Saturday 17 October 2015
Sydenhams Wessex Premier
By Alec Hayter
Sometimes, after a great performance, the next can be a bit “after the Lord Mayor’s Show”, but it’s not often that you can make that comment within the same 90 minutes... You could at Whitchurch, though.
It was soon obvious (in fact 29 seconds soon) that the Whites were in the mood to banish memories of their only defeat this season, at home to the Jam Boys, and when Tom Whelan (pictured) decided to stride forward after that short time had elapsed they were on the right track. A well-struck effort (doesn’t he always strike the ball well?) got just a little (!) help from the pitch and the ball reared up in front of perplexed keeper Craig Alford and into the net.
Two minutes later Kane O’Keefe floated a header over the top, but in spite of camping in the Whitchurch half, we had to wait until the 12th minute for the second goal to arrive. Whelan’s corner was met perfectly by Stephen Walker (re-christened Stefan by the announcer) and his firm header made it two.
A third goal a couple of minutes later you would think might have killed off the game, and was, let’s say, a little fortunate. The referee must have seen something that everyone around me, and including me, didn’t, and pointed to the spot as Claudio Herbert tumbled in the box. Vehement protests did nothing to change the official’s mind, and in spite of a “fairness and sympathy comment” that Ashley Jarvis should miss it, he had no such intention and stroked the ball home for 3-0.
A repeat of the Whelan corner and Walker header nearly added a fourth, but this time the tall centre back’s effort went just over.
Whitchurch had rarely visited the Salisbury half up until then, and in fact hardly did so at all in the first half, as it was constant Whites pressure, and this allowed Sam Wilson to cross from the right where O’Keefe could not keep his header down.
On 30 minutes the Whelan/Walker combination came back for the third time, and only Walker will know how, unchallenged, he almost completely missed the ball, and an absolute sitter, from 5 yards.
Within seconds Sam Wilson had caught the bug, this time flicking Danny Young’s low cross wide, and looked to have become well infected five minutes later when he headed over, but this time from only two yards.
That could have been the striker’s second of the game, and he might have completed a hat-trick four minutes later when George Colson fed him with an inviting pull back that Wilson put over the top. In fairness though, the ball bobbled just as he was about to strike it, making life difficult, as did the other bobbles produced by the surface. One worked for us (the first goal) but the pitch got its own back later!
Time added on produced a fair bit of drama. A Whelan free kick was fumbled by the keeper to Wilson but another easy chance went begging as the grateful keeper blocked the ball, and just before Wilson sent a 25-yard free kick at Alford, a violent tackle by Whitchurch’s Cole Hinchcliffe gave the referee no option other than to show straight red. The player did not protest, which says it all.
Salisbury went in at half time 3-0 up, when the lead could have been double figures and they knew that they were to be playing against 10 men in the second half. A chance to play some relaxed football and do the goal difference even more good perhaps?
No-one could have foreseen just how relaxed the team became, and after the 10 men had had their first two decent efforts of the game, Matt Austin passing the ball wide of the post, and then Tom Lockyer hitting the upright, the definition of relaxed became “sloppy”, and for no good reason the table-toppers contrived to make their hosts look a much better side than they were. Had there not been a three-goal cushion, then things may have become even more difficult. Salisbury only had themselves to blame for the predicament.
On the hour, keeper Gareth Barfoot took too long with the ball from a pass back, and would have cost his side a goal but for Colson clearing Reece Rusher’s lob off the line.
With Salisbury having made all their subs, the numbers were evened up as Danny Young left the action holding his shoulder, (nothing more serious than a dislocation that obligingly popped back in, I understand), and it was left to another sub, Robbie Matthews, to add a fourth goal one minute into time added, powering a header into the net from Jack Maloney’s cross.
So, first half great, if you ignore the missed chances, but the second half was “after the Lord Mayor’s Show”, and best forgotten. I suspect that the manager will not forget even though we added another three points to our tally!
Match facts: It was Whites' 14th match unbeaten, 13 of which have been won, and the fifth straight victory in October.
It gave them a seven-point lead at the top of the table over AFC Portchester, who were in League Cup action, losing 3-2 at Fareham.
Horndean are nine points behind in third place - with three games in hand - after leapfrogging Andover Town thanks to a 4-1 win.
Salisbury: Barfoot, Colson, Mundy, Whelan (Maloney 61), Walker, Vallis, Herbert (Demkiv 45), O’Keefe, Wilson (Matthews 60), Jarvis, Young.
Subs not used: Blake, Brockway.
Whitchurch: Alford, Alderman, Lockyer, Hinchcliffe, Hassell, Brown, Manders (D McCarty 61), Austin, Phillips, J McCarthy (Gill 63), Parry (Rusher 47).
Subs not used: McAulie, Hine.
Referee: M. Russell.