by Pete Martin – Images by Andrew Palk
In a battle between 2 previously unbeaten sides in the league, it was Salisbury FC who maintained their record with a tight 1-0 win against Walton and Hersham FC. There was just 1 change made to Brian Dutton’s starting lineup from last week’s FA Cup win, Jamar Smith coming in to replace Theo Lewis.
It was a fairly cagey start to the game, both sides looking to feel the other out on a baking hot afternoon. There was plenty of good possession from both teams, but very little in the way of goal-mouth action in the opening quarter of an hour. The first real sight of goal came on 14 minutes when Salisbury’s Charlie Gunson fired a long-range shot well over the bar, with Walton’s first effort on 19 minutes a first-time shot from Stan Flaherty straight at keeper Josh Gould.
Photos by Andrew Palk
The Whites were moving the ball around nicely in midfield and pressuring the Walton defence high up the pitch, and on one such occasion, they won the ball back high up and saw Noah Coppin brought down on the edge of the area. The resulting free kick from Gunson however was curled high over the bar and into the terraces. On 38 minutes a good move from Salisbury worked the ball wide to Aaron Simpson and his pinpoint cross saw Gunson unable to make clean contact, with the ball bouncing off his shoulder and into the hands of Walton keeper Liam Allen. There were no further chances for either side in the half, with neither keeper having been properly tested despite some neat and tidy football from both sides.
The 2nd half followed much the same pattern as the 1st; plenty of comfortable possession for both sides but no one able to quite make the breakthrough that would seriously test either keeper. On 53 minutes good Salisbury pressure high up saw the ball come to Gunson in space on the edge of the area but his 1st time shot was dragged wide. It was Salisbury who looked slightly more likely to breakthrough; on the hour mark a weak Coppin shot was easy for Allen before 10 minutes later the Walton keeper was nearly responsible for the Whites taking the lead. The ball was played back to him and with Salisbury substitute Dan Fitchett closing him down quickly the ball ricocheted off the striker only to go narrowly wide of the goal frame.
There then followed a 10-minute period where Walton looked most likely to score; on 71 minutes Anis Nuur fired over the bar when the ball fell to him from a corner, before 4 minutes later only a last-ditch tackle from skipper Sido Jombati denied Walton inside the area before the subsequent corner was cleared to Mitchal Gough who could only shoot straight at Gould from long range. Salisbury bounced back and a couple of chances around the 80-minute mark could have seen them take the lead. Firstly Ryan Penny’s snapshot from inside the box crashed into the upright before Devon Arnold headed just wide of the same post when a good run saw him in space from a corner. With 5 minutes left of normal time, the Whites did take the lead however and it was a goal of real quality. Great linkup down the right-hand side between Simpson and Arnold saw the full-back win the ball in midfield and feed it to Arnold outside him. Great composure from the substitute saw him look up and cut it back to Simpson, who had continued his run into the box, to sweep the ball home for the game’s only goal. Salisbury were able to see out the remaining minutes without alarm and secure a hard-fought 3 points against decent opposition.
The Whites are on the road this midweek; travelling to Tiverton Town on Wednesday 13th September for a 7:45pm kick off.
Team: Gould, Simpson, Sommerton, Jombati, Leggett, Smith, Penny, McCreadie(Fitchett), Gunson(Lewis), Hedges(Arnold), Coppin Unused Subs: Osei, Bragg