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Match report - Wiltshire Senior Cup Final

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Salisbury FC 1 Swindon Supermarine 3 (at Melksham Town FC)

Wilts Senior Cup Final

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

By Alec Hayter

Recent history shows that the Whites seem totally incapable of playing at Melksham Town's ground, and after a disorganised, shambolic and hopefully not symbolic performance which shortchanged their many loyal travelling supporters, it's easy to say that the result was of little consequence and to stand back in admiration for a league season which has exceeded all expectations.

However, that is the league season, which has proved that between the two competing sides Salisbury have had the better of things, and still have much to play for, whilst Marine only really had this chance of glory left. On the night, though, this was a one-off cup game and the Whites were soundly beaten by a very good side who, as a result of some astute signings, have formed themselves into a more than useful unit. They thoroughly deserved their win, but must also have been surprised with the ease with which they obtained it.

That Salisbury turned up at all was only really evidenced by the fact that eleven players took the field before the start, and it was not long before some sloppy play handed the initiative to Supermarine which they grabbed with both hands.  The Whites never shook off their initial sloth and were incapable of putting matters right against an organised opponent. The early signs were there as Supermarine missed two half chances early on, and on 20 minutes when Calvin Tinsley volleyed carelessly over the top from twelve yards, but on 36 minutes they went ahead when Henry Spalding cut in from the right and unleashed a great finish which left Jake Hallett only able to stand and admire.

One of the evening's obvious aims, to avoid injury, was denied when Luke Hopper left the action, such as it was, on 39 minutes, but earlier it must have been a relief to see Marine marksman Connor McDonagh suffer injury and hobble off.

It took until two minutes before the break (which says a lot) before Salisbury showed any serious threat when Tom Whelan's left foot attempt went well over the top from outside the box.

If the attitude shown in the first half was not enough to convince onlookers of the eventual result, then a poorly conceded second goal on 47 minutes surely confirmed the destination of the trophy, as a looping freekick from Jamie Edge was fumbled by Hallett and fell obligingly to Matt Williams, who could really make no mistake on the goal-line.

As the clock ran down Claudio Herbert had a good effort cleared off the line as Salisbury briefly stirred themselves, and then on 68 minutes when Danny Young cut back in front of goal but sent a firm effort not far wide of the mark. Darren Mullings then got into the box but was unable to control a difficult ball over his shoulder, with fairly unconvincing appeals for a penalty being waved away by referee Andrew Evans as Mullings tumbled under a challenge.

Supermarine responded with six minutes remaining when Harry Williams got clear but was foiled by a Hallett block and seconds later when Stuart Fleetwood brought an equally good save from the keeper, before a glimmer of hope appeared on 85 minutes with Chris Shephard's freekick to the near post being firmly headed past his own keeper by Joe Shepherd, meaning that Marine scored all four goals on the night.

Just before the end of normal time, Shephard, who had replaced Whelan with twenty minutes remaining and had an immediate impact, made his way towards the Supermarine box, but narrowly missed the target, and as a belated effort was made to take the game to extra time and possibly penalties (I'm sure that would have delighted few), Stuart Fleetwood was left in acres of space just inside his own half. A striker of his quality needs no further invitation and he outstripped chasing defenders before rounding Hallett and putting the icing on the Supermarine cake.

Much was made of the big screen in the bar showing the Manchester City/Spurs game and it was odd (well maybe perhaps not) to see presumably Whites' supporters on the terraces in front of me looking away from the live action and craning their necks to see the screen. They were probably right to turn their backs on what was before them as Supermarine outplayed their side and claim the spoils.

The game against Walton on Saturday was always going to be an important one but now assumes mammoth proportions..I've often said that after disaster it's always worth watching the next game for a reaction. On that basis, it should be one hell of a game on Saturday.


Salisbury FC: Hallett, Downing (Rayfield 64), Sommerton, Whelan (Shephard 69), O'Keefe, Wheeler, Herbert, Mullings, Hopper (Partridge 39), Dawson, Young.

Sub not used: Benson

Swindon Supermarine: Horsell, Shepherd, Hopkins, Edge, Liddiard, M.Williams, Spalding, Dinsley (Hooper 78), Fleetwood, McDonagh (H Williams 16), Campbell.

Subs not used: Coupe, Willianmson, Hill.

Attendance:400                    Referee: A Evans

Match Report - Dorchester Town v Salisbury FC

FB size©Michael Berkeley

Dorchester Town 1 Salisbury FC 4
Evo-Stik South Premier South
Saturday, 13 April 2019

By Alec Hayter

According to some semi-reliable sources a collection of magpies can often be referred to as a "murder" of magpies, and that is precisely what the Whites have, this season, done to teams with that nickname in terms of points at least, as neither Wimborne nor Dorchester have succeeded in taking any from games with us.

There is a saying that there are no easy games but I would argue that some games are easier than others, and today's meeting at the Clayson Stadium probably ranks as one, as in the whole game Dorchester were restricted to five chances, and hardly got out of their own half in the first 45 minutes and for most of the second period.

After five minutes, when a tame effort from Antonio Diaz was easily saved by Jake Hallett, Salisbury made the most of the 3G surface to employ their passing game and, rather like the game at Amesbury on Tuesday, passed and passed and passed with their first chance coming on nine minutes when Lewis Benson crossed from the right for Dan Fitchett to head narrowly over. Under 60 seconds later Bay Downing sent a measured pass over the last defender to Fitchett who this time was foiled by a desperate block by home keeper Nick Hutchins. Almost immediately, Salisbury had a handball appeal turned down after Aaron Dawson had made his way into the Dorchester area and squared the ball which appeared to hit a defender's hand, but a penalty would have been very harsh.

It was no surprise when on 21 minutes the visitors took the lead, with Tom Whelan showing the way, firing a low shot from distance into the corner. Soon after, more panic defending gave Darren Mullings a chance but his header was deflected wide.

WhelanTom Whelan's venomous finish, after a typical surge forward. - ©Michael Berkeley

On 29 minutes a second goal arrived, to the surprise of no-one really except perhaps the home keeper and defender who saw Claudio Herbert nip in between them to thunder in a volley for an opportunist goal, having received a long equally-measured diagonal ball from Matt Partridge. Two goals in two games for Claudio were just reward for his efforts.

HerbertWhites' second, and two in two games for Claudio. - ©Michael Berkeley

Either that second goal was what was needed to stir the Magpies or maybe caused Salisbury to relax, as four minutes later the home side might have got a goal back when Aaron Rodriguez' effort from just outside the box was deflected, completely wrong-footing Hallett, but ending up well wide. Two minutes later a cross-field ball found Tom Blair, but he launched the ball over the bar from close in, and it was Salisbury who finished the first period the stronger when Herbert got round the back of the home defence and pulled the ball back to Whelan, who will not have been best pleased by his moon-bound finish.

As if the game were not already practically all over, Salisbury rubbed salt into home wounds two minutes into the second half when a Herbert shot was blocked by a defender, the ball falling obligingly to Chris Shephard whose left foot finish gave home keeper Hutchings no chance, and after Herbert himself had hit the side netting after receiving a ball from Shephard, Salisbury's fourth arrived just before the hour. A Shephard free-kick much like the one he scored late on at Kings Langley did the job, and for the benefit of those of you who may have missed both, this one was another firm shot which left the goalkeeper with no alternative other than to stand back and admire as the ball went in the top corner.

ShepChris Shephard's finish, and then his teammates flock in celebration. - ©Michael Berkeley

On 66 minutes Hallett had his first serious action when he blocked out Ben Seymour in a one-on-one, but at the other end shortly afterwards, Whelan and Benson caused havoc with the latter squaring the ball fiercely across the face of goal, nearly netted by a home defender.

With twenty minutes remaining Benson’s corner to the far post found Luke Hopper who missed a relatively easy header, possibly because Partridge partially impeded him in also trying to get on the end of the delivery, and though there was really no pressure to add to their tally, the Whites still threatened as they had done throughout, and on 79 minutes Whelan again got into the area but was denied by a great save from Hutchings..

The last word however came from the home side when, with 9 minutes remaining, they scored a late consolation, out of the blue. I had just remarked that a rare clean sheet would be good, and lo and behold, Billy Lowes blasted a rising rocket shot to behold, from just outside the box, giving Hallett no chance.

In spite of that blot it was still great to pick up the three points which guarantee our place in the play-offs. Speculation as to our final position there though must have everyone looking at our fixtures and those of other contenders, and after doing that it should be clear that everything, apart from the virtually impossible champions spot, is still possible.

There must be no slipups against so-called “lesser" teams, starting with our next league game against Walton Casuals who inflicted a 3-1 defeat on us at their place on plastic in September. The game against Gosport Borough (enough said) threw up the possibility then that we might see ex-Salisbury Matt Tubbs make a cameo appearance, but it is very likely that next Saturday we will see another ex, Taurean Roberts, make perhaps more than that against us. In their position just above the drop zone, Walton will be anything but casual in their approach, so the game will not be straightforward. However, with the kind of support shown at Dorchester today there should be every chance of adding three to the points total.

Oh, and talking about difficult games, Wednesday’s Wilts Senior Cup final against Swindon Supermarine (7-45pm) also qualifies, as they of course inflicted a rare defeat on Met Police today.

Games and types of games are like buses, but I don’t know of a good bus service to Melksham, so please try and make it anyway by whatever means.

Dorchester Town: Hutchings, Egan, Martin (Granger 84), Rose, Walker, Kite, Rodriguez (Panesar-Dower 68), Lowes, Seymour, Diaz, Blair (Jackson 68).
Subs not used: Winsper, Latham.

Salisbury FC: Hallett, Herbert, Sommerton, Whelan, Partridge, Downing, Dawson, Mullings, Fitchett (Hopper 60), Shephard (Young 60), Benson.
All subs used.

Attendance: 607 Refeeree: Criag Scriven (Wedmore)

Whites' second, and two in two games for Claudio.

Match Report - Amesbury Town v Salisbury FC

FB size©Michael Berkeley

Amesbury Town 0 Salisbury FC 3
Salisbury Hospitals Cup Semi-Final.
Tuesday, 9 April 2019

By Alec Hayter

This was the type of game that is a "no-win" situation for the Whites, the predicament being whether to risk embarrassment or injury against a Sydenhams Wessex Division One side at the top of their league by playing senior players, or whether to play a younger squad with the embarrassment of being labelled Salisbury FC and perhaps losing the tie.

The Whites did win on a couple of counts; one being the result and the other having had a useful training game without incurring any obvious injuries. The size of the task facing Amesbury Town was rather aptly summed up by one of their players before the game who, in a brief conversation as to whether the match would go to extra time and penalties if necessary, commented: "I'll settle for just penalties now, and forget the 90 minutes!"

A near full-strength Salisbury side took the pitch and only 7 minutes to go into the lead, having been unlucky not to do so seconds earlier when Matt Partridge saw his effort cleared off the home goal line. The opener came when Claudio Herbert slotted home to effectively end the contest as although the home side stuck to their task throughout and did their best without any desperate strong arm tactics, (all credit to them), there was only ever going to be one winner, a fact borne out by my record which showed their having produced only three half chances throughout.

HerbertClaudio clobbers the first. - ©Michael Berkeley

Salisbury got their second goal on 22 minutes when Bay Downing slipped a delightful ball through the middle for the unchallenged Chris Flood to finish, but then as far as goals were concerned we had to wait until the 76th minute before the third arrived through Kane O'Keefe.

duoChris Flood and Kane O'Keefe complete the scoring! - ©Michael Berkeley

In summary, the visitors passed and passed and passed again on a difficult pitch, giving their hosts little chance, but unfortunately did not score and score and score! It would be a dereliction of duty not to mention at this point two glaring misses during the game when chances fell to Danny Young (enough said about those!), which, had they been taken, would have made the scoreline more reflective of the balance of play.

With so much time and space available to Salisbury, it's unlikely that much was learned from what turned out to be a gently- paced training session which was unfortunately scant reward for the majority of the crowd who made the short journey from the City. It was though a useful workout in match mode as opposed to pure training.

Salisbury can now look forward to meeting Bemerton Heath Harlequins in the Final at Laverstock and Ford' s ground, on a date yet to be determined.

One point of interest for travelling fans last evening was the appearance of Rhys Evans in goal who was signed as cover shortly before the season’s registration deadline. It was difficult to tell a lot about him as he had so little action during the evening but his record pedigree is very good. He is now concentrating on a goalkeeper coaching role, but formerly had vast experience with Swindon Town, Blackpool, Millwall, and Bristol Rovers, as well as a post in the latter stages of his career at Hereford as their goalkeeping coach. He has also been involved at Hellenic League side Royal Wootton Bassett.

EvansThe virtually untested Rhys Evans - ©Michael Berkeley


Amesbury Town: Crease, Palmer, Blake (Denyer 76), Jordon Matthews, Vallis, Ritchie, Hogan, Stubbs, Finnegan, Greenaway, Jordan Matthews (Roach 82).
Sub not used: McHardy.

Salisbury FC: Evans, Downing, Sommerton, Dawson, Partridge, O'Keefe, Benson (Rayfield 65), Mullings, Flood (Burden 67), Herbert, Young.
Subs not used: Fitchett, Hallett, Wheeler.

Attendance: 98  Referee: J. Welsh



Match Report - Salisbury FC v Gosport Borough

FB home size RecoveredCopyright Roger Elliott

Salisbury FC 0 Gosport Borough 2

Evo-stik South Premier South

Saturday, 6 April 2019

By Alec Hayter

We are into a new tax year, but that really is no reason why the Whites should tax the patience of their supporters as they undoubtedly did today in a defeat which has seen them hamper their chances of finishing in an advantageous play-off position.

People of a certain age (and there are quite a few amongst Salisbury fans) may remember a song which went "we're poor little lambs who've lost our way", and this just about sums up where we are at present - "poor" being the performance level for much of the game,  "lambs"  as in being led to  the slaughter of  3  wasted points, and, well, losing our way is what has happened in recent times, especially at home, with the exception of a none too convincing win over Farnborough Town.

This occasion should have been a mismatch between a side going for promotion and one fighting relegation, but it might have been difficult for a neutral to identify which team was which. Gosport approached the game in the correct manner and, in the end, thoroughly deserved to take the points, whilst the Whites huffed and puffed and missed some good chances, as well as, to be fair, having some bad luck.

Aaron Dawson, against one of his old clubs, was unlucky to see his volley dip just over from the edge of the box on three minutes, and then 16 minutes later with what turned out to be a lob that caused visiting keeper Pat O'Flaherty some difficulty in touching it over the bar, but for the first 38 minutes, we were mainly watching Gosport show surprising enterprise in attack.

On 7 minutes a Tony Lee cross gave Sam Lanahan a chance which was blocked and 6 minutes later Charlie Davis' corner went into the danger zone with Sam Roberts volleying over the top from close in when he really should have broken the net. After 23 minutes the impressive Ibra Sekajja found himself in front of goal from Harry Medway's pass but saw his effort deflected, and 2 minutes later another Davis corner saw Lanahan head well over the top.

At last, the Whites produced something going forward, with Lewis Benson's cross being headed unfortunately onto and not under the bar by Dan Fitchett. Two minutes before the interval a Chris Shephard corner found Elliot Wheeler, another former Gosport player, but he could not keep his header down, and seconds before the referee blew for the break, Fitchett got to the byeline and pulled back a delightful ball to Shephard who disappointingly missed the target high.

FitchettDan Fitchett's bar-bound header - Copyright Michael Berkeley

Not to be outdone, Gosport's Sekajja then cut in from the left and exercised Jake Hallett, who made a good stop to keep it scoreless after 45 minutes.

Nine minutes into the second half, the Whites produced what was their only good flowing move of the game, started by Bay Downing who moved the ball inside to Tom Whelan. Whelan, in turn, fed Shephard whose left foot blast was kept out by O'Flaherty with some difficulty, and hope sprang eternal. On the hour though, Benson's cross found Danny Young, who headed wide - a good chance gone.

YoungDanny Young's header disappointingly wide. - Copyright Michael Berkeley

Two minutes later Benson's fierce drive was parried by keeper O'Flaherty, the ball eventually finding its way to Jack Sparkes with time and space in front of goal, but the wingback sent a firm shot the wrong side of the upright - a good chance gone again.

SparkesJack Sparkes tries his luck - Copyright Michael Berkeley

Young then had a left foot effort blocked before the visitors took the lead on 66 minutes. Davis made the most of a freekick to loft the ball over the wall and into the corner very tight on the post, and all Gosport had to do from that point was to hold on to what they had, which has probably proved difficult for them in a difficult season, but hold on they did – and more. They were helped in no short measure by Elliot Wheeler's second yellow card on 70 minutes.

It was indicative of Salisbury's malaise when , two minutes later, there was no one present to take advantage of a searing Benson cross which defeated the whole of the Gosport defence, going across the face of goal, and with nine minutes remaining the Whites could have suffered further embarrassment when Sekajja found himself in the clear in front of goal but delayed, allowing his finish to be blocked.

With seven minutes of normal time left, the Salisbury defence parted obligingly as Ben Harding strode through the middle only to fire wide of the target, but that did not faze the visitors as three minutes into time added they got their second goal following box pressure which saw Hallett defy them with great saves on two occasions before being beaten on the third with Lanahan's close range finish. All credit to Borough for not just trying to see out the game.

Of all the teams vying for position at the top of the league, Salisbury appeared to have the easiest run in, but that's not the way it has worked out. Whilst the Whites were woeful today for much of the game, it must also be said that if Gosport had played in today's fashion all season, it is difficult to see why they languish near the foot of the table.

There are four league games remaining, with all but one of them against struggling clubs, and they need three points to book their play-off place. This should be perfectly achievable, and a return to the form of which we know they are capable should enable that, although maybe not in the optimum position to gain promotion.

And, by the way, for those of you not familiar with the song mentioned at the beginning of this report, the last three words are "bah, bah, bah" – my feelings exactly after 93 minutes today - or maybe the words were stronger!


Salisbury FC: Hallett, Downing, Sparkes, Whelan, Partridge, Wheeler, Benson, Dawson, Fitchett, Shephard (Hopper 72), Young (Sommerton 75).

Subs not used: Mullings, Flood, O'Keefe.

Gosport Borough: O'Flaherty, Medway, Reid, Harding, Roberts, Casey (Byrne 86), Lee (Barker 31), Davies, McAllister (Pennery 64), Lanahan, Sekajja.

Subs not used: Tubbs, Hoare.

Attendance: 714                   Referee: C. Nzenga (Southsea)