Salisbury FC 4 Wimborne Town 3
Evo-stik South Premier South
Saturday, 8 December 2018.
By Alec Hayter
The scoreline will go down in the records but anyone reading it in isolation will be none the wiser as to a true reflection of this game against local rivals WimborneTown, who had inflicted a comprehensive defeat on the Whites at the Cuthbury last season, and made life difficult at the Ray Mac.
Following the injury to Bay Downing another reshuffle was forced upon Steve Claridge, but a reorganised Salisbury defence still looked comfortable. In fact, they were in that happy state because of wave upon wave of attacks raining down on the Wimborne defence in a period of the game which was probably as good as, if not better than, any other performance this season.
Wimborne had no answer to the home side's enterprising play, and their highly rated keeper Gerard Benfield was forced to save twice with his feet in the first 13 minutes and then complete a trio of good stops 5 minutes later as the Whites fairly ripped into their opponents.
On 9 minutes Chris Shephard put in Lewis Benson whose shot to the near post was hacked away, and, four minutes later, Luke Hopper suffered the same fate with his finish after being put in by Tom Whelan. The opening goal on 20 minutes had an air of inevitability about it, and, when it arrived, it was of high quality – as indeed were all four of the Whites’ goals.
Pablo fires the first...and then...joy - All images copyright Roger Elliott or Michael Berkeley
Pablo Haysham, who has recently showing why he was signed, exchanged passes with Hopper and when the ball came back to the wide player he belted it into the net without hesitation, and without giving Benfield any chance at all. Even at that early stage my notepad said "men against boys" and thus the Salisbury domination continued until half-time- (with one exception on 29 minutes - when the Magpies' experienced Luke Burbidge got to the byeline and pulled the ball back for the normally lethal Tobi Holmes, who, under pressure, put his effort well over the top.
Again it seemed inevitable that Salisbury would increase their advantage and they did so after four minutes later when a Lewis Benson cross to the far post was just missed by Kane O'Keefe, but nevertheless fell, in front of goal, to Matt Partridge, who finished the job.
Matt Partridge's pear tree.....in front of goal, in the right place at the right time - All images copyright Roger Elliott or Michael Berkeley
On 40 minutes the impressive Hopper was unlucky with a shot on the turn which hit the side netting and four minutes later Benson's right foot effort from just outside the box whistled past the upright. Again, referring to my match notes, Salisbury had produced seven chances by the break to Wimborne's one.
At the start of the second period it looked as though little would change as on 48 minutes it became 3-0. A good move involving Josh Sommerton and Haysham gave Hopper the chance to calmly poke the ball home under Benfield.
Easy-peasy toe poke.....and more joy - All images copyright Roger Elliott or Michael Berkeley
What should have been the final cut occurred within a minute, when this time Benson fed the ball out to the right channel where Tom Whelan took a pace forward before scoring with another belter.
Tom Whelan leaves them in his wake before rifling in the fourth goal - All images copyright Roger Elliott or Michael Berkeley
There was no respite for the Magpies' defence and on 54 minutes another good ball from Haysham found Shephard who will have been disappointed to put his left foot finish wide. Four minutes later Shephard got through the left channel and fed Hopper but, after netting, the striker saw the assistant's flag raised for offside.
Just after the hour the woodwork saved the Magpies when Partridge's cross was met perfectly by O'Keefe, but the ball clattered the upright.
All good so far and it seemed to be a question of "how many?" But then, against the run of play, Wimborne grabbed a goal back through Burbidge who finished well past the previously virtually unemployed Jake Hallett. In reply, another Whelan effort met with the Magpies' twelfth man (the post again) and although Haysham netted the rebound, once more the assistant's flag muted celebrations.
By this time it could easily have been six or seven goals to one but Wimborne, to their credit, reacted and were bolstered by getting a goal back. A comment was heard nearby that they were going to "make a fight of it", and this they did, capitalizing on some poor defending and some good fortune when, after a goalmouth scramble, Tobi Holmes scored from a massive one yard out to make it 4-2.
With six minutes remaining Haysham put an effort over the top from the edge of the box but it was the visitors who had the last word when substitute James Stokoe fired a rocket shot goalwards. The ball was too hot to handle and came obligingly back out to him, and this time he made no mistake to give the final score an unreal twist.
The whole team, for most of the game, were superb, and there was hardly a weakness to be seen, except for conceding the late goals. As it happens this did not deny the Whites their just deserts -a valuable 3 points.
On Tuesday evening a different challenge awaits as Vanarama South Chippenham Town visit the Ray Mac in the Wilts Senior Cup Quarter Final, and the diversity of challenges is again demonstrated when Braintree Town make the trip from Essex in the Buildbase FA Trophy next Saturday.
Saturday’s attendance of over 600 was very creditable bearing in mind the proximity of Christmas, and the team would appreciate your turning up for the next two important cup games to ensure they have the best chance of making progress in both.
Salisbury FC: Hallett, Wheeler, Sommerton, Whelan, O'Keefe, Partridge, Benson, Mullings, Hopper (Fitchett 78), Shephard (Young 84), Haysham.
Subs not used: Kotwica, Wannell.
WimborneTown: Benfield, Penny (Stokoe 63), Hester, Davidson, Oldring (Lee 70), Clarke, Maybury, L Holmes, T Holmes, Burbidge, Young (Owen 82).
Attendance: 622 Referee: D Wootton (Cheltenham)