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Salisbury City 3 Bath City 2
Whites: Puddy, Udoji, Dutton (c), Hart, J. Clarke, Lewis, McPhee, Clark, Brett, White (Matthews, 85), Fitchett.
Subs (not used): Scott (gk), Roberts, Baggridge, D. Clarke.
Scorers: White (5), Fitchett (38), Brett (56).
SALISBURY CITY bounced back from Saturday’s blip in fine style to send them back to the summit of Conference South in a pulsating derby clash.
The hosts stormed into a fifth-minute lead courteous of Jamie White’s tap in but that was cancelled out soon after by Charlie Griffin.
Dan Fitchett’s penalty kick put City back in the ascendancy and a thunderous strike from Ryan Brett extended their lead.
And despite Noah Keats setting up a grandstand finale, and Griffin rocking the upright late on, the new league leaders held on to secure the three points at Old Sarum.
Before proceedings got underway, a minute silence was held in memory of lifelong supporter Kevin Taylor, who died at a reserve game at the stadium last Thursday night.
The hosts came steaming out of the blocks once again. Chris McPhee threaded through Fitchett, who swung over a fine delivery, and White buried it into the bottom corner.
But some slack defending left the Whites exposed at the back and former player Griffin had the simple task of tucking home Luke Cummings’ cross, ten minutes after the opener.
City looked the likelier team to edge in front but Fitchett’s close-range header brought out a first-class reaction from keeper Jason Mellor, who managed to tip it over the bar.
And they regained their advantage after Callum Hart’s launched ball forward was seized onto by White and he slid Fitchett through whose shot was handled by Gethin Jones inside the box.
No red card was given for deliberate handball, only a yellow card, but Fitchett took the chance in his stride and fired home from the spot in the 38th minute.
Salisbury gradually started to dominate in the second period. Dutton’s clever flick-on and McPhee’s drilled effort both shaded the post, but they got their rewards soon after.
Inside 56 minutes Brett nicely teed himself up and unleashed a scorching volley past the helpless arms of Mellor and into the top corner.
The Romans’ supporters finally had something to cheer about when Keats’ 25-yard strike swerved home to set up a dramatic finish.
During the five minutes of stoppage time, Whites were fortunate to escape conceding an equaliser as Bath’s Griffin and Kurtis Guthrie nearly stabbed home, but somehow Ugo Udoji scrambled off the line to secure the win.
Boss Darrell Clarke insists despite his side climbing to the top of the table, it is meaningless at the moment.
“I’m not even interested in the league table at the minute. I only ever focus on the next 90 minutes of football ahead,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather be at the top than the bottom, but I’m looking at the squad and trying to improve performances as we go along.
“Bath caused us a few problems tonight but I had to change a couple of things around at half time and it worked a treat.
“I’m always nervous and edgy through the game but we’ve got a few more experienced players now which is a big help.”
The Whites entertain Eastbourne Borough on Saturday, September 8 (3pm).