Saturday, July 28, 2007

Game 1: Salisbury City 0.0 AFC Wimbledon (Friendly) 28.07.07

After a couple of false starts due to the weather (torrential rain, games called off), headed up to the Ray Mac for the 60th Anniversary game against AFC Wimbledon.

Arriving at the ground just after 2pm it was good to see that the work on the ground had been completed and that the new stands and terraces were fully operational. The new soundsystem was coming across crystal clear as one of the supporters took to the roaming mic role to help build up the atmosphere.

The stands were reserved for the former Salisbury players who were attending the game and a function - spotted a couple of familiar faces over on that side of the ground. They were joined in the open air by the Salisbury smokers - the smoking ban meant that their usual spot under cover by the main stand was out of bounds if they wanted to light up.

Salisbury had a couple of trialists and a few new faces in the squad and started the first half strongly. Paul Sales had a shot tipped onto the bar while Robbie Matthews had a shot from an angle that beat the keeper but went agonisingly past the post when it looked like it would go in. AFC Wimbledon then made a couple of chances of their own - 2 shots coming in that were just past the post on each occasion. Their number 2 did a good job in keeping Luke Prince making an impact and neither team seemed to have that final killer touch.

In the second half AFC Wimbledon pushed forward but found new keeper James Bittner in top form. He made several point blank saves in the first half and had to make several more saves to keep a clean sheet - with the help of his defence, who had to clear the lines on a couple of occasions after the ball had been pushed onto the crossbar. It looked like the defence might take a little while to get used to his style after playing with Ryan Clarke who takes on a sweeper role with his dashes outside the penalty area. A couple of balls were played short and almost sold Bittner short but he dealt with everything well.

Sadly Marcus Gayle was injured for this game so we didn't get the chance to see the former Jamaican international but we did get to see John Stead.... not the Blackburn / Sunderland man but a triallist who had been playing in the Highland League (according to the terrace chat.)

After the game I picked up my copy of "The Whites - the first 60 years" that I had reserved way back in February. From an initial skim through it looks like it was worth the wait - some great memories came flooding back. It's unlikely that this game will stand out in 5 years time let alone 60 years but it was great to be back in a football ground again.

2006 - 2007 season summary

Games seen: 45

Goals scored: 152

Highest Scoring Game: 9 - Horndean 5.4 Brading

Lowest Scoring Game: 0 - Lymington v Shrivenham, Salisbury City v Hayes, v Thurrock

Goal Average: 3.38

Grounds Visited: 18

New Grounds Visited: 14