By Pete Martin – Cover image by Roger Elliott
The 1st ever league meeting between Salisbury FC and Hungerford Town saw the home side run out 2-1 victors on an entertaining afternoon at the Ray Mac stadium. With 7 days having passed since the goalless draw at Hendon, manager Brian Dutton went with an unchanged side for the first of 2 games in 48 hours.
There was a good pace and energy about the early exchanges with both sides looking lively. The Whites were the first to threaten on 6 minutes when some clever hold up play by James Harding saw him feed Noah Coppin in the inside left channel, but his goal-bound effort was blocked on the line by a Hungerford defender. Just 2 minutes later, the visitors took the lead. The White’s defence attempted to play their way out from the back, but a loose ball allowed an alert Conor McDonagh to nip in and fire it home from close in. Salisbury responded well, Harding looking dangerous up front and on 13 minutes more good play from him saw Charlie Gunson put through on goal, although he was forced slightly wide which allowed former Salisbury City keeper Ryan Clarke to smother the danger.
Images by Michael Berkeley
On 19 minutes, Hungerford would have doubled their lead but for a fine save from current Whites custodian Josh Gould. A dangerous cross in from the right-hand side saw Dave Tarpey in space at the back, but his powerful header was excellently tipped over by Gould. 5 minutes later though, the home side levelled the game up. A really good team move ended with Aaron McCreadie feeding a lovely ball inside the full-back for Josh Hedges to run on and finish low into the goal across the keeper. Just 6 minutes later the turnaround was complete as the White took the lead. An excellent ball in from Aaron Simpson saw Charlie Gunson pulled back in the box by last man Matt Berry-Hargreaves with a penalty awarded and a red card shown to the Hungerford man. Captain Sido Jombati stepped up and calmly slotted the ball home low down to Clarke’s left-hand side. With the man advantage, Salisbury continued to press and on 34 minutes Gunson saw an effort pushed wide by Clarke and Hungerford would have been pleased when the half time whistle came to send the teams in.
Images by Roger Elliott
Salisbury came back out for the 2nd half and picked up where they’d left off; seeing plenty of the ball and looking most likely to add to their lead. On 47 minutes, Hedges fed the ball into Harding inside the area but his turn and shot was smartly held by Clarke. Around the hour mark, long-range efforts by Jamar Smith and then Gunson flew over the bar, before on 67 minutes Hungerford reminded of the danger they could pose. A corner from the left-hand side fell nicely for Bradley Hooper and his flash shot was only narrowly over the bar. It was mostly Salisbury pressure at this point and on 73 minutes, Hungerford were again indebted to Clarke as he made an excellent save from Simpson’s powerful effort before 7 minutes later McCreadie fired another shot over the bar from the edge of the box. Hungerford had a final chance to equalise on 85 minutes but McDonagh could only fire over following a good turn and shot inside the box. In time added on, substitute Dan Fitchett got away down the right and his ball across saw fellow sub Theo Lewis force the ball goalwards with it blocked behind for a corner. The Whites were able to see out the game and grab the win which maintains their unbeaten record.
With a quick turnaround, Salisbury are in action again on Bank Holiday Monday, 28th August as they make the short trip to Winchester City for a 3pm kick off.
Team: Gould, Simpson, Smith, Leggett, Jombati, Penny, McCreadie, Gunson, Coppin(Lewis), Hedges(Arnold), Harding(Fitchett) Unused Subs: Osei, Lahan