Salisbury City: Puddy, Udoji, J Clarke, Dutton (c), Hart (McPhee 34), Lewis, Sinclair, Frear (Clark 90), Wellard, Fitchett (Ademeno 75), White

Subs not used: Scott, Baggridge

Scorer: Dutton (51)

CAPTAIN Brian Dutton fired home a lucrative header on his return from injury to propel Salisbury City into a five point lead at the top of Conference South and end their sticky run of form.

Crushing to two successive defeats added immense pressure on the leaders, but Dutton’s 51st minute goal ensured a much-needed response, which set the visitors back on the winning track.

A rejig in the starting line-up meant the Whites were missing Robbie Matthews to suspension and Chris McPhee was dropped to the bench, while Dan Fitchett and Dutton returned.

After experiencing a wretched couple of defeats, City were determined to put things right and they came close to netting their first goal in more than 180 minutes of football, when Jamie White’s spinning shot was tipped over the bar.

Soon after, Elliott Frear was the next culprit to test the gloves of Jessie Joronen. And Salisbury’s sharp start continued and Ricky Wellard whipped over an inviting cross only for Joronen to flap clear.

The plan was running smoothly until injury fears stung Darrell Clarke again, as Callum Hart strained his hamstring and consequently came off for McPhee inside 34 minutes.

Four minutes later, a driven effort from Maidenhead’s Michael Pook brought Will Puddy into action but he pulled off an acrobatic save.

With either side yet to break the deadlock in the first-half, York Road erupted six minutes after the interval.

It was the travelling supporters who found their singing voice when they witnessed Dutton steering home James Clarke’s smart delivery on the left handside.

A brisk counter-attack nearly landed Salisbury another, one minute later. Dan Fitchett burst clear and setup Elliott Frear, who mistimed his shot and sent a shot well into the back-stand.

But some scrappy defending nearly cost the leaders their lead. After failing to clear the danger, Harry Pritchard arrived at the far post and caught the stadium by shock when he sliced his effort straight at Puddy.

As the clock ticked, Fitchett’s audacious volley nearly found a second, and despite keeper Joronen launching himself forward for a corner, the Whites held on to claim a massive three points on the road.

Salisbury head to the Ray Mac for the first time in three weeks on Saturday, as they plan to get revenge on Chelmsford (3pm).