Salisbury FC rewarded a large 605 crowd with a scintillating performance against possibly one of their strongest friendly match opponents so far, an AFC Bournemouth XI, with a superb early winner set up by George Barker and neatly tucked home by Lewis Benson.
After the game, a delighted manager Steve Claridge said to the club’s website: “Probably the most pleasing thing for me is that I look at every player and have not been disappointed by any of them so far. You look at the way they apply themselves, even in friendly games, you look at the work rate which is fantastic, and perhaps above all the way we managed the game tonight was maybe the best we’ve done since I’ve been at Salisbury.
“As we’ve got a little bit more experience in the side and the quality is better, players are more capable of taking on board information and the way we want to play. It was really encouraging the way we managed that game of football, and although we’ve always had players before who could win games for us, there is another side to the game which was sometimes missing. In games like tonight’s, it’s most important that you apply yourself, shut down the opposition, and shut the ball down at the right times.
“I’m really pleased at this stage and I think people can now see how we are progressing and what we’ve been doing over the summer to bring in these players – players who were different from what we had before. We had to learn lessons from last season and have tried to take in a little more quality. I think we are managing to do that and at this stage, I couldn’t ask any more from anybody.
“The fact that we won tonight against a very good side and kept a clean sheet tells its own story. It really was a very good game of football and we restricted them to only a few chances. Bournemouth were a side who could move the ball around and open you up at will, but we also played a part in the game in a positive sense.
“Unfortunately, we have another injury problem with new keeper Marcus Beauchamp suffering a training injury. We fear that he may have damaged cruciate ligaments but will know more later in the week. Charlie Searle is also on the injured list, but was forced to turn out for us tonight and did well. Having two keepers injured is probably the only disappointing thing which has come out of pre-season.
“As much as these are negatives, there are many, many more positives regarding our progress so far and in thanking supporters who came to watch in large numbers this evening I also hope that you’ll continue to do so throughout what could be an exciting season.”