By Pete Martin
Salisbury returned from a trip to Somerset empty-handed following a 3-1 loss to Taunton. For one of the first times this season, the Whites were able to name an unchanged starting lineup with the only change being on the bench where Ollie Knowles replaced Marcus Beauchamp.
The early stages of the game were very much a midfield battle with neither side managing to carve out any clear cut openings. The first real bit of quality arrived after 20 minutes and saw Salisbury take the lead through Josh Wakefield. A mazy run from full-back, Calvin Brooks eventually saw the ball reach Wakefield just inside the box and his cross/shot from an acute angle caught home keeper Will Buse slightly off his line and nestled in the back of the net. The goal seemed to lift the Whites and they began to dominate proceedings, with Wakefield having 2 further half chances blocked before Sam Ashton was just unable to get on the end of Brooks’s dangerous ball across the box. Just before half time, Ashton was again unable to turn the ball home following good play on the left between Josh Sommerton and Antonio Diaz and the last chance of the half fell to Charlie Kennedy who headed narrowly over from Charlie Davis’s in-swinging free kick. A deserved lead at half time for Salisbury who had ensured the home side did not have any real clear chances on goal.
That soon changed just 2 minutes into the 2nd half when Taunton equalised. Former Whites striker Toby Holmes was able to get past Sam Roberts and his square ball was easily tucked home by an unmarked Ross Stearn at the far post. The home side continued to pressure without creating any clear chances and it should have been Salisbury who retook the lead just after the hour mark. A fine move involving Brooks and Ashton saw Abdulai Baggie cross the ball to the back post and Diaz would have been disappointed to head wide when unmarked just 5 yards out. They were made to pay for that miss when on 78 minutes Taunton took the lead. Following a long ball out of defence, Zac Smith was given time and space to cut inside from the left before unleashing a 20-yard strike which beat Pat O’Flaherty at his near post. Salisbury’s final chance to equalise came in the 87th minute and saw a good block deny Ashton after another good cross from Baggie and the hosts sealed the win just a minute later when a penalty was awarded following a foul in the box. Despite the protests from the Salisbury team Stearn stepped up and sent O’Flaherty the wrong way to ensure all 3 points for his team.
The games don’t get any easier for Salisbury as they face another side currently in a playoff position on Saturday 5th February when Hayes & Yeading are the visitors to the Ray Mac.
Team: O’Flaherty, Brooks C, Sommerton, Roberts(Twamley), Kennedy, Davis, Mullings, Wakefield, Baggie, Diaz, Ashton
Unused Subs: Angell, Arnold, Kabba, Knowles.