Salisbury City 2-1 Hampton & Richmond Borough
Saturday, 5th March 2005. Att: 523
Scorers: Harper 14'
A trip deep into former Southern League territory to Salisbury City brought forth pre-match thoughts that with the officiating crew coming from the South West, Hampton could expect little comfort from them – prescient or what!
Hampton welcomed back Ryan Ashe following a four game suspension, Matt Elverson from a one game suspension whilst goalkeeper Kieron Drake declared himself fit after a bout of tonsillitis. Hampton`s first ever visit to Salisbuy brought a warm welcome from the club officials but a cold one on the pitch, an icy wind along with snow and rain showers did not make for a pleasant afternoon. Salisbury, having lost 3-2 at Hampton are battling to stay away from the relegation spots, and a crowd of 523 were in attendance (if only Hampton could call upon such large attendances on a regular basis).
The match was always lively with Hampton having the bulk of the possession. In the first few seconds Andy Morley went close with a header from a Graham Harper cross. Salisbury`s Mark Lisk tried his luck with a long range skimming effort a few minutes later which Drake turned around the post for a corner. Hampton went into the lead in the 14th minute. Dean Wells sent over a towering cross from wide out on the left, Harper stole into the penalty area from the right, and met the ball sending in a looping header over an out of position Salisbury keeper Kevin Sawyer.
The ball hit the crossbar and dropped down onto the line where Luke Fontana and home defender Cook followed in and helped the ball over the line, Harper deserved the credit for the score. Unfortunately the lead only lasted a few minutes, Tim Bond equalising from a corner, in which Drake was clearly impeded, but not for the first time Referee Lillington missed the infringement.
Fontana was dragged down from behind as he ran in on goal, no booking for the defender, but a free kick to Hampton. Ashe found Alan Inns but a defender was on hand to clear at the far post. Salisbury then got a bonus, a penalty in the 33rd minute when the ball struck Wells`s hand. Side by side with a forward the Hampton defender was in no position to avoid the contact when the ball hit him on the run. The penalty was given by the Assistant Referee, Craig Davies sent Drake the wrong way and Salisbury led 2-1. The refereeing crew were certainly giving Hampton no favours, a few minutes later Morley was sent off reducing the Beavers to ten men. Morley was jostling for position with a forward and caught him (Morley claimed by accident) and Mr Lillington produced the red card (afterwards the referee acknowledged it wasn`t malicious!). Despite being a man short Hampton still looked the better side and twice before half time Hampton went close through Inns and Fontana.
Most of the second half was spent with Hampton encamped in the Salisbury half. The home side seldom mustered anything resembling an attack (their Match Sponsor`s Man of the Match Award went to their centre-half, Bond, the busiest man on the pitch). Typical of Hampton`s luck was fierce shot by Fontana that hit Sawyer in his bread basket and an Inns drive that pole axed a blocking defender. On the hour mark Craig Lewington (who had endeared himself to the home fans with some crunching tackles) was replaced by Dudley Gardner.
Yellow cards were being handed out with gay abandon Salisbury`s ex-Port Vale Thomas Widdrington, Cook and Leigh Phillips were cautioned as the home side came under pressure. Inns and Elverson were both booked for dissent (Elvo for complaining about a blatant foul on Drake that went unnoticed). Inns hooked a shot over, whilst Fontana and Ashe both fired into the side netting. In the 78th minute it became 10 versus 10 when Widdrington was sent off for a double footed challenge. The game ended with Hampton still pressing for the equaliser.
Hampton slipped to sixth following the defeat at Salisbury.
Written for the official website and reproduced here.