by Pete Martin – Cover image by Michael Berkeley

Salisbury maintained their unbeaten home record, needing a stoppage-time equaliser to snatch a 2-2 draw in the ‘Cathedral Clásico’ with Winchester City. Manager Brian Dutton had originally intended on making only 2 changes to his starting lineup, Aaron McCreadie and Dan Fitchett for Sam Perry and Noah Coppin, however an injury in the warm-up to keeper Josh Gould meant that midfielder Theo Lewis had to don the gloves and take his place between the sticks.   

It took a while for the game to fully warm up; a weak shot by Salisbury’s Josh Hedges and a blocked effort for his teammate McCreadie the only goal efforts in the opening quarter of an hour. Stand-in keeper Lewis was called into action for the first time on 18 minutes; Winchester’s Max Smith swung in the ball from the right-hand side where former White’s striker Tommy Wright could only head straight at Lewis from 8 yards out. 3 minutes later at the other end, Harry Williams worked the space for a shot, curling wide off the post from the edge of the box before Wright put a long-range effort over the top from 25 yards as the teams traded blows.  

On 34 minutes came the game’s best chance so far when Trevor Caborn got away down the right-hand side and unleashed a powerful shot across goal which Lewis did extremely well to push around the post for a corner. Shortly before half time the deadlock was broken and it was the visitors who took the lead. A quick throw in found Wright and he played it inside to another former Salisbury man Devon Arnold and, whilst Lewis did well to get down and deny him, the ball fell nicely back to Wright who slotted home from 8 yards. Just before the half time whistle went, there was a half chance for Fitchett to grab an equaliser, keeper Luke Cairney able to smother the ball at the 2nd attempt after Williams had flicked it on for his strike partner and the Whites went in a goal behind.   

Images by Roger Elliott

The 2nd half saw the home side come out with a point to prove and they could have drawn level within the opening 60 seconds of the half. A corner was quickly earned and a short routine saw the ball worked to Charlie Gunson who drove into the box and from an angle struck a fierce shot that beat Cairney only for defender Pat Nolan to come from nowhere and hack the ball off the line. It took the Whites though just 5 minutes of the half to grab the equaliser. Heavy pressure from a corner saw the ball only half cleared by Winchester and when Fitchett turned in the box and struck the ball goalwards, it struck a defender’s hand with the referee showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Following lengthy delaying tactics by the away side, captain Sido Jombati stepped up and calmly sent Cairney the wrong way to bring the scores level.   

Just 3 minutes after finding themselves pegged back, Winchester also found themselves a man down as Cairney saw red. The ball was played back to him outside the area and, despite seeming to have plenty of time, he dallied on the ball and allowed Williams to nip in and steal it. In desperation he could only wrestle him to the ground and subsequently received his marching orders. With no substitute goalkeeper on the bench, defender Stuart Mott stepped up to don the gloves with his first involvement being to get down to his right and push away the freekick from Gunson. With an outfield player between the sticks, the Whites looked to put the ball on top of him as much as possible and on 63 minutes a corner from Gunson needed to be touched onto the bar with the rebound being driven goalwards by Hedges before deflecting over off his own teammate. Winchester were having to defend deep but still looked dangerous on the break, a foul on Caborn on the break giving an opportunity for the ball to be swung into the box but the same players header was easy for Lewis to deal with.   

Images by Michael Berkeley

On 74 minutes, Salisbury came desperately close to taking the lead, but this time Winchester were indebted to Danny King for being on hand to clear the ball from off the line when Hedges drove the ball goalwards from inside the box. They were made to pay 3 minutes later as the visitors took the lead on the break. Hedges lost the ball in the midfield and the ball was swung forward to Caborn, who took a couple of touches before coming inside and slotting it home, giving Lewis no chance. As the minutes ticked on, the Whites piled the pressure on; Gunson, Hedges and Josh Sommerton all unable to trouble Mott with shots from distance before, as the board went up for 8 minutes of additional time, Winchester’s Smith couldn’t get enough power behind his effort to trouble Lewis. With the clock showing 96 minutes Salisbury, as they have done on many an occasion this season, grabbed a late late goal. Hedges played the ball into the box and with neither Williams nor Gunson able to turn and fire goalwards, the ball fell to substitute Wayne Robinson who poked it home from 8 yards out. With only seconds left on the clock, they could have snatched all 3 points but Williams’s acrobatic effort went wide off the post and an entertaining game saw the points shared by the 2 teams.   

A busy Xmas period sees Salisbury back in action this Saturday 30th December when they make the short trip to Basingstoke Town for a 3 pm kickoff.   

Team: Lewis, Smith(Robinson), Sommerton, Leggett, Jombati, Penny(Coppin), McCreadie, Gunson, Hedges, Williams, Fitchett(Harding)

Ian Pearson
December 27, 2023

Ian Pearson

Media & Website Manager