League leaders Chesham United went home empty-handed from the Ray Mac as Salisbury ran out 3-1 winners in the battle of the league’s top two sides.

Whites manager Brian Dutton made six changes to his starting line-up, including a second debut for defender Jack Ball who re-joined the club on loan from Farnborough Town this week.

It took Salisbury just five minutes to open the scoring; Noah Coppin pouncing on some hesitation in the Chesham defence and slotting the ball home from 12 yards out to give the Whites the lead.

Salisbury Journal: Noah Coppin celebrates. John Rose PhotographyNoah Coppin celebrates. John Rose Photography

Following the early goal the game settled down with goal-scoring chances scarce at either end. It wasn’t until the 31st minute that either goal was threatened again; Chesham’s Lewis Rolfe crossed from the right-hand side but Ricardo German’s speculative overhead kick sailed well over the bar.

Salisbury Journal: Salisbury manager Brian DuttonSalisbury manager Brian Dutton

Five minutes later came the only other chance of the half and this time it was the visitors’ Callum Adebiyi who headed wide when well placed from a free kick, and an even half ended with only Coppin’s early strike separating the teams.

The second half started with Salisbury on the front foot.

On 50 minutes neither Coppin nor Hedges could convert from tight angles on either side of the goal before two minutes later a strong-looking Chesham penalty shout was waved away as Whites keeper Harrison Lee was deemed to have got the ball.

Just after the hour mark, the first real save of note from either keeper saw Chesham’s Zaki Oualah get down low to brilliantly keep out Dan Fitchett’s close-range header - but 90 seconds later the home side doubled their lead.

Ryan Penny’s inch-perfect pass found Hedges running through in the right-hand channel and his finish across Oualah saw the ball nestle in the bottom corner of the net.

The next 10 minutes saw two shots from Coppin fail to trouble the Chesham keeper before on 74 minutes the visitors were awarded a penalty when Bradley Clayton was tripped in the area.

German stepped up to take it and the league’s top scorer confidently dispatched it to half the deficit and gave his side hope.

The goal galvanised Chesham and on 78 minutes Adebiyi dragged a shot wide of the goal, but for all their endeavour in the closing stages, the Whites’ defence held firm.

Salisbury Journal: Winchester celebrations; below, Noah Coppin. Images: John Rose Photography

Deep into stoppage time a Chesham corner saw Oualah head forwards but when the ball was cleared forward by Salisbury it meant that Hedges had an empty net in which to slot home his second of the day to seal all three points.

Salisbury are back at home on Saturday, March 16, when they entertain fellow play-off hopefuls Merthyr Town in a 3pm kick-off.