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Whites Go Down Fighting In Trophy Exit
Salisbury City’s magnificent run in the F.A. Trophy came to an end on Saturday following a narrow 2-1 defeat at Conference Premier side Darlington.
New signing Chris Shephard was handed his debut while Brian Dutton missed out through injury. Stuart Anderson was handed the skipper’s armband with Darrell Clarke naming himself on the subs bench. Dan Fitchett partnered Jake Reid in attack.
It was another superb turnout from the Whites supporters who were in full voice as the match kicked off.
Salisbury came under early pressure with a succession of corners for the Quakers and early passages of possession forcing the Whites to sit deep. Ryan Tafazolli did well to produce several clearing headers, while Jamie Turley swept up the danger if a Darlo man broke through. Clarke’s men remained disciplined at the back however and prevented the opposition any clear chances.
Although largely restricted to counter attacking opportunities, the Whites looked far from overawed against a team playing two leagues higher and grew in confidence as the half matured. Following the disappointment of Tuesday night, the Whites were showing a greater spirit and desire that will have reassured many of the travelling Whites.
While Darlington were the more dominant in possession, they lacked a creativity in the final third that saw the Whites able to limit the threat. It was from set pieces the home side looked most dangerous, with several worked crosses providing headed efforts at Tommy Smith’s goal, but the keeper was rarely troubled.
It had been a rather uneventful first half in terms of chances but, despite a good ability to work the ball and string the passes, Salisbury will have seen nothing they weren’t capable of matching. That self belief grew and the Whites started the second half much the stronger side.
Kayne McLaggon was close to breaking through on the end of a good through ball from Fitchett, while Chris Shephard looked menacing in his second debut for the club. The Exeter City man showed several good touches and a great positional sense, while going close to hitting the target from several set pieces.
Salisbury were enjoying greater spells of possession and were beginning to inflict an authority on the game. Charlie Knight produced several whipped in crosses when attacking from left back, but the third best defence in the Conference did well to prevent the Whites a clear strike on goal.
At the other end, Tommy Smith had to be on hand to produce a fine diving punch across the goal mouth to prevent a thirty yard strike from finding the net.
Having made the match much more of a contest in the second half – the Whites found themselves a goal down with twenty minutes remaining. When a deep cross was cleared to the edge of the box, it was met with a fine strike by Gary Smith, catching the ball on the bounce to put a low drilled effort in the bottom left. 1-0 Darlington.
The Conference side’s lead would be doubled just minutes later. Salisbury were slow to react to a short corner, and another cross was duly headed home by Liam Hatch. 2-0 Darlington.
The Whites regained themselves and heads failed to drop which was significantly reassuring following midweek. With Clarke introduced to the game, City searched for a way back into the game. Ryan Tafazolli headed over inside the opposition box, while McLaggon forced the keeper to work from a cheeky shot from within the centre circle.
Approaching added time, it was the player manager who got himself on the scoresheet with a magnificent solo effort. Picking up the ball thirty yards from goal, the manager showed great feet to shimmy past his man and fake the ball onto his left foot before launching a strike into the top left of the net and beyond a helpless goalkeeper.
A nervous few moments for the home fans followed as the Barmy Army roared on their side. Tommy Smith charged forward as the Whites won a free kick deep in the Darlo half. The keeper even got his head to the ball inside the box but the home side managed to hold firm and 2-1 it finished.
A strong performance from a Salisbury side who have endured a testing few days. An incredible trophy run comes to an end with an encouraging display that seemed to renew the spirit of fans and players alike as a young side pushed a conference premier team all the way on their own patch.
The Whites will now be able to fully concentrate on their number one priority, the Zamaretto Premier Division. Following Truro’s 2-2 draw at Stourbridge and Cambridge’s match being postponed, should the Whites win against Tiverton at the Ray Mac on Tuesday night, they could top the division with games in hand.