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Match Report - Salisbury FC v Wimborne Town

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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.

Joint 1Pablo 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.

3 REMatt 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.

Joint 2Easy-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.

6Tom 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)



Match Report - Salisbury FC v Metropolitan Police FC

FB home sizeImage by Michael Berkeley

Salisbury FC 1 Metropolitan Police 1
Evo-Stik South Premier South
Saturday 1 December 2018

By Alec Hayter

Bearing in mind their recent exploits at the Ray Mac, the Whites' draw against the Met almost felt like a defeat, but to say only that would be to demean a game that panned out a bit like a chess match ending in a stalemate.

The stalemate was anything but stale though, with lots of good quality play from both sides at various stages of the match - in direct contrast to the game in Somerset three days previously - with the Whites just about shading it in the first half and the visitors coming on stronger later. In other words, both sides might have won it, but in the end a draw was probably a fair result .

Met Police showed why they are on a good run, with some compact, neat play, and took the lead on 5 minutes when Jonathan Hippolyte got round the back of the Whites' defence and pulled the ball back to one of two string-pulling players, Ethan Chislett, who beat James Hillson with a firm low shot into the corner.

We are quite used to seeing an early deficit in games, but equally used to seeing the Whites fight back, and it took only 5 minutes more before they did. Tom Whelan's superbly-weighted ball inside the full back to Bay Downing started the move, and Zack Kotwica finished it easily from Downing's equally superb ball across the box.

 Happy Zack REHappy Zack gets Whites' equaliser - Copyright Roger Elliott

 Chances fell to both sides with Max Blackmore's header being deflected on 21 minutes, whilst Whelan's 29th minute rasping drive was kept out by Charlie Burns.

The dangerous Hippolyte, looking suspiciously offside, then sent in a low cross for Blackmore to put his finish over, but on 42 minutes Kotwica thought he had scored after good interplay with Aaron Dawson, but the Assistant's flag denied him. Just before the iuterval Whelan brought a good save from Burns, and then Lewis Benson fired just wide from Jake Wannell's pass.

The second period started better for the Met, with marksman Jack Mazzone wriggling clear of Wannell but seeing his volleyed attempt saved well by Hillson, and then Hippolyte going wide of the mark with his effort following some poor Whites' midfield play.

There followed an unfortunate injury to Downing which caused changes to personnel, and that injury has been confirmed as a broken ankle. Three shoulder injuries, two goalkeeper injuries, and now injuries to two full backs continue the never-ending injury saga!

DowningBreaking point for Bay - Copyright Michael Berkeley     --     Bay carried off - Copyright Roger Elliott

On 72 minutes Whelan could only shoot weakly on the turn at Burns, but Hillson then did well to save a 25 yard Chislett shot low to his right at the start of a good, threatening spell from the visitors, who exposed the draining effect of a tough midweek game at Taunton on the Whites creating late opportunities.
Somehow Hillson acrobatically kept out a goal-bound ball on 82 minutes and with four minutes remaining the Met's Hyppolyte wasted a good chance after a breakaway with Chislett.

Salisbury summoned up from goodness knows where a last ditch effort for the points, and might have got them from a breakaway of their own, but the normally dependable Benson could only send his cross at keeper Burns, with four frustrated colleagues in the box.

To complete things, Dan Fitchett might have done better with a header from Benson's corner just before the final whistle,

A point is still good against a good side, but as Steve Claridge said afterwards :"We played well in the first half, but looked flat and leggy in the second, and maybe it might have benefited us if this game had been postponed, as happened at Taunton."

There is no game in the coming midweek, and that might be a good thing, but the Whites will be looking to take maximum points from the game against Wimborne Town next Saturday, and that will not be easy.

Salisbury FC: Hillson, Downing (Partridge 57), Sommerton, Mullings, Wheeler, Wannell, Benson, Dawson, Kotwica, Whelan, Young (Haysham 79).
Subs not used: Hopper, Hallett

Metropolitan Police: Burns, Webb, McLaughlin, Robinson, Arthur, Robertson, Knight (Gilbert 70), Chislett, Mazzone, Blackmore (Mummery 70), Hippolyte (Nyama90+4).
Subs not used: Birch, Guiness-Walker.

Attendance: 552 Referee: C. Hubbard (Little Canford)

Taunton Town vs Salisbury FC - Match report

Standard away 01
Taunton Town 4 Salisbury FC 3

Evo-stik South Premier South

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

By Alec Hayter

Once more the Whites were made to suffer at the hands of the Peacocks in Somerset, but all that was proved or settled on the night was that sometimes in football better sides are beaten by grit and determination. That is not in any way to take anything from Taunton's win, but in truth they were also greatly helped by some mistakes and stupidity by their visitors. The Peacocks play a brand of football which fully utilises their players’ strengths and of course that is probably the aim of most football managers, but, for me, last night’s product was not an attractive one.

I'm sure that some eyebrows were raised when the team lineup was announced but, once more, the performance proved that most of the choices were correct, and in fact, Tom Whelan, playing in an unaccustomed well advanced role, wasted no time in showing his versatility. Unfortunately on two minutes his finishing did not match his approach and he lobbed the ball onto the roof of the net when one-on-one with home keeper Lloyd Irish.

Taunton hit back straight away when Andrew Neal's effort went narrowly wide and on 8 minutes a fierce Pierce Mitchell drive was deflected for a corner, but then it was Whelan who had a second chance to put his side two up in the first 10 minutes when he wriggled between two defenders before tamely firing over.

A lightning raid on 20 minutes however gave the home side the lead when Neal got down the left and fed Lewis Hall who scored across Jake Hallett from a narrow angle.

Almost in the same time it takes to write these words, the Whites were back on terms when Lewis Benson's good work saw him provide Pablo Haysham with an opportunity which he lapped up from the edge of the box with a well aimed cross shot into the far corner. An absolutely ideal response, and on 28 minutes Haysham pulled the ball back to Benson whose shot was gathered by Irish.

On the half-hour ex-Salisbury Ryan Brett showed when a corner into the danger area found Matt Buse who will have been disappointed to put his 6 yard header way over the bar. The game was end to end and open, and 5 minutes before the break Taunton had another attempt when Dan Sullivan shot too high.

All square at the break was a fair reflection on chances but not a fair reflection on quality as there was only one team trying to get the ball down and play.

Straight away in the second half Taunton took up the cudgels and had the ball in the net through Sullivan after Neal's effort was parried out to him, but the “goal” being ruled out for offside, but shortly afterwards the Peacocks regained the lead when Lewis Hall went through the middle and, possibly seeing little other option, let fly with a 25 yard shot which dipped under the bar but unfortunately over Hallett. This produced a response from the visitors and on 50 minutes Luke Hopper was unlucky to see his shot on the turn go just wide.

After a further 15 minutes, Whelan, who had caused havoc every time he was on the ball, reverted to a more normal role of taking a corner kick and Kane O'Keefe will have been more disappointed than Taunton's Buse with his attempted header.

On 66 minutes another attempt from Andrew Neal suffered the same fate but then there started a period of the game which most will remember, but some will want to forget. With 20 minutes remaining a Lewis Benson free kick fairly rocketed across the goalmouth but Bay Downing could get nothing on it and 5 minutes later Ben Adelsbury's freekick was brilliantly tipped over by Hallett.

The Whites were giving as good as they got however and another cross, this time from substitute Danny Young caused the Salisbury equaliser when Josh Nelmes could not avoid putting the ball into his own net.

The tide seem to have turned with 9 minutes remaining when yet another thrusting Whelan run saw him felled in the area by Ed Palmer****. Referee Kane had no hesitation in pointing to the spot but a good deal of hesitation, involving a consultation with his assistant, before deciding, surprisingly, not to show a card to Palmer, which would have course meant that he left the action, and that may well have proved crucial as with a short period of normal time remaining and with a man advantage, the Whites might well have grabbed all 3 points. Hopper duly converted the penalty to put his side in the lead for the first time in the match.

From the hour mark, and in the lead, the home side indulged in delaying tactics which caused keeper Irish to go into the referee's notebook, but unfortunately no one else, and the referee must have noted approximately 6 minutes of time that had been wasted . Regrettable as it is to say, when they were in the lead, the Whites adopted similar tactics, but the end result was that 8 minutes of time added were played, during which the match was settled.

Two minutes into time added a pinpoint Brett freekick panicked Hallett into a wrong decision whereby he parried the ball across goal as opposed to perhaps better touching it over his bar. Nelmes could not believe his luck with a free header in front of goal to make it 3-3.

Worse was to follow when Aaron Dawson suffered an attack of red mist and according to the referee verbally abused both him and his assistant, forgetting that he was already on a yellow card. He walked, and the Peacocks strutted to 3 points when another Brett cross found the head of Buse who also could not miss from close in.

The game ended with Hallett to some extent regaining his spurs in a one-on-one, but this game really was a case of what might have been. What is, however, is an eight-point gap between Taunton and Salisbury, although the Whites have a game in hand, whereas a success in Somerset would have meant a points advantage to the Whites and of course still with a valuable game in hand.

A depressed Steve Claridge said afterwards: "Only Salisbury could lose a game like that. We had our chances, particularly when the ball went across their goal more than once. I made my substitutions, which were correct, at the correct time, and initially that changed the game."

There is no doubt that in 8 days the Whites have suffered in one way or another from officials but they must also recognise their own shortcomings which ruined an otherwise very good performance.

I am confident that normal service will be resumed on Saturday against Metropolitan Police, although that match is sure to be another tough test.


Taunton Town: Irish, Mitchell (Nelms 46), Hall, Adelsbury, Palmer (Veal 88), Buse, White, Brett, Wright (Chamberlain 63), Sullivan, Neal.

Subs not used: Gardner, Emmerson

Salisbury FC: Hallett, Downing (Fitchett 77), Wheeler, Mullings, O'Keefe, Partridge, Benson, Dawson, Hopper, Whelan, Heysham (Young 77)

Subs not used: Kotwica, Shephard, Sommerton.

Attendance: 602                   Referee S Kane (Saltash)


*** Apologies are due because of mistaken identity on my part. I am informed that the defender was Josh Nelmes and not Ed Palmer.

Match Report - Salisbury FC v East Thurrock United

ETU FB home size
Salisbury FC 2 E. Thurrock United 1
Buildbase FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
Saturday, 24 November 2018

By Alec Hayter

What follows Black Friday?... a Whites' Saturday of course, and E T went home with no reward, but although it was a case of getting back to winning ways, there seemed to be obvious signs of "leftovers" from a tough match at Weymouth in the week. It would be cruel and unfair to use the term "lifeless performance", but in Steve Claridge's words "We looked weary after a tough game at Weymouth. He added “we did ‘just enough’, but it’s not often I’ve had to say that”.

The Whites are in the hat for Monday's draw, and that was the aim, but the win did not come without cost as Aaron Dawson and Bay Downing both picked up second cautions in the competition, new rules meaning they will automatically miss the next tie.

It was perhaps not too difficult to see why the Rocks are struggling near the foot of the Vanarama South league, but, having said that, their league is still one up the pyramid from ours and it was good to defeat a team from that league as, in a strange way, that avenged the FA Cup loss at the hands of Weston-super-Mare. Should we manage to gain promotion at the end of season, we now have a good indication of the minimum level above which we would have to perform in order to survive.

Salisbury started the game in the face of a howling gale, as evidenced by the number of times that clearances from the visiting goalkeeper went straight through to James Hillson, but after Downing had had a 5th minute shot cleared off the line it was only a further three before the lead arrived, and it was the same player who powered in an 8 yard header from Lewis Benson's curling wind-affected delivery. All good therefore and another almighty scramble on the goal-line saw the visitors survive once more with Jake Wannell's header being hacked away. Had the one goal lead became two, I’m sure that that would have put the game to bed, but on 27 minutes, all of a sudden the Rocks got bolder (ouch!), a Steve Sheehan drive fizzing just over the top from the edge of the box.

Downings opener gets the crowd baying for moreDownings opener gets the crowd baying for more. - Copyright Roger Elliott

That was all they offered in the first half, and just before the break Downing (again!) sent in a 25 yarder which also frightened the visitors’ woodwork. Straight away at the start second half the Whites went on the attack again with Tom Whelan bringing a superb save from visiting keeper Jack Giddens.

It came like a bolt from the blue when the Rocks equalised on 56 minutes. There seemed little danger when Ben Marlow picked up the ball just inside the Salisbury half and, possibly because he could not see any alternative, he unleashed a swerving drive from outside the box which gave James Hillson little chance.

Stirred, but not shaken, a good move eight minutes later saw Whelan forage through the channel before spraying a pass to Chris Shephard, one-on-one with the keeper, but unfortunately Shephard's touch unusually let him down and the chance was gone. No matter, as Whelan got through again on 68 minutes to test Giddens with another right foot effort which he saved well. Giddens could do nothing though minutes later when Danny Young cut inside and squared an inviting ball to Whelan whose first-time low shot ripped past him from 15 yards, before he could move.

Toms first half sighter before his later winning goalTom's first half sighter before his later winning goal. - Copyright Roger Elliott

This made the Rocks start a last-ditch effort for an equaliser and, had it not been for Hillson, they might well have succeeded. Frankie Hession-Harris and Tom Derry both brought the best from the keeper who made a fantastic double save to maintain the slender lead. Undeterred, three minutes later the visitors produced what was to be their last attempt when Danny Harris managed to get almost to the goal-line but chipped his finish onto the roof of the net from a narrow angle.

The last action was at the East Thurrock end however when Josh Sommerton had got well forward and was in fact coming back towards his own goal when he appeared to be clipped from behind in the area, with the manner in which he fell being seemingly impossible to achieve without some contact. Referee James Durkin, nearby, either saw nothing, or something completely different to most watching as he waved away appeals for a penalty which, had it been given and scored, would have made the scoreline more representative.

So we now have the anxious wait on Monday to find out our opponents in the First Round Proper, and that will be especially interesting as of course the Vanarama Conference National sides enter the fray. The competition is still regionalised at this stage, so whoever is pulled out will provide a game somewhere in the South (who knows, with the way the draws have been going, maybe the venue will be the Ray Mac!).

In the meantime however there is the little matter of a trip to Taunton Town on Wednesday. The Peacocks made the most of other teams' involvement in the FA Trophy by going to Farnborough and returning four goals and an important three points better off, which sees them return to the head of the table, having played one more game than both Weymouth and ourselves. As Weymouth are involved in an FA Trophy replay on Tuesday we have a chance to go back into second spot a day later, but course that is by no means an easy task!

It's great to hear that there is a coach going to Taunton and it be even greater to hear your voices during the game.

Salisbury FC: Hillson, Downing, Sommerton, Whelan, Wheeler, Wannell, Benson, Dawson, Fitchett (Kotwica 77), Shephard (Mullings 66), Young (Haysham 77).
Subs not used: Hopper, O’Keefe

East Thurrock: Giddens, Marlow, Marsh-Brown (Mudd 79), Michael-Percil. Scott (Hession-Harris 69), Sheehan, McLeod-Urquhart, Prestedge, Batt (Derry 37), Harris, Lee.
Sub not used: Moncur

Attendance: 465 Referee: J Durkin (Portland)