Superb Salisbury dished out an excellent 4-1 victory at Dorchester Town last Saturday to keep up their hopes of the top spot in the Southern League Premier South play-offs

Tom Whelan opened the scoring for the Whites with a low curling effort on 21 minutes before a horrid defensive mix-up enabled Claudio Herbert to make it 2-0.

Chris Shephard then scored a second-half double, including a sumptuous free-kick, before a Billy Lowes piledriver salvaged a consolation.

The visitors made an assertive start that set the tone for the entire first half.

Looking comfortable and, at times classy in possession, Salisbury dominated the half after Dorchester’s Antonio Diaz aimed a weak shot at keeper Jake Hallett in the seventh minute.

Whelan, ever impressive, set up Lewis Benson for a cross on the right and striker Daniel Fitchett nodded over from 10 yards as Salisbury worked their first glimpse of goal.

Magpies’ goalkeeper Nick Hutchings was then called upon to deny a clean-through Fitchett, whose heavy touch allowed the gloveman to brush behind.

Fitchett was involved in an altercation with Callum Rose after nipping in to steal possession, the centre-back’s shove earning yellow before centre-half Nathan Walker escaped punishment despite pushing both Benson and away skipper Darren Mullings.

Tom Blair raided forward as Dorchester were restricted to counter-attacks and was clipped by Herbert who won the ball after making contact from behind, referee Craig Scriven harshly booking the Whites’ right-back.

Moments later, Salisbury led in the 21st minute as Whelan, arguably the best player on the pitch at that point, won possession and curled low at goal, with Hutchings only able to push his 20-yarder into the bottom-right corner.

Dorchester were rocking in defence as Martin mis-kicked a Mullings header behind and it was only a matter of time before more shaky defending led to another concession.

A hopeful ball over the top from centre-back Matthew Partridge drew sharp tracking back from Blair, but the winger’s feeble header to Hutchings was intercepted by Herbert who poked into the roof of the net three yards out in the 29th minute.

Dorchester responded well but Blair wasted a good chance on the angle, skying his effort, before a promising run and cross from Kyle Egan strayed behind Blair and the isolated Ben Seymour.

Herbert then drew two fouls from Blair, who went without caution, as Claridge raged on the touchline before half-time.

The Magpies’ agony continued just over a minute into the second half as Shephard pounced on a blocked shot to fire left-footed past the stationary Hutchings.

Rodriguez volleyed horribly wide before a lunge from Martin, who won the ball, was penalised 20 yards from goal with a yellow.

Shephard stood over the set piece and curled a delicious strike into the top-right corner which left Hutchings with no chance.

Shephard was deprived of a hat-trick when Luke Hopper replaced him shortly before Seymour swivelled and shot at Hallett from Lowes’ headed knock-down.

Hutchings then misjudged a corner from which Matt Partridge should have scored, heading wide, before the hosts’ goalkeeper smartly pushed away an angled Whelan strike.

With Dorchester bereft of ideas, it was left to the superb Lowes to belt a thunderous 25-yard strike into the top corner with nine minutes left.

Salisbury pressed for a fifth in the closing stages but the Wiltshire side were excellent value for the win.

On Wednesday night, the Whites are in Wiltshire Senior Cup final against Swindon Supermarine at Melksham