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Salisbury FC v Bideford AFC: Southern League decision

THE CLUB notes the decision of the Southern League board that the Salisbury FC v Bideford AFC match abandoned on December 2nd shall be replayed.

We will inform supporters of match arrangements as soon as possible.


Charlie keeping the oppo out - and the pitch in shape...

WHITES goalkeeper Charlie Searle has a new role at the club - combining keeping the opposition out with keeping the pitch in tip-top condition.

Charlie, 22, has a tough act to follow to replace the departing Mark Savage as groundsman but comes with plenty of experience and a passion for grounds maintenance.

"I've worked on football pitches around the Portsmouth area, on farms, domestic properties and even the Goodwood Estate," said Charlie. "I love the satisfaction of putting a stripe on a piece of grass.

"Ever since I was a kid, I've wanted to work as a groundsman, almost as much as I wanted to be a footballer. Here I get to do both. They say you shouldn't mix business with pleasure, but I've got a genuine passion for both roles.

"The only problem is that the pitch is bound to deteriorate from now to the end of the season, and that's just a fact after a hard winter, but I'm sure it won't stop the lads from giving me stick if they reckon it's not up to scratch."

Charlie will work two days a week at the Ray Mac, preparing the pitch for both first team and development squad matches.

Football at the Ray Mac this week

THE WHITES Development Squad are in action at the Ray Mac on Thursday night (22nd Feb) against Winchester City Development Squad in the Wyvern Combination Midweek League. Kick off is 7.45pm.
Whites have won all of their six games so far and are in third place. Winchester are sixth, with nine points from seven games.
The match is likely to feature several Whites first team squad players working their way back to fitness, including Sam Roberts and Brandon Mundy.
1 11 6 1 4 26 22 4 19
2 6 6 0 0 32 4 28 18
3 6 6 0 0 21 5 16 18
4 6 4 1 1 26 12 14 13
5 8 4 0 4 20 20 0 12
6 7 3 0 4 14 13 1 9
7 7 3 0 4 8 23 -15 9
8 10 2 0 8 15 39 -24 6
9 11 0 2 9 12 36 -24 2

Cory set for home debut as Swans fly in

THE WHITES go into what manager Steve Claridge describes as “a very important game to win” at home to Slimbridge AFC tomorrow (Saturday February 17th, kick-off 3pm) with new signing Cory Simpson set to make his home debut.

Whites will be looking to get back on track after being washed out at Swindon Supermarine last Saturday following the reverse at Didcot Town the previous midweek and Steve will be looking for the side to spring from the traps against Slimbridge the way they did against Yate Town in winning 6-2 last time out at the Ray Mac.

“If we start well and take our chances, we tend to relax into the game,” he said. “Against Yate, we missed one or two early on and I did wonder but we then we quickly got a goal and gave a really good display. I’ll be looking for the same fast start against Slimbridge.

“It’s a very important game to win. Despite the Didcot defeat and the postponement at Swindon, we haven’t lost any ground to the chasing pack as results have gone our way.”

Whites will be without captain Kane O’Keefe, who will serve the first of a three-game suspension for his red card at Didcot. And though they will be in the squad, the game may also come too soon for Sam Roberts (ankle) and Brandon Mundy (Achilles tendon), who were due to play for the Development Squad at AFC Portchester on Thursday but the game was postponed.

Otherwise, it will be near full strength squad with Simpson, who made a substitute appearance for his debut at Didcot after signing from Larkhall Athletic, in line for a start.

“We’ll see,” said Steve. “I do need to have a good look at him and he does need to show us what he can do.”

Slimbridge have slipped to 19th in the table with 24 points from 27 games after taking just five points from their last 10 games, their last win coming four games ago, 2-0 over Winchester City.

That comes after the Swans made a promising start to the season and they were eighth in October, with visions of going even higher when they led Whites at Thornhill Park 2-1 with 17 minutes to go. Four quick-fire goals then saw Whites to a 5-2 win, however.

There is unlikely to be any complacency about Whites, though, given the 0-0 draw against Bishops Cleeve and the 1-0 home defeat by Barnstaple Town recently.

“Yes, it’s  potentially another banana skin but there were extenuating circumstances in those matches,” added Steve. “Bishops Cleeve was early in the season before we got things right and against Barnstaple we were without Owen Howe and Lewis Benson.

“This time, there are no excuses because the majority of the squad are available to us and there is competition for places.

“We want to keep that gap between us and third and so there is a bit of pressure on us. Previously when we were in the pack, we weren’t there to be shot at like we are now. That’s one reason I take my hat off to Taunton Town for keeping going week in week out.

“But we should have good enough players, and big enough characters, to handle the pressure. There’s pressure playing for a decent sized club like this, in front of our crowds, and the players are here because we think they can deal with it.”

Steve is again looking for a sizeable attendance to help his side keep their grip on second place and get them three points nearer to the automatic promotion goal.

“There was good noise against Yate and I hope we’ll see even more people and hear even more noise this Saturday. It looks like a good weather forecast. And I hope we can give everyone the same sort of performance and result as against Yate."

Whites squad: Searle, T. Roberts, Colson, Baggridge, Wannell, Wheeler, Perrett, Sommerton, Benson, Herbert, Whelan, Dawson, S. Roberts, Mundy, Young, Simpson, Shephard, Green, Howe.



New date for Supermarine fixture

THE Evo-Stik South West match away to Swindon Supermarine, which was postponed last Saturday due to a waterlogged pitch, has been rearranged for Tuesday March 13th, kick off 7.45pm.


Steve looks for Supermarine reaction from Whites


THE WHITES make the short trip to North Wiltshire tomorrow to face Swindon Supermarine with Steve Claridge looking for a reaction from his side following a defeat, just as they did last Saturday.

A fortnight ago, Whites lost at home to Barnstaple before defeating Yate Town 6-2 last weekend. Then came the midweek defeat at Didcot Town, when Whites gave themselves just too much to do after falling two goals behind in the first half hour.

“Against some sides, you can come back from that but not against decent sides like Didcot and Swindon Supermarine,” said the manager. “There’s less margin for error against them.

“We could have got back into it at Didcot it but the game turned on the penalty we missed in the end and I don’t want us to be in the same situation again.

“That means I’ll be looking for us to start the game better and give ourselves a chance. If we do that, and if we apply ourselves properly, there’s no reason we can’t give a good account of ourselves. It’s a nice pitch, a nice place to play and everybody should be looking forward to it.”

Whites will be without Eddie Perrett, who is away, along with Sam Roberts (ankle) and Brandon Mundy (Achilles), who are still not quite ready for first team action despite playing cameo roles in the Development Squad’s impressive 4-1 win over Basingstoke Town’s Development Squad on Thursday.

Otherwise, Steve has a full squad to choose from, with fitness tests determining who out of Charlie Searle and Tom Roberts, who missed the Development Squad game with an ankle injury, will play in goal. It will be Kane O’Keefe’s final match before a three-match suspension resulting from his red card at Didcot.

Supermarine are clearly going to be a different proposition from the side beaten 6-1 by the Whites when both were in similar situations, going for promotion, this time last year.

Though they experienced some poor results after beating Whites 2-0 at the Ray Mac in September, they have proved themselves tough to beat recently after parting company with manager Dave Webb three weeks ago and Lee Spalding taking over on an interim basis.

Since then, they have gone four matches unbeaten, including a 0-0 draw away to Whites’ midweek conquerors Didcot, to keep themselves in contention. And Spalding has made it clear he will look to defend solidly and look to hit Whites on the break. In Josh Parsons, scorer of 18 league goals, they have a man capable of doing it.

“Salisbury are one of the better sides in the league, along with Taunton. Going forward they have loads of quality,” Spalding was quoted as saying this week. “They’re very good at hitting teams on the break. We are going to have to be fully on our mettle and make sure we do everything properly to stop them scoring. We’ve got the capability to score goals but need to be tight and maintain that we’re hard to beat. However, defensively though, that’s where we can catch them.”

Steve responded: “It’s up to us to break them down, if that’s how they do approach the game. I’m expecting them to be a decent side in possession. They like to get the ball down and play. When they came to us and beat us, they played some good stuff.

“It’s an important game but everybody realises there’s still a long way to go. It’s all still in our hands. I just don’t want us to undo all the good work we have done in winning eight of our last 10 games over the last couple of months.”

Whites squad: Searle, T. Roberts, Colson, Wheeler, Baggridge, Wannell, Sommerton, Herbert, Benson, Whelan, Dawson, Young, Simpson, Shephard, O’Keefe, Howe, Green.   



SFC Development 4 Basingtoke Town Development 1

A YOUNG Whites side pulled off a fine win over Wyvern League leaders Basingtoke with Chae Sykes (pictured) and Ryan Penny both scoring twice. Half-time score was 2-1.

Bonuses for the club came in the shape of Sam Roberts playing the first half, after his ankle injury, and Brandon Mundy coming on for the last 14 minutes to test his recovery from an Achilles tendon injury.

Next up for the Development Squad, who have won all their six games in the league, is a trip to AFC Portchester next Thursday, 15th February.



New fixtures for Development Squad

THE Salisbury FC Development Squad have three new fixtures arranged, starting with a home match this Thursday (Feb 8th, kick off 7.45pm), Basingstoke Town the visitors to the Ray Mac in a Wyvern League match.

Basingstoke currently top the table with 19 points from 10 games and Whites are third, having won all five of their matches played so far.

Next week, on Thursday 15th, the squad travel to AFC Portchester before another home game on Thursday 22nd, against Winchester City.


Steve signs Cory ahead of Didcot test

STEVE CLARIDGE has moved to bolster the Whites squad for the promotion push with the signing of Larkhall Athletic wide left player Cory Simpson.

And Bristol-based Cory, who has scored 10 goals in 25 appearances for the Larks this season, including one in their 2-1 win at the Ray Mac in November, will go straight into the squad for tonight’s important away game at Didcot Town.

“He’s been excellent in both league games against us,” said Steve, who also noted how 25-year-old Cory gave George Colson a torrid time in the Whites 2-1 win at Larkhall just over two weeks ago.

“He’s coming to Salisbury for the right money, well within our pay structure, and for the right reasons,” added the manager. “He wants to come and have a go with a team that are looking to get promoted and he likes the way we play.

“We have cover pretty much everywhere in the squad except wide left and it is important to get competition for places throughout the team.

“Cory is quick, strong and left-footed, which will add to our skill set as a team. He’ll stretch teams and he’s got the pace to go by people. He’ll certainly make the Ray Mac pitch big for visiting teams.”

Whites will also have Owen Howe available again after serving his two-match suspension, though Aaron Dawson will need a fitness test on a knee injury suffered in the 6-2 win over Yate.

Tom Roberts is likely to continue in goal with Charlie Searle's knee injury still problematic and Sam Roberts also looks likely to miss out with his ankle injury continuing to trouble him. Olly Mehew has now returned to Forest Green Rovers at the end of his loan period.

Otherwise, Whites have a clean bill of health and a strong squad, with injuries healing, and should go to Didcot with some confidence after Saturday’s result that made it eight wins from nine Evo-Stik League South West games, which has carried them to second place.

“We’re in half decent shape and we’ll need to be,” said Steve. “This is a big week for us, what with Didcot then Swindon Supermarine away on Saturday.

“If we get results at both, then we can put some good distance between us and both of them but if they beat us, they will think it’s game on for promotion.

“For once, the pressure is probably more on them than us. It’s a question of not get beaten, though as ever we’ll be going out to win.”

Whites squad: T. Roberts, Searle, Colson, Baggridge, Wannell, Wheeler, Perrett, Herbert, Benson, Whelan, Dawson, Young, Simpson, Shephard, O'Keefe, Howe, Green. 



Farewell and thanks to Super Savo

YESTERDAY’S match against Yate Town marked the final one as groundsman for Mark Savage, who is leaving to take up a new post in the New Forest, and the club marked his departure by thanking him on the pitch at half-time for his fantastic service.

Director Graeme Mundy presented Super Savo with a bottle of Champagne and Callum Hart presented him with a card on behalf of the players.

Mark has made the Ray Mac pitch into one of the best playing surfaces not just in the Southern League but in the whole country at Non-League level, as illustrated by the way he cleaned up at the Groundsman of the Year awards last year.

Not only was he named Evo-Stik League South Groundsman of the Year at the event at the National Football Centre near Burton but also the best groundsman NATIONALLY at Step 3 and below of the football pyramid. That is for ALL leagues in the country below the Vanarama National League.

As Whites chairman Ian Hammond said at the time: “This is a remarkable achievement. Our congratulations to Mark. He does a great job with the pitch. It always looks immaculate and players always seem to love playing on it.    

"We get a lot of compliments from visiting clubs and players and that is all down to Mark. It is a great honour for the club but he has to take the credit. He and we can be very proud."

Added Whites manager Steve Claridge: “People know the way I like to play football, and for that we need a flat, well kept pitch. Mark has delivered exactly what I wanted and the team needed, and he has done fantastically for the club. The only problem is that sometimes visiting players love it so much so play above themselves!”

Mark will prepare the pitch for the Slimbridge game in a fortnight’s time though is unable to attend the match. He will be a big loss.

The club thanks Mark for his brilliant work and wishes him well in his new job.


Shep set for Yate return to boost Whites

ABOVE: Captain Kane O'Keefe will be looking to lift the Whites back up this week 

THE WHITES  could be boosted by the return of Chris Shephard tomorrow for the visit to the Ray Mac of in-form Yate Town.

Chris has been out for four months with hamstring and calf injuries but has been back in full training for the last two weeks and is set to feature against a side who are top of the Evo-Stik South West form table, having taken 16 points from their last six games. 

That is in stark contrast to their early season form that saw them take just three points from their first six games, when Whites beat the Bluebells 1-0 at Lodge Road - with Shep scoring the winner from the penalty spot.

“We’ve never wanted to rush Chris back but he looks ready to play some part,” said Steve Claridge. “We’ve always wanted him back for the business end of the season to give us some fresh impetus and hopefully that’s what will happen now.”

It was the manager who decided on a new course of action to try and get Chris back fit and firing after a recurrence in early season of the injuries that plagued him in the second half of last season at his previous club Weymouth.

“Hamstrings and calf injuries are usually linked to lower back problems but at Non-League level that often gets overlooked,” Steve explained. “We got him a scan and then he saw an osteopath who did a bit of manipulation and we hope that’s got to the root of the problem now.

"We could certainly have done with him against Barnstaple last Saturday. When you’re looking for a goal, he gives you that bit of ingenuity, invention and quality that you’re looking for.”

Whites are also hoping that goalkeeper Charlie Searle will be fit, having missed the Barnstaple game due to a gashed knee sustained at Larkhall. Charlie will have a fitness test ahead of the game to see if he is freer with his kicking, which has been the main problem for him. Josh Sommerton also faces a test on a toe injury.

Owen Howe is again missing, however, as he serves the final match of his two-game suspension, with Steve looking likely again to turn to Kane O’Keefe to lead the line.

 “Yate have been fantastic after their poor start to the season but I see this as a good game for us,” said Steve. “It means we are going to have to play well to get back on track after last week’s setback and that’s the challenge for the players

“They know they didn’t do themselves justice last week in front of a good crowd who gave them every support and they’ll be looking to make amends this week.

“Hopefully it was just a blip. You can’t guarantee a win, of course you can’t, but I want us to make sure we go back to offering supporters the sort of performance and entertainment value we have always tried to give since I’ve been here.”

Whites squad: Searle, T. Roberts, Colson, Rayfield, Baggridge, Wannell, Wheeler, Perrett, Sommerton, Benson, Herbert, Dawson, Whelan, S. Roberts, Young, Shephard, O’Keefe, Green, Mehew.






New Club of the Month sponsor announced

The Southern Football League has confirmed that their Club of the Month Awards will be sponsored by GamblingKingz.co.uk, an independent online gambling news service and industry commentator that seeks to provide concise and accurate information about the online gambling industry to its rapidly expanding readership.

Proceeds from the GamblingKingz.co.uk Club of the Month Awards sponsorship will contribute to supporting the league and every club within the three divisions.

Warren Aronson, Director of Gambling Kingz, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the club of the month awards and providing funding to develop this historic league even further. There are some fantastic clubs in the Southern League and through these awards will shine a light on the clubs that are putting in stellar performances week in, week out.”

The Southern League Chairman thanked Gambling Kingz for their agreement to sponsor the awards. Terry Barratt said, I am pleased that Gambling Kingz have agreed to sponsor our Club of the Month Award. It is always pleasing when you welcome a new sponsor and particularly as it gives our clubs the opportunity of winning a cut glass salver and a voucher for every month of the season. This will apply to each of our three divisions in the League and as agreed with the Board we will be back dating the awards to the start of the season in August”.

 Gambling Kingz wishes all clubs the best of luck for the remainder of the season.



Our best spell, says Steve ahead of Barnstaple game

THE WHITES go into tomorrow’s home game against Barnstaple Town in what Steve Claridge describes as the best period for his team in his three seasons at the club – but without two key players.

             Whites go looking for an eighth straight Evo-Stik South West win but will be missing striker Owen Howe and wide man Lewis Benson. Owen will be serving the first of a two-match suspension, having picked up his 10th booking of the season in the 2-1 win at Larkhall last Saturday, while Lewis has work commitments.

            “One man missing out is another man’s opportunity,” said Steve, “and I’m pleased to say we are gradually getting players back to make the squad stronger again. Training was great on Thursday night and the boys are flying.”

            To offset the absence of Owen and Lewis, Sam Roberts (ankle) and Eddie Perrett (knee) are nearing full fitness and could be on the bench. Charlie Searle is expected to have recovered from his gashed knee at Larkhall to take his place in goal.

            On the periphery, Brandon Mundy (Achilles) remains absent as does Chris Shephard (hamstring) but the latter could well be back in a fortnight, having completed a full training session on Thursday.

            “What we have achieved with only 11 fit senior players at times has been magnificent, by my reckoning,” added Steve. “These last two months in fact have been the best since I have been at the club.

            “I know we had a long unbeaten run this time last season after an indifferent time early on but I always knew then that we had the answers, with it just being a question of time before Justin Bennett and Tommy Wright came good.

            “This season, we've had to find the answers and achieve what we have with less resources player-wise. I think the players who have been picking up these results have been magnificent.”

            Barnstaple come to the Ray Mac on a poor run of form, having lost 3-0 at home to AFC Totton in midweek as part of a run of just one point from their last eight games. It sees them as bottom but one in the table.

            They have, however, shown themselves capable of picking up points against higher ranked sides, with draws against promotion contenders Wimborne Town and Bideford, and Steve will not be letting his players take them lightly.

            “We never take anyone lightly and there’s two words I’ll remind everyone of,” he says. “Bishop’s Cleeve. They came here without a point to their name back at the end of September and fought a real rearguard action for a 0-0 draw.

            “That said, we are stronger than we were then and I’m expecting us to get stronger still. We’ll certainly go out there in a positive frame of mind, with a positive team selection and set of instructions. The players’ job will be to get at them straight from the off.

            “I hope we’ll see another big crowd at the Ray Mac to help the players do that. We’ve got ourselves in a good position now, having made it up to the second automatic promotion place, and it’s about seeing it through now. If the attitude’s right, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t.”

Whites squad: Searle, T. Roberts, Colson, Baggridge, Wannell, Wheeler, Sommerton, Rayfield, Perrett, Herbert, Whelan, Dawson, S. Roberts, Young, Green, O’Keefe, Mehew.

 *Supporters are reminded that they can now order a new range of filled baguettes, mini meals and beverages in the Sarum Suite ahead of kick-off ready to be picked up at half time. The draw for the January Whites Windfall lottery will also be made on the pitch at half time.