27.10.2001

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Salisbury City

Shepherd (54)

Hednesford Town

(0) 1

(0) 0

Attendance

MoTM

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303

Stuart Lake

L L L W W L L W W L

 

Racing Club Warwick (H) 3.11.01

The Pitmen fall to their first defeat under Kenny Hibbitt as fellow strugglers Salisbury move closer to the pack above them in the table with a crucial three points at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium this afternoon

 

Buoyed by their back-to-back wins in the league under Hibbitt's new guidance, the Pitmen made their first-ever trip to Wiltshire in good spirits after moving up to nineteenth in the table following wins last week over Havant & Waterlooville and Hinckley United at Keys Park. Hibbitt, perhaps unsurprisingly, stuck with the same side that had started against Hinckley as he looked to build on his fine start as the club's manager to lift his side away from the danger zone

 

Salisbury returned home off the back of a depressing run of defeats that now stood at five in a row, losing 1-0 at Tiverton Town on Wednesday night to leave the Lilywhites well adrift at the foot of the table with only four points on the board from fifteen games played. Under pressure player/manager Steve Richardson made one change to the side that had started at Ladysmead in midweek, with Darren Crook coming back into the side at the expense of striker Tommy Killick

 

It was a cool but sunny afternoon in Wiltshire as the Pitmen kicked off in front of a sparse home crowd, with many home supporters voting with their feet at their side's dreadful start to the season. A good move from the hosts in the fourth minute saw Martin Underhay get the better of Andy Brownrigg and supply the ball to Martin Shepherd, only for his strike partner to drag his shot well wide of goal and over the grass bank behind the goal

 

Neil Davis turned Salisbury captain Roger Emms well on the edge of the Salisbury penalty area three minutes later and played the in-form Stewart Airdrie into space down the right flank. The young winger stood up a cross to the far post that found Graham Lancashire, only for Salisbury stopper Tony Malessa to smother the striker's header and steal the ball away

 

A free-kick from Salisbury forced Mark Gayle into a fine stop in the thirteenth minute as Wayne Turk's lofted ball into the area was headed goalwards by Emms, only for Gayle to make a fine parry over to his right-hand side

 

A quickly-taken free-kick from Dean Craven played Paul Bagshaw into acres of space in behind Scott Bartlett, only for Bagshaw to fluff his lines with a wild angled drive that flew over the crossbar and into the hardy Hednesford fans in the stand behind the goal

 

Damien Charie's tenacity saw him win the ball from Turk in midfield and take the ball forwards into Salisbury territory on nineteen minutes. Once again, however, much in the same as Bagshaw a few minutes before him, Charie elected to shoot from a hugely ambitious position on the pitch rather than pass and lifted his swerving shot high over the crossbar

 

Lancashire was left to walk the disciplinary tightrope midway through the first half as he was shown a yellow card for a foul on Emms that brought a caution out of referee Mr. Hayes

 

Skipper Richard Lucas swung in a fine corner kick on twenty-four minutes that was flicked on at the near post by Stuart Lake, only for both Lancashire and Adam Shakespeare to miss the ball as it flew across the face of the Salisbury goal

 

Malessa was alert to the danger on twenty-eight minutes as he raced out of his penalty area to hack a bouncing ball clear from Davis following a long ball forwards from Brownrigg

 

The Pitmen were enjoying the better of the possession and chances but were finding Salisbury a tougher nut to crack than their league position and recent results suggested. Craven's craft on thirty-three minutes saw him slip past two tackles and square the ball to Lake, who spotted Davis making a darting run in behind the Salisbury defence. The striker took a touch before trying to squeeze the ball home at the near post with a low shot that Malessa watched into the side netting

 

Crook did well to dispossess Lake in a dangerous position five minutes later in the Hednesford half and move the ball on to Underhay, but the striker lost his balance under pressure from Lucas and struck a bobbling effort wide of goal

 

With half-time looming, the Pitmen had two good chances to go in at the break a goal to the good as Davis drove a shot just wide on forty-two minutes, followed a minute later by a flicked header by Lake from a Craven corner kick that was held by Malessa at his near post

 

It had been a frustrating first-half display from the Pitmen, who had struggled to find a way through despite being the better side so far. Bagshaw was forced off at the break with a slight injury and was replaced by Wayne Simpson in a move that saw Charie moved to a wider position in midfield to cover for the loss of the winger

 

Salisbury regained some of their belief at the start of the second half and made the better start of the two sides early on in the second period; a good run down the right from Tyronne Bowers saw him skip past Lucas and cross for Underhay on forty-eight minutes, only for a late intervention from Lake to deny the striker a tap-in at the far post

 

The hosts were rewarded for their bright start to the half with the opening goal of the afternoon and what would go on to be the winner on fifty-four minutes as a deep free-kick into the Hednesford penalty area caught the men in blue ball-watching, which gave Shepherd enough time to take a touch and turn the ball past Gayle from ten yards out with an opportunistic effort 

 

A frustrated Hibbitt made an almost immediate change to his side following the Salisbury goal, taking off Charie and putting another youngster on in the form of Robbie Meacham to shore up the centre of midfield once more 

 

Meacham was straight into the action for the visitors, winning a free-kick on sixty-one minutes after making a surging run with the ball deep into Salisbury territory before being brought down by Emms. Lucas stepped up to take the resultant free-kick but lifted his swerving shot just over Malessa's crossbar

 

A quick break from the home side four minutes later saw Crook feed Bowers down the flank into space behind a retreating Brownrigg. The Salisbury winger did well to get past the former Rotherham United man after two attempts and crossed low to the far post where Shepherd turned the ball wide under pressure from the excellent Lake, who had tracked back to put the striker off his stride

 

Lake was involved at the other end of the away side on sixty-six minutes, playing a short pass to Lucas down the left to change the angle for his captain, whose outswinging cross was headed tamely over the crossbar by Lancashire

 

Three minutes later, Hibbitt made his final change of the afternoon with the introduction of the giant Kevin Francis in place of Lancashire as the Pitmen went more direct in their approach to the game

 

A clever turn from Meahcam on seventy-thee minutes saw him turn past Crook and feed Craven, who had made a move into the Salisbury third of the pitch. The midfielder chipped the ball into the path of Davis, whose quick return ball to Craven saw the former West Brom man fire just over the crossbar

 

Malessa was on the spot to deny Francis three minutes later, claiming the striker's header on his line after Lucas's free-kick found the 6ft 7" frontman in the Salisbury six-yard box

 

Lake was pushed further forwards by Hibbitt as the game entered the final ten minutes to add another body to the Hednesford attack, with the visitors swinging the ball into the box at every opportunity to try and force home an equaliser. Lake was pulled up by the referee with eight minutes to go as he met a cross from Craven, penalised for his aggressive approach to the ball as he nudged Matt Davies out of the way

Salisbury substitute Killick - on for Underhay - was sent away in behind the Hednesford defence with five minutes remaining, but fine goalkeeping from Gayle forced the striker into a rushed effort that he lifted high over the crossbar from fifteen yards out

A minute later, Bowers' cross was flicked on by Shepherd and into the path of Killick, only for Lucas to hack the ball away in a timely manner to deny the substitute a tap-in at the far post

The Pitmen forced three successive corners as the game moved into the first of three minutes of added time, with Francis heading downwards from a Lucas cross but only into the path of Turk, who cleared from danger

A final late flurry inside the Salisbury penalty area - created by Lake's recycled cross - failed to earn the Pitmen a leveller, leaving Salisbury to celebrate their first win of the season in all competitions and leave the Pitmen kicking themselves once more at failing to take at least one of the chances presented to them over the ninety minutes. Hibbitt's men take a break from the drudgery of league duty next weekend as they face Dr. Martens League Western side Racing Club Warwick in the first round of this season's F.A. Trophy at Keys Park

 

Salisbury City: Malessa, S. Bartlett, Richardson, Gibbon, Emms ©, Davies, Turk, Crook (Matthews 76), Shepherd, Underhay (Killick 65), Bowers       Subs Unused: Madgwick

 

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Brownrigg, Lucas ©, Shakespeare, Lake, Craven, Charie (Meacham 57), Bagshaw (Simpson 45), Davis, Lancashire  (Francis 69), Airdrie     Subs Unused: None

 

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