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Salisbury City FC suffered only their second defeat of the season this afternoon following a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Weymouth.
The Whites were without influential skipper Brian Dutton, who was ruled out with a head injury suffered in midweek against Evesham. Charlie Knight also suffered a knock and could only take a place on then bench, while there was a return for Ryan Tafazolli and a starting shirt for Ben Joyce.
Salisbury started brightly and were keen to make an impact early on. Jake Reid got on the end of a ball from Darrell Clarke and flicked the ball over the head of his man before running on, only to be penalised for a high foot. Stuart Anderson went close moments later after his manager showed good skill to work the cross for the Scots midfielder to head at goal. After a good save, the ball fell back at Anderson, but his strike was over.
It looked like it could be a bright afternoon for the Whites after the opening minutes, but a spirited Weymouth side grew into the match and gradually increased the pressure on an unfamiliar defensive partnership in Jamie Turley and Ryan Tafazolli. Tommy Smith had to be quick off his line after a sharp ball into the box, the man in gloves gathering well but was trampled on by the Weymouth man.
Smith was quick out again after Weymouth broke on the right side, but was forced to concede a corner. Hit toward the back post, it was headed back to Warren Byerely, who chested well before turning and firing into the net, 1-0 Weymouth.
Salisbury responded with some good passing play in the midfield, switching the play well on occasion. Kyle Haynes and Jack Boyle linked well on the right side and the latter it was who tested the keeper with a drilled low effort.
While the Whites gained the better of the possession and looked far more composed on the ball, they couldn’t fashion any credible chances. At the other end, it was the home side’s direct style of play that caused trouble to the Salisbury back line, with several counter attacks started by long balls and direct running through the centre.
When the teams re-emerged after the break, the result was very much still to be decided, but it was the home side who came out with greater intent. Hearts were in mouths as a Weymouth header at the back post was deflected onto the woodwork, but the play was brought back for a foul.
Before the Whites could work the opposition keeper, their deficit had been doubled. A misplaced back pass from Tafazolli was intercepted and then squared across the box for Jamie Beasley to tap past a helpless Smith. 2-0 Weymouth.
While the Whites came back with several spells of possession and opportunities inside the box, they rarely tested the keeper in a performance wholly uncharacteristic of the side we have seen developing so well over the season. At times Salisbury were perhaps guilty of playing over-elaborately and lacking the penetration their opponents showed with a direct approach.
The match finished 2-0 with Weymouth deserving winners. Whether it was fatigue with the recent hectic fixture schedule, missing players or simply lack of desire in the face of more spirited opponents, Salisbury won’t make excuses for their performance. They came up against a good side and were beaten on the day.
The Whites would be hard-pressed to maintain the constant good form we have come to expect but the result, or moreover, the display will be a disappointment to all involved at the club. However, it’s a loss that could play a pivotal part in the White’s season.
After all, teams will be judged over the course of a season rather than a single match, and more focus will be placed on the young White’s ability to take it on the chin. The sting of today’s result could just be the fire they need.
Yes it was a defeat, but no one will be more determined to put things right than the group of players who have shown an unflappable togetherness over the course of the season. There can be no doubting, Darrell Clarke will get a reaction from his men.
The fact that this is only their second loss of the season is a remarkable achievement in itself and no one will be shying from the chance to make amends. While it makes the loss no less frustrating for the men in white, Truro’s loss at Bashley, means they finish the day exactly as they started it.
1 point difference, 3 matches in hand to catch the leaders.
Salisbury now have a valuable week before their next fixture. Darrell Clarke’s men will regroup ahead of Halesowen, nurse their wounds and come out showing the fight and spirit that has seen them produce some of the strongest performances this league has ever seen.