BIG games are coming thick and fast for Salisbury FC as they begin 2019.

This Saturday, the Whites who are third in the Southern League Premier South, face a tough test when they travel to fifth placed Merthyr.

The Welsh side warmed up for the visit of their play-off rivals, with an excellent 3-1 win over league leaders Taunton Town, with Owain Jones scoring a brace.

On Tuesday night, Salisbury will be hoping it is third time lucky, when they entertain Braintree in the first round proper of the FA Trophy.

The previous two attempts to play the tie at the Ray Mac were postponed before Christmas.

The Whites picked up five league points over the festive period, which started on Boxing Day with a 2-2 draw at Swindon Supermarine with Tom Whelan and Dan Fitchett the men on target for the visitors.

Last Saturday, Salisbury again had to settle for a 2-2 draw at Poole with Lewis Benson and Matt Partridge this time scoring.

The Whites then opened 2019 with a 1-0 victory on New Year's Day, as they beat visiting Frome Town.

Chris Shephard scored their winner six minutes, before half-time.

Looking back on the festive period, Salisbury boss Steve Claridge said: "We deserved to win the first two games against Swindon Supermarine and Poole Town. We were the better side and we have gifted them a way back into the game.

"We should have seen the games out and won both of them. That has happened too often this season.

"This is why we are third in the table and six point behind leaders Taunton with a game in hand, instead of above them."

"I was disappointed with only two points, but against Frome we were not as good and came away with the win."

Claridge said: "Now we have a two very tough games coming up and will have to be at our best. I am not thinking about the Braintree game at the moment, we have to be fully focussed on Merthyr first."

Due to playing on a 4G pitch at Merthyr, Kane O'Keefe will miss the game and Darren Mullings will only be named as a substitute.

One player who will now be out for the rest of the season is Jake Wannell, who ruptured his Achilles after the Poole game.

A very disappointed Claridge said: "It is a massive blow to lose Jake and we now have four players out with operations."

The Salisbury boss did not rule out adding to his squad, as his side have a very heavy January schedule.