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