Salisbury’s Development side opened up their Hampshire Combination Premier League account with a 2-0 victory against Totton & Ealing, as they showed their edge in front of goal in a game that have gone either way.

The opening affairs were scrappy, with Totton starting the brighter against a whites side significantly younger than their opponents. Totton spent much of the opening 15 minutes inside the Salisbury half, with their opening chance came after 8 minutes as George Smith spun his man on the edge of the box only to see his shot parried around the post by Duff in the Salisbury goal. Duff was then soon called into action again by the same man, as a ball over the top of Salisbury’s back four was flicked on by Price-Lloyd to put Smith in one-on-one with the Salisbury keeper. However, he only managed to get a tame shot away, which was easily saved by the Salisbury keeper.

After this bright start from Totton, Salisbury began to gain more of a foothold on the game, as they began to discover some attacking intent. After an early warning from Lichowe, who almost got in behind the Totton defence on 18 minutes, he went one closer soon after as a great ball into the right channel was latched on to by a clever run by Waterson. A clever touch allowed him to get his shot away from the right of the penalty area, which could only be parried into the path of the advancing Lichowe by Taylor in the Totton goal. However, much to Totton’s relief, Lichowe’s rapturous shot rattled the crossbar from 8 yards to leave the scores level.

This chance seemed to kick the game into life, as Totton were denied a penalty at one end, only to see Salisbury given a penalty just minutes later as Waterson’s winding run resulted in him being judged to be pulled back by Jake Brand. Brand’s misery was then compounded as he earned himself 10 minutes in the sin bin for the dissent that followed. Lichowe stepped up to coolly convert the subsequent spot kick, as he sent Taylor the wrong way to put Salisbury 1-0 up.

With their man advantage, Salisbury almost took a two goal lead on 36 minutes, as good play in midfield saw the ball make its way to Tulk on the left wing. His cross in to the Totton box saw Taylor spill as he came out to collect. However, Waterson was unable to capitalise on the loose ball, as his scuffed shot was scrambled off the line by Dawson.

However, whilst Salisbury seemed to be creating the better chances, Totton still looked dangerous, and on the stroke of half time they almost got their equaliser. A ball down the left from Newbury caught Salisbury napping, with the advancing Bainbridge the recipient. The left winger latched onto the loose ball and cut inside to place his shot past the diving Duff. However, he was unlucky to only to see the ball strike the inside of the post before being scrambled behind for a corner. However, the danger wasn’t clear yet, as Lambert planted a good header towards goal from the resulting corner. However, his effort nestled just wide of the post.

The second half started just as the first half had finished, with both sides showing their attacking intent. However, it was Totton who looked more likely in the opening stages.

Duff was called into action right at the start of the half, as a Totton free kick on half way was hoisted into the area by Botcherby. Finding a Totton head, the resultant flick-on looked destined for the net, but for a fine stop from Duff, as he flew to his left to tip the ball behind.

Soon after, Totton went whiskers away again, after Salisbury failed to deal with a a fine in-swinging corner from the left. The corner was met by the head of Brand at the far post, only for him to see his header rattle the post before the ball broke to Newbury who fired the subsequent rebound against the crossbar from 8 yards – a let off for Salisbury!

Following this scare, Salisbury introduced Ruben Smith on 63 minutes, with almost immediate impact. After a foul on the right hand side, the subsequent free kick from Waterson saw Smith get across his marker to plant a firm header on target, only to be denied by Taylor, who produced an acrobatic save to tip the ball over the bar.

Following the introduction of more fresh legs from either side, the game became more of a midfield tussle, as both sides were limited to long range efforts and half chances. However, on 79 minutes, Salisbury all but confirmed victory, as an aimless ball over the top was only cleared by Taylor in the Totton goal as far as Tulk on the Salisbury left, who cushioned a header into the path of Waterson. With the keeper back peddling, and Brand in pursuit, Waterson surged into the box, and was able to poke the ball into the path of the substitute Smith, who showed great composure to slot the ball past the scrambling Taylor, and into the bottom left corner of the net to put Salisbury 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go.

Whilst Totton attempted to rally following this sucker-punch, they could only muster a couple of half chances to finish. Efforts from Bainbridge and Bateman failed to test Duff in the Salisbury goal, and as the clock ticked into added time, Salisbury remained resolute to claim a hard fought 3 points.

After the game, Salisbury Development Team manager, Mark Winter said:
“I think that game and result is exactly what the lads needed from tonight to give them the confidence going forward this season in this reserves league. This squad is by a mile going to be the youngest in the league. With that youth comes the physical challenge of boys competing against men sometimes. We started that game with a 16 year old keeper and Will Waterson who was influential in both our goals in the 9 role, also only 16. Adam cooper who came on is yet another 16 year old.  Add a couple of 17 year olds, a load of 18/19 year olds and Ed who is the veteran of the team at 20 years old, and you can see what I mean. But we are fit, we are fast and we can play football the right way. The lads understand though that they have to earn the right at times to play our style of football by competing toe to toe with full grown men. Tonight with a little bit of luck, and bad luck too it has to be said along the way, we did that.

We go to Petersfield Town on Saturday which will be a different challenge away from the excellent Ray Mac surface. As we have only been able to get three pre-season games in, and with a 20 man squad it means none of those lads have had more than 100 minutes of football yet. Getting that game out of the way puts more minutes into the bank for all of them. We also have some cracking players to still come into the side, so right now the coaches are happy enough, and looking forward to seeing how this young group develops.

Salisbury FC: Duff, Boulton (Butt, 67), Williams (Cooper, 84), Hawke (c), Davis, Tosdevine, Lichowe, Thomas, Waterson, Timperley (Smith, 63), Tulk

Subs not used: Edwards, David

Goals: Lichowe 28’ (pen), Smith 79’

Totton & Ealing Reserves: Taylor, Dawson (Veitch, 45), Botcherby, Newbury, Brand, Lambert (c), Higdon (Bateman, 74), Gibson (Braden, 67), Price-Lloyd, Smith, Bainbridge

Subs not used: Race-Oak, Pasieka

Yellow cards: Brand, Veitch

Officials: Daniel Batchelor, Andrew Brown, Luke Fletcher

Match report by Liam Burnell
Image courtesy of Michael Berkeley photography