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Match Report - Metropolitan Police FC v Salisbury FC

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Metropolitan Police FC 2 Salisbury FC 2

Evo-stik South Premier South

Saturday, 16 February 2019

By Alec Hayter

Take two good sides, some real grass, a generally good set of officials, and a competitive game of football played in the proper spirit, and you have the recipe for an entertaining 90+ minutes. Top that off with what was fair result, and you gain the satisfaction of a good day out and a hard earned point. In the context of the run in schedules of teams at the top of the league, this point was probably more significant than it might at first appear, in spite of both Weymouth and Taunton succeeding in picking up maximum points from their away trips.

The Whites started well, and on 14 minutes a short free-kick from Aaron Dawson set up Lewis Benson who surged forward from midfield before unleashing a 25 yard effort that shaved the upright, before, seconds later, Dan Fitchett turned his man but, being forced wide, dragged his cross shot wide of the far post.

It was not surprising, therefore, that the home side reacted and in terms of chances had the majority of the game up until the interval. On 18 minutes a long cross from Josh Webb gave Oliver Knight a headed opportunity but the ball went wide from 12 yards, and shortly afterwards Max Blackmore found himself in an alarming amount of space in front of goal but volleyed over the top. As both sides sparred in midfield, it was not until the 35th minute that either goal was threatened, Knight looping a 25 yarder over the top.

The Whites fell behind with 5 minutes remaining in the first period to an absolutely superb finish from the prolific Jack Mazzone. If the game had been settled by this strike then there would have been little argument that it was a worthy winner, and is difficult to do justice to the manner in which the striker launched himself at Webb's cross to send an absolute screamer past debutant Liam Driscoll from 15 yards. Such was the quality of the finish that, strangely, maybe it did not actually have the damaging effect on dressing room feelings as it might have done.

Salisbury came out with renewed vigour after the break and that soon showed when Charlie Rayfield crossed low into the box for Fitchett to see his near post attempt blocked. Four minutes in the Whites got back on terms from a Benson corner which reached Jack Sparkes at the far post on the right. The Exeter loanee showed his cool in cutting back onto his left peg and beating home keeper Sam Mason with a low shot to level things up.

SparkesJack Sparkes' timely equaliser got the Whites back on terms - Copyright Michael Berkeley

On 52 minutes Salisbury were denied what might have been a justified penalty appeal (of the "seen them given" variety), but five minutes later they were again unlucky when Dawson and Fitchett combined well for Bouwe Bosma to put his finish just high.

Just after the hour a trademark Benson curling free-kick from distance evaded the whole of the home defence including the keeper but also, unfortunately, the upright, and the home side went straight to the other end forcing a goal-line clearance from Elliot Wheeler after a long throw had caused chaos in the visitors’ box.

On 66 minutes, following a lightning raid, Mazzone nearly wriggled clear for what would surely have been his second goal but Dawson had little alternative but to try and rob him from behind. Referee Begley pointed to the spot and Mazzone finished what he had started, calmly dispatching ball low to Driscoll's left. At the time, this seemed likely to be the killer blow, but to say that is to deny the spirit of this Salisbury side who might have got back on terms ten minutes later after a long cross found Bosma, who unfortunately couldn't keep his finish down.

More goal-line heroics were necessary on 77 minutes and with ten minutes remaining Driscoll was forced to make a good save from Knight’s effort from the edge of the box, but, as opposed to conceding a late goal, today it was the Whites' turn to score late on and take a precious point. A Sparkes corner went to the far post where the alert Dawson volleyed home, to add to his impressive goalscoring feats of late and get a deserved point with what could prove to be a very important goal.

DawsonMidfielder (turned striker?) Aaron Dawson who notched an important late equaliser - Copyright Roger Elliott

So after 90+ minutes of good football and honest endeavour, both sides appeared to come out of the game as they had started, but that is only on the surface and I'm sure that the performance and result will be a confidence boost to the Whites as we near the business end of the season.

In order to continue the push, Salisbury need to return from Kings Langley on Tuesday with some reward, and after Lango were soundly beaten by next Saturday’s opponents Basingstoke Town, this will undoubtedly make the task more difficult. When the going gets tough.........etc, etc....but a look at the table shows that there is everything to play for. COYW!!


Metropolitan Police FC: Mason, Webb, Guinness-Walker, Arthur, Robinson, Birch, Knight, Chislett, Mazzone (Hippolyte 72) , Blackmore, Robertson.

Subs not used: Murdoch, Bailey, King, Fisher.

Salisbury FC: Driscoll, Rayfield (Shephard 78), Sommerton, Whelan, O'Keefe (Herbert 90), Benson, Dawson, Fitchett, Bosma (Mullings 90+2), Sparkes.

Subs not used: Young, Skeen-Hamilton.

Attendance: 300                   Referee: M Begley.

Match Report - Basingstoke Town v Salisbury FC

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Basingstoke Town 0 Salisbury FC 2

Evo-stik South Premier South

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

By Alec Hayter

Eeeenterestink, very eeenterestink (best said in a foreign accent – try it!), and of course the comment arises because I'm looking at the league table following the 2-0 victory at the Camrose. No further explanation necessary, as points in the bag are great, but games to be played probably as relevant as the Whites go into second spot, having played two more games than Weymouth and Metropolitan Police of the chasing pack. I’ll happily take the points position – for now at least!

The win at Basingstoke was, like any win, very important, and massive in the scheme of things, and following the Dragons' superb result at Weymouth three days earlier became more so as the home side had been buoyed by their Dorset success. In the first 20 minutes the lively Sam Smart, probably their best player on the evening, cut in before seeing his finish from just outside the box blocked by Elliot Wheeler, and later, a cross from the Basingstoke left found Harry Pearse in front of goal whose effort was deflected high.

A minute or so later however, Salisbury first showed serious intent when Lewis Benson got down the right and pulled the ball back to Luke Hopper, but his attempt hardly troubled home keeper Tom McGill. Almost immediately afterwards Jack Sparkes tried his luck from the edge of the box but again McGill had an easy task. Sparkes tried again, this time tricking a defender before seeing the woodwork keep the ball out.

Something was building and on 24 minutes Bouwe Bosma had a shot blocked, the ball coming out to Tom Whelan who returned it with interest low into the corner after side-stepping a defender, to make it 1-0 to the Whites.

WHELANTom Whelan's first goal celebration - becoming a very good habit! - Copyright Michael Berkeley

Some seven minutes later Salisbury had a penalty shout for handball by Dean Stow, but had referee Jonathan Creswick blown it may have been a harsh decision, whilst at the other end the official was ideally placed to wave away another penalty appeal after a coming together between Smart and Claudio Herbert.

On 33 minutes Argent had the ball in the net but the assistant's flag ruled out the effort. As Town pushed for an equaliser before the break Stow hit a speculative 35 yarder straight at Jake Hallett, so at the interval the Whites held a slender lead, although, in truth, they had looked fairly comfortable during the first 45 minutes.

That comfort could have been increased straight after the break however when Hopper was through the defence but could only shoot weakly at McGill when he perhaps should have done better, but Salisbury continued their spell of pressure and on 50 minutes Whelan found Sommerton who, on the overlap, squared the ball to Hopper who somehow managed to find the upright when only 5 yards out.

The home side had half chances through Pearse and Argent before, just when thoughts of unrewarded pressure were surfacing, Salisbury's Aaron Dawson got a very valuable second goal on 66 minutes, having received the ball from a Hopper header before squeezing a left foot finish in through a forest of players.

GOALAaron Dawson strikes, and it's in the net for Whites' second. - Copyright Michael Berkeley

The Whites were now once more relatively in the comfort zone, but to their credit, the Dragons were in no mood to give up. On 76 minutes substitute Zidan Akers caused Hallett little bother with his right foot effort from the edge of the box but three minutes later the keeper was tested more severely by Pearse, and as we entered the usually dreadful period in Salisbury games Pearse again saw a fierce effort blocked by the Whites' defence, and they were thus able to see out the game without any last minute drama.

A good and important three points therefore, and four taken from two successive away games in very different conditions. On Saturday it was Hendon's 3G surface, but at Basingstoke it was real grass, and surprisingly plenty of it, given the weather-beating it had taken the previous few days. On Saturday the surface was quick, and on Tuesday it was less so and fairly heavy, but the Whites came through both tests and achieved a fair return.

On Saturday, there is yet another different test against Farnborough who, after only losing one game in the last ten and getting three clean sheets in their last three, have risen from their previous relatively desperate state to ninth in the league. The Whites will be hoping to complete the double over their Hampshire opponents, but will need the vocal support of their twelfth man to help them do so. Please get along to the Ray Mac on Saturday!


Basingstoke Town: McGill, Orvis, Gerrard, Stow, Kennedy (Akers 72), Wakely

(Bayliss 9), Smart, Duncan, Argent, Deadfield, Pearse.

Subs not used: Harris, Hunt, Granger.

Salisbury FC: Hallett, Herbert, Sommerton, Whelan, Wheeler, Morgan, Benson, Dawson (Mdlalose 82), Hopper (Skeen-Hamilton 77), Bosma (Mullings 86), Sparkes.

Subs not used: Fitchett, Rayfield.

Attendance: 473                   Referee: J Creswick .

Match Report - Hendon FC v Salisbury FC

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Hendon FC 2 Salisbury FC 2
Evo-stik South Premier South
Saturday, 2 February 2019

By Alec Hayter

Although Salisbury's travelling fans might have felt disappointment at their team's only taking one point from their visit to Hendon, I think many would have settled for a point before the game, especially as it was played on yet another 3G playing surface. It's a good job it was however as it was one of only three league games to survive the snow, and that must have been down to a tremendous effort by the home side's volunteers. Any disappointment must however be tempered by having to a play on something other than grass, and by the fact that this was a very hard earned point away from home. A draw was a fair result after an entertaining game which was as different as chalk and cheese from the physical battle with Taunton four days earlier. Both sides tried to play today, and succeeded.

Things didn't start well for the Whites as in the first real attack at either end Hendon took the lead on seven minutes after a pinball session in the Salisbury box. As a result of no particular science or skill the ball came out towards Shaq Hypolyte-Patrick who, without hesitation, belted it back past James Hillson. The keeper stood no chance whatsoever of keeping it out.

Seven minutes later Luke Tingey hooked an overhead effort over the top when maybe he should have done better, but on 22 minutes Salisbury had their first real go when Tom Whelan's 25 yard low right foot cross shot was pushed round for a corner at full stretch by home keeper Danny Boness. Twelve minutes later Bouwe Bosma fed Dan Fitchett whose effort from a similar distance went wide of the target, but straight away Hendon replied when a long ball went through the Whites defence and set Lewis Toomey in the clear. It looked odds-on a second goal, except that Hillson had other ideas and made a great save in a one on one.

Whelan tried his luck again from just outside the box on 44 minutes, but shortly before the referee blew for half time Salisbury got back on terms when a Benson cross was headed back into the mix by Elliot Wheeler and Fitchett, facing his own goal, executed a perfect overhead finish low into the corner.

The level score at the break was a fair reflection of what had gone before, although the Salisbury keeper will probably want to forget an incident just before the teams left the field when, after coming out for the ball, he unwittingly presented Hippolyte-Patrick with a good opportunity - thankfully wasted, with the finish going high.

The first part of the second half was almost all Hendon and on 52 minutes Hillson was forced to make a good save from Matty Harriott after the wide man had received a good ball in from Charlie Smith. As Hendon kept up the second half pressure Smith provided two further assists, firstly giving Tingey a 15 yard headed opportunity which went over the top on 57 minutes and then four minutes later doing the same for Darren Locke who repeated the miss in almost exactly same way.

Enough was enough for the Whites and they sprang into action on 63 minutes when Benson sent in a teasing, curling cross from the right which left home keeper Danny Bowness in two minds as to whether to come for it or stay, but by the time he had made a decision Fitchett had nipped in to volley in the Whites', and his, second.

PairElation (or not!) depending on kit colour, as the Whites celebrate the first of two Dan Fitchett goals.

Following Hendon's tremendous start after half-time, the Whites' second goal was against the run of play, but nonetheless very acceptable, and on 67 minutes Salisbury might have extended their lead when a Benson free kick found Wheeler, who unfortunately headed over from distance.

The slender lead began to look very slender as it was the home side who had the remaining chances with Hillson forced to make a great save in touching a 25 yard Ryan Hope sizzler over the bar on 72 minutes. With six minutes remaining the keeper again did well after Smith delivered a great corner to Ogi Ogi, and it was not until four minutes into time added that Hendon's efforts were rewarded with a late equaliser. The impressive Hyppolyte-Patrick capped a fine display when, in a breakaway from their own half after suspicion of a handball by a Hendon player, he sent in a raking cross from the right to the far post for Connor Callcutt to level with a close range header.

HillsonJames Hillson makes a top corner rescue.

Hendon were a very decent side when they visited Salisbury earlier in the season and they certainly know how to play on their 3G surface, as you would expect, but that was not the reason they got a deserved point from the game. They made chances throughout the game, although in the first half it was probably a case of "getting to know you" for Salisbury, as it seems that each of these surfaces they have encountered has had differing characteristics. Having got their equaliser shortly before half-time and then taken the lead just after the hour it looked as though maybe a very valuable three points would return to Wiltshire. However, the correct amount of added time awarded by referee Rhys Battye was telling, and Hendon made the most of their opportunity. Overall, a point was therefore very satisfactory. It is unlikely that many visitors to Silver Jubilee Park will avoid leaving empty-handed.

Next up is the visit to Basingstoke Town on Tuesday, and that match now has added spice as they unexpectedly took the points at Weymouth. They will obviously be on a high and Salisbury will have to be at their best to get anything, but after today's performance, and a pleasing debut from central defender Ben Morgan, they can be confident. Of course, a large travelling contingent can help tremendously..

MorganA commanding debut from Ben Morgan.

Hendon FC: Boness, Gardiner-Smith, Smith, Tingey, Locke (Ogi Ogi 82), Chappell, Hope, Manesio, Toomey (Callcutt 70), Hippolyte-Patrick, Harriott.
Subs not used: Brown, Hall, Murphy-McVey.

Salisbury FC: Hillson , Herbert, Sommerton, Whelan (Mullings 90+2), Wheeler, Morgan, Benson, Dawson, Fitchett (Skeen-Hamilton, 89) Bosma, Sparkes.
Subs not used: Hopper, Mdlalose, Haysham.

Attendance: 283 Referee: R Battye

Match Report - Salisbury FC v Taunton Town

FB home sizeCopyright Roger Elliott

Salisbury FC 3 Taunton Town 2

Evo-stik South Premier South

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

By Alec Hayter

Match sponsors Value Cars got good value from the white-shirted "vehicles" on the pitch, as did the crowd, but as a footballing spectacle, many, like me, would have been disappointed with the overall quality on display.

Enough of that, as the game not only contained many different aspects and controversy, but it also had a couple of turning points for good measure, with keeper James Hillson making a first-class save to prevent the visitors doubling their advantage and maybe closing out the Whites' prospects, and then, with his usual skill, Taunton's ex-Salisbury Ryan Brett doing what he does best from a free-kick later on.

After the setback though, the Whites went on to overturn the deficit and were helped enormously by the effectiveness of Jack Sparkes and Buowe Bosma, who played in their "advertised" positions for the first time, having previously been forced to start elsewhere because of the injury situation. They looked like round pegs in round holes. Jon Beeden also had a very promising debut without any real “getting to know you” opportunity.

Untitled 1Copyright Roger Elliott

Salisbury might have gone ahead on 10 minutes when Sparkes crossed from the left but Luke Hopper was just too high with his finish and, as often happens, (too often!), the opponents swept to the home end where left back Shane White will probably not have had more time and space this season to net the Peacocks' opening goal, drilling in a low shot. This only served to spur on Salisbury and three minutes later, Hopper was unlucky when Irish pulled off a good save at full stretch from his shot on the turn. With 20 minutes gone Sparkes saw his long range effort whistle past the upright, but 6 minutes later Taunton had a great chance when Ollie Chamberlain was gifted the ball and squared for Brett, who brought the aforementioned super save from Hillson.

Having had the warning, the Whites responded and for the next nine minutes took the game to Taunton. On 27 minutes Bosma touched the ball back to Aaron Dawson whose effort was just wide, before, three minutes later, it was all square. A ball up to Hopper, this time on the left, saw him cut in and fire a 25 yard effort low into the far corner past the scrambling Irish. In the build-up to the goal, another ex-Salisbury player Ben Adelsbury received a yellow card, and this later saw him dismissed for a second caution.

HopperHopper cuts inside before scoring - Copyright Roger Elliott

On 35 minutes as Salisbury continued the pressure period Benson threaded the ball through to Hopper, but Irish made a superb stop before, only seconds later, the home side could have gone ahead when Bosma was through but a defender deflected the ball wide.

On 38 minutes Pierce Mitchell hardly troubled Hillson with his left foot effort from the edge of the box for what was Taunton's third and only real threat of the first half, but that it was still 1-1 was finally down to another blocked Bosma effort when Hopper won the ball and it broke to the midfielder just before the whistle.

Before the game someone must have persuaded the players that when the referee blew his whistle to start the game it was actually for the start of the second half, as the intensity lacking in Saturday's first half showing was instantly there for all to see. It might not have been unreasonable to expect a slackening off for a period in the second half, but this didn't happen and on 48 minutes another Benson ball gave Bosma another chance from the edge of the box, but he lifted his left foot finish well over.

When it seemed that the Whites were comfortable, Taunton were awarded a free-kick just outside the Salisbury box in Brett territory. The free-kick was questionable when related back to an unpunished similar incident on a Salisbury player a few moments earlier, but it was never questionable as to what Brett would achieve for his team. There was a feeling of worrying inevitability within the press box where many would have been able to say exactly where the ball would end up (to within 6 inches). It duly did, and, for me, this was the one and possibly the only highlight of Taunton's performance.

As Weymouth found out on Saturday, nearly to their cost, Salisbury do not lie down easily and they went straight back on the attack with Tom Whelan chipping the ball over the defence for Hopper who was unlucky with a difficult chance, the ball virtually coming over his shoulder. With 16 minutes remaining though the Whites once again got back on terms. More intense pressure created the opportunity with Benson's low cross finding Sparkes. The ball clattered the upright, but Dawson was on hand to get his fourth goal in his last five games.

DawsonAnother long-range (!) Dawson finish. - Copyright Roger Elliott

There was bound to be a final response from Taunton, although by that time they were a man short, Adelsbury having received his marching orders. The response came (of course) from Brett, who, when I spoke to him afterwards confirmed very honestly that he didn’t mean it when he nearly curled a 35 yard free-kick straight in, but on 83 minutes Taunton's task became even more difficult when Keith Emmerson picked up a second yellow and was also dismissed.

Just before referee Baker signalled five minutes of added time (probably inadequate in view of previous incidents), Sparkes brought another good save from Irish with a 20 yard free kick, but the Peacocks’ delaying tactics came back to bite a few yellow backsides when three minutes into that five Dan Fitchett was quickest to react to a driven low cross forn the winner to send Whites' fans delirious - and rightly so. At the Viridor, delaying tactics had benefited the visitors -sometimes things even themselves out!

pairDan gets in front to get the points - Copyright Roger Elliott

The last three games have produced no less than 19 goals with two wins and one defeat, so goal lovers cannot possibly claim that they've been short-changed. Neither can they claim that games involving the Whites are ever in any way dull. Tip: NEVER leave before the end of the game!

After the game Steve Claridge said: "That result was something of a payback after the match against Weymouth, and although we've said it before, tonight's result may be a game changer.  We've previously not had much success against the top teams."

More of the same intensity please on Saturday at Hendon on their plastic pitch, and Basingstoke three days later, and good returns will certainly keep everything open at the top, although Weymouth did themselves no harm at all with a 2-0 win at Gosport Borough. It's there for the taking for more than one side!


Salisbury FC: Hillson, Herbert, Sommerton, Whelan, Wheeler, Beeden (Fitchett 65), Benson, Dawson, Hopper, Bosma, Sparkes (Young 90+5).

Subs not used: Hallett, Haysham, Mullings.

Taunton Town: Irish, Mitchell, White, Adelsbury, Palmer, Buse, Chamberlain, Brett, Wright (Nelmes 80), Emerson, Neal (Veal 85).

Subs not used: Dodd, Hall, Sullivan.

Attendance: 542                   Referee: A Baker (Wimborne)