SALISBURY FC strengthen their grip on second spot of the Southern League Division One West with a 2-1 action-packed win over third placed Evesham.

Manager Steve Claridge made just one change to his team, with Luke Hopper, signed this week from Hungerford Town in midweek, replacing Stuart Green. The club’s top scorer dropping to the bench.

However, the new man lasted just three minutes as a calf injury forced out and Green came on to resume his partnership with Owen Howe up front.

The first goal action occurred after six minutes with Howe putting his header over the bar after a good cross from George Colson.

Evesham’s first real chance arrived soon after as a Salisbury attack broke down.

The home side went forward quickly although Adam Mann was just unable to get on the end of Carl Brown’s dangerous looking ball across.

Salisbury continued to press, seeing plenty of the ball and Howe was next to threaten, glancing a header wide from a Lewis Benson corner.

Two minutes later, Colson almost gave the Whites the lead. Only he will know if his ball from the right wing was a cross or a shot, but the home fans were mightily relived to see it bounce on top of the crossbar and over.

The Whites had the vast majority of the play until this point, but it was not until 22 minutes into the game that Evesham goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer was really tested.

Green did well to escape down the left and his cross was turned goalward by Howe from two yards out, but the veteran former Salisbury City goalkeeper reacted well to keep out the effort.

Visiting goalie Charlie Searle then had to be alert to keep out an effort from Matt Bennett in a rare Evesham attack.

The games major flashpoint arrived after 35 minutes and it saw three red cards produced by referee Sarah Garratt.

A poor tackle on Elliot Wheeler from Evesham captain Linden Dovey saw players from both sides get involved in a pushing and shoving match, and once it calmed down Garrett consulted with both her assistants and produced red cards for Evesham’s Dovey, Archie Haskayne and Salisbury’s Howe.

Claridge then made a tactical switch, bringing on Eddie Perrett for Rhys Baggridge to go with a three man defence.

Salisbury had further efforts through a Benson free kick and a Tom Whelan shot but both were off target.

It was looking like both sides would go into half time level, but in time added on Salisbury took the lead.

Danny Young did well to win the ball back in midfield and spread it wide to Benson.

His resulting low cross was well touched in by the onrushing Young for his fifth goal of the season.

The half time whistle went soon after to send the Whites in the happier of the two sides.

Salisbury started the second half seeing plenty of the ball and being content to be patient and wait for their opportunities, with Jake Warnell heading a corner over the bar being the closest they came in the opening 10 minutes of the half.

After 55 minutes though Salisbury did double their lead and it came from the penalty spot.

Good work from Green on the right saw him wriggle his way into the box and Evesham sub Garyn Preen, who had been on the pitch less than a minute, bought him down.

Garrett showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot and George Colson stepped up confidently to send Sawyer the wrong way and score for the third game in a row.

Evesham responded well and it took only three minutes for them to get one back.

A corner from the right was powerfully headed in by defender Matthew Liddiard to give the home side hope.

The following 10 minutes saw Evesham have their best spell of the game possession wise, although they were unable to trouble Searle in the Whites goal.

The Whites came again and on 70 minutes a good interchange between Green and Whelan on the edge of the box allowed Young to have a shot, but he was unable to get sufficient power behind his effort to really threaten Sawyer.

The Whites started to press again and on 78 minutes Green should have put the result beyond doubt.

The impressive Young broke clear down the left and his ball across found Green in space 12 yards out but he could only put his shot well wide.

Salisbury saw further efforts from Young and Perrett well blocked by the home defence, before Green again had a golden chance to get the goal his overall play deserved.

Young was involved again, finding Benson on the right whose low cut back to Green was put just inches wide by the Whites striker.

Evesham had one final chance to grab the equaliser, but Elliot Wheeler did very well to clear a dangerous looking ball into the six-yard box behind for a corner.

The final whistle went soon after and the three points gained saw the Whites move 10 points clear of their hosts and cement their grip on second place.

Claridge will be pleased with the win and pleased with the performance against an Evesham team who have caused the Whites problems in the past.

The injury to new signing Hopper and the upcoming suspension of Howe will mean that it was not the perfect weekend, but Salisbury will go into a run of games against promotion contenders with confidence high and the knowledge that they are in prime position to claim one of the two promotion spots.

Salisbury make the trip to north Wiltshire on Tuesday, for the rearranged fixture with Swindon Supermarine, before welcoming league leaders Taunton Town to the Ray Mac on Saturday, for a massive game as they look to hunt down the leaders.