Match day squad: Kenni Clarke (GK), Nikki Frier, Kylie Allen, Evie Cummings, Rachel Lang, Nicky Millings, Beth McKinney, Olivia Leather, Amy Sanger, Ellen Clarke, Gemma Marsh (C), Deyna Davie, Zoe Alcock, Georgi Bavister, Gemma Fletcher, Rio-Sienna Goodings.

With debuts from GK Clarke and 17 year old Goodings, the first home match of 2023 and the ambition to keep the winning streak going, Salisbury Women came onto the pitch aiming to dominate, and they did just that. Two goals came in during the first half courtesy of Alcock and Leather, the latter three coming in from Lang, Goodings and Alcock again. Highworth suffered with injuries, and a late red card for dissent brought them down to 10, though it was still too late to pull any back as the White’s reached full time with a clean sheet and the 3 points.

Salisbury had possession for the majority of the first half, with shots on goal from Alcock and Sanger within the first ten minutes though the Highworth goalkeeper was saving with ease despite injuries. The first true opportunity came at the hands of Leather who made some excellent tackles in the middle and slotted a through ball through to Davie who has Alcock to back her up, though the Highworth defence are strong, recover the ball and launch it upfield.

It isn’t until the 22nd minute did Highworth find their first, best, and only real chance to score – they slip through down the right wing, with a striker outpacing the Whites’ defence, she crosses the ball into the box though there’s no one there to meet it and it goes wide of the goal.

It’s a few minutes before half time. There’s great football from Salisbury but a lack of connecting final balls which could lead to goals due to Highworth’s physically strong defensive line. On the 42nd minute the ball is played out from goal by GK Clarke who sends it Lang’s way on the left wing, Lang retrieves and streaks up the wing, her strides bypassing two midfielders before passing the ball up the line to a waiting Alcock, Alcock outpaces one defender, cuts in past another and finds herself surrounded in the middle of the Highworth box. She side kicks it to Davie who has found some space. Davie plays a cool 1-2 with Alcock who breaks free of the defence and is 1-1 with the keeper. One solid shot sends the ball sailing into the top right corner. 1-0.

Barely minutes later, in injury time, Salisbury find themselves with a second chance on goal with a free kick on the outskirts of the box. Vice Captain Ellen Clarke steps up. This is within scoring range for Clarke, and she send the ball flying into the box where Leather gets on the end of it and sends it into the back of the net just before the halftime whistle is blown. 2-0.

Halftime sees no changes, and this remains until the 63rd minute where Allen and Sanger come off for Captain Gemma Marsh and Rio-Sienna Goodings on her debut.

Goodings makes an immediate impact – a quick through ball from Leather sends Goodings up the right wing and she takes a shot – it scrapes the wrong side of the right post and goes out for a goal kick which send the ball rattling down to the Salisbury half. The Whites’ defensive line are ready and waiting. Frier chases down the Highworth attacker and hassles them free of the ball where Marsh is ready to clear. The ball goes out for another goal kick, though this time it lands with the midfield – Leather knocks it up to Goodings who sprints down the right wing towards the edge of the box, she makes it inside, skips past one defender, outpaces the second and pulls off a phenomenal touch around the keeper to send the ball spinning across the line. 3-0.

Salisbury press immediately upon kick off. They’re almost back in the Highworth box, but debuting Goodings is fouled near the sideline before they can make it closer. VC Clarke steps up and sends the ball soaring. Highworth’s GK makes the save but fumbles the ball. Alcock and Deyna are pressing the GK, taking advantage of no markers and the ball ends up in the back of the net courtesy of Alcock, securing her second goal of the match. 4-0.

Highworth are up in arms. The ref is crowded by multiple players in red and after multiple warnings, a Highworth player is sent off with a red card for dissent bringing them down to 10 players.

In the 79th minute Salisbury make their final substitutions: McKinney, Alcock and Davie for Bavister, Fletcher and Millings.

The 83rd minute brings Salisbury their final goal of the match at the feet of Lang. Captain Marsh collects the ball and sends it to the left wing where Lang is in space, she charges forwards, covering distance with ease and cuts into the box past two defenders, she takes a shot, outside of the boot, and sends the ball flying into the back of the net with such power the goalkeeper never stood a chance. 5-0.

The clean sheet was retained by two quality saves from debuting GK Clarke, the latter of which proving vital in the final few seconds of injury time – Highworth are awarded a corner, they send the ball into the box where it comes in high, though GK Clarke judges the angle with perfection and makes a solid save with safe hands moments before the full time whistle.

POTM to Liv Leather for outstanding battling in midfield, winning every first and second ball and creating a multitude of opportunities.

Salisbury Women retain their position of 3rd in the league, next week playing at home again to Melksham Town.

Ian Pearson
March 12, 2023

Ian Pearson

Media & Website Manager