By Pete Martin – Cover Image by Andrew Palk.
Salisbury moved up to 2nd in the league table with a 2-1 win away at struggling Didcot Town. With Sido Jombati and Noah Coppin both available after suspension, manager Brian Dutton bought them straight back into the starting lineup; Tom Bragg and Sam Ashton the players dropping to the bench.
Dicot were the first to threaten; just 2 minutes on the clock when Jenson Wright picked up the ball 30 yards out but he could only drive it high and wide of the goal. It was 2 minutes later that the Whites had their first sight of goal. A strong run from former Didcot man Josh Hedges saw him feed it inside to Ryan Penny and his first touch took him into the area and clear on goal. Home keeper Leigh Bedwell came out and spread himself well to deny the midfielder a 1st goal for the club, with Dan Fitchett unable to capitalise on the loose ball. Salisbury continued to threaten and on 7 minutes a deep Tom Leggett cross was met by the head of Coppin who put his header wide of the post. With the game settling down the next real goal-scoring chance wasn’t until the 20th minute and it saw the Whites take the lead. A good drive forward from midfield by Penny saw him feed it through to Fitchett and when his low shot was saved, Charlie Gunson picked up the ball and saw a shot deflected for a corner. That set piece was swung in by the same player and Jombati rose high to power a header into the back of the net from 10 yards out.
That goal stung Didcot into life and only some fine defending from Salisbury stopped them equalising 3 minutes later. A fine move down their right-hand side saw Robbie Gallagher draw a good save from Josh Gould before both Leggett and Josh Sommerton blocked goalbound shots on the line in the scramble that followed before the Whites finally hacked the ball clear. That was pretty much the last real goal-scoring chance of the half; Fitchett and Gunson both having half chances to extend the lead whilst at the other end neither Wright nor Patrick Osborne could trouble Gould when shooting from outside the area as Salisbury went in with a narrow lead.
Images by Andrew Palk
The 2nd half should have seen the Whites double their lead almost immediately but when Gunson was clean through on goal he dithered slightly which allowed Bedwell to block the ball behind for a corner. The game opened up as the half progressed, with both teams looking to play on the front foot. On 51 minutes Gould had to be alert to push wide an Osborne shot on the turn before a minute later at the other end Hedges saw his shot from the edge of the area deflected wide. In an end-to-end few minutes, Gould was again called into action, this time needing a strong hand to push Benjamin Putland’s rasping drive over the bar.
On 58 minutes Salisbury doubled their lead and it came from the penalty spot. Hedges picked up the ball 25 yards from goal and his mazy run took him past 3 players and into the area where he was brought down. Referee Neil Fyfield had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and, following a lengthy delay which saw 3 home players booked, Jombati stepped up and cooly sent Bedwell the wrong way for his 2nd goal of the game. The game was starting to get pretty scrappy but on 67 minutes a strong run from Aaron McCreadie saw him play in Fitchett whose ball to the back post was met by a sliding Leggett but the ball went narrowly wide of the post. 8 minutes later Hedges came inside again and was unlucky to see his deflected shot hit the legs of Bedwell and go behind for a corner. On 79 minutes the home side pulled a goal back when Putland was quickest to react after Gould had got down well to save Gallagher’s low effort; the Didcot man on hand to lash home the rebound. The goal saw the home side try to push for an equaliser but unable to fashion a chance to fully test Gould, whilst at the other end Bedwell showed strong hands to push Hedges near post drive over the bar. With the game ticking into time added on Salisbury substitute Sam Ashton should have added a 3rd; heading just wide from 6 yards out following Gunson’s ball in from the left, but the Whites saw out the game to secure all 3 points on the road.
Salisbury are back at home this coming Tuesday 24th October when they welcome Plymouth Parkway to the Ray Mac for a 7.45 pm kick-off.
Team: Gould, Smith, Sommerton(Squires), Leggett, Jombati, Penny, McCreadie, Gunson, Hedges, Coppin(Bragg), Fitchett(Ashton)