Salisbury edged out Thatcham Town to move on the next round in the FA Cup after a nail-biting finish. The Whites were overall the better team, but a slip-up and a wonder goal made things interesting.
They were off to a flying start however as they were rewarded a fairly soft penalty after only six minutes.
Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick beat his man on the left wing and was brought down from behind, forcing a decision from the referee. Without hesitation, George Colson stepped up and buried the ball into the left corner.
As the first half progressed, the home side edged their way back into the game, but Whites’ keeper Tom Smith didn’t really have to make any serious saves and had a quiet half.
On 35 minutes, Darren Mullings nearly added a second for Whites as he threw himself forward to boot Danny Young’s low cross towards the far corner, but the keeper followed the ball well.
That ended up being the job for lethal goal scorer Toby Holmes on 42 minutes. Once again, a confident Hippolyte-Patrick beat his defender, but this time he put the ball into the box and Holmes tucked away the rebound from his own header.
Right on the stroke of half time, Salisbury could have extended their lead to 3-0 but the ball was cleared on the goal line.
The first real test for Tom Smith came on 58 minutes, but he kept his body behind the ball and was in good position to get his hands on it to allow Salisbury to keep the momentum.
2-0 seemed to be a comfortable lead and perhaps too comfortable as defender Oseni’s loose back pass was picked up by Thatcham’s Barcelos, who calmly rolled the ball into the net next to the lone keeper.
On 63 minutes, Bancroft should have brought Whites’ lead back to two goals as he, completely unmarked, received a cross three yards from goal but the poor header resulted in nothing.
As a result of their goal, Thatcham slowly clawed themselves back into the game and created problems for Salisbury at times. But Salisbury kept creating dangerous chances and so nearly scored their third on 70 minutes when Sommerton’s corner found Warren Bentley, who unfortunately had his back towards the net and couldn’t get a good finish.
Salisbury pressed on, possessed the ball well and regained control of the game. On 77 minutes, Kevin Amankwaah, on yet another great delivery into the box, made no mistake and with conviction headed the ball into the net to make it 3-1.
Salisbury looked as if they had complete control of the game, but Thatcham thought otherwise, and the reply came just two minutes later. A brilliant top-corner strike Scott Rees from outside the box left Smith with no chance.
The game was back on. Would Salisbury once again allow the other team to come back from behind?
The answer was no, Salisbury held onto the ball well as the clock crept towards 90 minutes and didn’t allow Thatcham to get much done at all – until the final seconds of the game.
In a last-ditch effort corner, Thatcham managed to get the ball into the net, but the referee blew the whistle for a foul onto Smith, who was blocked from attacking the ball.
Although it came down to the wire, Salisbury showed quality in all aspects of the game and were the worthy winners overall.
In the second qualifying round, Salisbury travel to Wessex League side Portland United. The game will be played on Saturday, September 21, kick off at 3pm.
Salisbury return to league action on Saturday as Metropolitan Police visit the Ray Mac. Kick off 3pm.