Saturday, January 19, 2013

Game 18: Salisbury City 3.1 Staines Town (Conf South) 19.01.13

With heavy snowfall locally I hadn't expected to find any football on today. A quick check on Twitter when I woke up indicated that Salisbury supporters were working on clearing the pitch to try and get the game on. I checked again around 2pm and found confirmation that this was one of the few games around the country that had survived the weather.

After bundling up to keep warm I wandered round to the Ray Mac. Outside the nearest turnstiles were huge piles of snow. When I got into the ground the pitch looked near immaculate as the teams warmed up. The parking was free but limited to the main area which wasn't an issue with a small crowd of 464.

The first half was a near repeat of the Truro game with Salisbury taking an early lead and dominating the game, only to concede a late goal. Jamie White scored the first after 5 minutes, intercepting a back pass, rounding the keeper as he rushed out of his area before passing the ball into an empty net. In the 11th minute Frear took on several Staines defenders as he ran in from the left wing. His mazy dribble beat them all and he placed a low shot away from the keeper and into the right side of the goal.

McPhee added a third after 19 minutes with a unchallenged clinical finish from the edge of the six yard box. Scott in the Salisbury goal didn't have much to do in the half although his point blank save just after the first goal was crucial in keeping Salisbury's momentum. Staines had a long free kick that looked to be an attempt at a cross but looped over Scott's hand and bounced out off the top of the bar after 26 minutes. They pulled one goal back in injury time. A quick clearance from defence followed by an accurate through ball allowed Wheeler to beat the defence. He ran through to the penalty area and hit a great shot high into the net.

Salisbury made a couple of changes in the second half and never really managed to get going much to the frustration of the supporters. Staines upped their game and had two chances from crosses that just needed a touch to guide them past Scott. A couple of shots went narrowly wide as the pressure was all at the far end which wasn't open due to the snowfall. White had one clear chance near the end of the game when he went through with the ball but the Staines keeper made a good save to keep the score down. The result keeps the pressure on Welling in second place, 9 points behind with a backlog of 3 games in hand and a superior goal difference.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Game 17: Salisbury City 4.3 Truro City (Conf South) 15.01.13

A bitterly cold evening wasn't going to put me off from wandering round to the Ray Mac for the visit of Truro City. I was joined by Andy and talk soon turned to the evening two years ago when we watched Truro demolish Salisbury on their way to the Southern Premier title.

Since that promotion Truro have gone through some financial issues with their backer pulling out and it was good to hear that their new owners were local businessmen who were planning to get the club on an even keel again. The side has seen numerous players come and go this season with the uncertainty of administration but they were able to put out two experienced league players for this game in Barry Hayles and Luke McCormack. In addition, ex Whites favourite Matt Wright was named on the subs bench. While earlier results in the season hadn't gone their way, a recent game at second place Welling United finished with a narrow 4.3 defeat in injury time so neither of us were taking this top v bottom clash as a foregone conclusion.

The first few minutes saw plenty of slipping as both sets of players struggled with the frosty pitch. Salisbury took an early lead when a freekick was cleared outside of the box. A Salisbury player ran towards the ball and mindful of an onrushing defender hit the ball to his left. The ball found McPhee on the edge of the area and he chested the ball down before hitting a low shot past the keeper.

Jamie White had a couple of chances to extend the lead but his touch was just too heavy. Truro didn't manage a shot on goal until the 24th minute and two minutes later Salisbury made it 2.0 from a freekick. Andy had missed the first goal thanks to a trip to the gents and wasn't sure that my prediction of cross into the box, header, goal was likely but that's the way it turned out. A high ball was floated into the box for McPhee to score again with his head.

Salisbury were controlling the game and looked to be 3.0 up in the last minute of the half. White put the ball into the back of the net but the assistant had put his flag up, presumably for offside when he received the ball although it was clear from our position that the ball had come off a Truro leg first. The referee wasn't sure so went to the assistant and appeared to give the goal when he signalled towards the halfway line. However it turned out that he had disallowed the goal and awarded a freekick. The game turned on this moment as deep into injury time Scott swung at the ball when clearing a back pass and hit it low into Hayles's legs. The veteran striker calmly allowed the ball to bounce before chipping it over the keeper and in.

Things got worse for Salisbury as Truro levelled the game from a breakaway in the first minute of the second half. Moore cut inside a defender on the far edge of the area before placing a low shot past the keeper at the near post. Salisbury continued to press forward and their efforts were rewarded in the 65th minute,  Lewis volleying in from outside the area after a Truro header attempted to clear a deep ball from danger. This lifted the mood of the locals but it didn't last long. Two minutes later Truro equalised again when Salisbury couldn't get the ball clear. A run and pullback from the left side set up Watt to smash a shot high into the top corner.

As the clock ticked down it looked like another 6 goal thriller between these sides at the Ray Mac. Truro won a corner but a poor cross ended up in Mark Scott's hands. He ran forward and launched a throw towards an unmarked Lewis who took the ball down the left wing before passing infield to Clarke. He played a superb ball into the box with just enough pace to beat the defence. White ghosted past the covering defender, took the ball and hit a shot past the keeper into the far corner. The crowd celebrated as if the goal had won the title while crestfallen Truro players slumped to their knees. A dramatic end to a great game of football.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Game 16: Salisbury City 1.0 Sutton United (Conf South) 05.01.13

After the excitement of the Eastleigh game I decided to revisit the Ray Mac when my planned ticks in the Western League were postponed due to waterlogged pitches. It looked as if this would pay off when Salisbury almost scored from the kickoff, White's shot on 14 seconds beating the keeper but ending up just wide.

The rest of the half was fairly non descript. White had a good chance when picking up a cross from the left but his first time shot flew over the bar when it looked easier to score. Sutton missed a golden opportunity on the half hour when an unmarked header flew over the bar from close range. They came even closer to scoring ten minutes later when Riviere hit the post with a chipped shot although it looked like a covering defender would have been able to protect the goal had it been on target. 

The second half saw the Salisbury supporters unhappy with the referee as he missed a penalty shout when White was brought down on the edge of the area and kept his cards in his pocket as the tackles got progressively later and more cynical. The game was settled by an own goal in the 57th minute following a well worked corner routine. Instead of playing the ball into the area it was passed to the edge of the area for McPhee to run onto. He drilled his shot towards goal and it deflected off a defender to fly over the keeper and in.