield, but the keeper could do nothing on 39 minutes when a simple move through acres of space ended with the ball moving quickly from Lawson D'Ath to Thomas-Asante, who couldn't miss. That occurred on 39 minutes and only seconds later two became three when Michael Doughty fired the ball across the box to Thomas-Asante for his second of the evening.
At last, on 44 minutes, the Whites had another sniff at goal when Lewis Benson's low cross to the near post gave Dan Fitchett a sharp chance which he could only volley over the top.
With Town 3-0 up at the break it would have been reasonable to expect them to ring the changes with the match won, but they didn't do so until 18 minutes from the end. Just before the hour Benfield was again in superb action, keeping out a point blank volley from the impressive Woolery. There was no respite however,as Swindon swiftly got a fourth goal which was very similar to one scored by Ollie Knowles recently, the ball coming low direct from a corner diagonally outside the box where Scott Twine let fly with a low shot past Benfield. To prove he is not perfect however, two minutes later he disappointingly dropped the ball from a cross it looked like Town had added another, but the assistant's flag came to his rescue with an offside decision.
The one-way traffic continued and Benfield redeemed himself with a good stop from Adam May, before the biggest cheer of the evening on 70 minutes when the Whites grabbed what is commonly known as a consolation goal (but certainly wasn't really so on this occasion!), Josh Harfield belting the ball in from close range after a very rare moment of chaos in the visitors' defence.
The one moment of joy for the faithful - ©Roger Elliott
Retribution was swift as it became 5-1, with what was possibly the best goal of the evening, Tim Broadbent cleverly meeting a corner with a first-time volley which gave U18 substitute keeper Dan McCarthy little chance, as indeed was the case after substitute Jacob Bancroft, who had joined the action on 72 minutes with 5 other substitutes, turned his defender with consummate ease and sprinted away before planting a low shot into the corner to make it 6-1. McCarthy, though, will take one good memory from the experience, and that is his save on 83 minutes from Thomas-Asante's 12 yard strike. (well done young man!). In addition to the keeper, the Whites had a new trialist on display with 18-year-old midfielder Tom Lytchett, who hails from Darlington but now lives locally, having 65 minutes.
The scoreline is one which is extremely rare at the RayMac and one which no Salisbury supporter will be looking forward to being repeated. I'm sure it won't be, but on Saturday, life will again be difficult with the visit of Forest Green Rovers in what is a steady buildup to the serious action on 10 August. Even taking the quality of last night competition into account, there is some way to go, but probably no need to panic!
Salisbury FC: Benfield (McCarthy), Colson (Rayfield), Felix, Dawson (Cooper), Harfield, Lytchett (Burden), Benson (Young), Knowles (Gerrard), Fitchett (Bentley), Mullings (Mandson), Sommerton (Hopkins).
Unused sub: Hart.
Swindon Town: McCormick (Henry), Hunt (Cheshire), Curran, Broadbent, Romanski, D'Ath, May (Holland), Doughty (Wells), Twine, Woolery (Haynes), Thomas-Asante (Bancroft).
All subs used
Attendance: 439 Referee: Roger East (Salisbury).