By Pete Martin
Salisbury crashed out of the FA Trophy at the first hurdle as they were beaten on penalties by league rivals Gosport Borough after an entertaining 2-2 draw. There was 3 changes made by manager Brian Dutton; Aaron Simpson, Ryan Penny and Dan Fitchett replaced by Jamar Smith, Tom Bragg and returning new signing Sam Ashton.
It was the home side who made the stronger start and inside the first 10 minutes, Bradley Tarbuck put a shot wide from distance before a fine run from Rafa Ramos saw him put a dangerous ball across with nobody able to take advantage. On 11 minutes the game’s opening goal arrived and it went the way of the Whites. Aaron McCready in midfield fed the ball wide to Noah Coppin and the young attacker cut inside from the left and, after beating 2 defenders, fired the ball into the top corner from just outside the box. Shortly afterwards a couple of long-range shots from Gosport’s Dan Wooden and then Tarbuck were comfortably dealt with by Josh Gould in the Salisbury goal as the game settled into a midfield battle.
On 28 minutes Coppin sliced another effort wide whilst at the other end Gosport managed to bundle the ball home from a free kick only to see the linesman’s flag deny them the equaliser. On 36 minutes Ashton found himself in space inside the box but was unable to convert Josh Sommerton’s low ball and then shortly before half time another Ashton shot was comfortably dealt with by home keeper Toby Steward to ensure it was just a 1 goal lead for the Whites at the interval.
The 2nd half saw Gosport come quickly out of the traps and level the match on 48 minutes. Salisbury gave the ball away in their defensive 3rd but Ramos still had plenty of work to do to find a low finish into the corner of the net giving Gould no chance. On 56 minutes the Whites should have retaken the lead but Coppin was unable to get the ball on target when in space yards out at the back post following a dangerous ball in from McCreadie. They were made to pay 4 minutes later when Ramos got his, and his team’s, 2nd goal of the afternoon, smashing home from close range when a corner was flicked on by Corey Jordan.
Salisbury responded almost immediately and only a last-ditch block inside the box prevented both McCreadie and Sommerton from firing shots home and levelling the match. The game was getting bitty, with both sides seeing players enter the referee’s book and there not being any real flow to the game. On 77 minutes substitute, and former Salisbury player, Antonio Diaz saw a longe range drive pushed wide by Gould before 4 minutes later the home side where reduced to 10 men when skipper Rory Williams was shown a 2nd yellow card by referee James Keeten for something he said. On 85 minutes, however, the numbers were evened up; this time it was Whites skipper Sido Jombati who picked up his 2nd yellow for stopping a dangerous-looking Gosport attack. With the game deep into time added on and it looking like the home side would secure the win, Coppin grabbed his 2nd of the game to secure a draw for the Whites. McCreadie got away down the right and his ball across saw Coppin fire home via a slight deflection to send the game to a penalty shootout.
The shootout saw Gosport keeper Toby Steward as the star of the show; he saved from Charlie Gunson, Aaron McCreadie and Noah Coppin to ensure his team progressed to the next round, with the Whites crashing out of a 2nd cup competition in 4 days.
The teams will do battle again next Saturday; this time in the league and at the Ray Mac stadium when Gosport visit Wiltshire for a 3 pm kick-off.
Team: Gould, Smith(Penny), Sommerton, Bragg, Jombati, Leggett(Arnold D), McCreadie, Gunson, Hedges, Coppin, Ashton Unused Subs: Osei, Squires, Fitchett