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End of the Road
Salisbury succumbed to their first home defeat of the campaign last night going down to a strong Chippenham side in a close five-goal encounter.
Manager Darrell Clarke rang the changes ahead of the tie. With a big FA Trophy match against Wrexham on Saturday and fixtures coming thick and fast in the league, Clarke opted to rest the majority of his first team.
SALISBURY TEAM: Pryce, Brett, Franks, Cooper (C), Simpson, Aromona, Casey, Harris, Haynes, Spencer, Fitchett.
Only Ryan Brett and Kyle Haynes remained from the side who faced Hednesford on Saturday, with home debuts being given to four youth players – all products of the Club’s link with Sparsholt Academy.
After a start that produced few chances for either side, Chippenham found themselves a goal up within ten minutes. A wickedly bending delivery from a corner prompted a mix-up at the near post and the ball sailed directly into Ryan Pryce’s net. 0-1 – Jack McKenna.
On 35mins, the deficit was doubled from another set piece. A freekick from the left side of the penalty area was whipped in well and the away side’s leading scorer, Lewis Powell, glanced a header in. 0-2.
Just before the break Salisbury found themselves a third goal down, capping an unmemorable first half for the Whites. Shaun Benson nipping in ahead of Ryan Pryce to tuck in a low finish. The match wasn’t as one-sided as the scoreline suggests, but an experienced Chippenham side were deservedly leading.
The manager sought to bring about a reversal in his side’s fortunes by using all three substitutions at the break. Nathan Simpson, Juevan Spencer, and Ope Aromona replaced by Charlie Knight, Adam Kelly and Ben Adelsbury. The removal of three of the young debutants isn’t to suggest they didn’t show talent, but it was perhaps the right move in the face of the strongest side one of the league’s promotion hopefuls could put out.
With instantly more guile and threat about their play, the Whites gained the momentum for the majority of the second half, and had a way back into the match just after the hour mark. Brett’s freekick was met well by the hard-working Dan Fitchett – who prompted an excellent save from Chris Snoddy. The ball flew into the air off of the keeper’s gloves and Mikey Harris it was who reacted first to head home. 1-3.
The Assistant Manager was claiming for a penalty minutes later after seemingly being shoved inside the box. The decision went against him, however Salisbury continued to pressure. Ryan Brett put Dan Fitchett through in acres of space and a goal looked certain until Bluebird keeper Snoddy managed an excellent one on one save. The on-loan striker again caused trouble for the keeper moments later with a diving head inside the box – another good save from the man in gloves.
Inside the last ten minutes, Salisbury had their second. Good work from Josh Casey as he picked out Charlie Knight. The winger, blistering down the left side cut in behind his man and centred low for fellow substitute Adam Kelly to turn over. 2-3.
A roar from the Red Insure Cup’s biggest attendance and there were whispers of a comeback as the Whites pressed forward – forcing a goal line clearance in the last minute of normal time. The result wasn’t to be, but a Chippenham side who had gone in with a three-goal advantage at the break were playing by the corner flag and desperately urging the final whistle against a Whites side who came out rejuvenated.
With several players gaining a valuable rest, attention now turns to this weekend’s enticing FA Trophy match against conference Premier side Wrexham, and their manager Dean Saunders.