TEMPERATURES were low but tensions were high at the Ray Mac on Tuesday night as Salisbury won at home to top of the table Taunton in the Evo-stik League South.

The Whites twice came from behind to win 3-2 in an extraordinary game that saw an injury time winner, the Somerset side finish with 9 men, and Salisbury manager Steve Claridge sent to the stands.

The game started off slowly and came to life with the Peacock’s first real attempt on goal after 10 minutes, when a cross played from the right went across the goal, through everyone, for Shane White to collect unmarked and poke home.

The early goal spurred Salisbury into action, as has been the case so many times this season, and Hopper forced a save from Taunton keeper Lloyd Irish on 14 minutes with a turn and shot.

Taunton could and should have doubled their lead a minute later, only to be denied by an incredible stretching save from Hillson after ex-Salisbury man Ryan Brett was through on goal.

On the half hour mark, Salisbury were level through a superb individual effort from Hopper, taking the ball on his chest, holding off the defender, and putting his shot low into the bottom right hand corner. The first half ended one all.

The Whites looked to start the second half in the same way they ended the first and attacked well; but after Taunton’s Chamberlain was fouled on the edge of the box, ex-Salisbury man Ryan Brett stepped up to rub salt in the wounds on his return to his old club by scoring the resulting free kick, over the wall and curled into the top corner.

Hopper continued to get into decent positions but was lacking the final finish.

Just after the hour mark, Taunton were shown their first red card of the evening; Adelsbury was sent off for a second bookable offence. The first came as a result of an incident after the Salisbury equaliser that seemed to go under the radar, and the second for a foul on Hopper.

It didn’t take long for Salisbury to make the extra man count. In the 74th minute, Lewis Benson sent a shot across goal from the right-hand side that hit the far post and popped up for Aaron Dawson to grab his third goal in the last two games.

The action kept on coming. Three minutes later and Claridge’s night came to a premature end when he was sent to the stands for some over-enthusiastic protestations after Salisbury were denied a penalty for a hand ball appeal in the Taunton box.

This then resulted in a coming together of several players in the centre circle after a succession of fouls on Tom Whelan.

Then came Taunton’s second dismissal, again for a second bookable offence, this time Emmerson given his marching orders.

Salisbury had just over 10 minutes to make the two-man advantage count, and the winner came in the 92nd minute through Dan Fitchett after good work on the right hand side from full back Claudio Herbert.

After the game, manager Steve Claridge said: “It was an extraordinary game, and Saturday was exactly the same [3-4 to Weymouth], up and down.

“It’s the first time we’ve played in a big game and managed to win.

“We fully deserved to win and no one can take that away from us.

“We’re a patched up side, really struggling for defenders and it looked like that and we knew we were just going to have to try and score more goals than them, but we gradually played ourselves into it, got a grip of the game and there was only going to be one winner in the end.

“I got sent to the stands after 78 minutes and I can not remember a passage of play in the second half that wasn’t stopped by Taunton or the referee.

“[Met Police losing on Tuesday night] makes the Weymouth result all the more galling because Weymouth are undoubtedly the best team we’ve played this season, and if we’ve have just managed to nick a draw there we’d be right in the mix, but we’d still have settled for two points before these two games.

“Everyone is going to be relying on Weymouth dropping points now.

“I don’t want to think about Hendon on Saturday, just let me enjoy this victory.”