HOME K.O 3.00pm
Sun 12th May 2013
Down But Not Out
Salisbury suffered their second home league defeat on Tuesday evening against fellow promotion hopefuls Cambridge City.
In the midst of an injury crisis, new signing Callum Hart was handed his debut at the back alongside Jamie Turley, while Josh Casey and Charlie Knight completed the defensive line at right and left back. The injured Brian Dutton and Ryan Tafazolli missing the fixture.
Chris Shephard and Darrell Clarke overcame fitness tests with Adam Kelly and Stuart Anderson forming the midfield. Ahead of them, a partnership of Dan Fitchett and Jake Reid, with the latter also requiring a fitness test.
The match began at a high tempo with good passing football played by both sides. Jake Reid looked hungry early on and when Kelly slotted him through on goal he struck hard into the side netting. Moments later, the big man did well to turn between the two centrebacks on the edge of the area, only to shoot over.
It was a level opening twenty minutes with Salisbury just edging it on possession and chances created, but Cambridge had already justified their position as challengers for promotion with some neat play along the deck. The visitors found themselves with the lead just after half an hour.
The ball was whipped in deep from a freekick and when it was allowed to bounce in the area, the ball eluded keeper Tommy Smith who could only watch it loop over his head and into the net. The linesman’s flag was raised immediately, presumably for offside or a foul on the keeper and the referee went over to consult him, before overriding the official’s decision and awarding the goal.
Salisbury took a moment to regain themselves and it almost proved deadly as Cambridge were allowed a strike on goal which grazed the bar. The Whites regathered however and Adam Kelly saw a deflected shot wrongfoot the keeper and trickle agonisingly wide. Moments later Josh Casey, Darrell Clarke and Chris Shephard combined in a beautiful passing move resulting in a strong shot saved well by the visiting keeper. From the corner, the ball bounced in the box before a vicious strike at goal from the penalty spot prompted another magnificent save from the man in gloves.
Salisbury came out fighting after the break and were on level terms within four minutes. Jamie Turley did well to adapt his body to force a powerful diving header past the keeper and send the Ray Mac into raptures. 1-1.
Salisbury tore forward for a brief spell following the goal as Cambridge were forced back but the Whites could never quite break through with conviction. They would be made to pay for it, conceding just past the hour mark.
The Whites gave possession away sloppily just short of their own penalty area with a poor pass gifted to Cambridge man Joe Abbs who did well to cut inside the back line before finishing low past Smith, 2-1 Cambridge. Although another mistake from the home side, the goal was again surrounded in controversy as in the buildup to the goal, Charlie Knight was seemingly pulled down in his own box with force by a blue striker, the referee deeming the grab a legal way to tackle.
With twenty minutes to go, the Lilywhites extended their lead through a third mistake by the men in white. Debutant Callum Hart got himself in the way of a counterattacking ball, but his header back to Smith was soft and allowed blue striker David Kolodynski to nip in and round the keeper. While a poor header, it should be mentioned that Hart suffered an injury only seconds earlier in a clash on the edge of the Cambridge box, and having got back to position, was clearly hampered by it.
3-1 to Cambridge it finished and all three goals conceded courtesy of mistakes that the Whites will be hoping to rectify quickly. Salisbury did come back with some good attacking play, Chris Shephard and Darrell Clarke linked neatly to allow the gaffer a good strike on goal, but the effort again rebuffed by a great goalkeeping performance. Several good penalty shouts followed in the latter stages but the referee wasn’t convinced by any.
3-1 it finished and a hard hitting loss for the league leaders, only their second at home this season. Cambridge were undoubtedly one of the better footballing sides to have visited the Ray Mac this season, but the whites will be frustrated that the opposition’s only chances all came through Salisbury mistakes. The visitors meanwhile, gave away very little.
Nonetheless the league table shows Salisbury City leading the division by five points with seven games to go. With the teams below them so tightly packed together, it is a position that any club would have snapped up at the start of the season.
The Whites will hope to regain a few players ahead of a tough trip to Leamington on Saturday in a competition that is still very much in their own hands.