Swindon Supermarine 2 Salisbury FC 2
BetVictor Southern Premier South
Saturday, 24 August 2019
By Alec Hayter
"We deserved nothing from this game" is how Assistant Manager Callum Hart summed up the visit to North Wiltshire, but we got a point.away from home. However, for me, whilst agreeing with his assessment, the word "disappointment" is also relevant - not just for the Whites who failed to protect a 2 -0 advantage with just under half an hour remaining, but also for Supermarine who must have felt that emotion as they failed to win a game that many would say they deserved to, after having had several good chances.
The idea of trying to avoid going behind was nearly blown out of the water in the early stages as, on two minutes, the home side were awarded a corner. An inordinate amount of space was afforded to Matthew Williams inside the box but his volley was dealt with comfortably by keeper Tom Smith, without whose performance, it must be said, the home side would surely have taken all of the points. On 16 minutes, Smith was again in action when a through ball found the dangerous Conor McDonagh, who tried to go round the keeper but was partially blocked, the ball eventually hitting the upright. A
let-off for the Whites, and under a minute later, Smith more or less settled his candidacy for Man of the Match with another good save from McDonagh's 25 yard effort.
Little if anything had been seen from Salisbury in attack and although they were beginning to become more comfortable with some calm controlled football, on 28 minutes a simple through ball found Kane Simpson in a good position, but this time Smith was hardly troubled by a weak attempt.
During all of this period, and in fact for the majority of the match, it seems unbelievable that Salisbury had, in football terms outplayed their hosts, and, only if that is taken into consideration could there be any justification for feeling that to take the lead on 37 minutes was well earned. As it was, Salisbury supporters were delighted and probably very relieved when Dan Fitchett received a good ball from George Colson and brought it under control, (with more than a little suspicion of handball), before firing a cross shot low past Martin Horsell to give his side the lead.
Thus the Whites went to into the break with slender advantage which really should have been cancelled out straight after the restart when the experienced Stuart Fleetwood found himself in a good position but shot wide. That brought a short response period from Salisbury as on 48 minutes Ricky Wellard hit a left foot rasper which Horsell did well to keep out, and 3 minutes later when the same player received the ball from Lewis Benson but was again foiled by the keeper who could only parry the ball back towards Fitchett.who was adjudged offside.
Fitchett was instrumental in Salisbury's second goal, which came on 56 minutes. He latched onto miss-headed attempted clearance by Matthew Liddiard, and managed to get the ball eventually to Warren Bentley, who had only been on the pitch for 2 minutes but nevertheless, showing great composure, placed a delightful shot past the home keeper to double the Whites' lead. The thought "clinical finishing" must have been a common one amongst Salisbury fans at that time, and they must have been confident that 3 points on the road at Supermarine were there for the taking, but 8 minutes later another thought reared its more ugly head when the ball was carelessly lost and McDonagh crossed it into the box for Fleetwood to grab Supermarine's first from no distance at all.
Salisbury’s defence began to look paper thin and shortly after scoring their opener, Fleetwood was through again but again Smith came to the Whites' rescue in denying the striker. Smith was forced repeat that act only seconds later when this time he was faced by McDonagh, and again showed judgement well above his years to time his block and avert the danger.
At last Salisbury then threatened with substitute Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick weaving his way along the byeline before seeing his finish blocked out, but that was the last of any action from the visitors going forward. Supermarine did what they usually do - that is, never give up.
On 69 minutes Smith touched a McDonagh freekick around the post and 2 minutes later the Swindon striker must have wondered what he had done to deserve meeting Smith in this form as, after a rat-a-tat interchange of passes with Fleetwood, he was again one-on-one with the young keeper. Smith won the battle again, but the sense of unease at the narrow lead at this late stage of the game was proven correct, as in time added another defensive slip saw the ball reach McDonagh, who this time gave Smith no chance to make it 2-2.
To complete Salisbury's misery an unsavoury incident well into time added saw Lewis Benson shown a straight red card, which means he will miss 3 games starting from next Saturday, unless any unlikely appeal succeeds. I suppose if you're going to get a red card, it's better to get it over and done with earlier in the season rather than later.
Having said all of that, before the match my money would have been on yet another draw, the third in succession against Swindon Supermarine, and, quite frankly, I would have settled for that at that time.
Three of the first 4 league games can all be considered local derbies to some extent, and, thank goodness, Monday's game doesn't really qualify, so we may get a better indication of how our season is going to pan out.
The "horses for courses" approach did not succeed in this game and there were clear signs that there is still a lot of work to do following a disrupted pre-season. With the personnel available, the Whites are going to be much better than this, and I'm confident that supporters will see an immediate improvement on Monday against Yate Town, who were held 2-2 at home to Toolstation Exmouth Town in the FA Cup today. Rather than think anything of that I would hope that those players involved on Monday will have in the back of their minds the fact that the Bluebells thrashed Taunton at the Viridor Stadium by 4-0!
Swindon Supermarine: Horsell, Hopkins, L Spalding, edge, Williams, Liddiard, Dinsley (H Spalding 90+3), Hooper, Fleetwood, McDonagh, Simpson (Campbell 54).
Subs not used: Shepherd, Turley.
Salisbury FC: Smith, Colson, Sommerton, Dawson, Amankwaah, Oseni, Benson, Mullings, Fitchett (Holmes 82), Wellard (Bentley 54), Young (Hippolyte-Patrick. 61).
Subs not used: Knowles, Bancroft.
Attendance: 389 Referee: T Holden.