By Pete Martin – Cover Images by Roger Elliott & Michael Berkeley

For the 2nd game in succession late drama saw Salisbury unable to secure all 3 points as struggling Didcot Town snatched a late draw at the Ray Mac. There was 3 changes to the Whites team; Harrison Lee and Noah Coppin picked up knocks last week and were replaced by Alex Rutter and James Harding, whilst Charlie Gunson returned to the starting lineup with Owen Dore dropping to the bench.

It was a bright start to the game from both sides and on 9 minutes the first goal arrived. Salisbury’s Aaron Simpson lost possession in the right back area and when the ball was worked across to Sam Barder he unleashed a 30-yard piledriver that gave Rutter no chance. The Whites reacted well to going behind and on 13 minutes Wayne Robinson’s near post shot needed Leigh Bedwell to push it around the post, before 7 minutes later the same player put his shot wide of the target having won back possession in the midfield. On 26 minutes though the equaliser for the home side did arrive. Good forward play by Harding to chase Ryan Penny’s ball into the channel eventually saw him able to play the ball across, which fell to Gunson who rifled home a left-footed effort.

Images by Michael Berkeley

The rest of the half was fairly even; Salisbury’s Josh Hedges, playing against his former side, put a weak shot straight at Bedwell whilst at the other end Didcot skipper Adam Learoyd put a header over the top from a long throw. There was one more chance for the visitors just before the break, Learoyd again with it but he cleared the bar with his effort and the side went in for half time level pegging.

The early stages of the 2nd half saw both teams trade half chances, Gunson shooting wide for Salisbury and another Learoyd header being comfortably held by Rutter. On 56 minutes the best chance of the half so far arrived for the home side; Penny won the ball in midfield and when he fed the ball into Robinson his ball across the face of the goal saw Harding agonisingly close to getting a touch. The Whites were starting to get on top of the game, Hedges stinging the palms of Bedwell with an effort before there was a couple of chances on 58 minutes. Firstly Harding saw his shot blocked behind for a corner which when played in saw shouts of handball, before eventually Harding headed wide from 6 yards out.

Images by Roger Elliott

The game settled down with Didcot able to take the sting out of the game and restrict chances for the Whites. On 72 minutes Hedges fired well over from distance before 8 minutes later Gunson’s 25-yard shot needed Bedwell to push it around the post. The away side were able to create a couple of half chances in the last 10 minutes, Rutter dealing easily with both, before in the 1st minute of time added on Salisbury grabbed what looked to be the winner. Gunson got down the right-hand side and was able to beat a couple of defenders and his ball across was cleverly back-heeled in by Harding. As was the case last week at Gosport however, the Whites conceded a set piece equaliser in the dying seconds of the game. A long throw came in from the right hand side and eventually fell to Cameron McNeill who bundled it home from close in to snatch a point for his side.

Salisbury will look to put the disappointment behind them next Saturday 2nd March when they travel to Plymouth Parkway for a 3 pm kick off.

Team: Rutter, Simpson(Smith), McIntyre, Leggett, Jombati, Penny, Perez(Dore), Gunson, Hedges, Robinson, Harding  Unused Sub: Lewis

Ian Pearson
February 25, 2024

Ian Pearson

Media & Website Manager