By Pete Martin – Cover image and all images by ©Amy Wadmore.
Salisbury’s FA Cup journey got underway with a 3-2 win at home to a spirited Bridgwater United side 2 leagues below them in the football pyramid. There were 2 changes to the Whites lineup; Josh Sommerton and Charlie Gunson coming in for Jamar Smith and Dan Fitchett.
Salisbury made a bright start and took an early lead after just 4 minutes. A lucky bounce saw Gunson through on goal, where a brilliant recovering tackle saw the ball out for a corner. Gunson was the man on set piece duties and his inch perfect ball into the 6-yard box saw Aaron McCreadie power home a header, giving Bridgwater keeper Jake Viney no chance. Almost immediately from the kick off the visitors responded; George King stinging the palms of Josh Gould with a fiercely struck effort coming in from the left-hand side. The Whites were then forced into an early reshuffle as an injury to Theo Lewis saw him replaced by Fitchett, with Noah Coppin reverting to his more usual position wide on the left. After 20 minutes, Bridgwater were indebted to Viney for keeping the score to 1 as he got down low to his right to push wide Gunson’s curling effort from just outside the box.
Salisbury were having a lot of possession but a dogged Bridgwater display wasn’t fully allowing them to dominate as they’d of liked. There was still chances created though; Gunson drawing another save from Viney, and the same player putting the ball over the bar from close in when Viney palmed a wicked Coppin cross into him from close range. The Whites were made to pay for not taking their chances 5 minutes before the break as the visitors drew the game level. The ball was lost in the defensive third and worked nicely to Jack Thorne in behind on the right hand side, and the forward showed great composure to calmly finish underneath Gould and into the corner of the net. Despite having seen more of the ball in the half, the Whites could have gone in behind at half time but in time added on King could only slice a shot wide when well placed inside the box as the teams went in level at the break.
The second half saw Salisbury come out strongly and 2 goals in the opening 8 minutes put them into a commanding position in the game. Firstly, Fitchett fed in Gunson on the right hand side and despite being forced slightly wide he kept his cool to clip the ball past Viney and into the back of the net. The 3rd goal on 53 minutes saw the ball break nicely to Josh Hedges on the right and his cross was fired across allowing Fitchett to tap home from 5 yards out. It could have been 4 just 5 minutes later but excellent reactions from Viney saw him get down low to push the ball wide and save Tom Llewellyn the ignominy of an own goal after the ball bounced of him inside the 6 yard box.
Images by ©Amy Wadmore
With Salisbury having failed to fully put the game to bed, confidence was growing in the Bridgwater ranks and on 63 minutes Thorne fired over the bar after beating a couple of defenders as the away side were starting to see a lot more of the ball. Their pressure told on 77 minutes as the Whites lost the ball in midfield before substitute, Adam Wright picked it up and came forward to curl a shot past Gould and set up a tense final 15 minutes for the home side. Bridgwater continued to pressure and try and snatch an equaliser but were unable to create any real chances, the Whites defence standing firm and Gould claiming the ball well under heavy pressure a couple of times. At the other end of the pitch the game could have been sealed as it ticked into injury time, but Gunson’s effort was blocked by a defender and the Whites sealed their place in the hat for the next round.
The draw for the 2nd Qualifying Round takes place Monday at 1 pm and Salisbury are back in league action next Saturday 9th September, when they welcome Walton and Hersham to the Ray Mac for a 3 pm kick off.
Team: Gould, Simpson, Sommerton, Leggett, Jombati, Penny, McCreadie, Lewis(Fitchett), Hedges(Smith), Gunson, Coppin(Arnold D) Unused Subs: Osei, Arnold C, Bragg