Salisbury welcomed league champions Royal Wootton Bassett to the Ray Mac for the final game for both sides in the 21/22 season.
The Whites were without Ed Timperley and Owen Taylor for this fixture so were forced into 4 centre backs in the back four.
The Whites acknowledged their opponents title success by forming a guard of honour as the visitors came out onto the pitch. When the game itself kicked off the first clear cut chance of the afternoon fell to Salisbury’s Devon Arnold who was to cause the visitors all kinds of problems all afternoon. In the 13th minute he found himself clean through on goal but U18 goalkeeper Louis Smith, playing only his second game of the season, denied the striker with a good save with Royal Wootton Bassett Town skipper for the day Ben Brown then blocking the follow-up shot from Layton Tulk. Arnold continued to cause problems to the Royal Wootton Bassett defence, 21 minutes in only a last gasp tackle from Josh Connolly denied him a strike on goal and then on 26 minutes he fired a shot just wide of the post. Salisbury continued to have the better of things and Smith in the visitor’s goal was once again called upon to deny the home side a lead, diving to save a free kick from Will Waterson.
Three minutes before the break a cross from Salisbury captain Alfie Hawke found the head of Arnold but he was unable to direct his header on target. The Salisbury pressure finally paid off two minutes from the break, a defence splitting pass from Arnold found Connor Ings and he fired low into the net past Smith to make it 1-0 to Salisbury at the interval.
Royal Wootton Bassett Town were back on level terms within five minutes of the restart and, as often has been the case this season, the goal came through some great link up play between Dale Richards and Matt Bennett. The goal was very similar to Salisbury’s opener, Richard’s defence splitting pass finding Bennett who fired powerfully past Dan McCarthy in the Salisbury goal.
The visitors were now having their best spell of the game and Bennett went close again to adding a second moments later when he got on the end of a headed Tyler Sheppard pass.
Twenty minutes from time Arnold went close to putting his side back in front, his powerful shot from the edge of the box coming back off the crossbar and being cleared to safety. However, he was not to be denied for long, moments later his run at the visitor’s defence saw him turn last defender Sam Ockwell before curling a delightful shot into the top corner of the net for 2-1. Layton Tulk then went close to extending the lead, but another save from Smith, who was having a good game, kept his side in the game. Dale Richards twice went close to getting the visitors back on level terms, firstly a powerful volley from a Nick Mason cross went just the wrong side of the post and then a powerful free kick from just outside the box was held at the second attempt by McCarthy.
The equaliser was to come however two minutes from time, Richards firing in a shot that ended up in the back of the net with a possible deflection on the way to leave it all square at two apiece. Unfortunately for Salisbury, the late equaliser resulted in just a point to deny them a fifth-place finish on an afternoon they probably deserved all three points with an impressive performance. Following the conclusion of the game the league winner’s trophy and medals were presented to Royal Wootton Bassett Town Development.
The Whites Dev had their end of season presentation in the Sarum bar after the game.
The first award was to two very important volunteers Anna Hawke and Michaela Winter who have done our match day catering all season. They were given restaurant vouchers for a girls night out where they don’t have to cook or look after the likes of us.
The Whites Dev side are all very young, so the criteria for our young player award is they must still qualify for U18’s.
The runaway winner from fellow player votes was 17 year old centre back Ben O’Callaghan. Beno was 16 still until March this year and has made 16 appearances for the dev side this season, and has been captaining Craig Roocrofts U18’s on Sundays as well as being in the academy at Salisbury. To play and stand out in adult football at the that age is outstanding for a 16/17 year old, we have a few of them, but only Ben in a centre back, and playing there at his age with complete confidence is unbelievable.
The players player award was another Nick and I predicted months ago and were proven to be right. Layton Tulk (Tulky) was the choice of his team mates as well. Having played 25 games this season and around 5 for the 1st team Tulky has notched 18 goals as a right footed left winger. He is our second highest scorer behind Devon Arnold who took his season tally for the Dev to 27 goals in 13 appearances. Remarkably he has finished as 6th highest scorer in the league this season having played just 13 times.
Dan McCarthy, Will Hall, Tom Edwards, Ben O’Callaghan, Tom Feest (Lewis Cross), Connor Ings, Aiden Savage (Henry Youd) Alfie Hawke, Layton Tulk, Will Waterson, Devon Arnold. Subs Harry Mealing, Dyllan Roocroft, Will Baily (GK) Reece.
Match report and photo’s by Mark Smedley of the Wilts league