Salisbury FC 2 Paulton Rovers 3
Wednesday 31 July
By Dave Todd
The Whites’ penultimate pre-season friendly was a competive affair, finally settled in our visitors’ favour by an excellent strike three minutes from time by Ben Bament.
Amongst a number of trialists, there was a first appearance from newly signed Kevin Amankwaah, whose former clubs include Bristol City, Swindon Town and Sutton United, as well as making 14 appearances for the old Salisbury City in the Conference Premier.
Paulton settled first and could have taken an early lead with more composure, although it was young Whites’ defender Charlie Burden who prevented Rovers from opening the scoring with a tremendous triple block on the line. Indeed, Burden’s performance alongside the far more experienced Amankwaah was one of the positives of the evening,
As the Whites started to impose themselves on the game Warren Bentley’s close-range effort went over the bar after Cameron Allen’s shot had been blocked, while a flowing move involving Albie Hopkins, Dave Jerrard and Nuno Felix ended with Jerrard’s shot being cleared off the line.
It was Salisbury who opened the scoring after 27 minutes. A neat exchange of passes between Hopkins and Allen saw Hopkins play the ball into the path of skipper Aaron Dawson who shot home from 10 yards.
Ten minutes later the visitors were level, however. Young keeper Will Betts’ short pass to George Colson put the full back under pressure and as Colson played the ball back towards Betts, visiting striker Bament was able to intercept and score with a simple finish.
Before the break there was action at both ends with Hopkins’ curled effort being tipped over for a corner by Paulton keeper Archie Matthews and Betts saving from Ed Butcher.
The second half started brightly for the Whites and after good play involving Jerrard and Darren Mullings, Jerrard fired over from the edge of the area.
After the usual raft of substitutions, it was Rovers who went in front. Brad Abrahams’ long cross field pass found Jacob Sloggett on the left and he evaded Christian Rowe’s last-ditch challenge to shoot past Betts.
The lead lasted only a couple of minutes as a powerful shot from substitute Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick, who played for Hendon last season, was parried away by Matthews, only for Bentley to fire home the rebound.
The pace of Hippolyte-Patrick and young Swindon Town loanee Jacob Bancroft was stretching the Rovers’ back line and Matthews again saved well from Hippolyte-Patrick.
Dawson then saw his shot crash down off the crossbar following a Whites’ corner before Bament’s shot from distance gave Betts no chance as it flew into the top corner.
With plenty of trialists on display, this evenly matched encounter will have given Steve Claridge food for thought as he finalises his squad before the start of the season with just one more friendly to come, at home to BetVictor Southern Premier South rivals Poole Town this Saturday.
Betts, Rayfield (sub: Colson 30), Felix, Dawson, Amankwaah (sub: Rowe 60), Burden, Gerrard (sub: Knowles 60), Mullings, Allen (sub: Hippolyte-Patrick 60), Bentley (sub: Romero 69), Hopkins (sub: Bancroft 60)
Subs not used: Benson, Fitchett, Sommerton
Paulton Rovers (starting line-up)
Matthews, Harrison, Sen, Hitchings, Allan, Abrahams, Sloggett, Hillard, Bament, Symes, Butcher