Salisbury FC 3, Aveley 1
Saturday, 13 July 2019
By Alec Hayter
Another game, another win, with another 3 goals, but each of today's efforts had their own characteristics - all of which were good.
The team sheet revealed a name which was familiar to any supporters who have followed the new club since inception, and Nathan Ball took his place between the sticks, for the most part having a relaxed afternoon but doing what he had to well enough. It is difficult for a goalkeeper, especially, when he is unfamiliar with the defence in front of him, but to his credit that there was only one moment when his hesitation might have caused a problem. In the second half he pulled off a great save and also made several good interceptions of crosses.
However, this was about playing a team who occupied a higher place in the pyramid than Lymington Town, and in fact in the early stages the game provided a challenge of a different sort, and one fairly alien to the term “friendly”, as the visitors were extremely physical and incurred the wrath of referee James Welsh, who had an excellent game before and after putting his stamp on matters and calming things down. Salisbury had had most of the ball, and that attracted some sparky challenges as Aveley tried to get into the game.
It took only 7 minutes before the Whites went ahead and the goal was fashioned with some imagination as Albie Hopkins, instead of delivering a corner into the box, arrowed a low pass diagonally just outside it, where the impressive Ollie Knowles leathered an unstoppable first time low drive past visiting keeper David Hughes from all of 25 yards. Welcome to the Ray Mac Aveley, and although the Whites dominated possession, they were kept at bay courtesy of some doubtful challenges until the 25th minute when more invention enabled them to double their lead.
This time it was George Colson who sent a low ball towards the near post where Dan Fitchett dummied over it and Warren Bentley did what he does best, being first to the ball in the box, and netting before anyone could react. Judging by his two goals so far, anyone expecting goals from Warren from outside the box might be disappointed!, but who cares as long as the goals go in? Wouldn’t mind if you went on to surprise us Warren!
Four minutes later the match was as good as over as the third goal followed when referee Welsh played a good advantage, and whilst the visitors' defence looked on, waiting for the whistle following another foul, the alert Fitchett took full advantage to blast the ball past Hughes.
Five minutes before the break Hughes made a good save from Fitchett's right foot effort on the turn from the edge of the box and just before the interval made an even better one from Dave Gerrard at his near post, to keep it 3-0 at the break.
Keeper Ball was in action on 52 minutes when he did well to keep out a low near post Wyan Reid drive (yes it really is Wyan!), but 10 minutes later at the other end a great cross from Gerrard (we may have further opportunities to use the term Gerrard's cross!) found Bentley, who could not keep down a difficult first-time finish.
In comparison with their first half showing the visitors began to play some better football and that, possibly in combination with the Whites feeling they had a comfortable margin, allowed them to threaten. On 69 minutes a fierce left foot shot by Sam Nvemba gave Ball the chance to show what he could do, before on 73 minutes Nvemba somehow managed to miss a free header no more than 3 yards out.
The impressive Gerrard went close with a 25 yard effort on 75 minutes but Aveley grabbed a consolation with 5 minutes remaining when Alex Akrofi benefited from some defensive slackness and found himself one-on-one with Ball, who had no chance whatsoever with the rising shot. Better to get those mistakes out of the system during the friendly matches!
Salisbury nearly had the last laugh, however, when Gerrard once again tested Hughes with a firmly struck effort from just inside the box.
As well as goals, today we saw more football than against Lymington. It is normally expected hat teams from the Isthmian league like to play the game in the right way, but there were initial doubts as to whether the visitors would live up to that reputation. In the second half Aveley showed what they could do, but it was still not good enough against a better side on the day.
A much sterner test arrives on Tuesday evening when Swindon Town visit the Ray Mac, and then when Forest Green Rovers are the opponents next Saturday. Hopefully supporters will get a first look at goal ace Tobi Holmes in a Salisbury shirt, on one or both occasions, and also that Josh Sommerton will see further action after he had a first full 90 minutes today.
Salisbury: Ball, Colson, Felix, Dawson, Harfield, Sommerton, Gerrard, Knowles, Fitchett, Bentley, Hopkins.
Subs (all used): Mullings, Cooper, Rayfield, Burden, Mandson.
Aveley: Hughes, trialist, Nvemba, Witherspoon, Nkosi, Cross, Seixas, Love, Vaughan, Ngandu, Akrofi.
Subs (all used): Reid, Gibbs, trialists (x 3), Townsend.
Attendance: 209 Referee: J Welsh (Amesbury)