Copyright Michael Berkeley
Staines Town 1 Salisbury FC 7
Evo-stik South Premier South
Saturday, 30 March 2019
By Alec Hayter
7-Up! I'll drink to that - but cannot conceal some frustration that the scoreline was not more, as the Whites took a long time to make hay after an early lead and even might have gone behind. However, that matters little, the important thing being another three points gained. As much of a banker that this game might have appeared to be, it is always true that there are no easy games and also that you have to beat what’s put in front of you, but Salisbury made unnecessarily hard work of their task against a side already facing relegation and possibly more.
The one thing that Staines didn’t lack was heart and they had the first chance after three minutes when Arjun Jung should have done better than hit an eight yard finish at Jake Hallett. Maybe this was the required warning shot, as nine minutes later Salisbury took the lead through Danny Young, who had the easiest of tap-ins after Dan Fitchett shrugged off his defender and squared the ball across the face of goal.
Danny Young gets an early opener. - Copyright Michael Berkeley
Even though being behind early on, Staines still managed to manufacture a half chance, but Andy Juett missed the target from the edge of the box on 14 minutes.
Shortly afterwards the visitors should have increased their lead when a Jack Sparkes corner was headed back across by Matt Partridge to Lewis Benson whose header from close in sailed over the top.
The Whites seemed able to slice through the home defence almost at will and Sparkes saw a 25 yard free-kick pushed round by keeper Levis Dixon, whilst on 29 minutes a good exchange of passes between Fitchett and Benson saw the latter's effort well saved by the home keeper.
Maybe that save gave Staines fresh hope which was fulfilled within seconds when they levelled the scores. Bay Downing was nutmegged by Matt Bremford who swiped a 25 yard left foot effort across Hallett. Having just conceded, the Salisbury keeper then turned temporary villain when he was adjudged to have brought down Jung in the area, but the young Swan could not get his cygneture(sorry!) on the score-sheet, seeing Hallett redeem himself with a good but fairly comfortable save to his right.
Redemption time as Jake makes the save. - Copyright Michael Berkeley
Having survived that scare the Whites returned to the attack and Downing got round the back of the home defence to connect sweetly with the ball, nearly breaking the crossbar with his first time volley. The chances were coming but unfortunately the chances were also going.
On 36 minutes Chris Flood flicked the ball to Fitchett whose attempt was blocked by the last defender, the resultant corner falling eventually to Tom Whelan who blasted well over from 22 yards.
Five minutes before the interval Benson ballooned his shot as well, after he had been given time and space in a dangerous area, and just before the half-time whistle he was involved again, this time trying unsuccessfully to curl a free-kick around the wall.
It must have been a shock to the system for travelling fans to see their team only level at the break and having had to survive a penalty, but things were to some extent righted in the second half which started with Flood putting in Young on 48 minutes, and then flicking the ball through to Fitchett. Whilst Young shot wide, Fitchett turned his defender with ease and completed the job, allowing the Whites to lead for the second time in the match.
With 21 minutes remaining Salisbury established a two-goal cushion when Benson had a free-kick near the goal-line, and the ball eventually reached Matt Partridge who again did the woodwork no good whatsoever as his thunderous volley went in off the underside to make it 3-1.
Matt P makes it three. - Copyright Michael Berkeley
Staines were stung once more and Hallett had to make a flying save from Alex Yearwood's 25 yarder, but a two-goal cushion became three on 74 minutes after the Swans failed to clear and Chris Shephard profited with a low shot giving the keeper no chance. Shephard, who had only joined the action just after the hour, got his second a couple of minutes later with another poacher’s goal after Tom Whelan's shot was blocked.
Shep's four-minute brace. - Copyright Michael Berkeley
Enter Luke Hopper, and within six minutes he grabbed the sixth goal following good work by Shephard and Benson. With four minutes left, Hopper robbed central defender Ryan Handelaar and bore down on goal with only Dixon to beat. The keeper, who had done well throughout, nearly succeeded against a hesitant Hopper, but luckily the ball broke kindly and he scored the seventh at the second attempt to complete the numbers game.
Luke putting a smile on doing what strikers like best. - Copyright Michael Berkeley
As we’ve come to expect, the Whites never slacken off towards the end of a game, with Benson getting into the area two minutes into time added but seeing his deflected effort fall to Partridge who was denied by some more desperate defending.
Next up is Gosport Borough on Saturday, who, like today's opponents, are struggling this season. Maybe supporters can look forward to a glimpse of their former hero Matt Tubbs, but hopefully his involvement, if it happens, will not have a telling effect. Gosport suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Harrow Borough today.
It is of paramount importance that Salisbury make the most of their remaining home games to keep up their challenge for a good play-off position.
After today's games Kings Langley moved into the play-offs, at Poole Town’s expense so, with six league games left, it's not unreasonable to start thinking as to who we might face in the playoffs. Nothing is guaranteed though, although after a great campaign it would be a travesty not to have to extend the season.
Staines Town: Dixon, Pilbeam, Miskin, Agombaro, Handelaar, Harrison (Yearwood 56), Jung, Campbell-Young, Juett, Krabbendam, Bremford (Fry 41).
Subs not used: Lazurca, Roundi, Newton.
Salisbury FC: Hallett, Downing, Sparkes, Whelan, O’Keefe, Partidge, Benson, Dawson (Mullings 79), Fitchett (Hopper 76), Flood (Shephard 63), Young.
Subs not used: Wheeler, Herbert.
Attendance: 210 Referee: M Ryan (Littlehampton)
Online Programme available here.