Match Report - Salisbury FC v Paulton Rovers

Salisbury FC 2 Paulton Rovers 3
Pre-season friendly
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

Match Report - Salisbury FC v Eastleigh FC

Eastleigh FCSalisbury FC 0 Eastleigh 7

Pre-season friendly

Tuesday 23 July 19

By Alec Hayter

It was good to see 280 of the Salisbury faithful turning out to see this game against National League Eastleigh, which of course followed a long run of home fixtures and perhaps more tellingly two heavy defeats against league opposition. Those who attended will have realised from the way the players set up that this was very much a team cobbled together to fulfil the fixture, with players expected to perform in unaccustomed roles. In particular, the centre of the defence was vertically challenged (!) and this showed in the first 17 minutes in particular when Eastleigh strode into a three-goal lead, with their goals coming from very similar situations involving three free headers which gave Nathan Ball in the Salisbury goal little chance. The first goal came after only 3 minutes through Scott Rendell with a header from only 3 yards out and the other two in this period from Jack McKnight and an unnamed trialist, who must surely have impressed those who were assessing him. It was a case of a makeshift lineup being ruthlessly exploited by a lethal front line to finish the game as any kind of contest in short order.

It was again, unsurprisingly, one-way traffic and on 20 minutes Danny Hollands put an effort just past the post before Ball excelled himself with a superb save from the Spitfires' trialist, but in a rare moment of threat on the Eastleigh goal their keeper Max Strysek flapped at a cross and the ball fell to Toby Holmes who will have been disappointed not to finish one of only three chances that the Whites were allowed during the whole game. The best goal of the evening came on the stroke of half-time when Eastleigh's Rob Atkinson let fly from well outside the box, but there was nearly some cheer for Salisbury when Lewis Benson signed off the first period with a trademark freekick kept out only by the woodwork.

More of the same in the second half would have been good from the Whites and in truth, they did improve, but the visitors steam-rollered a further 3 goals courtesy of more slack defending, an own goal and a well-worked move when Sam Smart fed the ball inside to Tom Bearwish to complete the scoring. Not even the substitution of 8 players, including two new young trialists, Henry Williams and Alex Yearwood had any effect on the outcome.

At least Salisbury supporters had something good in an attacking sense to take away with them when, before the end, a Dave Jerrard freekick found Dan Fitchett whose attempted volley somehow cannoned against himself and wide of the mark. It was that kind of evening.

Fitchett©Roger Elliott

Next up is what should be a much easier task away at Downton on Saturday, which, strikes allowing (not of the football kind), I will have to miss. I would naturally have preferred to take away with me some good memories of the latter friendly matches but can only hope that by the time I return for the home game against Gosport Borough there will have been some better results, but of course that period includes a tough game against Poole Town. Better results will surely follow the return of senior players from injury, which will in turn allow all to perform to their full capabilities in their correct roles. This was regrettably another case of the right game at the wrong time.


Salisbury: Ball, Young, Sommerton, Dawson, Hart, Colson, Benson, Mullings, Holmes, Bentley, Hopkins.

Sub not used: McCarthy.

Subs all used: Fitchett, Allen, Gerard, Cooper, Williams, Yearwood, Romario, Felix .

Eastleigh: Strysek: Partington, Green, Atkinson, Johnson, Boyce, McKnight, Hollins, Rendall, trialist, Miley.

Subs: Baughan, Flitney, Bearwish, Wynter, Scorey, Smart, Payne, Clement, Waterfield.

Attendance: 280                   Referee: Iain Parsons

Match Report - Salisbury FC v Forest Green Rovers

Match report photo right MORE SPACE
Salisbury FC 0 Forest Green Rovers 4

Pre-season friendly

Saturday, 20 July 2019

By Alec Hayter

As luck would have it, this may have been the right game, but, because of injuries and unavailability, maybe it arrived at precisely the wrong time, and although the result was another reverse for the home side, it must be realised that for those reasons this was not a match which would prove an awful lot. However, it did give experience to the younger players, and also provided a stern test for all including a couple of new trialists in Cameron Allen and Owen Davis. The former played up front and has been involved with several clubs following a career start with Bristol Rovers Youth, whilst Davis was given a short exposure following involvement in the Salisbury youth setup. As an indication of the Whites' problems Danny Young was forced to start the game on the right side of the defence and another youth player, keeper Dan McCarthy, who had a short period on the pitch against Swindon Town, played the full 90 minutes. On a positive note, this was the first opportunity to see Toby Holmes in a Salisbury shirt.

YoungDanny did a good job in a new defensive role - ©Roger Elliott

The visitors who took the lead on 13 minutes when Aaron Dawson gave referee Shane Mansfield little choice other than to point to the penalty spot after making contact with Junior Mondal, with the impressive Joseph Mills coverting the spot kick to give his side the lead. Although Rovers were already having the majority of possession, just before the half hour Salisbury produced a good move when Darren Mullings, in an advanced position, pulled a delightful short ball back into the path of Holmes who hit a fierce effort without hesitation, unfortunately narrowly missing the target, but the League 2 outfit were having none of that and two minutes later a good move involving Dayle Grubb and Joseph Mills gave the latter the chance to arrow a ball across the box to the far post where Mondal finished with ease off of the underside of the bar.

A further 10 minutes elapsed before another chance came to Rovers and this time Matt Mills headed just over the top from his namesake's corner, following which an effort from Grubb whistled past the upright. A few seconds before the interval Forest Green made it 3-0 when a fierce effort from Aaron Collins proved too hot to handle for young McCarthy, the ball cannoning off his chest to present Mondal with an easy opportunity.

The second half saw fewer goals than the first but with the same domination by the visitors, and two minutes in McCarthy made an excellent save from Collins, but in spite of further tremendous pressure, Rovers had to wait until 80 minutes before grabbing their fourth when, from a corner, McCarthy managed to parry away an effort, but the ball fell obligingly to substitute Shawn McCoulsky to net easily from close range.

BentleyWarren disappointed the bar got in the way of his last minute spot kick - ©Roger Elliott

With less than a minute remaining, the Whites had a chance to get a consolation goal when Albie Hopkins was brought down in the box, but Warren Bentley's spot kick, although well hit, clattered against the bar. Hopkins, who had joined the action on the hour, nearly profited before the final whistle when Bentley's pinpoint cross found him but he was denied by an excellent stop from substitute keeper Adam Smith.

In the cold light of day, there have been two heavy defeats at the Ray Mac in two games, but it must be remembered that the opposition was of high quality in both and it would have been extremely difficult even had Salisbury had a full squad available. Having said that, many of the goals conceded have been down to poor defending rather that good play by our opponents and that must be addressed. Results in friendly matches are of little importance, but lessons should be learned.

This match provided a good workout as, for most of the 90 minutes, Salisbury were chasing very mobile shadows in Forest Green Rovers, who narrowly missed out after the play-offs for promotion to League 1 last season. It should also be remembered that Rovers fielded a full first-team squad, whilst that paraded by Swindon Town was not far short of that standard either.

Another difficult test comes on Tuesday evening when Salisbury entertain Eastleigh, and when, hopefully, manager Claridge will have more players available, although most if not all of the U18 players will no doubt be engaged in a tough match against Bemerton Heath Harlequins in th final of the Salisbury Hospitals Cup at Laverstock.

Already the Whites have suffered more than their fair share of injuries, but hopefully, once the friendly matches are over, some players will have recovered to play their full part.


Salisbury: McCarthy, Young (Cooper 65), Sommerton, Dawson, Hart (Hopkins 60), Harfield, Benson (Mandson 65), Mullings, Holmes (Bentley 54), Allen (Davis 76), Gerrard.

All subs used.

Forest Green Rovers: Thomas (Smith 45), Godwin Malife, M Mills (Dawson 65), McGinley, Winchester, E Adams (McCoulsky 65), Morton (Williams 65), J Mills (Bernard 45), Grubb, Collins (Rawson 65), Mondal.

All subs used.

Attendance: 300                   Referee: S Mansfield (Chippenham).

Match Report - Salisbury FC v Swindon Town

swindonT©Roger Elliott

Salisbury FC 1 Swindon Town 6.

Pre-season friendly

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.

Benfield actionGerard  "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.

FansThe 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).