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FA VASE SEMI-FINAL DRAW V HEREFORD FC: "FANTASTIC" SAYS STEVE

WHITES manager Steve Claridge has hailed the FA Vase semi-final draw against Hereford FC as "fantastic" and "a wonderful experience for everyone associated with the club."

            Salisbury FC will play the first leg away at Edgar Street on Saturday March 12th with the second leg at the Ray Mac the following Saturday, March 19th following the draw made live on talkSPORT radio this morning.

            "Imagine the atmosphere," said Steve. "What a wonderful experience this is going to be over the two legs for everyone associated with the club - players, supporters, the board, volunteers.

            Hereford have been favourites for the FA Vase all season with the bookmakers, with Whites second favourites.

            It means there will be no 'Phoenix Final' at Wembley involving the two reformed clubs on Sunday May 22nd but instead two cracking matches instead of one.

            "The draw doesn't surprise me," said Steve. "I always felt we would get Hereford.  We're ready to take them on whenever it might be.

            "We might have lost to Morpeth or Kidlington or whoever so at this stage it didn't really bother me unduly. It's about getting yourself right whoever you play.

            "It's a fantastic draw for both clubs. I'm sure both of us could sell out these games two or three times over. There will be incredible atmospheres at both of them.

            "Hereford are a Conference or League Two club, as their gates show, and they will be favourites but we don't fear anyone, just as I am sure they don't. We'll give anyone a game on our day.

            "I think the better team definitely comes through over two legs whereas you can always have a bad day in one game. This is why I fancy our chances.

            "If they do beat us, we will shake their hands and wish them well at Wembley. But I believe we can stand our ground against anyone."

            Hereford FC are currently top of the Midland League and looking, like Whites as leaders of the Sydenhams Wessex League, to win promotion to Step 4 next season.

            While Whites were beating Ashford United 3-0 on Saturday in the quarter-finals in front of 1,791 fans, Hereford came through against Camberley Town 3-2 with a goal in the last minute of extra time with 3,329 inside Edgar Street.

            The other semi-final is between Bowers and Pitsea/Kidlington and Morpeth Town/Bristol Manor Farm.

            

"This is the one" - Steve on Ashford FA Vase tie

STEVE CLARIDGE has been having trouble sleeping this week - and is loving it.

The Whites manager says the FA Vase quarter final against Ashford United at the Ray Mac on Saturday (February 20th, kick off 3pm) has been giving him sleepless nights, due not to anxiety, but excitement at the prospect.

"These are the games you want, the sort of game that we all wanted when we reformed the club," said Steve.

"We've come a long way in 15 months since we got control of the club's assets and even further in the last eight months since starting from scratch without one player signed.

"Here we are now, top of the Wessex League and in the last eight of the Vase. Each month seems to bring the biggest game in the new club's history. It's been a great journey so far and we hope it's a long way from being finished yet.

"I've not slept well this week just because I'm so excited by this game. When I do get off, I wake up early thinking about it. Since we beat Corsham in midweek, I've not been thinking about anything else.

"I know how up for it the players are as well. After Corsham, I said in the dressing room, 'Get yourself right for Saturday,' but I could see in their eyes they would be.

"Sometimes this season I've had to work hard to get them in the right frame of mind because some occasions have been too easy for them but I don't think I will have to work too hard with them for this one.

"In fact, I think it will be one of my easiest days of the season. There is just a feeling in the dressing room that this is the one."

Steve and Director of Football Micky Jenkins travelled to Ashford last Saturday and saw Southern Counties East League United beat Beckenham Town 6-1. That win followed their excellent 3-2 win at Dunston UTS  in a Vase 5th round replay and was followed by a midweek 4-0 thumping of Rochester.

The Nuts and Bolts - nicknamed after their links with the railway industry in the town and who like us are a 'phoenix club formed after the demise of Ashford Town in 2011- thus come to the Ray Mac in good form and confident mood.

"I don't think they will change the way they play much from what we saw," said Steve. "They are clearly coming to win the game, from everything they are saying, which is good to hear as it should make for an open and entertaining cup tie.

"I think they are at their best when they attack and so are we. They are not showing any fear and we certainly won't have any. We're also on a good run of form. I've always said it will take a good side to beat us and if they are that side, good luck to them."

Whites will still be without Calum Brockway after his shoulder dislocation but Steve is more hopeful that Brandon Mundy will be fit to return.

There was also good news on the injury front this week with goalkeeper Gareth Barfoot successfully coming through groin surgery, though he will need another few weeks before he is ready to play again.

Steve is hoping for yet another big Ray Mac crowd, of up to 2,000.

"We've had magnificent support throughout the season and for this run," he said. "After three away draws, a home tie is just reward for fans. I hope they'll turn out in numbers and make plenty of noise in support of the boys."

*If the scores are level after 90 minutes, there will be 30 minutes of extra time. If the scores are still level after that, there will NOT be penalties and we will go to a replay at Ashford United on Saturday February 27th.

 

Wessex League Cup semi-final draw made

THE draw for the semi-finals of the Wessex League Cup has been made, with the winners of the Team Solent v Salisbury FC quarter-final facing either Moneyfields, Portland United or Bemerton Heath Harlequins.

The complicated picture is due to the competition being behind schedule because of so many matches being postponed this wet winter.

Whites' game against Team Solent will take place at Test Park on Monday February 29th, kick off 7.45pm. The semi-finals are scheduled for April 5th/6th at neutral venues.

In the other semi-final, Newport (IoW) will face Romsey Town or Totton and Eling or Brockenhurst. 

The Ray Mac has been chosen by the league to host the final of the competition on Monday May 2nd.

 

Ray Mac to host Wessex League Cup Final

SALISBURY FC have been chosen the host the Sydenhams Wessex League Cup Final. The match is scheduled to take place at the Ray Mac on Monday May 2nd.

"We were invited to tender for the final by the League and we are pleased that our tender has been successful," said club chairman Dave Phillips.

"The bid was put together by Amanda Newbery, who sits on our board and advises us, and our club secretary Doug Ferraro so well done to them.

"Now we have to do our best to make that final, which would obviously boost the attendance. Whether we do or don't, we are honoured to be staging it and will pull out all the stops to put on a good show."

Whites travel to Team Solent on Monday February 29th for their quarter-final tie. The semi-finals are scheduled for Tuesday April 5th.

 

 

Steve brings two more to Ray Mac

WHITES manager Steve Claridge has brought two more new signings to the Ray Mac to bolster the squad ahead of a punishing schedule over the final 11 weeks of the season.

Defender Elliot Wheeler joins from Vanarama National League South club Gosport Borough and comes with an impressive grounding in the game.

Isle of Wight-born Elliot, now 22, began his career in the Portsmouth academy before joining Premier League club Stoke City and playing for their Under 21s.

He then joined Nuneaton Town in the Conference before moving back closer to home to Gosport at the start of the season.

"Elliott is a really versatile player and can play right back or centre back," said Steve. "With Calum Brockway out, we need cover at the back and we are happy to have signed a player of Elliot's pedigree to provide it."

Also joining the club is Reece Rusher, a right-sided midfield player, from Whitchurch United. The 19-year-old has also played for Winchester City and Bemerton Heath Harlequins.

"Reece has been training with us and shown a great attitude," said Steve. "He is one for the future but will also get some game time between now and the end of the season with so many games to fit in."

After Saturday's postponement at Blackfield and Langley, Whites still have 18 league games to play and are still in the FA Vase, League Cup and Wilts Senior Cup, in which they play a semi-final against Corsham Town at Devizes Town FC on Wednesday (17th February, kick off 7.45pm).

It could mean that the team play Saturday-Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday games for several weeks in March and April.

 

 

 

Brockway blow for Whites

WHITES have been dealt a blow with the news that inspirational defender Calum Brockway will be out for at least five more weeks.

Calum dislocated his shoulder early in the 4-3 win over Horndean last week and although the shoulder was soon returned to the socket, the medical advice after a scan is that he should rest for three more weeks.

After that, it will be two weeks of assessment at training before Calum (pictured scoring against Bemerton Heath Harlequins) can consider playing again.

"It's a big blow, there's no getting away from it," said manager Steve Claridge. "Calum has been fantastic this season for us and we're going to miss him."

Brandon Mundy is also likely to be missing for tomorrow's Sydenham's Wessex Premier top-of-the-table clash at Blackfield and Langley with a hamstring tweak still not quite healed, though he should be available next week ahead of the Wilts Senior Cup semi against Corsham Town and FA Vase quarter-final against Ashford United.

Better news for Whites is that goalkeeper Charlie Searle should be available again after injury.

The Blackfield and Langley game is yet another big test for Salisbury in a series of them this month but one that Steve and the squad are ready for, knowing the pressure is more on league opponents than them now.

"The results we have achieved these past two or three weeks have opened up a bit of daylight at the top," said Steve. "I don't want us to let go of the advantage we have worked hard to create but we do have a few points to play with.

"Now it's about preserving our position. Other teams have got to beat us when they play us. The pressure is on them. Not us.

"But we're going to Blackfield to win and we are definitely capable of it."

*With heavy rain forecast tomorrow morning, Blackfield and Langley say they will conduct an official pitch inspection at 11am. With the pitch not having been played on for a fortnight, they say they are hopeful the game will go ahead, however.

 

 

UPDATED: Wilts Senior Cup semi v Corsham Town - info for supporters

The Wiltshire FA have informed us that with heavy rain forecast for Devizes tomorrow (Wednesday February 17th), our Senior Cup semi against Corsham Town will be subject to a midday pitch inspection.

Should the match go ahead, a reminder to Whites fans that the kick off is at 7.30pm and admission prices are £5 for adults and £3 for concessions.

The address of Devizes Town is Nursteed Rd, Devizes SN10 3DX. The club say that there is ample car parking available at the ground and that the drive is almost opposite Eastleigh Road on the A342 Andover Road out of Devizes. There is a club house on site.

 

 

Jamie set for start against Amesbury

NEW SIGNING Jamie White is set to make his first start tonight (Wednesday 10th February) as Whites take on local rivals Amesbury Town at the Ray Mac in the Sydenhams Wessex League Cup, kick-off 7.45pm.

            Jamie, who returned to the Ray Mac from Gosport Borough last week and who made a substitute's appearance in the 4-3 win over Horndean on Saturday, gets his chance as manager Steve Claridge shuffles his pack again.

            With the game looking set to go ahead thanks to some drying weather and the efforts of groundsman Martin Ramm and his team, Steve - who insists Whites can win the competition - has players back from injury and suspension to call on.

            Robbie Matthews is fit again, Jack Vallis available once more and Taurean Roberts has served his three-match suspension. In addition, Steve wants to look again at midfielder Harry Wedlake, who impressed against Andover Town last week.

            "This is another big period for us," said Steve. "After the Amesbury game, we have a top-of-the-table game at Blackfield and Langley on Saturday, then a Wilts Cup semi, followed by the big Vase game against Ashford United.

            "I want as many players fit and on form as possible to give me selection options every game. That includes people like Jamie. We got a glimpse of what he can do on Saturday. Now let's have a look over a longer period."

            One player not available tonight is Calum Brockway, who injured a shoulder early in the game against Horndean. Calum is due to have a scan today and see a specialist tomorrow to determine his prospects of playing again soon.

            Meanwhile, Steve believes the Wessex League Cup is a trophy the Whites should be looking to win.

            "There is a possibility we might be hosting the final so it would be nice to make that final and draw a big crowd," he said.

            "We are good enough to win it so let's go for it."

            The winners of tonight's third round tie will face Team Solent away on Monday February 29th in the quarter-final.

             

Jamie White back at the Ray Mac

WHITES manager Steve Claridge has signed former Ray Mac favourite Jamie White from Gosport Borough - and told him that Salisbury is the right place for him to get his career back on track.

            The 26-year-old striker was with the Salisbury City club from 2012 to 2014, scoring 38 goals in 76 appearances, including a sumptuous effort against Dover Athletic in the Conference South play-off final. He joins the Whites on an initial three-month deal.

            "I am pleased to have signed Jamie," said Steve. "He has got a good pedigree and has the ability to be an exceptional striker.

            "The issue for Jamie now will be all about his fitness and how much he wants this. He's had two years in the wilderness really and he's got to realise he's got work to do before he gets back to the level he was earlier in his career."

            Southampton-born Jamie was the Saints' Academy Player of the Season in 2006/07 and made three first team appearances before moving to Eastleigh.

            He then had a remarkable spell at Winchester City, scoring 51 goals in 32 games to finish just one goal shy of the Wessex League scoring record.

            That brought him to the attention of Salisbury City and after his two seasons at the club, he joined former Whites manager Darrell Clarke at Bristol Rovers.           

            It proved a brief spell, however, and in the last two seasons, Jamie has been with Sutton United and Gosport, making appearances on loan this season for Poole Town and Farnborough.

            "Some people might wonder how much this is costing the club but I can assure them this is a no-brainer," Steve added. "His wages will be in line with what everybody else at the club is getting.

            "With Robbie Matthews struggling to get fit and games coming thick and fast, we are a bit short up front and this is a chance for Jamie to play somewhere for three months at a place where he was appreciated by the fans.

            "Hopefully he will take that chance. If he does, we will have a real asset and it will do him and his career good too."

New fixture dates

We have been informed of two new fixtures dates for Sydenhams Wessex League Premier Division games.

Our away game against Hamworthy United postponed on January 26th will now take place on Tuesday 12th April.

Our home match against AFC Portchester, due to take place on February 20th but postponed due to our continued involvement in the FA Vase, will now take place on Tuesday 5th April.

 

WHITES HOME TO ASHFORD UTD IN VASE - Steve's reaction

*Update to story below: Ashford United beat Dunston UTS 3-2 in the replay...

STEVE CLARIDGE has hailed Salisbury FC's home quarter-final draw against either Ashford United or previous winners Dunston UTS as "reward for everyone at the club for all their hard work."

            Whites will know who they will be facing on Saturday February 20th next Saturday when the two sides replay, last Saturday's 5th round tie between the Southern Counties East League and EBAC Northern League teams having ended 1-1.

            "It's a great draw because first and foremost we are at home," said Steve. "We know there are going to be no easy games when you get to the last eight but being at home gives you first crack.

            "In fact, if I could have cherry picked any round to have a home draw in, this would be it. If you do make the semi-finals, you are guaranteed another home game with it being two legs and you've got to be pleased to get a home chance to make those semis.

            "There's no disrespect to any opposition we face at this stage because they are all going to be good sides but they would probably have said the same - a home tie is a fantastic opportunity."

            "It's the fans I am most pleased for," Steve added. "They have travelled far and wide to support us in big numbers and they deserve a home draw after everything they have given the club.

            "The tie gives us a chance to show what we can do with a game of this magnitude. This is what we all got the club going again for - big games and big occasions. This club and this stadium deserves big crowds.

            "It's reward for the board, too, for everything they have done to get the club back on its feet and all those behind the scenes who are working so hard to make the club what it can be again.

            "And it's reward for the players, who have battled through tough away games and now get a chance to do it at home. 

            "I'm not saying we are going through. Far from it. All I am saying the game is reward for everyone at the club for all their hard work and that we should enjoy the occasion, win lose or draw."

            Ashford United, from Kent, are in third place in the Southern Counties East League, 15 points behind the leaders but with three games in hand.

            Dunston UTS are in fourth place in the very strong EBAC Northern League and are 12 points behind the leaders with one game in hand. They have great pedigree in the competition, having won it in 2012.

FULL DRAW:

Hartley Wintney or Hereford FC v Camberley Town

Salisbury FC v Ashford United or Dunston UTS

Berkhamsted or Morpeth Town or North Shields v Bristol Manor Farm

Ipswich Wanderers or Bowes and Pitsea v Kidlington.

WHITES RUN SO FAR:

1st qual rd: Wincanton Town (A - switched to Ray Mac) W 8-1

2nd qual rd: Folland Sports (H) W 4-1

1st rd: Calne Town (A) W 6-2

2nd rd: AFC St Austell (H) W 4-0

3rd rd: Highworth Town (A) W 5-1

4th rd: AFC Dunstable (A) W 3-0

5th rd: Nuneaton Griff (A) W 3-0

 

*THE CLUB has been informed that the winners of the Sydenhams Wessex League Cup tie between Amesbury and ourselves on Wednesday February 10th will play the away quarter-final against Team Solent on Monday February 29th.

 

 

             

Amesbury Town tie switched to Ray Mac

WHITES' Sydenhams Wessex League Cup third round tie against Amesbury Town on Wednesday February 10th has been switched to the Ray Mac.

With the tie having been postponed once already and the weather forecast showing more rain over the next week, Amesbury have agreed to switch the tie to Ray Mac, which is more likely to withstand the elements. The Wessex League have sanctioned the switch.

The move will hopefully benefit both clubs with fixture congestion now beginning to cause problems across the league due to the wet winter and new dates for postponed matches being filled rapidly.

The winners will be away in the quarter-finals to Team Solent on Monday February 29th.

 

 

 

 

Delight tinged with concern - Steve on the big FA Vase win

WHITES' 3-0 FA Vase win at Nuneaton Griff left manager Steve Claridge with mixed feelings - delight at progress to the quarter-finals but concern about a performance that saw his team well below their fluent best.

            Sam Wilson gave Whites the lead from the penalty spot on the half hour but it took a great save by Charlie Searle from a Griff spot kick early in the second half to preserve the lead before Sam's two late goals put a gloss on the win.

            "It wasn't a great performance but it was a great result," said Steve. "We're through and I'll take that.

            "And we did play well with 10 men," Steve added of the last 20 minutes when Brandon Mundy limped off with a hamstring injury when all three substitutions had been made.

            "But that was about it, to be honest. We didn't deal well with the conditions of a bumpy pitch and a swirling wind in the first 20 minutes. We were looking to play too much football and didn't put the ball in behind them enough. I was disappointed that some players were not carrying out instructions.

            "There were some good performances and Charlie Searle, Calum Brockway and Kane O'Keefe were their usual reliable selves. Jack Vallis also had another good game while Ashley Jarvis and Sam Roberts both did well again when they came on.

            "But I was concerned that some players were just not at it and didn't look as if they had prepared properly. As a result, they bossed us for 15 minutes at the start of the second half and they wanted it more than us. That was worrying.

            "Luckily, we focused more when we went down to 10 and Sam Wilson finished well, even if he wasn't at the top of his all-round game as I would have liked.

            "It's back to me being a bit hard on them because I know how good they are and can be, and I want them to keep up their high standards if we are to keep going in this competition, as we all want, and they achieve what they are capable of achieving.

            "All that said, we're in the last eight and that takes some doing because this is a tough, tough competition so the boys can be pleased that we did see the game through and have come this far."

            Now, after five away draws out of seven, Steve is clear on what everyone at the club wants...

            "We've got to be due a home draw on Monday morning, haven't we?" he said. "Fingers crossed."

Claridge: It's too late to stop now

STEVE CLARIDGE reckons that when it comes to the Whites' FA Vase run, it's just too late to stop now.

            At least 350 Salisbury fans are expected to make the trip to tomorrow's away 5th round tie at Nuneaton Griff (Saturday Jan 30th, kick off 3pm) and the Whites manager and his side are hoping to make the journey worthwhile again in what will be the team's seventh match in the competition.

            "We've come a long way already," said Steve. "When you go back to Wincanton in the first qualifying round in September, it feels like we've played enough games to win two cups.

            "But we've no intention of stopping here. We want to keep this going and everybody's got the bit between their teeth. A win puts us in the last eight and at that point, you begin to sense how close Wembley is."

            Steve is taking a squad of 18 tonight to Warwickshire where they will stay overnight. Steve Walker and Taurean Roberts are both suspended, while Robbie Matthews and Gareth Barfoot are still nursing injuries.

            "I want all our squad that's available to be there," said Steve. "I want this to feel like a special occasion for them. Because it is.

            "It's a shame Steve and Taurean are not available but when players have had their chance recently they've stepped in and done well, like Jack Vallis and Sam Roberts have done.

            "I'm going to be looking for that again because everyone knows we are going to be playing two and even three times a week from now on. I believe we have a good enough squad to cope and I want them to prove me right."

            Steve is again expecting a big Whites' following at the Pingles Stadium, perhaps even surpassing the 350 who travelled to AFC Dunstable in the 4th round.

            "I think our reputation for bringing good numbers has gone before us as Nuneaton have been urging people in the town to support them so that it is not another home game for us.

            "After that win at Dunstable, I think all those 350 will want to come again as it was a fantastic experience, and I think there could even be a lot more who want to be part of it.

            "One reason we get such good support away is that our fans know we give it as good a go away as we do at home. They know that everywhere they go, they are going to see a team that is not going to let them down."

            Steve expects a competitive game between two teams who like to attack.

            "It's going to be another serious test," he said. "Nuneaton Griff are the highest scorers in their league [Midland League Division One], as are we in ours, so you can see what the attitude is going to be.

            "We've had them watched and they are decent up front and play an open game. They will stand toe to toe with you and give you a chance. We tend to play quite well against those sorts of sides."

            With Nuneaton Griff's shirts containing white, kit man Micky Western will check with the referee before the game to see if Whites will need a change of kit. A new red third kit is being taken in the event of a clash.

            The winners of the tie will naturally keenly be awaiting Monday's quarter-final draw. The FA have announced that it will at 11am at Wembley and will be broadcast live on the Periscope app.

Whites squad: Searle, Ball, Colson, Vallis, Brockway, Perrett, Hart, Blake, Demkiv, Herbert, Whelan, O'Keefe, Mundy, S. Roberts, Wedlake, Young, Wilson, Jarvis.