Blue Square Bet South Farnborough 2-1 Salisbury City
Salisbury City: Scott, Udoji, J Clarke, Matthews (Fitchett h-t), Hart, Lewis (Ademeno 78), Dutton (c), Brett, Frear, McPhee, White
Subs not used: Sinclair, M Clark
Scorer: White (90+2)
Sent off: Dutton (20)
SALISBURY City will want to erase Tuesday night’s outing in Farnborough from their memory, after experiencing an unusual taste of league defeat - their first since November 17.
Having remained unbeaten in their previous eight, Salisbury were desperate to extend their fine run of form, and things looked good within the first 15 minutes at Cherrywood Road, when Craig Bradshaw was dismissed for a contentious hand ball.
But the extra man, which should have swayed in Salisbury’s favour, had no effect, as moments later, skipper Brian Dutton was sent-off for a hand ball in the area. Fortunately Reece Connolly’s spot kick scraped the woodwork from Mark Scott’s fingertip save.
But Farnborough’s recent point deduction for fielding ineligible player, didn’t provide any signs of low morale, reflected by Scott Donnelly firing them ahead on the stroke of half-time.
And to Salisbury’s despair, Donnelly bagged a brace late on to confirm the victory, while Jamie White’s stinging stoppage time goal, was purely a consolation.
The Whites’ lead at the top of Conference South has decreased to six points. If title-chasing Welling win all three of their games in hand, they will leapfrog the Whites into first place.
Since Saturday’s trip to Boreham Wood was cancelled because of a frozen pitch, the Whites were without a game for ten days.
Boss Darrell Clarke changed one face in the starting XI, meaning there was a start for Ugo Udoji instead of Stuart Sinclair, while Dan Fitchett, who dramatically separated the two sides last time around at the Ray Mac, remained a substitute.
On a boggy pitch in Hampshire, the match sparked into life extremely quickly. Bradshaw was in the limelight straight away, charging out of his area to handball, he was instantly sent down the tunnel.
As the Whites tried to utilise the extra man to their advantage, a few moments on, they found themselves reduced to ten as well.
A deflected shot stroked Dutton’s non-interfering left arm in the area, and the referee showed no hesitation and pointed to the spot. But Scott remained consolidated and pawed Connelly’s effort onto the bar, which enabled his side to re-group.
White created several decent chances to try and establish a lead for the pacesetters, but a prompt counter-attack from Boro delivered the opener in the 44th minute. Donnelly caught City off-guard and triggered the hosts into the ascendancy.
Theo Lewis had a couple of attempts on goal but the Whites were unable to snuff out an important equaliser, when it mattered most. As chances were blown, another Donnelly breakaway left Clarke’s men backpedalling at the back and the striker made it 2-0.
White finally got a goal for his sheer persistence, but it still left the visitors empty handed. Clarke remained upbeat and admitted it wasn’t his side’s night and they will work hard to bounce back.
“To be fair, it just wasn’t our night,” said the 35-year-old.
“Having said that, we created many chances but ended up getting punished in the end. We kept going for a long time and showed real endeavour and character, but we’ll take this defeat on the chin. There’re still plenty of games up for the taking.”
“I never really thought it was going to be our night, just by the way things were panning out. It was difficult to get a clear view of Dutton’s sending off, but it was by no means deliberate.
"We just need to move on from this disappointment. Salisbury host Bromley Town at the Ray Mac on Saturday afternoon (3pm). Clarke added: “We need to regroup for Saturday’s game and get another massive three points on the board.”
A new date has been set for Boreham Wood away for Wednesday, February 20 (7:45pm).