22 April 2024

Last minute penalty saves Salisbury in spirited season opener against Beaconsfield

Sido Jombati stung Beaconsfield Town with a last minute penalty that was taken twice, as they narrowly rescued a draw in a fiesty affair at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium.

The captain was not the original penalty taker, but after the first effort was saved by Beaconsfield’s Sam Beasant, the linesman intervened and ordered for the spot kick to be retaken.

Jombati made no mistake and blasted his shot down the middle, and even though a freak free-kick from James Dobson in the 21st minute almost sank Salisbury, the Whites managed to win a point right at the death of the first game of the season.

Salisbury had a hatful of missed chances to level the game, but the momentum only went their way once Ibrahim Sankoh was sent off in the 81st minute for a blatant dive in the home side’s box.

Their lack of cutting edge almost meant that this was the first time ever that Beaconsfield had kept a clean sheet against the Whites in official competition, but they just about prevented history books from being re-written in front of 507 fans in attendance.

A minute of applause was held before kick off in remembrance of John Capella and John Hollis.

It was evident within the first few minutes that this Salisbury side would be playing differently, and Brian Dutton’s ball-playing DNA had been stamped into a squad who were attempting long, diagonal through balls from the beginning.

A fast start gave them their first chance of the game in the 17th minute, where a free kick crossed by Charlie Gunson found Noah Coppin inside the box – but Coppin’s volley sailed straight over the bar.

But despite dominating the game in the early stages, Salisbury were stung by a James Dobson set piece which looped into the box, bounced past all of the defenders and rolled into the far netting – putting Beaconsfield up a goal in the 21st minute.

Despite Dutton having a plastic wallet full of set piece routines, Salisbury failed to score a flurry of free-kicks around the 30 minute mark. Beaconsfield countered one, and a header from Dobson rattled the crossbar in the 34th minute, and he almost doubled both his goal tally and Beaconsfield’s lead but the ball bounced over for a goal kick.

Salisbury had two huge chances to level the game just before halftime, but couldn’t score with either. A well-worked move left Gunson in space just inside the penalty box but his right footed effort went over the bar, and minutes later Dan Fitchett sent a one-on-one chance into the side netting.

Dutton made his first change of the game after the break when Aaron Simpson – who was holding his hamstring in the first half – went off for the debuting Jamar Smith.

Salisbury came out the stronger side and attacked with intent, with substitute Smith squaring the ball to Coppin just outside of the six yard box. The forward could not get the ball onto his strong foot though and ended up scuffing the chance well wide.

Minutes after being substituted on, Josh Hedges rifled a dangerous low ball into the penalty area, but three Salisbury players came close and could not get a touch to turn it into the goal.

The Whites continued to exploit the left hand side and focused the majority of their attacking play out wide, with Josh Sommerton taking on two defenders and eventually drawing a foul and yellow card in the 72nd minute.

Gunson whipped in the resulting free kick, and the Beaconsfield keeper Sam Beasant caught the ball, falling back over the goal line in the process. The Salisbury fans erupted, but the referee put an end to the celebrations by ruling out the goal and giving a free kick.

Salisbury were given a boost in the 85th minute when Beaconsfield’s Sankoh was sent off for a blatant dive in the White’s penalty box, and the home side surged forward in front of the 507 in attendance.

The substitute Hedges ended up being the difference maker, as he dashed into Beaconsfield’s box from the right wing and won the penalty.

Dan Fitchett stepped up first, but his effort was pushed onto the crossbar by Beaconsfield keeper Beasant. The 507 in attendance were stunned into silence, but the atmosphere was revived by the linesman ordering for the penalty to be retaken.

Jombati became the hero, and the captain could not have asked for a better debut – the penalty just topped off a very cool and composed performance from centre half.

Salisbury: Gould, Simpson (Smith, HT), Sommerton, Jombati (C) , Bragg, Gunson, McCreadie, Fitchett,  Penny (Leggett, 63), Coppin (Hedges, 63), Lewis
Unused subs: Osei, Arnold

Written by
Reece Barrett
View all articles
Written by Reece Barrett